Planning a wedding during COVID: group of bridesmaids in a room

COVID-19 threw the world for a loop in 2020. Many couples had to postpone their weddings or downsize and reimagine their dream day. Wedding venues were governed by restrictions that limited group sizes to reduce spread of the coronavirus while wedding vendors could no longer meet obligations. Many of us thought that by 2021, things would be well on their way back to normal. While the vaccines have helped significantly, a slow roll-out and widespread mistrust has led to a slower recovery.

As such, many couples — and newly engaged love birds — are still dealing with planning a wedding during COVID. As the pandemic continues, wedding planning comes with even more questions. Is it safe to travel for your honeymoon? Should you have a big wedding and require proof of vaccination or should you keep it small? To help you answer those questions and more, we’ve created this guide to planning a wedding during COVID. We’ll share top tips and highlight things you may want to consider during the planning process.

Wedding Day Options: Rescheduling, Minimonies, and More

Planning a wedding during COVID: couple wearing masks and holding hands while walking on the beach

One of the first things that couples face when planning a wedding during COVID is whether to host or reschedule the event. The right decision is different for each couple. If you don’t mind having a smaller wedding and just want to get married, downsizing and doing it on the originally planned date may be the best choice for you. If it’s your dream to have all of your loved ones and family members there, you may want to postpone or consider a virtual event. Below are different options for your big day.

Postpone to a Later Date

Many engaged couples choose to postpone the wedding to a future date. In some cases, this decision may be made for the couple — for example, when venues or vendors can’t meet their contractual obligations due to restrictions.

By postponing to a later date, you can keep your guest count the same and still host the wedding day of your dreams — just a year or two later. If you choose to postpone it to a later date, it’s important to stay organized. Work with your wedding planner or contact all of your vendors and venues to ensure everyone is on the same page with the new changes. If you can consolidate vendors — say, work with a hairstylist who’s also a makeup artist — you can reduce the number of people you need to contact going forward in case any additional changes or delays occur.

You’ll also want to make sure wedding guests are aware of the date change. An easy way to do this is to send digital wedding invitations. You can send out new invites or date change announcements with the click of a few buttons. Plus, you don’t have to risk going out to the post office or having your invites get delayed due to supply chain and employment issues.

Be sure to check out our guide to postponing a wedding for more details, including tips on wedding insurance. 

Get Married Now and Celebrate Later

For couples that just can’t or don’t want to wait, consider tying the knot now and having the wedding ceremony and celebration later. With this option, you can have the best of both worlds. 

To pull this off, you’ll need to notify guests as soon as possible that you’re having your nuptials now with a celebration to come at a later date. You can choose a date now or wait a few months to see how things play out. Just keep in mind that you’ll likely need to pick a date if you’re working with different vendors. Check your contracts and reach out to your contact person to determine the cancellation and postponement processes you need to follow.

Have a Micro Wedding

Also called a minimony, this intimate wedding style enables you to have a wedding on your planned date with fewer guests. With a small wedding, you can celebrate your love story and have your special day without needing to postpone. This type of intimate wedding is perfect for couples who want to share their day with a tight-knit group of friends and family. 

If you had a larger wedding planned, you can switch to a micro wedding or simply plan a small wedding from the beginning if you’re newly engaged. To downsize a larger wedding, it’s polite to send guests an update if you can longer accommodate them on your big day. 

Have a Big Wedding

As more and more people get vaccinated, it’s possible to have a larger wedding with a few restrictions and safety measures. This option is ideal for couples who want to host their dream day, keep the guest list as is, and make just a few adjustments to decor and attire to pull it off. 

For starters, you can host a big wedding and only have vaccinated guests in attendance. Our guide on how to communicate vaccination requirements in your wedding invitation will help.

You can also adhere to social distancing guidelines by spacing out the seating and requiring guests to wear masks. To make it fun, ask guests to wear face masks that fit the dress code — think sparkles and formal colors for a fancy affair. You can even order custom wedding hand sanitizer from sites like Etsy or display it in a beautiful way on your wedding day. Order custom sanitizer labels from sites like Bottle Your Brand and give the sanitizer as a wedding favor.

To host a large wedding and keep yourself and your loved ones safe, it’s a good idea to check the CDC coronavirus information page. Here, you’ll find details on how to safely host gatherings and what to keep in mind if you decide to have a larger event. You’ll also want to check if there are any mandates or restrictions in your area that you’ll need to adhere to.

Have an Elopement

Don’t want to deal with a big wedding, rescheduling, or the hassle? Consider eloping! It’s an exciting option that feels spontaneous, plus you won’t have to hassle with vendors and planning a wedding during COVID. With fun elopement ideas including local parks and scenic forests, there are plenty of beautiful places to get married stress-free.

Before you elope, reach out to your city clerk to obtain a marriage license and find out if there’s a waiting period and if you need a witness. You’ll also want to think about having a photographer or videographer to capture the special day. After the special day, you can easily email marriage announcements to loved ones.

Host a Virtual Wedding

Another option for couples that want to have their big day without changing the original wedding date is to host a virtual wedding. This also means you don’t have to edit the wedding guest list. You can use tools like Zoom or invest in a professional platform to ensure seamless streaming on the big day. Use our guide on how to host a virtual event to learn some top tips on planning your celebration even if you’re not together in person.

Planning a Wedding During COVID: Honeymoon Edition

Wedding planning during COVID isn’t just about the wedding day. You’ll also want to consider what to do for your honeymoon. 

If you’re intent on taking a trip, there are several options. You can keep it local by booking a staycation at one of the resorts or boutique hotels in your area. This way, you don’t have to worry about taking COVID-19 tests or hassling with entry requirements. You can also take a road trip and enjoy the sights without having to deal with airports. Look for hotels that list cleaning procedures for COVID-19 to stay safe while traveling. 

As the pandemic progresses, many travel restrictions are being lifted in exchange for safe practices and vaccinations. If you’re choosing an international destination, stay up-to-date on entry requirements as these change often. These include vaccinations, testing requirements, and any quarantine rules. It’s also a great idea to only book stays and activities that are fully refundable. Alternatively, you can purchase insurance that covers COVID-19 changes or a policy that allows you to cancel for any reason.

If you’re traveling out of state or internationally, think about having a backup plan. Since the pandemic is constantly evolving, your backup plan can help save you time and stress if you need to switch locations or change up the dates.

Have Your Dream Wedding Regardless of Circumstances

Happy bride and groom wearing masks on their wedding day

Many of us are still hesitant or unsure about how to plan weddings and ceremonies during the pandemic. With these tips, planning a wedding during COVID doesn’t mean you can’t have your dream day. You can still have a stunning wedding while also adhering to safety guidelines and navigating rescheduling hiccups.

Whether you switch to a smaller affair or host a big shindig with vaccinated guests only, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, what matters is your love story. After all, it’s your special day to honor the beginning of your new life together. Don’t miss our COVID wedding ideas for more advice on stress-free wedding planning.