Your Wedding & COVID-19: My Action Plan For Your Wedding During Coronavirus

*Last Updated on November 23, 2020*

As we come to the end of 2020 we have experience so much this year that no one would have ever expected. Although 2020 was a different year than we expected I was able to witness so many incredible elopements and intimate weddings that no one would have thought would have been possible in March. Couples choose to prove that love is not cancelled and moved forward with getting married and it truly was an incredibly powerful year to witness.

If you are reading this you are likely getting married in 2021 or 2022 and I am sure you are nervous, scared and all the emotions in between. Let me tell you you have ever right to feel this way! Chris and I are in the midst of planning our wedding for 2021 and knew there was a risk the pandemic would still be around. Our original wedding plans may not look the same but at the end of the day as long as we are able to get married that is the most important part to us.

With that being said after reflecting on 2020, wedding planning and how I was able to help couples out and what Chris and I are currently experiencing as we plan through our wedding my biggest piece of advice for ANY couple planning their wedding in 2021 and even as far as 2022 is to have a PLAN B!

Researching & Start Planning Your Plan B

I can’t even imagine having to consider cancelling or rescheduling your wedding. We feel the exact same way. 2020 has really thrown us for a loop and whether you have already had to postpone your wedding or not it still is a stressful time for the two of you. There are a ton of great options when it comes to what a Plan B can look like! Here are a few options:

  • Have a wedding in a family members backyard, rental property or public space (like a provincial park, etc)! Why is this a good idea? With venues not being able to run during certain parts of 2020 weddings were still able to move forward on private properties as long as they adhered with the social gathering numbers. With this in mind this could be a really great option for one for sure thing of having a venue that should be able to remain open unless a lockdown or really strict measures go into place
  • Chat with your venue on how their COVID-19 measures are and what will they be doing based on what we have seen over the last 9 months. Will they allow for smaller groupings to take place, etc.
  • Make a revised guest list based on what we experienced in Canada for 2020 – we saw groupings as low as 10-50 inside allowed and up to 100 people be allowed outside. Make plans that 2021 will follow along these trends.
  • Consider an elopement with just the two of you or your closest family / friends! A lot of my couples this year opted to elope this year and then host a larger party with all of their original guests once things settled.

What Do ‘Plan B’ Weddings Even Look Like?

Many of my couples that choose to move forward in 2020 getting married ended up saying to me they were so thankful they had to have a smaller wedding as that is what they wanted all along. They never wanted the 150 people guest list, the extra expenses of decor and flowers- they wanted simple, a great time with amazing food and being able to spend it with close family & friends. ‘Plan B’ weddings ended up turning into couples dream weddings they could not have been happier with!

Check out a few of these weddings I was so fortunate to document this year to show you what a day could look like for you:
Muskoka Family Cottage Wedding
French River Cottage Wedding
Hiking Elopement in Killarney Provincial Park

I encourage you to put as much love, thought and energy into your Plan B as you did your original plan so that should you end up having to move forward with it you are equally as happy and able to do something that feels amazing! If you feel stuck or are not sure where to start on a Plan B do not hesitate to give me a shout I was able to help so many of my incredible couples out in 2020 work through a whole new day and ensure they loved every minute of it.

Should We Cancel our Wedding / Elopement?

I am sure the thought of having to cancel your special day after all the hard work you have poured your heart and tons of time into just is so stressful. This is something no one has ever had to worry about before when planning a wedding. I can promise you that I am here for you through every step of the way to ensure you get all the help and support I can give!

I understand the idea the thought of cancelling and waiting out the pandemic may feel like the right choice, but there are so many options. All of your vendors that you have on your wedding team are small businesses that you are the reason we are able to feed our families every night which we are always continuously grateful for. 2020 was an incredibly hard year for small businesses and unfortunately some businesses were not able to continue. When you book with me and the rest of your vendor team you put your trust in our expertise and I can promise you we will get you through this. Whether you choose to downsize and continue with your date you help keep small businesses like myself are able to continue.

