COVID-19 adds twist to traditional weddings

EMILY LOWE

Wedding planners and loved up couples are finding unique ways to celebrate their special day despite restrictions due to the global pandemic.

Wedding rings on hands Drew Coffman Unsplash

Weddings are always a special day, but in the middle of a pandemic, bringing families together to celebrate is more important than ever. Photo: Courtesy Drew Coffman/Unsplash

 

Under current COVID-19 restrictions, weddings in Queensland and New South Wales can go ahead if they have a COVID safe plan in place but are limited to 150 guests with 4-square meters allocated for each person attending.

Founder of wedding and events consultancy White+White, Danielle White, said while the pandemic and its associated restrictions had been tough for many of her clients who had to cancel their weddings, some had found new ways to ensure their celebration went ahead.

“During the lockdown all weddings and events were cancelled [and] many couples have postponed to 2021, which means lots of shuffling and rearranging to make everything work,” Ms White said.

But it hasn’t all been doom and gloom, with the planning agency finding new ways for couples to connect with loved ones on their special day.

“Just like everyone else, we have started using Zoom and it’s been such a great tool, and we will continue to use it in the future, as it will be particularly helpful for planning interstate weddings,” she said.

Danielle White from White+White wedding consultancy

Danielle White from White+White wedding consultancy is helping her clients think of new ways to celebrate their special day with loved ones. Photo: Courtesy Danielle White

 

And guests who are able to attend the weddings have also been involved in the process in different ways.

“We have also had a lot of fun brainstorming creative ways to celebrate and have fun on the day whilst still keeping within the restrictions including bringing in live entertainment and music acts to entertain the guests, or even hosting a couple’s trivia or karaoke session,” Ms White said.

She said White+White had used the time to create new resources for couples to help them plan for their big day in future and said the agency had just announced an online wedding course that will be available to clients at the end of the year.

“Even though this has been a difficult time, we have had the opportunity to expand our online resources and continue to support all couples through our Wedding Planning from Home Facebook group,” Ms White said.

“We have also created loads of free planning content via The Wedding School YouTube Channel and will be running online bridal boot camps in the coming weeks,” she said.

The Other Bridesmaid is another Queensland based Wedding business which has had to get creative during the pandemic.

Director Ashleigh Dugdale said the uncertainty was one of the biggest issues in planning weddings at this time.

“The constantly evolving restrictions – especially those that you need to trail the internet to get clarity on and those that come without warning or any guidance – are major challenges,” Ms Dugdale said.

“You are committing for better or for worse, [and] we believe this is worse, so hold onto love and let go of the rest,” she said.

Chloe Stephens and Sam Nilon

Couples have had to make the difficult decision whether to carry on with their wedding despite COVID restrictions or postpone their bit event until next year. Photo: Courtesy Chloe Stephens

 

But Ms Dugdale said coming up with new ways to celebrate had also been a challenge.

“Whilst we have enjoyed going ‘against the grain’ so to speak, it can be quite difficult to convince couples to take the path less travelled and to think outside of the box a little in order to say their ‘I-do’s’,” she said.

“Personally, I have enjoyed this side of planning; in my opinion the more [we] wait for life to go back to normal the less we enjoy the opportunity to reshape what wedding days look like and redefine trends and traditions.”

Ms Dugdale said couples should hold on to the hope that their special day can still be memorable, with many new ways to celebrate.

“The Other Bridesmaid team believes that looking different is beautiful,” she said.

“From seated chill zones for plated canapes to degustation menus for receptions – we have explored live entertainment options, wedding ‘game’ night and all kinds of joy-driven and sentimental COVID safe alternatives.”

And Ms Dugdale said the magic of weddings was certainly still alive.

“From one of our weddings just past our couple had one of the most moving first dances we have ever seen,” she said.

“All guests remained seated and we [had] candles set up for them beneath fairy lights where the two of them danced alone beneath the stars with only their parents on bench seats nearby, admiring them.

“It was so personal and magical – removed from expectations and mobile phones.”

Bride and groom dance Vitor Pinto Unsplash

Under COVID safe restrictions couples can still do their ‘first dance’, but guest cannot participate, making is a potentially more private and special experience. Photo: Courtesy Victor Pinto/Unsplash

 

Ms Dugdale said The Other Bridesmaid hoped to inspire couples to stay positive and remind them what their day was for.

“We know better than anyone what a couple goes through in the final weeks before their wedding and there is always more than enough pressure, without the fear of COVID restrictions changing or evolving not in their favour,” she said.

“That said, on their wedding days themselves, although there is to some degree a lack of freedom, there is no lack of joy or excitement.”

Her advice to couples was to keep their heads high and make the most of every moment.

“Remember why you chose to get married in the first place… remember that you still have the rest of your lives to celebrate this union… don’t lose sight of that and don’t put your lives on hold,” Ms Dugdale said.

“If we collectively stop digging our heels in and find ways to be creative during this time, we may allow ourselves to truly enjoy these months and to one day look back and know that we were a part of the movement that reshaped what weddings look like, despite the constraints,” she said.

Chloe Stephens and her fiancé Sam Nilon have pushed through with their wedding plans during the pandemic, and plan to celebrate their big day on September 26.

Ms Stephens said she couldn’t wait to finally tie the knot.

“I am so excited to finally marry the love of my life and share our special day with those who love us most,” she said.

But the couple have had to make some major changes to their plans.

“Originally, we had 100 people attending our wedding ceremony and reception, but due to COVID and the 4 square metre rule inside venues, we are now only allowed to have up to 56 guests attend our reception,” Ms Stephens said.

“We have decided to have around 80 guests attend the ceremony and celebrate with a seated drink afterwards before having a very small reception with our families.”

Chloe Stephens and Sam Nilon

Chloe Stephens and Sam Nilon are carrying on with their wedding despite the pandemic and are trying to make their day as special as it can be. Photo: Courtesy Chloe Stephens

 

Ms Stephens said the biggest thing she would miss was being able to dance with family and friends at the reception.

“Sam and I are allowed to have our ‘first dance’, but apart from that there is no dancing allowed at the reception,” she said.

“We will also miss having our interstate friends and family join us on our day, but we are hoping to use Zoom to allow them to watch the ceremony.”

Border closures will prevent three of Ms Stephens’ bridesmaids, including the maid of honour, from attending the ceremony.

“I have a maid of honour and a bridesmaid who live in Queensland and another bridesmaid who lives in Victoria, so I have had to do a major reshuffle of the bridal party, but we decided to wait until the beginning of September before making final decisions about the bridal party,” Ms Stephens said.

Ms White said this was not the time for couples to cancel their weddings or feel disheartened about the restrictions, and said they should embrace their special day for what it was.

“If it makes sense for you, go ahead and continue your plans, [because] we don’t know what the future holds or how long we may be operating under restrictions,” she said.

“Getting married during this time is a perfect opportunity to bring family and friends together, even if it has to be on a smaller scale.”

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