When Covid19 hit the US, it did so at such a rapid pace it caught us all spinning. All the plans we had for the future are now on hold
All the vacations, the summer camps, the brunches, meet-ups, heck, next week and tomorrow are still up in the air! Excited brides and their grooms found themselves without a pandemic contingency wedding plan (because wedding planning does NOT include a pandemic) and planners found themselves scrambling to keep their clients and vendors calm.
Here we are, mid-May and we still are not sure when we will be able to gather again. Will we be able to have a wedding in July? What about November? All still uncertain as states and counties decide separately how to safely re-open for business. Wedding vendors are just as uncertain as our clients but you should know, that we've been talking A LOT about what the future of weddings and events will look like once we are back to "normal".
For several weeks Goto Meetings, Zoom calls, and online webinars have been regularly scheduled for local and national industry professionals to express concerns about our current environment and share ideas about shifting practices to meet expected changes to safety standards and gathering limitations. What does that mean for you? It means, your wedding may not look like how you previously envisioned it. But before you panic, there are some real innovations and novel ideas coming out of these talks. New standards may or may not impact the event you envisioned, but they will for sure impact the safety of you and your guests; which, let's face it, is our new normal and it is paramount.
Here are three changes you should expect coming out of this pandemic that may affect your wedding budget:
1. BYE-BYE BUFFETS
The communal buffet tables are the first on the chopping block with their open food concept, open utensils, and multiple touch points. Buffets are much more cost effective than plated meals due to less labor, but with new protocol, they are either going away or changing to become just as (if not more) expensive as their plated counterpart. One re-envisioning of the buffet will require masked and gloved servers sharing guests from each chafing dish. Utensils will be wrapped in plastic and there will be no self-serve elements. This is not a new invention, it will help save on food cost with portioned servings, but most people don't opt for the additional labor fees associated with servers. Another option may be pre-wrapped plates and boxed meals. I think a great adaptation may be action stations where chefs will cook and plate in front of your guests. It's interactive and provides a level of comfort seeing what's going on your plate; and of course, they'll have to include safety shields, masks, and gloves.
2. NO BIG GATHERINGS
Even as states determine their reopening plans, large gatherings are still on the list of no-nos. The average wedding size in the US is 167 guests, way above the current 20 people or less standard. Large gatherings will be allowed again, but maybe not in the immediate future. Regardless, you may find that you'll need a lot more space than you originally planned. Depending on your set up, you need a certain amount of square footage per person. For instance, a dinner party should offer 8 to 12 sq. ft. per person depending on the table and a cocktail party 5 to 6 sq. ft. Some very large events, say several hundred guests to thousands, may find their guests in one space and others somewhere else. Creatively done and perhaps involving technology, this can give your guests an amazingly cohesive party experience. Ultimately, with new safety distancing parameters, venues may have to require nearly double the space per participant which means a bigger space for your guests and a larger cost for you.
Developing an effective budget will help alleviate additional costs, but one option would be to consider paring down your guest list if at all possible and adding live virtual streaming for those who cannot be in attendance. Another option, consider an alternative venue such as a community garden, a national park, or a friend's sizeable back yard (or mansion), that will give you space to spread your party out without losing the intimacy of the occasion and incurring unbudgeted costs. Yet another option, elopement. Modern elopements don't necessarily mean a flight to Vegas and a drive-thru church, and they don't carry the old stigma of secrecy or unplanned pregnancies. They are intimate ceremonies between two beloveds who seek to share their vows between themselves and perhaps a group of their nearest and dearest. Although the elopement may be a departure from the typical large wedding, staging elements, photography, food, and fun are still a big part of the celebration and can create some phenomenal memories for you to share.
3. LAST CALL FOR THE OPEN BAR?
Ugh, a good open bar am I right? Besides the love shared and an incredible DJ, there's nothing that gets the party going like a well stocked open bar. As you read this, new parameters are being developed concerning not only how food will be distributed, but also how alcohol will be dispensed. Should a hired bartender be required to have a food safety license? Glassware or single-use disposables? Poured drinks or sealed bottles? All of these are up for debate and may present with a totally new format for bars at private events.
Besides the bartender being required to wear gloves and a mask during the event, how will mixed drinks be poured? Should mixed drinks be poured? My guess is in the near future we'll see glassware at each seat and sealed bottles served at the bar and some very creative self service beer and wine stations. This may still be out for discussion, but for sure we'll see some bartenders restricting any hanging out and lingering around the bar.
As the adage goes, "this too shall pass". We will get through this wrinkle in time; not unscathed and not without loss but with hope, light, and community. Keep planning for your future and know we are planning for you as well.
If you do not have a planner but have questions or concerns about your upcoming wedding please feel free to contact us for a complimentary consultation. We are stronger together!