Mar 24, 2020

Mindful Wedding Planning During COVID & Social Distancing

The main purpose of this blog post is to give a little virtual hug to all you couples planning your weddings or elopements for 2020 or 2021, currently navigating unprecedented uncertainty within this industry, while also figuring out how to balance all the financial, emotional, and practical difficulties.

If you find yourself wondering whether you should even still be planning your wedding or elopement amidst all this, I just want to say that it’s ok to feel the way you feel. There is nothing to feel guilty or selfish about. Honestly, people are the most important thing, especially at a time like this. Whatever form your celebration ends up taking, however big or small, your day is still about you making a pledge to one other and uniting your families. In social distancing, togetherness and positivity are essential – now is the time to show love, gratitude and kindness to one another, and keep looking forward to life’s good times. We are all affected and heartbroken by this reality – but you have every right to want to find pockets of normalcy where you can, and to protect the wedding day that you’ve so lovingly been curating. Try to use this as an opportunity to reprioritise what matters most to you, and create an experience you’re even more excited about sharing with your loved ones when the time does come. It’s ok to want to stay positive and enthusiastic, and to find reasons to celebrate – that absolutely doesn’t mean you’re belittling the gravity of what is happening around us. Keep visualising your happy, and be the light 🖤

This is the time to work closely with your community to make educated, considered decisions together. I know the idea of plans being shaky and uncertain at this stage is crushing, but I promise that you will have an incredible celebration when the time is right. Whilst none of us know what’s going to happen, your family, friends, and suppliers are all there for you to help you assess the situation day by day. The wedding industry has got your back, and is hearing you, providing a voice for you, and supporting you.

I’ve put together some advice and notes to try to help you stay mindful, positive, focussed, and safe throughout your wedding planning journey. I hope this is helpful, and of course don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions. You are not alone.

practical wedding planning tips

Your main goal right now is to stay healthy, keep yourselves and your guests safe, and minimize loss and risk – which will mean different things to different people, depending on exactly when your wedding is scheduled for. From a practical perspective, there are a few things you can do during this time to make your wedding planning as effective, positive, and mindful as possible. Here are some tips to consider:

  • If you’re unsure whether your wedding falls on a date that needs postponing: If your wedding date is later this year, the best thing to do is to keep open and honest communication going with your suppliers, your guests, and, of course, each other. My advice at this stage would be to have contingency plans in place, and to try to stay calm and positive. Don’t rush any decisions – but it never hurts to have a plan B, and much better not to be caught off-guard. I would suggest talking to your suppliers about a possible backup date. They may be willing to hold that for you at no additional cost for a certain period of time – and even if they can’t, it would still be worth having that conversation so you are armed with all the facts in case the situation changes quickly.

  • When booking new suppliers, or firming plans with existing ones: Make sure to read all contracts thoroughly and, most importantly, keep communications open and honest. It’s ok to ask whether any new policies are in place given the current circumstances – if your wedding is this year, and there is still a chance you may need to postpone (for the first time or again) do check the force majeure clause if there is one, check the cancellation payment terms, and ask about their process for rescheduling the date. Try to approach this gently if you can – this isn’t about being draconian, it’s just about being realistic, graceful, and aware of all the facts. Make sure anything you discuss and agree to is also in writing, either in a contract or an email thread.

  • Give yourself time buffers where possible: If your wedding is in 2021, I would also recommend not putting off the supplier booking and research process: the sooner you start securing dates and bookings with your favourites, the less you’ll need to worry about their availability vanishing as a result of postponed weddings getting shuffled. It’s possible that suppliers may take a little longer to get back to you at the moment, as they are doing their best so provide attentive customer service to the couples getting married in the next few months – but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear from you! Vendors are all still taking bookings for later this year and for 2021, and can let you know whether their processes, timelines, or deadlines have lengthened as a result of the current situation. For your wedding dress, keep in mind that materials and fabrics that need to be shipped from abroad may take longer to arrive than they normally would, so do discuss this with your boutique or designer when you can.

  • If you had already sent out your save the dates and/or your invites: To reduce the stress you may feel as a result of each of your guests calling to find out what is happening with your wedding, my advice would be to choose a way to communicate with everyone as quickly and as clearly as possible. Make sure you have the current contact information for your guests – preferably their email addresses, if possible. Whether you’re going ahead with plans because your wedding is far away enough, or you’re rescheduling your date, I would recommend sending out a mass email to all your guests letting them know where your head is at, and reassuring them that their safety is your number one priority. Speak to your stationer about whether they can create something bespoke for you to notify guests digitally – most designers are offering free emergency graphics precisely for this purpose: such as Golden Letter, EYI Love, Rebel Reflect, White Note Studio, and lots more. Keep the wording lighthearted but considerate – let your guests know you can’t wait to celebrate with them with a thoughtful “change the date” or “we still will” card.

