Updated 31 March 2021
Planning your wedding for 2021 is tough.! Whether you’re just engaged, or maybe your 2020 wedding was postponed, if you’re hoping to get married in 2021, there is uncertainty in the air. As much as many of us had hoped that 2021 would see Covid being a distant memory, we’re heading into the year under restrictions that are giving many couples the fear.
But whilst it’s safe to say that weddings will continue to be affected for the foreseeable, they are not banned completely here in Northern Ireland. Rules vary across the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, but on the whole they have been allowed to continue since lockdown 1. Albeit very very differently.
We can all try to predict and wish for different scenarios going forward, but if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that nothing is guaranteed. None of us can say what weddings will look like going forward, what will be allowed and when or if things will go back to ‘normal.’ So maybe it’s time we start to change the narrative. Maybe it’s time we start talking about what weddings look like right now. Because as someone who has not only witnessed many incredible weddings over the past year, but also as a bride who got married in the midst of the toughest period of restrictions, I can tell you right now..THEY ARE AMAZING!!! But I don’t want you to take my word for it. I want you to hear from brides (I did look for guys, but brides are always quicker to respond) who got married in 2020 and their experiences. Because with knowledge comes power, and thanks to those who embraced the unknown, you don’t have to!!
- 1 N & S – Belfast City Wedding
- 2 C & B – An Intimate DIY Wedding
- 3 M & A – A Portrush Micro Wedding
- 4 E & J – Leighinmohr & Lissanoure Castle
- 5 A & B – Ballyscullion Park
- 6 C & A – Ballyscullion Park
- 7 R & C – A North Coast Micro Wedding
- 8 N & T – Wool Tower
- 9 The Harsh Reality
- 10 More Thoughts From 2020 Brides..
- 11 5 Top Tips For Planning Your Wedding Right Now
N & S – Belfast City Wedding
‘Weddings are completely different now, but different doesn’t necessarily mean worse 😊 so it’s best to rub out all of the previous wedding ideals (1am partys/ huge guest lists etc) and go back to what it’s all about, marrying someone you love. That way you will have a great day no matter what ☺️ Also allow the Covid-era to be an opportunity to be ruthless with your guest list and only have the people there that mean the most, it means you will get to have the craic with everyone there and you don’t spend your time trying to ‘work the room’ and get round 100 people everyone to say hello! The day is back to being about enjoying yourself 💕’
What makes Niamh’s words even more special is that she had everything thrown at her. I got a flat tyre on the way down the road to her, and when I called to say I might be a few minutes late, she didn’t even blink. When it started lashing down the second we stepped out for photos, she didn’t miss a beat and when I said ‘let’s go to the roof of one of the tallest buildings in Belfast in the rain and by the way you have to climb up some tiny stairs to get up there’…she was like ‘let’s go!’. I think you can see from her most beautifully infectious smile in every image, that it was all worth it!
C & B – An Intimate DIY Wedding
‘Honestly I’m so happy we got married in 2020. I thought we needed a big, lavish wedding & we just didn’t! I think I’m different because we chose to change our date but there was still tears, still last minute changes as you know and it’s ok to cry and be angry but at the end of the day, it always comes back to the two people and the fact they want to start married life. I regret spending so much time in my own head worrying about what other people would think or crying over ‘meaningless’ things like having a drink and dancing all night. I think it was so much more intimate and our emotions were more raw than what they would’ve been having a busy day with 150 people to entertain. Understand why people are postponing or why they have fears but 100% recommend a covid wedding!’
Another one of my greatest inspirations this year. Beckie literally had to change her plans completely with 4 days to go because of a last minute change in restrictions. Everyone around her rallied and oh my word, what a day they had. From emotions to little details to some quiet moments, this wedding had it all!
M & A – A Portrush Micro Wedding
“It was worth all the worry and stress in the end and considering all the hurdles we kicked down on the way, we would do it all over again and wouldn’t change a single thing. Small does not mean less.”
Megan was due to get married the week before me in the exact same venue. We fell in the ‘will they/won’t they’ circuit breaker fiasco here in Northern Ireland so we couldn’t get married at the stunning Royal Court Hotel. But Megan and Andrew embraced it, and headed there for photos after their ceremony at the local registry office, before heading to Chequers for fish and chips. It was freakin’ amazing!!
E & J – Leighinmohr & Lissanoure Castle
‘Not sure where to start 🤣 it was stressful, scary at times with the unknown of what would happen in the lead up to the wedding/what restrictions would they put in place but the support from all the vendors and reassurance/confidence from them really outweighed all of this and helped reassure us we were doing the right thing! You were literally willing to do anything even when I changed my mind about 10 times about what was happening 😂🙈 you reaching out and emailing asking to see how i was etc was so thoughtful (something I didn’t receive from many others). All of our vendors were so willing to accommodate anything for us! Don’t have any regrets about the day but one piece of advice I have is literally just to go for it… I was so worried about guests etc people not being there, but honestly whether you have 2 people at your wedding or 100, it literally doesn’t matter because on that day all I cared about was having my husband beside me! It’s so easy to get so caught up in it all but just need to remember the real reason for the day! It’s hard to accept at the time but on the actual day you realise it’s the most important thing!’