** A few things to note to best prepare you for the upcoming year. Should the government be allowing weddings in any capacity your contracts with venues and vendors are still 100% valid and cannot be seen as unable to be completed. Many places have a change of date fee / postponement fee in place should you choose to move to 2022 to be on par with their next year rates. It may be better to discuss with your venue and each vendor independently about potentially doing something smaller on your originally scheduled date to avoid any additional fees. As well, most contracts take a non-refundable retainer to secure your date and turn away business after that point for your selected wedding date. Should you choose to outright cancel your date and the government is allowing weddings you do forfeit your deposit. In cases like this I like to work with my couples to transfer this money to future sessions such as anniversary sessions, family, newborn, etc. **

Should We Postpone Our Wedding / Elopement?

When booking your wedding in 2021 many of us knew the risk that there would still be lingering issues from COVID-19. We knew that when we choose to get married in 2021 that we likely would not be able to have all the guest on our original guest list, but my learning experience from 2020 was that the most important thing is being able to marry the partner of your dream and should you be able to surround yourself with additional friends and family that is truly an added bonus.

It is still hard to predict how each season will go next year. My first suggestion is to not postpone but go to your plan b! Revist what is most important to you for your wedding and should you feel stuck or not sure where to go next never hesitate to reach out to me! I do full planning for all of my elopement couples from finding their venues, vendors and helping with so much more so I have a ton of knowledge in the area of intimate weddings and would be so happy to help you!

What I Need From You:

Communication is important in any relationship and like I mentioned the very first time we emailed I want to be more than just your photographer but also your friend. Let’s keep the lines of communication open the entire time! Should you start to think about postponing, changing your venue or just feel stuck feel free to reach out to me. The more information I know the more I can help you during these unique times. Here are something that I would love to get from you to ensure the best experience possible for your wedding:
– If you are considering rescheduling I would highly encourage you to only reschedule 60-75 days out to your day. We have seen so many changes over just weeks in 2020 and we know that as the warm weather comes we start to see things get better very quickly if we follow the same trend as 2020.
– If you are considering reschedule reach out to your venue if that is applicable and then let me know what their availability looks like! If you could provide 3-4 date options that work for both you and the venue that would be incredible so we can work together to find a new date.
– Now that we have gone through almost a full year of COVID-19 we have a better understanding of what to expect. Large group gatherings will likely still be a while until we are able to resume those so please keep that in mind when choosing your guest list or revisiting your original wedding plans.
– Keep me in the loop throughout your process! Communication is key in these types of situations to ensure there are no surprises! I will do everything I can to stay flexible for you on my end. 

How I Am Here For You During the COVID-19 Pandemic & Ensuring Your Safety:

Safety for you and for my family are my goals throughout this pandemic. In the unlikely event that I myself become ill and are unable to photograph your wedding day, I will ensure that you have a replacement photographer who is equally skilled and experienced with the same shooting style as myself. All post work/editing will be completed by myself and will align with the photo styles that you see on my website.

  • On your day of I am wearing a mask the entire time should we not be able to socially distance properly at 6 feet apart.
  • All of my camera gear and anything else I have with me on your wedding / elopement day has been thoroughly cleaned prior to each event.
  • I have tons of hand sanitizer and lysol wipes for everyone!
  • I am staying on top of all provincial and federal laws to ensure we know exactly what is going on. If laws or restrictions change I will most definitely be in touch to update you of these.

Coronavirus or also known as COVID-19 seems to be the thing that is dominating all the conversations lately and rightfully so. It is impacting our lives as we know it in almost every way possible. As a wedding and elopement photographer we are seeing a massive impact on the wedding industry and how it is impacting couples like yourself getting married as well as wedding vendors alike. With all these daily news updates, social media constantly updating and rumours spreading I have put together the top 10 things to know while planning your wedding during Coronavirus to try and help you through these unprecedented times as much as I can. I wanted to put together something for couples to be able to reference and have as a place to go for how to handle this situation I could have never imagined we would ever be in.

