Here we are, 10 months into the pandemic in the middle of winter dreaming about warmer and better days. While the end is in sight, it will still be some time before we can safely gather again like before Covid-19. Many couples are opting to wait until 2022 or beyond to get married, others -maybe you- are thinking about tying the knot in 2021! And yes, you can.
Don’t know where to start? My intention is to help those looking to marry small this year with some inspiration and guidance.
As a wedding photographer, I am a documentation of experiences and quite the connoisseur of them as well. I wish for all of my clients to have a wonderful day, no matter the budget or plans. And the more unique the better! This is the time to create unexpected experiences for yourselves and your guests. (I mean, we have earned it, right???) If you aren’t sure where to start in your pandemic wedding planning experience, look no further!
Invest in the Experience
First things first: Thinking about how much you want to invest in your intimate wedding, micro wedding or elopement is a great place to start. You may be planning an event now and another larger party later. Or perhaps you are ready to just do it now and do it right. But remember, just because a wedding is “small” doesn’t mean the budget or experience needs to be.
$ Virtual Wedding or simple in person ceremony in a public place, limited photos, a few guests, no or minimal flowers or special attire
$$ In person ceremony, portraits of couple, guests (under 20), personal flowers, special attire, champagne toast and favors for guests like cupcakes, cookies etc. (no meal served)
$$$ In person ceremony, portraits of couple, guests (10-50), personal flowers, designer special attire, location design elements, rentals or florals, cocktail reception with guests or luxury private dining for couple or small group of guests
$$$$+ In person ceremony, extended portraits of couple, guests (10-50), designer personal flowers and special attire, location design elements or florals, sit down dinner with guests and a hi-end restaurant, venue or private home
Additional budget considerations: hair and make-up (recommended no matter the size or budget, it is a must!), transportation (think limos, vintage cars or even the subway) hotel (something nice, or a suite at the Plaza or similar), videography or live stream, personalized thank you gifts for guests, design elements, hiring a wedding planner to bring it all together.
Imagine your Dream Wedding Day
Next, imagine your dream day. It doesn’t need to look like a traditional wedding! Love Coney Island? Dream there. Love hiking? Dream around that. What are you wearing, eating, seeing, even smelling? Who is there? Just you and your love, or are there guests? Are dogs welcome?
If you are having trouble coming-up with ideas, ask yourself the following:
- Besides being legally married, what else do you hope to accomplish on your wedding day? Bring friends and family together? (socially distant of course or live stream?)
- Get some killer photos of yourselves?
- In what environment? (your balcony, a friend’s rooftop, a hotel suite, a park, a restaurant, a vineyard?
- Is there a particular food, beverage or restaurant you want to be part of your day?
Pick the most important element and build your day around that
Wonder what to do if you opt not to have a reception or dinner?
- Create a new tradition, something you can repeat on your anniversary
- Plan the best day ever by visiting your favorite places, museums, restaurant etc.
- Visit the places that have personal meaning to you, like where you met or your first date and turn it into a photo shoot
- Plant a tree together or donate or support an organization that is important to you and find a way to incorporate it into your day
- Combine elements of a traditional wedding, like speeches and first dances, into a ceremony
- Splurge on an experience you have been wanting to try
Find the Right Wedding Vendors to Make it Happen
Finally, once you have a picture in your mind of your wedding day, then you can begin to look for vendors to create your vision. By now you should have location ideas (city or town, maybe ceremony site or venue, photo location ideas but totally fine if not!), time of year (if not a specific date) and an approximate guest size.
At a bare minimum, you will want to hire:
- Officiant (or someone who can legally marry you like me if you want to keep it short and sweet)
- Photographer (obviously for photos, but we also make great witnesses if you elope!)
- Hair and Make-up (Highly recommended anytime you are investing in professional photography. Learn more from Sharon of SB Beauty)
- Floral Designer (A great designer will create custom elements for you and will work with the overall vibe of the wedding)
For an enhanced experience:
- Cinematographer or Sound Tech (For capturing audio of the ceremony, some offer live-streaming, and just another visual keepsake from the day)
- Planner (A planner can suggest vendors and bring all the elements of the days together, as well as coordinate, set-up and really, take a load of you on the day)
- Designer (to create a cohesive visual experience infused with your personalities)
See my vendor recommendation list.
Please reach out if you are looking for some help planning the best small wedding ever or just need a photographer to capture it!
Looking for real pandemic wedding inspiration?