I don’t think I can add much more to that..Emily’s day was just simply a joy!
A & B – Ballyscullion Park
“2020 was the year Northern Ireland finally got marriage equality and not even a pandemic could stop us 💃🏼🌈”
C & A – Ballyscullion Park
“I would say an emotional rollercoaster. I literally felt every emotion possible! I also didn’t enjoy one aspect of the wedding planning this year at all, however on the day, being married outweighed any of that. It made me realise what vendors actually cared about your day and who didn’t. So so glad I stuck to my guns and didn’t postpone anything. Our executive dictated so much of what we could couldn’t do and I wasn’t going to let them stop me getting married.. I love though how we share the fact we both got married in the last two weeks of the circuit breaker, we completely understood what it was like ❤️ we finally got what we wanted and nobody was going to stop that!! That maybe sounded a bit negative but I don’t mean to be 😅 I just knew on the day that the main thing was to be married and you don’t care about anyone or anything else on the day. Proper celebrations can always wait. Being married and that feeling is the best thing!”
Cheryl and Andrew got married a week after I did, and 2 days before their wedding it was announced that receptions could go ahead and numbers could be set by venues A WEEK LATER! It made no sense! And it would have been totally understandable for Cheryl to be absolutely gutted, but she wasn’t! She was calm. She was amazing. And she was the most incredible bride with the most beautiful family!
R & C – A North Coast Micro Wedding
“Other than to do things as you want them done, it may not please everyone but you have to have the day you want & to put it bluntly, sod whoever doesn’t like it! 🙈 (if people really care about you they won’t be put out)
Spend money on the things that matter most to you. The only thing I would consider now that we didn’t have is a videographer. I never really thought of it at the time! But its not an issue, we have lots of lovely memories & your photographs to look back on which captured the day beautifully 🤍
Absolutely no regrets here & so glad we didn’t have a big wedding, that was never our intention anyway and to be honest I couldn’t imagine anything worse! Our day was about us, we had so much time together where it was just us when you were taking our photographs and it was lovely!
One last thing, no matter how small the wedding, order a big cake 🤣 it never goes to waste and we were able to share it out with friends/family.”
Rebecca and Chris had always planned a small wedding, but even with that came changes including a change of venue and uncertainty right up until the day before as to whether their 4 guests would be able to make it, so shows that no one is immune to the effects of Covid on weddings. But oh my word their day was breathtaking. We got to explore Portrush and Portstewart, and I’m not going to lie, I’m jealous of their wedding photos because they include all my favourite spots (not blowing my own trumpet I swear). And that bouquet….wow!
N & T – Wool Tower
‘I just wanted to say that although I know how lucky we were to get the day we planned, the best part for us was the ceremony and the crack we had with you, Paula and Ricky when we were of getting the photos of just us two. Those are the parts of the day that I remember most vividly. Even during the ceremony, besides the few glances at my family in the front row, Thomas was the only person I saw. And I think that’s the same irrespective of if you have 25 or 100 people.
So yea, it all sucks. But if I knew then what I do now, I know I’d still go ahead whether it was just us, our celebrant and our photographer. The location and numbers would still come second to us. I know everyone handles things differently and that’s okay, but I just wanted to share our experience during this crazy time!’
This message I received from Nicole stayed with me the whole way through my wedding planning, and I can’t tell you how much I agree with it. In that moment when your foot hits that aisle, truly all you see is the person you’re about to marry.
The Harsh Reality
Whilst it’s easy for those of us who got married to focus on the positives now that it’s all over, we can not forget what it took to get there. And honestly, I think we need to be really raw, open and honest about that. One of my brides in particular had a horrendous time when her first wedding plans were cancelled. It required her to seek medical help because of the stress she went through at the hands of her vendors. Something that I feel needs to be highlighted, although I think it’s fair to say her experience was rare as most vendors are being as reasonable as possible.
I can’t say I’ve always got it right as a vendor, because like everyone else, I’m trying to navigate unchartered waters, but I can say with my hand on heart that I do my best and never want to gain from this horrendous situation. It’s a hard line to tread between being as flexible as possible whilst also trying to survive as a business, but similarly I feel it is our job as suppliers to be pillars of support for our couples. For me that lies in communication and being up front with policies and procedures.
The couple of days before my own wedding were absolutely horrendous as a result of uncertainty that could have been avoided or handled differently, and if I could change anything about my own wedding it would be things that had nothing to do with Covid. But that’s a topic for another day.
The harsh reality is that for the foreseeable future there will be a question mark over weddings. There will be an extra layer of stress. And we will all have to deal with it. And that’s where having a good support network both in your home circle and with your vendors is invaluable.