  • Overcommunicate digitally: For now, you’ll want to plan to reduce the number of face to face meetings with your vendors, but definitely increase the number of virtual tours, phone calls, and Skype meetings instead. Your suppliers will be more than happy to accommodate this wherever possible. If you do need to meet with any vendors or visit venues, send an email beforehand to discuss what social distancing measures you can put in place to keep you all as safe as possible. Similarly, when it comes to communicating with your guests, use your wedding website to keep them up to date (and prevent the millions of phone calls in which you have to answer the same questions over and over again!). If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and need some space, you can write a short but heartfelt message letting people know that you’re trying to stay positive and ask that people respect this sensitive time. If you don’t have a wedding website yet, you can make a free one quickly and easily using templates on Wix, WithJoy, Appy Couple, Minted, Wedding Wire, The Knot, or Riley & Grey (this last one isn’t free but really chic!). You could also create a dedicated social media account or group chat, like a Facebook group, a private Instagram account, or a WhatsApp thread for your guests.

  • Consider separating the ceremony and reception: This option won’t be right for everyone, but one way to be less prey to the changing news is to separate the part that gets you married (the ceremony) and the part that requires many people to be in the same room (the reception). If it makes you happy, why not elope just the two of you so you can have a really intimate, meaningful celebration sooner – and then plan to have the party at a later date when all of this has settled? By taking this choice into your hands, you can feel more in control of the marriage itself, and focus on the things that really matter to you. You’ll also be less worried of the effect your wedding will have on guests’ safety, and feel more present and mindful on the day of the ceremony. Ultimately, it’s all about what is right for you and your community: don’t feel pressured into doing something because everyone else is!

  • Stay productive with small, achievable, fun projects. While suppliers are busy rearranging and rescheduling Spring weddings, you can still be productive and proactive with your planning. Here are some things you could be thinking about:
    • Refining your inspiration or Pinterest board. You can add sections to your Pinterest board to arrange images in the most useful way.
    • Start formatting and narrowing down your guest list – can you be reaching out to people to check addresses, emails, and dietray requirements, if you haven’t already?
    • Ordering dresses and accessories for showers, rehearsal dinner, or your honeymoon. There may be a delay on delivery times, so it’s good idea to order outfits with plenty of notice.
    • If your honeymoon is far enough out from the suspected travel ban, then youc can begin discussing possible destinations and chat with a travel agent.
    • Spend some time curating playlists for your ceremony, drinks reception, first dance, and so on. Also a play/do not play list is very helpful to give your DJ or band so they can learn more about your taste in music.
    • Start designing or gathering information for your paper goods like invitations, signs, menus, orders of service, and so on. If you’d like to make some yourself, this is a great time to start!
    • Order any loose items of decor, like your guest book and pens. If you have any other DIY projects in mind, make a start on assembling and purchasing materials. You may have lots of time on your hands for creating beautifully personalised elements.
    • Research your country/state’s marriage license requirements, and change of name process if that’s relevant to you.
    • Research, buy, and/personalise favours and welcome bags, if that’s something you’d like to include.

  • Hire expert help: The most important thing you can do for your own peace of mind is to make sure you surround yourself with an expert, trustworthy wedding team whom you know understand your situation and are there to support you moving forward. Having an amicable, honest, and respectful relationship with your wedding suppliers has never been more important – you may both be dealing with very difficult consequences of this epidemic for months to come, and you’ll both need to be patient and understanding with one another. If you don’t have wedding insurance, don’t beat yourself up about it – many people didn’t! But definitely purchase that once insurance companies eventually open up applications again (in the UK they are currently not offering new policies, while they assess the impact of COVID). And if you don’t have a wedding planner, I would highly recommend looking into that at this stage if you think your budget may allow for it. I know it may seem biased for me to recommend that as I’m a planner myself! But honestly, we’re here for you – if you needed help with anything else in your life, you wouldn’t hesitate to contact a specialist, so why treat your wedding any differently? We are here to guide you with all the practicalities and legalities, give you expert advice, champion your interests with all your suppliers, and create an experience you will love looking forward to; if you do end up moving your wedding date, we can support you in reconfiguring, rescheduling, and renegotiating. Having said that, if you don’t feel that working with a planner is right for you or your budget, don’t worry – all the suppliers in the wedding industry are banding together to be there for their couples. Reach out to them for support, and head to social media and online for valuable resources – most wedding blogs are offering advice pieces on multiple useful topics.

self care while wedding planning

If you are planning your wedding for later this year or next year, or working hard to reschedule your plans, there is no one-size-fits-all advice – but I would say the most important thing is to look after yourself, so you can stay motivated and strong. Staying mentally and emotionally well at this time is vital and I encourage you wholeheartedly to try to find a little time every day to care for you and your loved ones. Think about what makes you happy, and what helps you center your thoughts: it might be a few minutes of breathing or meditating, it might be a creative hobby, it might be some mat exercises in your living room, or just taking time to expose yourself to nature, read a book, or listen to a podcast. Mute your phone notifications for a while, explore the present moment, and notice the ground beneath you. To keep strong, sharp and focussed as you work through the challenges, make sure you’re eating well and keeping up with your normal routine as much as possible too.

