The Coronavirus, COVID-19 – that’s all we seem to talk about and read about at the moment.  This period in time is unprecedented and it’s certainly been very unsettling both on a personal and business level for everyone.  Planning a wedding is undeniably a stressful process at times, and adding a pandemic into the mix has understandably caused couples a lot of additional anguish.  As a Wedding Planner and an Event Planner who’s been in the industry for over ten years now, I’ve experienced a number of difficult times, but this is certainly uncharted waters.

We’ve been working incredibly hard to re-assure and assist our clients to re-arrange their wedding or special event, and the suppliers we have close relationships with have been amazing in supporting us to do that.

The current situation has had a profound knock on effect to the wedding and events industry.  For weddings specifically, the spring and summer months are undoubtedly the busiest, and with the majority of these being re-scheduled to either later in the year or next year, this defers a sizeable sum of income.  It also means key dates for 2021 are being booked for postponed events, rather than new bookings taking these which again affects revenue as there are only so many weekends in the year.

Venues have been struggling – some are finding it hard to find enough free dates to satisfy each client, especially with most weddings taking place on Friday or Saturdays. Having said this though, overall, I’ve been very impressed at how the industry is handling the situation and everyone we know is doing all they can to support their clients and be as accommodating as possible.

We have back up plans in place for events due to take place later this summer and are keeping a close eye on the situation – it certainly helps that we have such good relationships with key venues and our suppliers.

Despite being in lock-down, how can you continue to plan in an effective and efficient way?

Whether you’re recently engaged, planning your wedding for next year or in the midst of trying to finalise the details for later this year, there’s actually a lot you can still do – here are our suggestions:

1. Find your dream venue – fast!

If you’re wondering how to start planning a wedding, then if you haven’t decided on your venue yet, now’s the time to jump on this as soon as possible!  Venues are getting booked up for 2021 dates as couples postpone from this year to next, so I’d advise against waiting until restrictions lift as the likelihood is there will be very little availability.

The venues we’ve spoken to have different approaches, but many are offering virtual tours. We’ve done several with both myself and our client patched in so we could walk and talk through the event space and it worked very well.  There may then be the option to put down a small deposit to hold your preferred date, with the opportunity to cancel without charge should you decide it’s not right for you, once you’re able to view in person after lock-down.

Some venues aren’t able to offer a virtual tour but may be happy to put a tentative hold on a date instead until a visit is possible.

2. Find your perfect wedding suppliers

Rather than putting the planning on hold, I would suggest continuing with finding your ideal suppliers as their diaries will already be busy for next year.  If you are looking for a photographer for example then take the time to look through websites and ask to see some full galleries of sample weddings to get a better idea of their style and level of work.

As most people are working from home, it’s then very easy to have a face to face call to discuss your wedding plans.  I personally didn’t use to like having Face Time calls, but I’ve got used to it very quickly and it’s easy to forget that you’re not actually sitting with that person.

3. Discuss your vision

 Make the most of the time you have together at home to talk about what it is you both really want from your special day and what wedding ideas you have. It’s easy to get swept along by the planning and forget the key points that are most important to you. Compile a list of your top 3 priorities. Allow yourselves time and space to visualise, dream and be clear about how you envisage your wedding day in its entirety.

4. Think of the personal touches

While the bigger picture and the ‘wow’ moments are incredibly important, what also helps to make your day really personal is the small, thoughtful touches.  Think about how you can incorporate your story as a couple into your day. What about considering using a special scent into the day; wearing a piece of jewellery from a loved one who is no longer with you; personalising the evening cocktails, or writing personalised cards to each guest as part of a welcome pack to greet them?

5. Work on the style and design

Think about the design and look for your day now you have the extra time to do so. Pinterest and Instagram are wonderful sources of inspiration but look outside of these as well. Interior design always inspires me as does the seasons.  If you’ve already started a Pinterest board then you may wish to refine this as we often see a jumble of lots of different ideas that don’t really work together. Once you’ve streamlined your vision you can then start looking for hire companies, florists and production teams to bring your ideas to life.  You may even want to consider hiring a Wedding Stylist to assist you with the design process as it can be quite overwhelming.   We offer this as a stand alone service with varying levels of support.

6. Consider hiring a wedding planner

Now more than ever, couples should be seriously considering hiring a Wedding Planner to either work with them either throughout the planning process or at least as part of it.  Not only will a good Planner enable you to have a once in a lifetime day, without the stress of planning everything entirely on your own, they are also there to support you if and when things go wrong.  Our clients have said our fee is worth it’s weight on gold for navigating them through this current COVID-19 situation!

7. Change your seasons

If your wedding was originally in the summer and you’ve pushed it back to later in the year, then you may wish to alter the design to something more seasonal, along with changing the choice of menu.  Your planner or florist/caterer can work with you to do this, or alternatively you can have fun on Instagram and Pinterest finding new ideas.  Alternatively, if you’re set on the look you had previously then keep in mind that you may need to substitute some flowers as they won’t be available, or you could consider using some good quality silk flowers instead, mixed in with the real ones.

8. Source your thank you gifts

Small businesses and local businesses need our support more than ever so take the time to research what gifts you could give your family and bridal party.

9. Practice your first dance together

Make the most of your time at home together to plan and practice your first dance together. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated unless you want it to be of course, however you do want to feel comfortable on that dancefloor together when everyone’s looking at you.  Some companies such as First Dance are offering online dance lessons with a professional teacher via Skype.

10. Take time for you

While we’re all busy trying to juggle everything, make sure you take time out for yourself to alleviate stress and to get fit ahead of your wedding day. I find exercise really helps me control my stress levels and I’ve discovered some many amazing apps to help tailor different routines in bite size chunks to do around working, home schooling, cleaning, cooking etc!

So how can Cranberry Blue help? 

We understand how unsettling planning a wedding amidst the COVID-19 situation is, so we’ve just introduced a new consultancy service for those couples who perhaps don’t have the budget for our fully comprehensive service, or perhaps are happy to plan the majority of their wedding but could really benefit from some support, advise and guidance along the way.  We can therefore provide our time by the hour in various size blocks, for phone or Face Time calls so do get in touch if you’d like to find out more, either by calling Melanie directly on 0044 (0)207 411 9819 or emailing enquiries@cranberryblue.co.uk.

Header image – Mark Bothwell; Image 1: John Nassari;  Image 2: John Nassari; Image 3: Reportage By; Image 4: Pippa Mackenzie; Image 5: Dominique Bader