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Silver Linings: How Covid-19 Could Save You from Wedding Planning Stress and Expense

Border-closures, lockdowns, event capacity restrictions and general limits on the freedoms we are so used to… Covid-19 has wreaked havoc worldwide, especially for those who’d planned weddings in 2020.

As New Zealand returns to life post-lockdown for a second time (with event restrictions finally lifting), weddings have begun to resume across the country. Of course, they do have a notable absence of overseas guests. Personally, I’m not sure we ever could have really had our wedding, had we planned it this, or next, year. My family are in the UK, Blair’s are mostly Seattle-based, four of five of my bridesmaids are overseas, and at a rough count, around one third of our 75 person guest list are also offshore.

However, there may be silver linings, and as I wrote back in April after entering the first lockdown, this could be an opportunity to make your wedding better: more personal, budget-conscious and more mindful. I acknowledge that for some, like those with an offshore guest list like ours, there may not be a silver lining – weddings and all plans beyond will be delayed for an indefinite amount of time. Some will have simple registry office weddings and parties later, some may start the families they had already intended to and marriage will be on the back burner for a while, and others will just wait.

If you’re not sure whether to postpone or plan, you may wish to look at How to Prioritise your Wedding to work out what’s really important to both of you about getting married and having a wedding, and whether you can still plan to do so in the current climate.

For those still wedding planning, these silver linings are for you…

Trim your Guest List

One of the hardest aspect of wedding planning for most couples is organising and cutting down the guest list. Many couples with large families have lists of well over 100 or even 200 people and find it incredibly hard to a) find large venues to accommodate their guests and b) budget for such a large event.

Some feel pressured to make room for many more guests than they’d ideally like to, at the expense of other things, such as their dream venue, a seated reception meal, or other wedding elements they can no longer budget for.

With the potential of further event restrictions (such as the level 2 cap on 100 people per event), the silver lining for some may be that they can have a smaller guest list. Not only are there likely to be some from overseas who just can’t make it, but you may finally feel like you have a good reason not to invite lots of family or distant friends – especially if it means you can get married sooner. An excuse not to “walk the social tightrope” of trimming your guest list, to quote Claer Barrett.

Some may even wish to elope or have a pop-up wedding of just a few witnesses and family. If so many of your family and friends are overseas that there’s no point in planning a wedding now, you could choose to save your pennies for a big overseas trip/belated honeymoon and celebrate with them along the way rather than host a big event. You can still have the dress, the flowers and the photos if you wish, you can still have a meal to celebrate, and if you wait til longer for the personal catch-ups, you’ll even have more and better quality time with each of your ‘guests’. A “cere-mini” with 15 guests, and a “cere-many” at some future point when restrictions are lifted and they can have a much bigger party – as Hamish Shephard of Bridebook suggested.

Of course, you may not immediately be able to agree on what to do, so see this useful guide on how to Avoid Common Wedding Planning arguments.

See – Couple who had their wedding party on zoom and Virtual Weddings on the rise in NZ

Save Thousands on Your Wedding Budget

Regardless of whether the pandemic affects your guest list, you can still benefit from a reduced wedding budget if you choose to – this could be a massive silver lining.

Many of us, myself included, have had to reduce our personal budgets and cut back on spending to account for income decreases and business reductions. Having done so, you may not feel quite as comfortable spending upwards of $20, $30 or $40,000 on your wedding celebration. The good news is, it’s not too late to chage.

Wedding budgets are all about prioritising what’s most important. Having spent much of the year at home, many of us are wanting to improve our homes, or finally get our own place after sharing with flatmates. What will mean more to you over the next year? If you’re still feeling financially stable, is an expensive wedding the difference between being able to afford your first home together, or finally renovating your bathroom? Or would you rather spend more money getting far, far away from home on an extravagant honeymoon later instead?

A smaller guest list will of course save you money, but the main way to save will also be to only spend on those priorities you identify as most important, and cut down on the rest.

DIY Wedding Decor – You learned a new skill, right?

I have a toddler, so it should go without saying that I did not pick up any new and brilliant skills during either of our lockdowns, unless you count the skill of distraction as we bypassed every closed playground along our daily walks around the neighbourhood. However, if you’re that way inclined, maybe you’ve become a Macrame styling maestro, or this has been the perfect time to try your hand at calligraphy and you want to DIY your Wedding Invitations or signage.