But before we dive into what you should do while planning your wedding during this Coronavirus outbreak, the process of rescheduling your wedding and what you can do I wanted to say you are NOT alone in this! We are all going through this together, vendors, family, friends, thousands of other couples and we will get through this together. Your relationship and love for each other is not cancelled, the support you have felt for from your family and friends while planning your wedding is still there, your relationship with your vendors is still very much there. I can promise to all my couples that I am 150% here for you through all of this! Through thick and thin we will get through this together, this is just merely an obstacle in the way of getting to your dream day.

Here are the top 10 things you need to know while planning your wedding during Coronavirus.

1. Safety is #1 during COVID-19

Your safety is your number one priority during this COVID-19 outbreak. Staying inside, washing your hands and practicing social distancing is really important during this time. You want to remain healthy so that you do not have to worry about falling ill prior to your upcoming wedding. For information on how to stay safe and further prevent the spread of Coronavirus make sure to check out the Canadian Government’s website here. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has some great resources and information on their website as well as a myth busters page on the WHO website that tackles current myths and their truth.

2. Understanding When You Should Cancel You Wedding / Elopement in 2021

This will really depend on when your wedding is taking place. I have put together a timeline for the upcoming months on what you can do based on what month your wedding is taking place in:

If your wedding is in January – February:

  • Reach out to your venue to get an understanding on their stance (are they ready to start rescheduling or is your wedding currently still on as of right now), their refund policy and dates they have available for you to reschedule to.
  • Have you considered the options of going forward with your current date whether it be at your original venue should they allow you to or a new space with the amount of guests we will be allowed based on the governments regulations. As of November 23, 2020 most regions are allowed 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors with the except of Toronto, Peel, York and Halton regions which is limited to 10 people both in and outside.
  • Once they have provided you with some dates narrow it down to 3-4 dates that work for you and your families. Then reach out to your vendors and share this information with them to choose a date they are all available for.

If your wedding is in March – April:

  • My suggestion would be to wait until the New Year. This may feel very last minute but if you have a solid Plan B in place you will be ready either way! We should see changes come the new year and hopefully current precautions that are being taken will help to allow additional groupings to be allowed.
  • Have you considered the options of going forward with your current date whether it be at your original venue should they allow you to or a new space with the amount of guests we will be allowed based on the governments regulations. As of November 23, 2020 most regions are allowed 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors with the except of Toronto, Peel, York and Halton regions which is limited to 10 people both in and outside.

If your wedding is in May – June:

  • I know you’re scared – your wedding is feeling like it is coming up so soon. My biggest suggestion to you is begin if you havn’t already started on your Plan B for your current date, but don’t put it into action yet. So much can change between now and May – June.
  • Remember the trends of last year we began to see the curve starting to flatten as the weather got nicer and if we follow the same trend we will likely see the same thing. As well, if all goes well the vaccine should be beginning to roll across Canada by this point and hopefully working towards allowing for larger gatherings.

July – December Weddings:

  • Hold tight! I know this is so much easier said than done, but so much is going to change between now and then. It is so scary to feel like you are stuck in limbo with the unknown if your wedding is going to be taking place or not (we are in this exact boat with you!!), but I have a feeling the summer we will be able to see the resume of larger weddings like we did in 2020. 
  • If you haven’t started working on your Plan B this is a great time to talk to your venue and vendors about this!

3. Work Hard on Your Plan B!

A. Take A Deep Breath & Grab Your Partners Hand (But Only After You’ve Washed Them!)

First thing’s first – take a deep breath, grab your partners hand and say we got this! Your wedding is first and foremost about the two of you getting married and spending your life together. Don’t be disheartened. All of this will pass. At this stage don’t look back, but look forward and embrace the new situation. Your wedding may look different, at a different time, might be at a different venue, may be a different size than you had planned, but it will all be okay! Your vendors are all here for you. Your happiness is our number one priority and we are here to help you!

Find ways to make this even better, more about the two of you, add something into the wedding with the extra time you now have that you wanted to and maybe you couldn’t get the vendor you wanted or didn’t have the budget to originally add. I know this is a scary and super frustrating time and you are 100% allowed to feel this way! We are all going to get through this together and your wedding day is going to be the best day ever!

