Between deciding who to invite and finding the perfect shade of blush linens, planning a wedding is no easy feat — and that’s before you toss in the uncertainties associated with a global pandemic. There’s no two ways around it: Engaged couples must navigate some tricky waters if they want to tie the knot this year.
“Omicron and COVID, in general, have greatly impacted how newly engaged couples plan their big day,” states Rhonda James of E218 Events Management, LLC. “Contingencies, such as only using outdoor venues, vaccine status, testing, masking, etc. were unheard of pre-COVID.”
And these new policies are only the tip of the iceberg. “There are so many more details to be considered to make weddings both safe and enjoyable,” James says. “Now more than ever, the assistance of a wedding professional can save couples stress, money, and time.”
None of this to say couples cannot or should not plan their journey to the aisle! Rather, it’s a matter of accepting the circumstances and remaining flexible to changes as they happen. Be mindful that the situation is always evolving, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the wedding day of your dreams.
Wedding industry experts chimed in to set expectations for 2022 weddings and share tips for staying safe while celebrating your love.
Confirm your vendors’ backup plans.
Every wedding professional has contingency plans for bad weather, no-shows, and other worst-case scenarios, but now COVID plans sit at the top of the list. Make sure to consult with your team to confirm they have alternative options in case something goes unplanned.
Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events elaborates: “Since Omicron is so fast-spreading, there is a good chance one or more of your vendors may get infected right before your wedding. It’s important to understand what their safety protocol is — do they test before the wedding? — and who their backup is if that should happen. Because that backup person or plan may actually have to come into play.”
Consider scaling back your headcount.
While we’ve seen the average cost of weddings drop since the start of the pandemic, engaged couples must still be mindful of their budgets as this year’s wedding boom and ongoing supply chain delays are expected to hike up prices. Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice your details to stay on top of your budget.
“Vendor rates have increased significantly to keep up with the demand over the past year,” confirms Lindsay Quinn of NST Pictures. “If you want to stick to a tighter budget but still have a beautiful wedding, consider trimming your guest list, rather than cutting your budgets for wedding vendors.”
“This will give you the same experience of a wedding with everything you've ever dreamed of and could help you avoid your event becoming a superspreader. You can always livestream the ceremony or share your wedding video on social media for everyone else to enjoy later.”
Prepare to accept substitutions.
Ask any wedding pro and they will agree: Shipping delays are a major headache in the industry right now. Unfortunately, there’s little that can be done to circumvent the issue, so couples and their vendor teams must plan accordingly and prepare to work with alternative solutions.
“Be aware of the current shortage issues affecting the wedding industry, such as flower and food items,” encourages Tonya Hoopes of Hoopes Events. “At times, florists and caterers are unable to source certain items. Be prepared for your vendors to make alternative suggestions. If you don't like the suggestions they make, it is alright to ask what other alternatives they can offer.”
Accept the reality of the situation.
We are well past the denial stage of COVID, so it’s wise to plan your wedding with the assumption that risk management will be a priority — even if your big day is months (or years) away. “While we all wish that COVID would have ended about two years ago, we have learned that it may be around for a while,” empathizes Jessica Castrejon of Mission Inn Resort & Club.
“Do not plan a huge wedding with hundreds of people,” Castrejon stresses. “You can always add guests on in the planning process — up to what your space will allow, of course — but it is harder to lower counts. Plan for safety — think plated meals instead of buffets, outdoor receptions, or indoor receptions that aren't ‘maxed out.’”
Get started ASAP.
While couples who said “I do” before 2020 could relish in newly engaged bliss for a while, vendors are now urging couples to kick their planning into gear as soon as possible. Otherwise, they may have to wait longer to book their dream vendors or settle for second-best.
“Do not delay in booking your vendors,” Hoopes urges. “While Omicron will have an impact on weddings we are still seeing a wedding boom. And while there is a boom, many vendors are facing staffing shortages and putting limits on the number of events they take to ensure their clients are taken care of. I suggest that each couple have their top three vendors and if one is booked or they can not reach a vendor, they reach out to the next one on their list.”
If that’s not doable, Shayla Kelly of Complete Weddings + Events recommends waiting for the wedding boom to settle down: “With an influx of weddings in 2022 and 2023, couples should plan for a longer engagement to help increase the chances that their ideal vendors have availability for their date.”
Go big with your venue.
While hunting for the perfect venue, look past the scenery and onsite design and consider: How safe is this space? Veronica Foster of Behind The Scenes Inc. explains that venue choices should factor in social distancing and other safety measures: “I do see a lot of different kinds of safety precautions taking place by the couples having smaller guest lists or requiring vaccines or testing prior to arrival.”
Foster continues: “But I also see something great — larger floor plans and lots of space for guests to walk rather than the traditional packed ballroom. Outdoor weddings will become more popular along with tented weddings. Those weddings that are indoor will have larger square footage per person so as to add some form of social distancing.”
Adjust plans to avoid high-touch areas.
No matter the venue, headcount, or layout, couples should continue being extra mindful about the areas of their space that are prone to crowding. A few changes can mitigate risk and keep people safe without taking away from the integrity of the celebration.
One suggestion: “Avoid or cancel your receiving line to limit shaking hands/ hugging all your guests,” encourages Whitney Craig of Confetti Events. “Removing this tradition will help maintain social distancing while keeping your guests out of a long queue.”
Craig adds: “Switch to a plated meal and tableside bar service/staff. Eliminating the long lines for food and alcohol well help maintain social distancing while also limiting the touchpoints so all of your guests don't have to touch the same bar menu or serving spoon on your buffet.”
If you’re hosting your wedding in 2022 (or even 2023), keep these considerations in mind to ensure that your special day is as safe and risk-free as possible. You’ll have more fun knowing that everyone is in good hands!
Written by: Meghan Ely
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.