Even if you haven’t picked up a particular talent, with more time on your hands there may still be things you can DIY – putting together bathroom baskets, bridesmaids boxes, or emergency kits, gilded table numbers (DIY tutorial), a simple guest book, or handwritten notes as wedding favours.

Your Honeymoon is a Staycation

Believe me, I miss travel just as much as you, and can’t wait to plan our next overseas trip (though, with a second baby coming in March, it may not be quite as soon as others). However, you’re certainly going to avoid a lot of organisation and possibly stress by planning your honeymoon locally.

You’ll save money, but also have the opportunity to do something more relaxing and romantic. No expensive flights, visas, travel insurance, currency exchange, language barriers, endless public transport, changes of hotels every few days, time spent at airports, delays… international travel has its fair share of stressors, so perhaps you can save them for a later date and just have a few days to relax together.

More time to focus on Planning with Purpose

If you are facing delays, you have more time to focus on what’s important to you. You can keep a detailed wedding journal of all your dream day desires for when it does eventuate, give lots of time to writing your vows and speeches, and more time to enjoy with your partner

Whatever you choose, if you take this extra time to make decisions which are truly for you, you’ll have no regrets. Again, I’m sending all my love to those of you who are struggling after having to postpone your weddings, and I wish you all the best with wedding planning during a pandemic – which I know will feel so far removed from what you expected when you got engaged. 

Lots of love

Megan xx

Remember you’re not alone – read these wedding stories of those who’ve had to postpone.

How to Prioritise Your Wedding and Plan your Wedding with Purpose

Through planning our own wedding and helping thousands of other brides with theirs since, I’ve worked out how best to plan your wedding with purpose, according only to what’s really important to you (and what fits within your wedding budget).

Why do you need to Prioritise your Wedding?

If you’ve just started wedding planning, it’s easy to become submerged in ideas and advice, to the point where you forget the entire point of your engagement and wedding, and get lost simply ‘going along’ with every little detail (even those which aren’t important to you).
If you set your wedding priorities before you begin, you can continue to return to them any time you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed. Your priorities are the few elements of your wedding on which you put first and perhaps even those which you splurge on. However, that might mean readjusting your wedding budget and cutting out some of those elements which aren’t so important – and that’s totally okay!

How to Set your Priorities with your Fiancé

Before you begin anything else, sit down with your fiancé and each write a list of what’s really important to you for the wedding day. Writing it down is a great way to do so, because you’ll be able to independently allocate yours without being influenced by your his/her choices.
It also means you both have to contribute to the discussion (rather than he or she deferring to ‘you decide). Include it in your little white book wedding planner and you’ll always have them in a safe place to return to, and a keepsake from right at the beginning of your journey.
Having these honest conversations won’t always be easy, because you may be on completely different pages about what’s important – but it’s so much better to know now and get on the same ‘page’ together.
You may surprise yourselves and completely agree on your priorities list (you are getting married, after all!) in which case it will be all the more easy to cut out elements (and expenses) that just don’t mean much to you.

Stay Mindful and Consider your Priorities as you Plan

Be mindful that there’s no point in listing your priorities and then getting carried away with everything else and forgetting about them along the way. I suggest not only choosing, but actually organising your priorities first, so that those areas of your budget are ‘squared away’ before you get onto everything else. You may find that once you’ve organised the important things, you’re actually more prepared to cut out other things as you realise their value to you isn’t that high.
If you don’t organise your wedding planning priorities first, you risk organising other elements and running into a budget deficit when you find out how much those all-important priorities might cost, and it’s too late.

How Setting Priorities will actually help you Plan Your Wedding

Another reason for setting your priorities before you even begin your wedding budget is that it’ll make every other step much easier. You’ll have a really clear view of what you want for your Big Day, allocate your budget accordingly, and each time you find yourself wavering on other decisions, refer back to the lists you made together. Was it a meaningful component of your dream day? Yes? Fabulous. No? Cut it out.

Once you’ve had this all important conversation and written your lists in your little white book, head to wedding planning advice so that you can get started with wedding planning with purpose.