TWO MONTHS LATER: 6 Tips for Wedding Planning During Covid-19

  • May 18, 2020

Jordan Bree Photography // REAL BRIDE Briana Johnson

“What the world needs now is love sweet love.”

Has there ever been a more needed sentiment? In the last few months, nearly everything has changed — and the wedding world is no exception. Dates have been moved, plans have plummeted, tears have been shed, hopes have been dashed, small businesses have been hurt, and unknowns have skyrocketed.

But through it all, there has also been a lot of LOVE — with unexpected moments of grace and beauty. And lucky for us, we have the absolute best wedding community in the world leading the way.

Back in March, UVB shared our initial 25 tips for couples facing the Covid-19 unknowns . But now that we’re two months in, we’ve got SIX areas to focus on.

P.S. Stay tuned later this week for when we share stories from REAL BRIDES who either eloped or have postponed their wedding to 2021! (Including the story of real bride Briana Johnson above who wed on Salt Lake City’s rooftops back in March.)

1. KINDNESS WINS

Kindness is a nice place to start, don’t you think?

As you navigate your wedding plans and work through new dates/policies/details, remember to be kind. Communicate with courtesy. Lead with love.

We know this is hard. Your vendors know this is hard. And they want nothing more than to help you come out the other side with the wedding of your (albeit new) dreams.

But Covid-19 is happening to everyone. Some local businesses have already closed their doors for good. Others are doing everything they can to keep the lights on. So before you raise your voice or start to TYPE AN EMAIL IN ALL CAPS, take a breath and realize we are all on the same dearly-beloved team. Solutions come from kindness. And you can quote us on that. 

“I hope couples will be mindful, understanding and appreciative of the policies vendors have put in place to ensure they are able to be in business AND serve the client when their big day finally arrives,” says Michelle Cousins, owner of Michelle Leo Events. “Solutions can’t be one-sided, and when a collaborative effort is made by both parties to understand and support one another, everyone has a reason to celebrate!” 

Michelle Leo Events // Heather Nan Photography // Chantel Lauren Designs

2. POLICY PROWESS

You sign a contract with every vendor — and every vendor is going to have different policies in place when it comes to moving dates, transferring retainer fees, flexibility, etc. So be sure to pay close attention to every contract and detail.

To help you understand why those policies are in place, UVB talked to a number of #UVBvendors, and below are the general policy themes we’re seeing. (Editor’s Note: These are simply trends we’ve observed. When it comes to your own wedding, be sure to double check policies with each individual vendor!) 

IF YOU’RE POSTPONING TO LATER IN 2020 … 

Still want your wedding this year? Most vendors are transferring your deposits and retainers at no extra cost. (!!!) This year has proven to be such a wildcard, and they are doing everything they can to help you get hitched without any hitches! 

IF YOU’RE POSTPONING TO 2021 …

2021 is a bit tricker. While many 2020 brides and grooms are moving their dates to next year — there are also the OG 2021 couples to consider. To help both couples AND vendors, here’s what we’re seeing: 

If you move your 2020 wedding to a WEEKDAY (Sunday through Friday) or an OFF-SEASON DATE in 2021 (November-April), you can transfer your typically “non-refundable, non-transferable” deposit at no extra cost. And most vendors are also honoring their 2020 pricing! 

(SIDE NOTE: Weekday weddings are a trend we hope to see continue! Get married on a Friday, and turn your wedding weekend into a stress-free celebration!) 

If you move your 2020 wedding to a SATURDAY in the PEAK wedding season of 2021 (May-October), you will likely be asked to pay an additional retainer. Why is this? If wedding vendors transfer all these 2020 couples to peak wedding days in 2021 at no extra cost, they are essentially working for free this year. 

We’ve done our best to offer no-cost options for our clients,” says Michelle at Michelle Leo Events, whose company is only charging additional fees on postponements to those peak Saturdays in 2021. “The majority of the event industry is composed of small business owners who don’t have the financial support of a large corporation — we have nothing to fall back on. If I personally moved every one of our weddings to a Saturday next year for free, that means I would generate $0 revenue for an entire year and would likely lose my staff and perhaps have to close down. I have to make an entire year’s worth of income over the duration of a handful of Saturdays between Memorial Day and October 1. I can’t afford to give those dates up next year to a bride who reserved it this year.”

“Wedding vendors are small businesses making very difficult decisions,” adds Janica Horner, owner of River Bottoms Ranch in Midway — which is also following this trend of additional fees only for peak days in 2021. “Because of our love for our clients, we want to do everything we can to create their dream day exactly how they always imagined it. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple in our world today. Things are different for the time being, and that is challenging for ALL of us. We understand it has been challenging to plan among such uncertainty. And when couples have had to make difficult choices to postpone, cancel or modify, it comes at a cost both emotionally and financially. Deposits may be lost or unexpected charges may be incurred. We want nothing more than to give wherever we can. The reality is that we can’t give 100% when it comes down to the money — we simply have to survive. Many of these difficult business decisions have been based off of our commitment to our couples. We are committed to being here for our couples when their special day arrives — and with a greater excitement than ever before to serve them.”

Jordy B. Photo

3. INTIMATE WEDDINGS 

One trend we’re loving? The intimate wedding — especially when it comes to couples not able to wait until 2021.

With Utah Valley (and most of Utah) just recently moving to the “YELLOW” phase (where groups of up to 50 people can gather), consider a smaller celebration. Find yourself an incredible Utah backdrop, have a beautiful catered dinner, and celebrate safely with your most-beloved loved ones.

In fact, many vendors are offering amazing deals for smaller celebrations! For example, River Bottoms Ranch has some special pricing, which even includes renting their beautiful venue by the hour. (!!!)