B. Beginning To Plan Your Alternative Day:

  • Try your best to keep your oringinal wedding date. Given how fluid the situation is, I am suggesting not making any significant changes until 45-60 days to your date. This timeframe is becoming the industry standard as it gives you the best chance to make the right decision with the information you have available. We saw so many changes so fast in 2020 that things changes on a moments notice for both the worse and the better. I would truly hate to reschedule your wedding too early in advance only to find out that we would have been able to move forward with your original date.
  • If you are looking at alternative dates be open to looking at weekdays, Fridays and Sundays or even in off-season dates instead of peak dates as you will more likely be able to move all your plans over smoothly this way. Try to move to the end of 2021 into 2022 to avoid having to pay rescheduling fees with your venue and vendors.

C. Reaching Out To Your Vendors:

  • Reach out to all your vendors with the plan or alternative dates provided from the venue and start to find a date that works for everyone for you to make as your alternative date.
  • Start with the vendors that there is only one of and they don’t have possibly as much flexibility as others (ie. Your photographer there is likely only one of, unless you are going with a larger company).
  • Ask your vendors whether there is a cut-off date for certain costs such as your florist or caterer needs to place their final order by a certain date. This way you can get a better understanding on when the latest you can make a decision. All vendors are being extremely flexible, but there may be a deadline beyond which certain costs have to be incurred if the event does not go forward as planned.
  • Make sure to discuss with each vendor if there is any additional charges / fees when it comes to changing your date. Some vendors are waiving their rebooking fee if you book within 20201and the winter / early spring of 2022, but are charging a re-booking fee if you choose to book during 2022 wedding season (May-October). Many people are trying their best to not have to charge you any more than you originally were contracted for, but please keep in mind all of your vendors are also small businesses that your money reflects them being able to put food on the table for their families, pay their rent or mortgage so have an honest conversation with them. Being honest with each other will be the best thing for this situation and understand if they have to charge you a bit more because you are also possibly booking a peak date. 
  • For any vendor that is unable for your new date when begin to work through with them on their cancellation policy and then begin searching for new vendors for that date. I will help all of my couples find new vendors that are available for their date and within their budget! Many contracts do require a non-refundable retainer taken at the time of booking which often pays our mortgage or helps feed our families. Try to work with them to see if they are able to offer alternative services on a different date – I always offer anniversary / lifestyle photos in lieu of any extra money not already used in the retainer so your money doesn’t feel totally unused.

4. Consider Your Alternatives:

Are you reconsidering having a big wedding after all the stress you have gone through? Has 2020 and COVID-19 made you feel that maybe all of this wedding planning doesn’t quite feel right anymore? Maybe you want to still get married on your original date (pending any government restrictions). This is YOUR wedding day and you can do whatever feels right + what YOU want to do! Ultimately, it comes down to your decision. Your friends and family will always support you no matter what. The world has turned upside down on us but your love is still here, your family and friends still love and support you, and your marriage will still happen! 

Eloping: If you have considered eloping this would be the perfect time to do so! Eloping can mean whatever you would like it to whether it is just the two of you, a smaller group of just your family, you get to make the rules. Having an elopement could potentially allow you to move forward with your wedding date as planned (pending no government restrictions) and allows you to do so without risking the safety of your loved ones. Eloping does not mean that you cannot do something later on for your original guest list! You could use your deposit at your current venue to host a party even with a symbolic ceremony for all of your guests to partake in and celebrate! This is a great way to use deposits you have with both your venue and vendors as well as allowing your guest to get excited and look forward to a celebration.

Check out our best places to elope in Muskoka for some ideas!

Broadcasting Your Wedding Online For Your Guests: Couples had great success in 2020 broadcasting their ceremony online to their family and friends through using Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, or other means. This way everyone still gets to watch you get married from the safety of their own home while cheersing you over a glass of bubbly!

