Top tips for wedding planning amid the COVID-19 pandemic

These tips should be taken to heart while keeping in mind whichever coronavirus policies are set forth by the government at the time of your wedding.

 THE HAPPY couple on their long-awaited day. (photo credit: Shani Zadikario)
THE HAPPY couple on their long-awaited day.
(photo credit: Shani Zadikario)

At the top of Mount Bental, he got down on one knee. I couldn’t stop giggling as I frantically shook my head “yes.”

We had come to the Golan Heights in December of 2020 on the first vacation we were able to go on since the pandemic began. The tzimmers (think bed and breakfasts, but in huts) were constantly closing and opening as the coronavirus policies set forth by the government shifted repeatedly.

I had a feeling a proposal was coming, I can’t lie. I was nevertheless blown away as we stood looking over what felt like all of Israel, my now-husband, then-fiancé-to-be grinning at me from ear to ear.

Looking back on it now, it feels like that’s what began the countdown to our big day. A big, imaginary clock ticked down the seconds until our “I do”s under a canopy of flowers. The first month or so was incredible. We got to tell people we were engaged and let them fawn over our rings, congratulate us, and so on.

But from that moment on is when wedding planning begins. If anyone has ever planned a large event, especially a wedding, they know just how difficult and exhausting it is. Adding a pandemic onto that made it practically excruciating. Since getting married – and at the time of writing, it’s been over a month – I’ve already had an exhaustive nightmare in which I’m told that I need to plan another wedding.

 A BIG, imaginary clock ticked down the seconds until our ‘I do’s. (credit: Andy Holmes/Unsplash) A BIG, imaginary clock ticked down the seconds until our ‘I do’s. (credit: Andy Holmes/Unsplash)

So as a result, I’ve decided to compile the following tips for the betrothed: a go-to mother-of-all-lists of every important lesson my husband and I learned in the long and intense process of wedding-planning. These tips, of course, should be taken to heart while keeping in mind whichever coronavirus policies are set forth by the government at the time of your wedding.

Don’t take anyone’s advice to heart

It feels ironic saying this just as I make a list of things to keep in mind when getting married, but there you are.

The moment you get engaged you’re going to see the little guidance gremlin everywhere you go. Every friend, family member, colleague, random person on the street, person behind you in line for coffee, and grandmother of your cousin’s sister-in-law’s brother’s child is going to want to bombard you with their intrusive commentary.

The thing to keep in mind is that every person’s special day is just that: their own unique day, not exactly like any other. Everyone will experience wedding planning differently and will be faced with different obstacles. Each person has a different individual taste. What was terrible for one could be a dream for the other.

For example, one of the first pieces of advice we received was not to get married in the winter. We planned our wedding an entire year in advance and could have very well organized an autumn wedding, but we wanted it in December to make it easier for the family coming from abroad. We were told that winter weddings are always a little messier, dirtier, and it’s not worth dealing with.

In the end, our wedding was right smack in the middle of the mother of all Israeli storms: the Carmel storm which hit Israel like a ton of bricks. Despite the heavy wind and rain, a vast majority of the confirmed guests came safe and sound, warmed up in our lovely event hall, and ended up not only dancing the night away, but got our party favors – seasonally-appropriate socks with “Tamar and Asaf” embroidered along the side – to keep warm while doing it. Like I said, it depends on you and the feel of your relationship.

Get some help

Wedding planning is exhausting. Think about it this way: you have something like 10 to 20 different fields within which you need to hire individual service providers, depending on the scope of your wedding. You need to research, speak to, and sign on with each individual person, from photographer to hair stylist, to the event hall itself. While it may sound simple up front, it can become exhaustive very quickly, and many couples find themselves reaching a breaking point a week before the wedding.

Let’s just say that while planning my own wedding, I sure became much more empathetic toward the bridezilla archetype.

A wedding planner, on the other hand, can take a massive load off. You give them your ideal wedding thoughts, what you care less or more about, your budget and so on, and they work off of that to provide you with an experience closest to your own. I can safely say that one of the admittedly few regrets I have surrounding my wedding was not hiring a wedding planner.

Another option is simply to create a trustworthy circle of friends and family who can help. Designate to each person one or two service providers to find for you and speak to. Give each person something that they may have more of an understanding toward. For example my sister, in her line of work, has been in contact with numerous makeup artists and was therefore confident in her recommendation for me, while my husband had seen our DJ at another wedding and knew that she was exactly the energy we were looking for.

