Wedding Planning During a Pandemic – With Natalie + Ryan
As you’re planning your wedding during COVID-19, know that there is light at the end of the tunnel! ✨
We’ve had 8 months of experience executing safe weddings during the coronavirus pandemic. We also have couples who have been through the experience and come through to the other side.
We’re dishing ALLLL the experience from Natalie + Ryan who want to share with you what you need to know if you’re planning a wedding right now. They recently tied the knot on March 27th, so went through the entire wedding #CovidBride rollercoaster.
Q: Tell us about your wedding planning story.
A: We got engaged at the end of October 2019 and started looking at venues pretty quickly after a friend scared me that dates go quickly. We looked at two venues in Orlando and three in St.Augustine, but none of them really felt right.
After doing several searches from St. Augustine to Orlando to Tampa, I found Streamsong randomly one afternoon and immediately texted Ryan 20 pictures and said “OMG I found it!” We decided to go check it out and stay the night at the resort before our tour and we fell in love. It checked all of our boxes and more! We were booked for March 2021 by the end of 2019.
Ryan has been super involved in every aspect of wedding planning, from décor to invitation design. Our aesthetic is a little unique, so it has been fun working together to bring it to life. As an interior designer and an architect, we are both so crazy detail oriented and have carefully tested and thought out nearly everything. We spent several hours one Sunday burning taper candles to see which burned the best (I’m a little embarrassed to tell people this).
Q: We know this year has been quite the roller coaster for everyone, but especially those planning a wedding. What was it like planning during a pandemic?
A: Honestly, we thought everything was going to be normal in March, so we were pretty calm planning everything. We read through our contracts to make sure we were protected just in case
Working at home made things a lot easier, being able to take calls during breaks or slow times, and being there to accept deliveries, etc.
Wedding dress shopping in a mask was hard and limiting my guests was hard too, but we made the best of it.
Everything felt delayed because we waited so long for our events (shower/ Bachelor/bachelorette parties) so once January hit with all of it in one month, it was a whirlwind until we left for Streamsong.
Q: What was your FAVORITE thing about wedding planning (namely March 2020)?
A: Our tasting day was the most fun! The staff at Streamsong went above and beyond treating us and our parents like kings and queens. That day it started to feel like it was really happening…sh*t got real! We were also able to do a mock set up of our table décor, so it was really rewarding seeing our vision come to life.
Q: What changes did you have to make to ensure your vision came to life safely?
A: Fortunately, we had already planned a pretty safe wedding from the start! Outdoor ceremony and cocktail hour with a ballroom reception that will hold double the guests that were invited (lots of extra space!)
Q: What made you move forward with your date?
A: We felt like we could have a safe wedding with a lot of family and friends that we love. Once January hit, there was so much positive news coming out about vaccines and we kept getting so many RSVPs that we just kept pressing forward.
Q: What was the biggest thing Our DJ Rocks did to help you during this time?
A: Staying positive and being available and responsive. There’s nothing that will stress out a bride more than an unresponsive vendor. With all of the positive emails and fun playlists, Our DJ Rocks really kept things upbeat for me during stressful planning.
Q: What things did you do to communicate a sense of safety to your guests?
A: We expressed on our invitation that we will follow the CDC recommended guidelines to the best of our availability, but ultimately gave the guests freedom to call and talk to us if they had any questions or concerns. Our venue also made it so easy to accommodate anything.
Q: Why did you decide to still have a wedding now?
A: We have always wanted a wedding, the whole big celebration, and I just didn’t like the idea of eloping now and waiting to celebrate. I didn’t think it would feel as special. We had also been to three weddings at the end of 2020, and they felt normal and safe enough for us to move forward.
Q: Talk to me about working with your vendors. What level of flexibility does a couple need to have?
A: Always read your contracts, now more than ever! You need to be protected, and always think of the worst case scenario.
Q: What considerations with your vendors did you have to look at when you were making decisions about your own wedding?
A: Getting a good vibe upfront with prompt communication was key for me to even consider a vendor. Also reviewing the contracts with my fiancé and our families was good to get multiple points of view.
Q: What advice would you give brides who have booked or are looking to book with Our DJ Rocks?
A: You made the BEST choice! I would recommend hiring ODJR to do everything they need. It is so much easier to have less vendors when you have a one-stop shop: dj, emcee, lighting, and photo booth.
Q: Did you incorporate any fun safety measures for your guests? Custom masks or anything?
A: We incorporated some safety items in our welcome bags and had branded hand sanitizers available for everyone.
Q: If someone had no other option but to postpone, what recommendations would you give to them?
A: This thing seems to be never ending, so my advice would be to do your best in picking a date that works for the most important people to be there and take time to be okay with that.
We missed a lot of loved ones on our special day, but we chose to be excited about who was coming rather than sad about who wasn’t. It is a hard thing to process and learn to be okay with, but we learned that we cannot spend this entire wedding planning process depressed about people that won’t be there when there are a lot of people excited to be there and celebrate with us.
Q: What recommendations would you give to someone who is on the fence about having their wedding now or later?
A: Obviously your marriage to your partner is the most important thing, but that aside, you have to think about the next most important thing. For me, it’s a big wedding and that’s okay! There’s no reason to feel guilty about what you want.
If you would be happy having a mini wedding, do that. If you’d be happy eloping and waiting for the big celebration, do that. We need to stop with the bride- and groom-shaming for whatever decision they’ve made. Make sure you have the wedding that you and your fiancé want.
Find out from your vendors their availability and date change price fees so you don’t end up spending an arm and a leg to transfer.
Q: Let’s get real people…because this is the stuff everyone wants to know. I’m all about creating moments and living life to the fullest. That being said, do you regret it?
A: We do not regret moving forward with our March 2021 date. We had the most incredible weekend and although we had some loved ones missing, we still had the time of our lives. With many of our guests having been vaccinated, it was sort of a “coming out” party for everyone. Getting dressed up and dancing the night away is what we all need.
Q: Did you have troubles with friends and family? How did you handle that?
A: This has been our biggest struggle. Our families are super supportive of whatever decisions we made, but because the majority of Ryan’s family is overseas, it was hard to coordinate and get solid answers about who was coming and who wasn’t because everyone was holding out hope for so long. Ryan had to deal with this disappointment a lot sooner than I did, so he gave me pep talks a lot when we had people decline
The best advice I can give is that, as the bride and groom, it isn’t your job to coordinate anyone’s travel plans, you’ve got enough to coordinate and your families are there to help each other out.
Q: What is one last thing you’d like to add?
A: Always repeating to each other “ WE ARE EXCITED ABOUT WHO IS COMING NOT UPSET ABOUT WHO ISN’T” is the best way to stay positive in the midst of disappointment.
All photos by Christopher Ramos Photography