People won’t get it. To others not getting married, weddings seem trivial right now. But they’re not. They are a milestone and a marker in your life and it absolute sucks that this is happening. But you do have choices. Not everything is beyond your control, we just have to think outside the box and that’s one thing to remember on the days it can feel overwhelming.
More Thoughts From 2020 Brides..
I asked my Instagram followers their thoughts on getting married in 2020 and here’s the responses from couples who I’ve never met:
“Stressful and worrying, but also the best thing we did was go ahead with it. Honestly, wouldn’t have changed it. Originally 150 down to 30 and it was perfect. Also, a lot can be done in a short space of time.”
“Best Day of My Life”
“Amazing! You are forced to strip it right back to what really matters and the result is still the same. We are happily married and don’t regret anything. Best day of our lives so far.”
“Different to what we had planned but equally amazing.”
“Hi Lauren!!! After our initial wedding date being cancelled due to extended lockdown and no weddings permitted we moved our date to November 2020 thinking that Covid would be a distant memory . We were far from right!! We dreaded the weekly government announcements regarding weddings and as November approached we had a gut feeling our November wedding wouldn’t be able to happen. We decided to book a civil ceremony as a back up and brought it forward 2.5 weeks. I think the hardest part for me was coming to terms that I wasn’t going to have my wedding that I had always dreamt of and the rules at that time were 25 max including photographer, celebrant/pastor and children under the age of 12. Up until 4 days before the wedding we didn’t have a plan of what to do after as no receptions were permitted. Every hurdle we faced I just got more and more demotivated about the wedding. To be honest I didn’t think it was going to be enjoyable with so few guests and nowhere to have a party after. WELL…. I have no idea how, but we were able to secure a venue afterwards for our families and us to have some take away food (outside) and the venue was so picturesque we ended up getting some photos with our photographer. That’s one piece of advice, just because you’re not having your bigger wedding as initially planned I would still recommend having a photographer, after all it is the day you are marrying your other half so it should be photographed for memories. I was worried about so few numbers …. 25 people still feels like a lot and the craic is still class!!! We got married during covid restrictions and we had the best day with our families and 2 friends each. It was happy, intimate, fun and so so so memorable ! Do not be put off!! We had paid our venue two payments and we plan on having a reception in 2021 at our venue and I am putting on my wedding dress, husband is wearing his wedding suit, we are having our bridesmaids and groomsmen, band , photographer etc. It won’t be a wedding as such but it will be a celebration with all of our friends and extended family to celebrate our marriage at a safer time when everyone is comfortable to meet and hopefully by then Covid will definitely be a distant memory!!”
5 Top Tips For Planning Your Wedding Right Now
- Get a wedding planning buddy. Have someone else who is planning a wedding right now, or who has got married recently, to talk to. Someone who understands what you’re going through. It can be a friend or it can be a stranger on instagram. Vent, but don’t compare!
- Plan for the worst. That might seem very negative, but it saves a lot of disappointment…and money. Things can be added on at the last minute, but it’s much harder/more awkward to downgrade or cancel things. You could also lose deposits. Book the smallest packages. Plan based on minimum numbers that you’re happy to work with. What’s the absolute least you’re willing to go ahead with…and similarly, how long are you willing to wait?
- Don’t think too far ahead. This is much easier said than done! But with how fast things are changing and have changed, it is impossible to know what’s going to happen next month, let alone in 6 months time. Making decisions too early could lead to regrets. Weddings have been organised and changed in days and sometimes hours recently, so don’t stress yourself unnecessarily if you can help it. Leave everything as close as possible. Chat to your vendors to find out what cut off dates are for things like ordering flowers, make up trials, dress alterations etc. (Top tip – don’t get anything engraved with dates 😉 I learned this the hard way!!).
- Keep in touch with your vendors. If you’re at the beginning of your journey, it’s more important than ever to make sure you choose your vendors wisely. Don’t panic book just because dates are filling fast. Do you have a good connection? What are their terms? What are their ‘worst case scenarios’? If you have already chosen vendors and you’ve got questions, you’re getting a bad feeling or having a bad experience chat to them now! Do not ignore any feelings in your gut. Don’t leave questions unanswered, drop them an email. If they can’t meet your needs, it’s better to know as early as possible, on both ends. Often things just come down to communication.
- Focus on the main thing…you’re getting married.! No matter what your days looks like, you will end it married. That feeling is universal. I’ve said it so many times that it sounds like a cliché, but I truly mean it. In the midst of planning, and the stress it’s hard to remember though. And there were times, even right up to a few days before, where the stress of everything really tested our relationship. So make sure to take time for each other, stay connected and focus on the fact that your wedding day is just the start of the rest of your lives.!
If you’re planning your 2021 wedding, my diary is pretty jam packed, but please feel free to get in touch here, and even if I’m not available, I’ll put you in touch with my recommended suppliers. Or feel free to reach out on instagram if it’s just a bit of advice or an ear you need.
No matter what happens, love will prevail!! It always does. Lx