Another new gorgeous venue — Walker Farms in Lindon — has been able to hold events with social distancing guidelines in place, as well as some cool live-streaming technology possibilities!

“Wedding events are definitely smaller and more intimate than just a few months ago, however, we are seeing that these celebrations are becoming more meaningful than ever,” says Stephanie Chischillie, of Walker Farms. “Wedding professionals and vendors are here to help brides and grooms navigate thru these important life moments and can offer alternatives you may not have considered. For instance, because we have a large building and expansive outdoor space, we are able to facilitate events while keeping social distancing guidelines. Also, for couples with friends and loved ones who are unable to attend, we now have access to new high-tech options for interactive virtual weddings and receptions through our good friend Cooper Brown at Charisma Event Productions.”

Other cool deals for brides this year?

We talked to our friends at Alta Moda Bridal, Chantel Lauren Designs, and Pritchétt Bridal, and many designers are waiving rush fees on gowns for 2020 brides! (But we still recommend making gown shopping a top priority.)

And on the catering front, Culinary Crafts is offering 5% off any newly-booked event that takes place between now and Sept. 30, 2020.

Rebekah Westover Photography // Culinary Crafts

4. #SAVETHEPETALS

Flowers are one of UVB’s most favorite wedding details, so we asked for an update on those pretty petals from Marriane at Bushel & A Peck Floral Design.

“As the world shut down, farms had to throw out billions of dollars of product. They were forced to send their workers home, there wasn’t any income coming in, and they had to shut the water off. Many farms have closed their doors for good and will never recover. Many that are still around are in bad shape from not having people work the fields to keep product going.”

So what does this heartbreaking scenario mean for your wedding flowers?

“Demand and prices for flowers are starting to pick back up, but the supply is short. We aren’t able to get many varieties of flowers anymore, and in general we’re having a hard time finding product. It’s a big problem since we have quoted certain flowers at certain prices in advance — and all of that has changed now. How do we come back to our brides and say it’s going to be X more money for your florals, or we can cut XYZ to make it stay in your budget? These are hard questions with hard answers, but we are committed to making it work for our couples and we are working individually with every client. As we do this, let’s all focus on kindness, solutions and flexibility.” 

Bushel & A Peck Floral // Pepper Nix Photography // Chantel Lauren Designs // River Bottoms Ranch // REAL BRIDE Hailey Horner

5. SAFETY FIRST

Be mindful to follow the safety protocols of every vendor and shop. If they ask you to wear a mask — wear one! If they ask you to limit your guests — do so! 

“Wedding vendors are doing everything they can to keep their team paid and employed, and most of all, healthy!” says Hilary Anderson, owner of Alta Moda Bridal. “There is no question that masks and limited guests are new for us all, but keeping our team in the safest space possible is our number one goal.”

“This has certainly been an unprecedented and difficult time for the event industry,” says Jocelyn Ball, of Culinary Crafts. “We are committed and excited to begin catering events again with a focus on the health and safety of our clients and their guests.”  

Kristina Curtis Photography

6. DEARLY-BELOVED ADVICE

As a finale, here’s a round-up of heartfelt advice from local wedding vendors.

TOP THREE “Write down your top three priorities for a successful wedding day. It may be a magical ceremony, particular date, beautiful backdrop, flowers, cake, entertainment … the list goes on and on. Pick your top three and plan your wedding so that those three important things can happen, then let the rest go. They will be the everlasting moments you will cherish.” — Janica at River Bottoms Ranch

DON’T LET IT DEFINE YOU “This doesn’t have to define your wedding, but it will likely impact your plans. Do your best to roll with the times — and your plans will come out even better than before! It’s OK to admit it sucks! We felt guilty about feeling sad that bridal fashion week was cancelled this year. But, as one of our team members said, ‘It’s healthy to be sad about the things we can’t do right now, even though we know bigger, more important things are happening.'” — Hilary at Alta Moda Bridal

MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU “Be flexible. Try and understand where your vendors are coming from. Move forward with whatever you can do. You won’t regret it. Be creative and make it work for you. Your vendors will be happy to follow suit. You are in charge of your day — take charge and let others follow and support you!” — Marianne Seale, owner of Bushel & A Peck Floral Design

GO WITH THE FLOW “I don’t know if the saying ‘go with the flow’ has ever been needed as much as it is right now. I know it is heartbreaking not having the wedding of your dreams, but focusing on the things you CAN control is key. You CAN alter your wedding to a smaller, more intimate experience. You CAN postpone your wedding even though that might not be ideal. You CAN still love everyone around you. Hang in there! Everything is going to be just fine.” — Jordy Buehner of Jordy B. Photo

EMBRACE THE UNKNOWN “Embrace the craziness of this time! Have your DREAM backdrop and your DREAM tablescape with yummy food for the guests that ARE able to come. Wear your beautiful dress, get your hair and makeup done, make yourself FEEL LIKE A BRIDE. This time is weird and crazy, but all the people at a wedding don’t have to be what makes it feel special. You can do it in so many other ways. And honestly, how cool to tell your grandkids that you got married during a pandemic?!” — Tiffany Pritchett, owner of Pritchétt Bridal

KEEP PLANNING “Keep planning. Be excited! You can still embrace the ‘hope for the best’ mentality, continuing to move forward amidst the uncertainty. Make sure to focus on what you can control. This will enable you to see the bright light at the end of this ever-evolving COVID tunnel. You have a team of professionals working with you every step of the way.” — Jocelyn at Culinary Crafts

KEEP LOVING “Love is not cancelled. Focus on you, your partner and the amazing bond that has brought you to this point — planning your wedding! Whether it be big or small, it can still be beautiful, unforgettable and noteworthy.” — Chantel Galloway, owner of Chantel Lauren Designs

May 11, 2020

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