Weddings During Covid
Should you cancel your wedding?
Cornwall Wedding Photographer
WEDDINGS DURING COVID
Should you cancel your wedding or go ahead with restrictions?
Should you cancel a wedding during Covid if it has restrictions? It almost sounds like a cliché at this point to say it, but 2020 wasn’t easy for anyone and for couples trying to get married it was a nightmare! Here in the UK, we’ve had several variations of restrictions, everything from as normal up until March, to a total ban and everything in between. I’ve had the joy of experiencing all of these, including having to photograph a wedding on the day that Boris Johnson announced our very first full national lockdown. It has been incredibly stressful for all the couples facing such uncertainty if their wedding can even take place or not and if so, what restrictions will be in place?
When weddings were allowed back on, we were restricted to 30 guests with anyone working at the wedding being including in that figure. This then was reduced to 15 guests but with staff or wedding suppliers not included. Most of my couples had already rescheduled their date to either later in the year, or another year completely but a small handful decided to keep their date and have their weddings in accordance to whatever rules we had to abide by.
As the clock struck midnight seeing in the new year, it became apparent that Covid isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and the UK has once again been placed into a full lockdown until at least March. Despite a slow roll out of the vaccine, we would be naïve to think that after this lockdown, weddings will be back on as normal so couples will be wondering whether to reschedule, possibly for the 2nd or 3rd time, or to go ahead with a wedding despite restrictions.
So the question they will be asking is ‘Should we still go ahead?’. I’m not here to give you the answer to that question but I’d love to talk about both my experiences of photographing restricted wedding as well as some of the couples I’ve photographed in 2020.
Jade and Jack started planning their wedding back in 2018 and had booked their venue, suppliers and had created their guest list with 90 attending the day and 130 in total with evening guests. They both have very large families spread all over. When Covid hit in March 2020, they didn’t panic much as October, their wedding month, seemed far away. As the months rolled closer, it became apparent that Covid wasn’t going anywhere and news came in that weddings were reduced to 30 guests. As Jade told me “we’d waited this long we just wanted to be married!! I wanted to put that dress on and feel like a princess and nothing was going to stop that!”
But then, just 3 weeks prior, Jade describes the the feeling of being told that it’s now just 15 guests allowed. “ The world fell from underneath me, we were heartbroken. BUT we had come this far and what if it got worse so we decided to still go ahead with just our closest family… just mums, dads, grandparents, and siblings.”
I could tell from her emails that she was very upset by this. Despite this though, Jade tells me “The day arrived and quite honestly it was amazing!! Having such an intimate wedding meant we could spend quality time with those who are closest to us. It made us appreciate our family too and having all of them travel from around the country was truly heart warming. We got to spend more time taking photos with everyone because you weren’t rushing to get 100 people in a photo which honestly is a lot less stressful! We were also able to go away with Steven for over an hour to have some time to ourselves and laugh with each other which on your wedding day is very important!”
Jade and Jack went on to say “A smaller wedding may seem an anti-climax to what you originally planned, but we wouldn’t change it for the world. Looking back on our day now, it was the best decision under the circumstances and we are man & wife! Also, there is nothing stopping you in the future from having a huge party/ reception and doing it all again!!”
Their experience is by no means an outlier.
I asked Karenza and Edward how their experience was.
“ Our wedding felt like it changed a hundred times in my head. The plan for 2 years was to marry Edward April 7th 2020, a date that was set in my head since back in February 2018 when we fell in love with our venue and booked the date. From a guest list of 52 originally it changed to 30 then 15. I went through all the emotions, there were tears but as soon as me and Edward sat down one evening, we both thought to let go of our original dream wedding and decided that what was the most important to us was that we got married, I stopped worrying. I married Edward at the beautiful venue we both feel in love with, we had all the original personal touches that we spent months, actually 2 years of planning. It was a very, special and intimate ceremony. I cannot imagine it being what we originally planned now. We might have a party once we get back to normal, but I was so keen to do the official ceremony. I feel so lucky that we got to do it. It was a small ceremony but it was perfect.”
Another couple I photographed had to also change plans many times to accommodate the ever changing rules. They originally planned 70+ guests but had to cut down to 30 and then 15. Like the two previous couples, they streamed most of the day online to their friends and family who were unable to attend. “We are planning on a wedding party in the near future. We actually preferred having the intimate wedding as this made it more meaningful to us and still created a special memorable day!!!”
The stories are similar with all the couples I asked with initial shock and upset that the day they had originally planned can no longer happen, yet on the day itself and afterwards, all thoroughly enjoyed the more intimate experience.
Erika and Aaron were another couple who had their wedding date changed many times and faced uncertainty throughout their planning process. After a few date changes and cutting a guest list down from 120 to just 30, they finally settled on 19th October 2020 but after hearing that the government would be cutting that guest number down to just 15, they contacted the venue and changed to the day before this new restriction, 27th September 2020. Far from what they wanted, 30 guests still felt like a better option than just 15.
“Apart from social distancing, you forget everything else that is happening in the world, its such a happy day, we couldn’t imagine having it any other way.” Erika told me. ” We had 30 people, and looking back on the day, we wouldn’t have had any more if we were given the opportunity, the day really does fly by and making sure you see all your guests is so tricky, so having a small amount of people means you can see everyone and have a proper conversation with them. You can still have everything you want! The flowers, dress, suits, vendors, cake and all the small details.”
So often I feel that couples put on large weddings with guest lists ranging in the hundreds and costs and budgets out of the window, because they feel they have to as it’s ‘just what everyone does’ but as so many couples in 2020 reminding me, the day should be about them and their closest family and friends. 15 guests has been difficult for all of my couples and sacrifices have unfortunately had to be made but none of my couples have regretted their choice to carry on with their special days.
From a wedding photographers point of view, these smaller weddings have been so lovely to be a part of. I have enjoyed being able to spend more time with the couple as they don’t feel as rushed to get back to the rest of the guests. I’ve felt more involved too as parts of the day such as the bridal prep have had less people so they often involve me in their conversations. This has allowed me to get to know my couples on a much more personal level which I’ve enjoyed. I’ve also been able to spend more time photographing the other guests. It’s hard to capture interactions between the married couple and all 100+ guests at some weddings and quite often, the couples never get to even say hello to everyone due to the large numbers and the often fast pace of wedding days.
I’ve personally really enjoyed the smaller weddings although I understand that 15 guests can be quite a sacrifice for some couples. After our current lockdown, there will be no doubt that these restrictions will be back in place for a number of months into mid 2021 which means reschedules or cancellations. The other option is to let couples know that it doesn’t have to be their dreams shattered and that people have enjoyed their smaller, intimate weddings much more than they thought they would.
If you are interested in me photographing your special day then please do get in touch by heading over to my CONTACT page. I very much look forward to hearing from you.