Don’t know what you like? Play around with it

A lot of the time when people are told, “Make your wedding look like what you wish it would look like,” a lot of us draw a blank. This is the place where it may be fun to do some research.

Get on Pinterest or Google Images and find photos of different types of wedding venues, centerpieces, dresses, suits and the like. Make yourself a folder of your favorites. Even if at first it seems like they all have nothing to do with one another, with time you’ll see that there seems to be a clear pattern in the image that you’re seeing. 

Once you get to know the thing you are looking for in its entirety, your internal preferences will start to show. You may even go back and erase some of the things you liked at first but now, knowing better, have learned better.

Learn from other’s mistakes

There are a ton of Facebook groups and websites where brides and grooms can go for recommendations and warnings. A popular one in Israel that we found to be incredibly useful was Mit4Mit, a website where one may write detailed reviews about the different service providers at their wedding. People write wordy explanations and they do not hold back, which really helped us narrow down our preferences. It’s important to see what others felt was good and bad for them.

An example of this was our search for a photographer. While we saw incredible photographs on one photographer’s website, we later saw that the reviews of his work were less-than-ideal. We soon found that while the photos displayed on his website were great, in actuality he and his team were rude to the guests and caused numerous unpleasant experiences. We went with a photographer who was clearly talented and who was recommended as being kind and efficient – the latter being a quality much needed in our boisterous and very Israeli family.

Check your contracts

During the pandemic, the government’s policies change by the day. When we booked our event hall, it was shut down due to coronavirus restrictions. Between then and our wedding, event halls were opened and shut again and again, then the number of guests was limited, then that limit was changed, then changed again, and so on. 

The last thing you want is being stuck in a situation in which, heaven forbid, either you catch coronavirus right before your wedding or policies force your event to shut down, and you have service providers saying you owe them exorbitant amounts of money.

Therefore, make sure that all of your contracts include a coronavirus clause that takes into account any situation such as those listed above that are out of your control.

Prepare the family: Not everyone will come

There’s a good chance, in the middle of a pandemic, that you will not be able to invite everyone on your guest list. The regulations, as mentioned, ebb and flow and are ever-changing.

Meanwhile, your parents are inviting their coworkers; your grandparents are inviting their cousins; your siblings are inviting their friends. No one thinks twice about those they are bringing, or even consider that their guests may be the ones cut if you are forced to lower the number of guests.

You should therefore prepare everyone for the worst while hoping for the best. Tell mom that her colleague’s husband can’t come. Tell grandpa that his childhood best friend has never met you. Or, if you wish, tell them that they can all come, but to be prepared to cancel those invitations should the need arise.

One-week countdown: Be extra safe

It’s a week before your wedding. You have your bachelor/ette parties, bridal shower, final arrangements, and so on. This is not the time to catch coronavirus and be sent into mandatory lockdown. Be extra careful. Avoid public transportation if you can, and wear a mask in public. Be vigilant! We’ve seen some really awful things happen in the week leading up to the wedding in the past two years because of the pandemic.

Livestream

Take advantage of the newly introduced comfort and ease of Zoom and other broadcasting platforms and let family and friends from abroad join virtually. While they can’t properly be a part of the wedding itself, it will nevertheless include them in your special day and allow them to celebrate you from afar.

We greatly enjoyed live streaming on YouTube because the link we sent to our guests was later used to re-view the ceremony, and the comments people left throughout the event were timestamped along the side of the video.

Don’t go back to reality immediately

While the wedding itself is incredible, you’re going come out of it absolutely drained. Don’t go back to work two days later; in fact, I would not even recommend going on your honeymoon immediately. Take some time off to disconnect with nothing else in mind.

My husband and I admittedly got extremely sick the day after our wedding. Perhaps it was the bad weather, but we felt it more like we had been running on fumes for the last few days leading up to the big event and when we were finally able to relax, it all came tumbling down.

Even if you don’t get sick like us, give yourself some time to recuperate.

Are you the bride or groom? No? Then leave them alone!

Believe me, the bride and groom have more than enough on their minds. They do not want to answer your questions about organizing shared rides to the event on the day of their wedding, and they do not want your judgment when they give you a curt response.

People planning a wedding have more than enough to deal with.

And finally: Have fun!

A wedding is a joyous occasion, but you can’t know just how much until you’re there. Don’t take on any tasks yourself on the day of the wedding, but rather designate everything and distribute all responsibilities so you can focus on the most important thing: Enjoying one of the happiest days of your life.