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What does wedding planning look like during a pandemic?

I originally met with Stephanie and Luke before the COVID-19 pandemic turned our world upside down. They had originally planned a multi-day celebration at Sunset Bluffs in Washington but had to quickly pivot and change their plans entirely. Steph and Luke were kind enough to share their experiences with other couples struggling to plan wedding celebrations this year. Keep scrolling to read about their wedding planning experiences, advice, and encouragement for couples struggling to redefine what their wedding day will look like.

I admire them both for recognizing what is most important to them, and for maintaining positivity during such a difficult process. I cannot imagine the stresses they faced while re-planning their wedding day in such a short time frame. The result was a beautiful ceremony with a super-special surprise: their guests joined the ceremony via Zoom!

Many thanks to the kind and warm hospitality of Rev. Carl Scheble and the St. Anne Church at Clover Bottom.

Congratulations to the happy newlyweds! 

What were your initial thoughts when you realized the pandemic would affect your wedding plans?

This part was really hard! For a long time we were thinking, “this’ll be over before the wedding,” and we put off making any decisions at all. As things got worse and the date got closer we started talking more and more about having to cancel. When we started notifying guests, that was the saddest part.

St. Ann's Church - FrontSt. Ann's Church - Established 1927 Glass WindowZoom TechnologyTalking with Wedding Guests via Zoom Digital Guests

Did the quarantine experience positively or negatively affect your ability to get things done and taken care of?

Depends on which things you mean! We ended up postponing one wedding and planning a whole new little one. All the cancellations for the first wedding, I found it really hard to get those things done, mostly because I didn’t want to have to do it. It didn’t feel fair that I had to put in work for a cancellation I didn’t even want to have. Luke was phenomenal and just took care of all of it. In terms of planning the new wedding, it was actually pretty easy to get all of that done, because it was so small and everyone was so flexible (including you! thank you!).

Black and White Bridal Portrait - Back Black and White Bridal Portrait - Side View

What were some of the biggest hurdles to overcome in terms of wedding planning during a pandemic?

The uncertainty was the hardest part. Recommendations were changing so fast, we didn’t want to hire vendors and invite guests and then find out later they couldn’t come. Everything was a maybe right up until the day before. We didn’t even get flowers or a cake until the morning of, just in case.

Black and White Groom Portrait - Jacket Groom Getting Dressed

Did you struggle with the decision to hold your date versus postponing to a later one?

Yes! Our original date was pretty arbitrary – it was the day that worked best for our schedules – but we’d been planning around it for so long that it had come to mean a lot to us, and it was sad sort of symbolically to think that was gone. But almost all of our guests are from out of town, and they would have needed flights and hotels, and no matter how the guidelines changed we just couldn’t imagine that it would be safe enough to fly that all of our guests would be willing or able to do it. And we knew we’d rather have the celebration as we planned it another time, than have a modified celebration on the original date.

St. Ann's Church Chapel Bride and Groom at Altar Father of Groom Reading Verse

Ultimately, what was the most important reason for holding your original wedding date?

I think there were a couple big reasons. One was that the date or at least that time period was when it made the most sense for us to get married. I was just finishing grad school and we were about to move for my new job, so I had a lot more time to do wedding prep, and it felt right to do it before we moved. The other was that we were fed up with how much the pandemic had taken away from us – as you can imagine, we had lots of graduation celebrations planned, and bachelor/bachelorette parties, etc. So it felt good to say, we can do this, no matter what life throws at us, because it means that much to us.

Wedding Ceremony Talking with Guests via Zoom Zoom Wedding

How did technology (specifically Zoom) impact your wedding celebration?

The one thing we knew for sure about the wedding was that it was going to be small, just us. And then our family and friends surprised us with that zoom! It was so nice to see everyone and we really appreciated people taking time to come together for us. Actually, with zoom we were able to see a lot of people who wouldn’t have made it to the real wedding anyway, including my family in the Philippines.

Church Chapel

Laughing and Smiling

Will you continue to host a reception at a later date?

Yes! We had a very specific vision for our wedding, and we’re lucky that all of our vendors were able to reschedule, so we’re hoping to pull it all off exactly as planned, just 12 months later. We’re actually going to have another ceremony, too, technically a 1-year-anniversary vow renewal but we’re going to structure it like an actual wedding.

Bride and Groom Outdoors

What advice would you offer to couples that are currently grappling with the idea of having to modify their wedding plans?

Think about what matters most to you — getting married in a specific place, or making sure certain guests can be there, or getting the legal stuff done by a certain date — and focus on that. And, it’s okay to be upset! I was holding back for a long time because it felt selfish to be sad about a party when the pandemic was causing so many bigger issues for other people. But it’s normal and reasonable to be disappointed and frustrated and sad.

Washington Missouri Blue WallBride and Groom Outdoors with TreesDouble Exposure Portrait

Vendor Love

Ceremony Location: Saint Ann Church-Clover Bottom
Officiant: Rev. Carl Scheble
Creatives Location: Lion’s Park, Washington, Missouri
Flowers: Whole Foods Market