Or perhaps I should say, 3 tips for planning a wedding (fullstop)… ?

(for the video version, skip straight to the bottom)

As I sit writing this, in March of 2021, we’re sitting around the one year point since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. One year since that very first lockdown hit so unexpectedly, cancelling so many plans, events, visits and yes, weddings. And yet, one year on – although we now know how this works, things are still very up in the air.

Even here in New Zealand where everything is relatively under control and life is *almost* normal there’s still always a chance that life could change in an instant. We’re still unable to plan ahead with certainty and there’s not yet a definitive end in sight. Yet, we also can’t just bury our heads in the sand and hope it just all goes away… So how do we move on with planning in a situation that’s just so uncertain, unpredictable and let’s face it, downright stressful?

I myself was one of those, now dubbed “Covid Brides”, though some would say – one of the lucky ones. My wedding scraped through, albeit in a much smaller, highly modified version of what we’d planned it to be. And with just four days to spare before the first lockdown here in New Zealand, my husband and I exchanged vows, rings and signed that all important piece of A4 paper. Personally, I wouldn’t call it luck – it was a willingness to go with the flow, to let our well constructed plans become fluid and a whole lot of last minute phone calls, changes, alterations and generally quite stress inducing activities. We were successfully married, the day (whole weekend actually) was an absolute blast. Somehow we pulled it all together.

As both a Wedding Planner and Covid Bride I’ve got no shortage of comments on how best to approach planning a wedding during a pandemic… for your sake though (and mine – as much as I love writing I’d rather not be here all day) I’ve whittled it down to three main tips and condensed as much as I can into this one simple blog post… here goes!

A rustic old picnic table is draped with a yellow tartan wool blanket. On it sit a coffee, diary and reading glasses, ready for a days' work planning eco-weddings

1. Hire a Wedding Planner

I didn’t. And there lies my very first mistake. Even as a qualified project manager and wedding planner, taking on my own wedding was a lot. It’s different when it’s for you. You’re not just the planner, you’re also the client. You’re not just emotionally attached because it’s beautiful and you love the couple, you’re emotionally attached because you’ve dreamt about this day for years. And when things take a turn for the worst your emotions aren’t necessarily the calm, collected emotions you’re used to having when the pressure is on, they’re the raw, real and very human emotions that come with someone so very important to you being threatened before your eyes. It’s not that a wedding planner doesn’t or wont have emotional connection to your wedding as they plan it… it’s just different…

And pandemic or no pandemic, surprises happen. Weddings don’t run smoothly 100% of the time (what does?), life is unpredictable and it’s pretty unlikely that absolutely everything will go exactly to plan. Some hiccups will be small, some will be massive and how your emotions react to each won’t necessarily reflect the size of the issue. Discovering that Covid-19 restrictions mean you have to cut your guest count by half may not phase you, but the following day when the napkins arrive in the wrong shade of blue it could just send you off the rails. Our minds work in mysterious ways – a wedding planner will stay cool, calm and collected no matter the situation and give you that space to breathe, take it in, and re-join the planning bus when your mind is ready. That definitely doesn’t happen if you’re planning your wedding yourself.

And I really do mean it too – I promise you this isn’t some shameless self promotion, I really do believe that absolutely everyone can benefit from having a wedding planner. And I honestly would hire one for myself if I was to do it all again. There’s no reason you should have to take all that stress on alone. Invest in ensuring you enjoy the planning process – you absolutely will not regret it!

Looking down the middle two rows of glamping belle tents in a foggy paddock the morning of the wedding.

2. Have a Back Up Plan (or Three)

Always, always, always have a back up plan. Think about this stuff while your mind is clear – before it’s really an issue. In the case of a global pandemic this means preparing for it’s return and for New Zealand to jump straight back up those levels and into a full blown lockdown. In the case of everyday (non global pandemic) weddings, this also means being prepared for other unexpected or unwanted occasions. We all know the importance of that back up weather plan after all!

Regardless of how big or small the problem, having a back up plan will help to ease your anxiety levels greatly – and no, I’m not saying you should get all paranoid and start imagining every possible bad situation under the sun. Most things can be easily handled last minute, but be ready to do just that! Have an open mind (trust in your wedding planner if you have one) and if there are situations like covid that are very real possibilities then go through and build yourself a thorough back up plan. You’ll find that finding solutions with a clear mind and no urgency is a whole lot easier than trying to find solutions in a hurry when it all starts to look a bit pear shaped.

From postponing temporarily or indefinitely, to having a slightly smaller wedding or simply eloping with only your witnesses – there’s no right or wrong way to approach this! But it does pay to talk about it together in advance, know your preference (be okay with it changing if you end up feeling different in the moment) stay as flexible as you can and relax knowing that whatever happens it’s going to be okay, you have a plan and you’re ready to tackle this head first.

Jodie Munro, eco-friendly wedding planner and owner of Emerald and Ebony sits at a picnic table laughing, keep cup in hand.

3. Talk With Your Wedding Vendors

Don’t be shy to chat with all of the vendors you’re hiring about any back up plans or situations you’re worried about. They will be just as keen to have these conversations as you are! It benefits both of you if you understand their terms and conditions and know what you’re getting into.

Ask questions like – What will happen to our deposit if we have to reschedule? Will there be a fee for rescheduling? What about if we were to cancel altogether? Brainstorm all those things that you’re most worried about – the things that keep you up at night or give you anxiety – and ask them! Don’t be afraid of asking a “stupid question” (spoiler: they don’t exist!), the more you understand your contracts and the conditions associated the better it is for everyone.

While I may have written this blog post off the back of the global pandemic that is covid-19, there are lots of situations that these 3 tips can apply to – we don’t have to be in total chaos mode to create a back up plan! (and it most certainly shouldn’t take an international crisis for you to feel comfortable asking your wedding vendors all the questions that keep you up at night). Weddings can be tough in any situation, so don’t be too hard on yourself! Go with the flow, trust in the experts you’ve hired and get out there and have the time of your life – you certainly deserve it after this last year!

Has covid impacted your wedding?
Tell me all about it in the comments…

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Emerald and Ebony – Planning Eco-friendly weddings in Taranaki and beyond.

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