Bride and groom hiking at the summit of a mountain in Kananaskis Canmore area.

5. Be Understanding

The majority of your vendors are small businesses that are fully self-employed with weddings being their sole source of income, myself included. 2020 was just such a weird and awful year for all small businesses and some are unfortunately not even open anymore. Everyone felt the impact of COVID-19 this year in some way or other. This is a scary time for everyone, couples getting married, vendors, venues and so many more. Every vendor that I recommend and work closely with are being as flexible as possible to offer you the best customer service we can. Be open and honest with us and we promise we will do the same back! We are here to help you get through this and ensure you have the wedding of your dreams!

6. Update Your Wedding Guests:

Your guests probably have you on their mind! Keeping them up to date on what is going on is important. One of the best ways to easily reach out to everyone at the same time is through a wedding website! If you don’t already have one this would be a perfect time to make one so that all of your information on your wedding can be in one location that is easy for guests to check in on as things progress. Here are some great wedding website options: The Knot, Wix, Wedding Wire, Zola, and Joy.

Once you have confirmed and made the official change to a new date you can send out Change the Date Cards. Many vendors are offering free digital downloads of these Change the Date Cards that you can send out. Here are two local wedding stationers that are offering free digital downloads: Vertala Design Co. & Monarch Design Co.

7. Relax & Reconnect With Each Other

  • Now it is time to take a break, relax, maybe grab some wine and have a date night in with great movies, cuddles and just enjoy your time together. Now that you have your alternative date planned, your vendors updated and your guests have been notified you have some time to relax. Sometimes the more we try to focus on things the harder it is going to get and the more stress it will add to the situation. If you have pushed your wedding out several months take a few weeks off and when you are ready to start dreaming up again – do it!
  • Once you are ready to resume your planning go through your current wedding plan with your partner and your wedding planner if you have one and decide if there is anything you would want to change, add to your day, etc. You can change your theme, your décor, add maybe a food station, live music, a flower crown station – whatever feels right to you!

8. Communication Is Key To A Successful Wedding

With so much changing daily in our personal lives, with your vendors, venues and potential government restrictions communication with your vendor team, wedding party and guests is absolutely key. Working alongside all of your vendors to keep them updated will ensure for a flawless wedding day when it comes.

One of the best ways to ensure successful and fluid communication amongst all of your vendors is hiring a wedding planner. Wedding planners can be so helpful during this time as they can reach out to your vendors for you, work on your alternative date, help source new vendors, and brainstorm ideas of you need to change your theme, etc.

This is something I am also trying my best to help all of my couples out with as I have an event planning background and want to ensure everyone has as little stress during this process as possible! If you need any help at all please never hesitate to reach out of me!

9. Stay Positive & Look at the Bigger Picture

Get excited and only look forward! Do not look back at what could have been. I know how heartbreaking and upsetting this is. You have poured hours upon hours of your heart and soul into planning your wedding for your original date only to have an unexpected event change everything. But let’s find that silver lining together.

Get excited about your wedding day together, maybe some guests that were not originally able to come can now make it, maybe you have more budget to be able to add in something special, you can really spend some time planning for that dream honeymoon. There are so many good things to look forward to and the most important thing is that you get to marry the partner of your dreams, your best friend and that is not going to change no matter what. So grab your parnters hand and say this together – we are going to get married! 

10. Stay Safe & Healthy

Like I said at the beginning of this post – staying safe and healthy is the most important part. The two of you need to be healthy in order to have this wedding! So let’s all stay home, read a book, find a new hobby, clean out a room you have been meaning to do for months and just relax and enjoy each others company.

Lastly, remember why you wanted to do this in the first place – you wanted to marry your partner, spend the rest of your lives together. This is the most important thing and that is still going to happen! We will get through this together – I promise! <3

Nicole Alex Photography is a travelling Elopement and Small Wedding Photographer based in Ontario that loves adventuring with experience driven couples across Canada including British Columbia, Alberta, Newfoundland and PEI. Learn more about Nicole Alex Photography and the elopement and wedding prices.