As you plan, keep your eye on the end goal, and try to use your energy positively and productively. Make this period of self-isolation feel productive if you can, and take breaks from wedding planning too – keep to your routine but introduce new, fun, rewarding things centred around self care. Catch up on looking after yourself. Try changing your mindset: it’s not about what you have to do, but rather what you GET to do. Make a note of things you’re grateful for each morning, and think about what you can do today to have something new to be grateful for tomorrow.

I would also recommend trying to limit the time you spend reading or watching the news – pick just one (trusted) source to check at a specific time each day. Don’t trust speculation on social media and remember that journalistic language is more concerned with being sensationalist than with being considerate. Stay alert, but don’t let the news overwhelm you with negativity. Remember that your friends, family, and suppliers are there for you and you will get through this together.

My lovely friend and brilliant make-up artist Kylie Mcmichael has some additional self-care tips for us:

  • Keep yourself healthy! This isn’t limited to just the mind – staying at home for long periods of time can wreak havoc on your body and your skin. Try to keep to your usual routine, getting up when your alarm goes off, that morning cuppa, washing your face and getting dressed for the day. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water along with your tea or coffee and try to limit your junk food intake. Not only are the calories more than you would usually consume in a day but the high sugar and fat intake long term isn’t good for the soul or your mood.

  • If your skin has changed because you’re not going out as much as you were, notice what has changed about it and work on nourishing the life back into it – just because your wedding is postponed doesn’t mean your beauty routine has to stop!

  • Take this opportunity to have a good beauty kit sort out. Ten year old eyeshadows and crusty mascaras have no place in this world! Get all your makeup brushes out, new and old and give them a good clean with warm soapy water and a spritz with Dettol or similar and leave to dry naturally on a clean towel. Remember skincare also has an expiry date ( usually 12/18 months) so get on sorting that bathroom cupboard and chuck out what you can’t use to make way for some lovely fresh products when you can invest.

  • Day light lamps are amazing and can be really beneficial for those suffering with Seasonal Affective Disorder or those that can’t leave the house for limitless times during the day. For those of you stuck in flats in highly populated towns these naturally up your vitamin D intake and promote a good mood. Here is just an example of one of my favourites.

She is very kindly offering to answer any questions you may have about your beauty routine, so do get in touch with her on her website or her Instagram if you’d like to chat with her. Thank you Kylie!

useful resources

I wanted to finish this article with a list of some of my favourite resources available out there are the moment – some specific to wedding planning, and others that may nourish other parts of your life.

wedding planning resources

  • Coronavirus support articles for engaged couples on Love My Dress.

  • Free wedding planning checklists, tools, and wedding supplier dirctories on Junebug Weddings.

  • Free wedding planning tools on Wedding Wire and Bridebook.

  • Free online platform for creating and sharing to do lists on Trello.

  • You can use Pinterest to create inspiration boards for each element of your wedding – if you’d like a place to start, have a browse through my Pinterest boards.

  • Use Google Drive and Dropbox for safely sharing files with your fiance`, planner, suppliers, and guests.

  • You can spend some time on Spotify curating your playlists for your ceremony, drinks reception, dinner, first dance, and party.

lifestyle resources

learning resources

  • The fabulous Tamara Rojo, artistic director of the English National Ballet, as well as a lead principal dancer, is offering streamed ballet classes on Facebook.

  • Duolingo is a fantastic resource to practice a new language, with small exercises you can complete each day. Download the app so you can keep track of your progress and try new challenges.

  • Cambridge University Press (CUP) has made its collection of academic textbooks available online for free until the end of May.

  • If you’ve always wanted to learn coding, why not try some free coding classes on Codecademy.

  • On OpenCulture you can take online courses from the world’s top universities for free. There are over 1,500 online courses from universities like Stanford, Yale, MIT, Harvard, Oxford and lots more.

  • If you’re not sure what you want to learn, but have some time for practising new skills, have a browse through all the online classes available on Coursera, Masterclass, and Skillshare.

If you are planning a wedding or elopement in 2020 or 2021, whether original or rescheduled, and you’d like expert support by your side – I’m here for you. I can give you comprehensive guidance, or just peace of mind on the specific elements you need help with. To get in touch, you can fill out my contact form or just email me at valentina@thestarsinside.com.

Sending you love and light – stay safe, friends!