It’s a weird time for a lot of things, and weddings are no exception. While you may have dreamed of having hundreds of your friends and family join you and your spouse-to-be in a celebration, for a lot of us, that just doesn’t seem safe right now.
But here’s the good news for you and your guests: Now, there’s a lot less prep required. No one needs to book a flight, get a babysitter or even leave their house. The focus is suddenly on the most important part of the day: You and your partner pledging your lives to one another.
However, that doesn’t mean your day won’t be amazing and special and capture your love in a way that is uniquely the two of you. It just might look a little (OK, a lot) different from what you once imagined. Here’s how to make it magical.
Choose a venue
While you may not be able to bring everyone together in your dream location, be sure to check in with your planner or the venue manager before canceling — or postponing — outright. Many venues are offering scaled-back weddings with an option for a bigger celebration later.
Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston is offering what it’s calling “minimony” packages, and it currently has 29 couples planning to wed in 2020.
Inspired by the at-home Zoom weddings we all keep seeing on the news, the Fairmont’s senior catering manager, Alice Fay, told us, “Couples were so creative in hosting their ceremonies virtually and involving family members, and the resonating message from these couples is that love does not have to wait!”
Rebecca Millette, events and marketing manager for Cambridge, Massachusetts restaurant Puritan & Company and The Herb Lyceum event venue in Groton, Massachusetts, is planning to use the outdoor space at the Lyceum to host socially distanced weddings. “We’ll be able to have it all open and have that air flow and spread everything out a little bit more with stationary appetizers in different sections in the gardens, something under a tent, something out by the lavender,” she says. “I think giving people the opportunity to roam around and enjoy the space would be safest and the easiest for them.”
However, a backyard can also make the perfect venue, with a recent bride (who prefers to remain anonymous) telling us, “Our wedding was on May 2 in a family friend’s backyard, a 10-minute walk from our Brooklyn apartment. The in-person crowd was quite small — just me, my husband (still so fun to say that), my mother-in-law, father-in-law and brother-in-law. Plus, our two gracious hosts who remained socially distanced from us.”
Just add technology
There are so many ways to add remote guests to your service. Many couples choose Zoom, which has skyrocketed in popularity during this time, as the user-friendly service allows up to 1,000 people to join a broadcast. That’s more guests than many couples had planned in the first place! You can also do breakout rooms for one-on-one time after the ceremony.
There are other options, including one that is wedding-specific. As another recent bride (who also wishes to remain anonymous) told us, “We decided to use a live streaming platform called Event Live to host our wedding ceremony itself rather than using Zoom. It worked fantastically. Our personalized site also had a guestbook feature which made us feel so connected to everyone who tuned in, and reading the live comments back after was so special.”
Most new smartphones can provide a high-quality feed, but it’s not a bad idea to get a few tripods with wireless remotes and put one of your witnesses on camera duty.
UBeesize Portable and Adjustable Camera Stand Holder with Wireless Remote ($19.99; amazon.com)
This nicely priced tripod comes in black or pink, and is small enough to stash behind a floral arrangement.
Cell Phone Tripod, 70” Adjustable Phone Tripod for Video Recording ($32.99, originally $42.88; amazon.com)
This standing adjustable tripod is designed for video recording and allows for almost every angle imaginable.
UBeesize 8” Selfie Ring Light with Tripod Stand & Cell Phone Holder ($49.99; amazon.com)
Amp up the light with this adjustable fluorescent ring that’s a favorite of YouTubers and TikTok stars for its ability to highlight anyone in the frame. Comes with a stand that can fit anything from an iPhone to a camera.
If you are having in-person guests, you’re going to want to plan seating arrangements that keep people at least 6 feet apart, and have a plated meal — buffets are a total no-go.
“I think we’ll definitely make it a lot more organized and make sure everyone knows exactly where they’re going and what they’re doing,” says Millette.
With that in mind, whether you’re planning it yourself or working with a venue, distinctive favors and decorations you can have at the tables — and send to the people watching at home — are a perfect way to tie the event together.
12 Mini Liquor Bottles ($9.99; amazon.com)
“Each guest could get a bottled cocktail that is just served to them as a greeting beverage,” says Millette. Create a custom cocktail for your wedding, and send the recipe and cute bottles to guests attending via Zoom, as well as having the cocktails ready for the in-person guests.
Pink Rose Gold Balloon Garland Arch Kit ($11.99; amazon.com)
Who doesn’t love a balloon arch? With this kit, you can create a charming pink-toned arch to stand under while you say your vows.
Light Gray Metallic Silver White Balloon Garland Arch Kit ($16.99; amazon.com)
Pink not your thing? This silver-toned arch packs a more subtle, but still super fun, punch.
Classic All White Arrangement ($89.99; 1800flowers.com)
If you don’t have access to a local florist, 1-800-Flowers is offering contactless delivery of stunning white arrangements that would work as a lovely centerpiece or backdrop.
Personalized Picnic Table Wine Carrier ($180; uncommongoods.com)
If you’re having a small outdoor event, guests can use these mini picnic tables for drinks and snacks.
SmallableCo Adult/Kids Protective Face Mask with Filter Pocket (starting at $6.99; etsy.com)
At weddings these days, coordinated face masks are the new bridesmaid dresses. These face masks are available in enough colors that your wedding party or guests — either in-person or over Zoom — can perfectly match. A bonus: They’re available in both adult and kid sizes, and come with a pocket for a filter.
Old Navy Variety 10-Pack of Triple-Layer Cloth Face Masks for Adults ($25; oldnavy.com)
You can take your pick of a 10-pack of pastel, muted tone, wild print or different shades of gray face masks with this set.
Keep the wedding party involved
While you may not be able to have your entire wedding party in attendance, that doesn’t mean you can’t make them feel involved in the party. If they’re able to wear their dresses and tuxes, don’t be shy about asking them to. If not, one idea is to ask them to follow your color scheme and wear outfits that reflect your palette.
“A lovely addition would be for guests to send in their best wishes/toasts for the couple to read aloud during the ceremony, like when the cake is cut or toasting with champagne,” says Fay.
And you can share gifts that will make the party feel cohesive.
White Corsage and Boutonniere Set ($44.99; 1800flowers.com)
If parents or grandparents can’t make the trip, make them feel part of the ceremony with this classic corsage and boutonniere they can wear during the event.
Wildflower Seed Paper Cannon ($14; uncommongoods.com)
Send these tasteful paper cannons to the whole crew, but tell them to be sure to launch them outside — they’re packed with seeds for black-eyed Susans, cockscomb and sesame flowers.
Personalized Engraved Groom Crew Mason Jar ($14.99; 1800flowers.com)
A special toast from the groom’s attendants can still happen over Zoom with these engraved beer mugs.
A+O Wedding Bridesmaid Jewelry Gift ($14; amazon.com)
These rose gold-plated teardrop earrings with cubic zirconia are an ideal bridesmaid gift, and will sparkle and shine on camera.
Remember, your big day will be different, but no less special. Says Fay, “For those feeling blue about a small guest count or those near and dear unable to attend in person, focus on the ceremony day being an intimate moment to honor your marriage with your partner, and then when the time is right you can look forward to a proper party to celebrate with all your family and friends!”
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.