Saturday, August 13, 2022

The wedding is back on: How the pandemic is changing the way we get hitched

(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)

The coronavirus pandemic has caused disruption in so many aspects of our lives, from the way we conduct learning to how we perform our jobs. 

Weddings seem to have a certain magic to withstand the test of the pandemic. 

All it takes is a little adaptability to save the special day. 

Jessica Aiken is the founder and lead planner for the Wedding Company of Williamsburg, and her business serves local counties. She has noticed some couples delaying their weddings for next year and the other half opting for smaller weddings and having receptions at a later date. 

And then there are the couples who decide to move forward with their original dates.

“For those folks, they’ve done small ceremonies in their backyard or they’re doing small all-inclusive packages,” she said.

The Wedding Company of Williamsburg has started offering a micro-wedding package starting at $3,800. The package includes three hours of venue time at the Williamsburg Winery with the choice of an indoor or outdoor ceremony, three hours of photography, floral arrangements, and cake.

Couples can also include entertainment, cocktail hour, and additional video and photography with added costs.

But it’s been no stroll down the aisle planning a safety-abiding wedding.

“The hardest thing has been trying to pinpoint the new mandates,” Aiken said. “There are different things with each mandate depending on where you are. Things like how many people? Where are masks needed? How do you serve food?”

Aiken added she consulted the COVID-19 hotline several times for tips on how to plan a safe wedding.

Creativity was especially needed.

Back in May, Aiken’s business assisted in planning a micro-wedding. The couple was supposed to get married in Boston, but the plans fell through due to capacity restrictions.

Instead, the couple had a small ceremony on a private property, and then a drive-thru reception at a separate location where nearly 100 guests showed up to share the special day. There was champagne, dancing, and guests were asked to dress up and decorate their cars.

Aiken gives full credit to the mother of the groom, Rita Stryker, for coming up with the solution.

(WYDaily/Courtesy of Jessica Aiken, Rita Stryker and Abi Conway Photography)
Newly weds Maxwell and Cara Groene had a drive-thru reception at the Kingsmill Resort where guests arrived in decorated cars. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Jessica Aiken, Rita Stryker and Abi Conway Photography)

“It was all her idea. We just executed it,” she said.

Christy Hooker is the owner of Events by Truly Yours. She said it really depends on how couples decide to celebrate their special day.

In terms of making guests feel comfortable, she noticed how some couples opted for smaller venues or asked seating to be spaced apart to abide by social distancing guidelines.

Brides have also requested gift favors to include hand sanitizer or personalized masks with the couple’s initials on it.

“We’ve also incorporated little COVID stations, where there are bottles of hand sanitizer and bracelets guests can wear to indicate if they are comfortable with close interactions or not,” Hooker said. 

For couples getting engaged or in the middle of planning their special date, both Aiken and Hooker shared some advise.

“Twenty-twenty-one is going to be a year of mayhem when it comes to weddings. We are so booked up right now. We hardly have any dates left, and we’re not the only ones,” Aiken said. “If they’re willing, push it out to ‘22 because you’ll probably have all the picks in the world in terms of dates.”

“Whether you’re going through a pandemic or not, it’s all about those 90 seconds — 90 seconds of you looking at your future spouse, and saying ‘I love you’ and ‘I do’ with that special person,” Hooker said. “Just remember to focus on the two of you and what you represent in that moment.”

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