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Image shows a round reception table with a tropical themed table centre of banana leafs. An intimate set up of crockery, cutlery and green glassware for up to 6 people

Planning a Wedding in a Pandemic

I'm an organiser so planning is what I do, and planning weddings is how I find my bliss, however with the year we've had, many couples are postponing and some are even cancelling their weddings, and I understand why. But there are ways you can continue to plan the wedding of your dreams, even if they're feeling like more of a nightmare at the moment.

What's the biggest challenge for couples right now?

Same as it is for anyone trying to plan anything right now: how, what and when do you plan for? I'm assuming that the chances of getting any weddings in before Christmas 2020 is gone, and if they are allowed, they will be at very reduced numbers. But the unknown of when we'll be able to get back to proper good-sized weddings is what is holding back a lot of couples from really getting on with the planning. I say keep on planning but have a back-up plan or two for just in case. I can help with that.

How have the rules changed since the last lockdown?

We went from no weddings to six people at a wedding to 30 to 15 to it depended on where you lived or were planning to get married with different regions/countries having different rules. The UK is still divided into areas with different rules and the current lockdown part 2 is causing just as many cancellations and postponements and worries as we've had throughout the summer season. Travel in England is restricted but weddings will be allowed to go ahead in Wales and some areas of Scotland (tiered system and local restrictions dependent), which leaves anyone who lives in England but was planning a Scottish wedding in a bit of a predicament. Only time will tell what the restrictions will be on the other side of this. The chances are further localised rules will be in place for some time, how long is anyone's guess.

And that's the problem - no-one knows how long this will last or how long restrictions will be in place. As an industry we're petitioning parliament to be clear on what the transition will be and for it to be in line with venue capacity

How can I help a couple plan their wedding at this time?

Much of the detail such as the venue, suppliers, guest lists, menu, d├ęcor and more can still be decided now and booked for future dates. Even IF things change, a good portion of it may very well stay the same. I can help with all of that but also the big things like taking on responsibility for chasing and keeping the planning going and checking in with the suppliers etc. Basically pretty much everything I was able to do before, but the biggest thing for many is having someone truly on their side to confide in and talk to when others are busy with the normal day to day dealing with lockdown. It's the calming influence and the steadying hand that keeps people working with me, and more so at the moment when I can do all the reading through legislation and guidance to see what is actually allowed so you don't have to try to decipher it yourselves. I can also check with all the suppliers and help with communicating any changes.

Advice for a couple unsure about what dates they should set for their wedding

My advice at this time is the same as before, look for a date that might work for you and plan towards that. No-one has a crystal ball and can tell you what will or won't be allowed in a year or even two years time, so plan for the wedding you want but be open to discussion about what might need to change.

If you want to postpone how far should you postpone to?

Be careful to postpone too soon or you might lose deposits, equally if you postpone to a much further date you'll be looking at price increases, which is normal year on year. At the end of the day no-one really knows when 'normal' life will resume, some say we'll have restrictions for much longer than suggested, others that we'll be back to normal by summer/autumn 2021, whatever happens love isn't cancelled and whether you have a micro-wedding or grand soiree, every wedding can still be beautiful, whenever it is able to go ahead.

How can I support you in deciding who to invite?

Guest lists were always tricky even before all this. You might feel pressure to invite your childhood neighbours from 20 years ago or the weird uncle that every family seems to have but just has to suffer. I can help by asking the difficult questions including of the parents wanting to include those neighbours. At the moment, in England there are no weddings and no way of knowing how many guests will be allowed when we come back out of lockdown - will it go back the way it was, will it be 6, 15, 30, 50? who knows? The key right now is to have a clear list of the absolute minimum people you want to have there - for some couples that might work out perfectly with the allowed numbers but for others it'll be impossible (my own situation wouldn't allow for only 15 people so there's no way I'd want to go ahead on that basis). So, know your numbers, have back up lists and if you need someone to help you make that list shorter, I'm your gal.

What solutions are available to make this work?

IF it turns out that we're down to 15 people (or less) then there are ways to include others in your wedding, for example by live streaming your big day, and I can work with you to find a variety of ways to make that a reality. I work with a pool of suppliers and can recommend some great videographers. But you might also be able to consider spreading your reception out over several days instead of several hours, it's all about working WITH the rules not ignoring or breaking them! Independent venues are great for allowing couples extra time with their spaces - farms, barns, community halls are all great options and with one set of decorations and the equivalent of your original plan for food and drink, it doesn't have to be a more expensive affair.

What about a couple who wants to plan their own wedding?

I love DIY couples. Absolutely keep going with the wedding planning. It may feel like a hard slog at times, and I'm happy to be a sounding board for any difficulties, but if I had to give one piece of advice right now I'd just say be prepared and be flexible, or at least know your number limits.

I am here ready to listen, to advise, to sympathise or to take on anything you need X