You are wondering the best way to plan an excellent pandemic era wedding. This is not something you would have had to consider in your planning process just a year ago. Things change. We are living in increasingly uncertain times. If the last year has taught us anything (and I hope it has), it has taught us that we need to be flexible, keep a sense of humor, and be open to new ideas. Easier said than done of course. Maybe you are planning on getting married in 2021. Maybe you planned on getting married in 2020 and decided to change the date. If you want some inspiration from folks who remained flexible and were able to plan an excellent pandemic era wedding, keep reading.
The Certainty of Uncertainty
Jinhee and Daniel first contacted me in March 2020 and the very beginning of the Covid pandemic. With openness to the uncertainty of the state of things, they inquired about an October SF City Hall Ceremony and a Robert’s Regional Recreation Area reception. Two events on two days at the end of 2020 seemed like a long shot, but we discussed options and backup plans. By the time they booked me in July, they had changed plans. The uncertainty of the year was clear, and they made the most certain plans they could. They planned a beautiful small wedding at Daniel’s parents’ house in the Oakland Hills.
Keep Your Getting Ready Small
Jinhee, her mother, and the makeup artist were the three people at the rented flat in Alameda where Jinhee got ready the morning of her wedding. A big bustling getting ready scene can be fun, but keeping things small has its advantages. With just a few people in the house, getting ready and out of the house was a breeze. Jinhee and her mother shared a sweet connection during this intimate time of the day.
Have Your Wedding on Private Property
With so many venues and restaurants canceling and postponing events due to Shelter in Place orders, Jinhee and Daniel choose to have their ceremony and reception at his family’s home in the Oakland Hills. While this option is not open to everyone, having a ceremony and reception at a private residence allows you to be more flexible and nimble in your planning.
Great Vendors Make Planning Easier and Less Stressful
When I arrived at the house where the ceremony and reception were taking place, Corina Beczner of Vibrant Events was setting up the back deck for dinner and getting the front of the house ready for the ceremony and cocktail hour. The floral designers worked on some impressive arches and arrangements while Leif Hedendal Catering set up in the garage and kitchen. Everyone worked in harmony; collaborating to make sure decisions made sense and the event flowed smoothly.
Take First Look and Family Portraits Before the Ceremony
There are many moving pieces in even a simple wedding. A first look and family portraits almost always buys extra time on the wedding day and makes things simpler. We did the first look in the backyard among the oak trees near the miniature train setup that Daniel put together with his grandfather. We took family portraits in the front yard.
Personalize Your Ceremony
Make your wedding your own. Bring your community together and include them in the planning and joy, but also make it your own. Personalized wedding vows and meaningful readings help to make the wedding feel more unique. A good laugh and feeling the love of community is what we need now more than ever.
Keep Your Guest Count Appropriate for the Space
With current Covid concerns, make sure to keep your guest count appropriate for the space you have to work with. Outdoor cocktail hours and receptions are easy to pull off for much of the year in California. Jinhee and Daniel offered drinks and cocktails in the front yard and invited people to move to the back yard where there was more space. Before people dispersed, we did a big group shot of everyone at the wedding. Dinner was on the back deck, with just enough space between tables. People sat in small groups of friends and family. The food was excellent.
Take a Break for Couple Portraits
Hosting a wedding takes a lot of emotional energy. Taking a quick break during the cocktail hour or reception can be a breath of fresh air. Jinhee, Daniel, and I took a quick walk around the house near sunset for that welcomed moment of quiet before dancing and dessert.
Finish Big – Go Out with Sparkles
Every event ebbs and flows. It is easy for things to slowly wind down and fizzle to an ending. Sometimes that is just the way of things. Jinhee and Daniel finished their wedding strong. Their desserts were on point. They served Colonial Donuts (an Oakland classic) and pie from Three Babes Bakeshop (best pie in the Bay Area). Garuda Blue played live music and there was plenty of room for dancing. And while people were still filled with love and energy, Jinhee and Daniel made a grand exit through a tunnel of sparklers in his dad’s vintage Italian sports car.
If you want more inspiration and help to plan a pandemic era wedding at a private home, check out Allison and Eliot’s wedding.