Top Ten Tips for Pivoting Client Weddings During the Pandemic
LadyDrinks member and wedding planner Sonal Shah, founder of SJS Events, shares her top ten tips for pivoting client weddings during the pandemic .
Postpone. Don’t Cancel. Initially, April weddings were rescheduled. Now October weddings are getting rescheduled to 2021. “We’re fully supportive of people moving their dates to next year. You want both your family and guests to be in the right frame of mind for this joyous occasion.”
2021 is getting booked up. Two years worth of weddings are converging on 2021. Dates and vendor availability is scarce, especially in the luxury wedding space.
Be decisive. “Let’s see what happens” is not a recommended way to go. Sonal recommends that brides sit down with families and push to make a decision.
Present options: Sonal recommends, for October, November weddings, for clients to create a grid with the availability of vendors and venues. Come up with options for alternative dates for next year. Don’t pull the trigger yet. “But at least you have all the information and you know what you can potentially do. It makes people feel a little bit better knowing that they have an option B and a backup plan if they really need it.”
Handling social distancing at weddings: Greece is a big destination for weddings and the country just opened up this week. However, the mandate is three to four people on a table that traditionally holds 10-12. If you are booking for a 300 person wedding, book a space that holds 600 people. The United States hasn’t announced guidelines like this yet, but make these decisions now versus closer to the date when the 600 person venue may not be available.
Hiring caterers who can host sit down dinners and not only buffets. Ask about their safety protocol with handling masks, gloves, staffing, food handling. “We as professionals are having these conversations ourselves. What are our best practices for keeping people safe?”
Guests lists. Couple may be deciding on their guest lists, but guests are going to decide for themselves based on their own comfort level around travel and crowds. Send out the invites. See who confirms.
Consider a virtual wedding this year. Host a big celebration in 2021 or 2022. For the couples who want to get married this year, new technology and professional camera crews are affording couples the ability to host virtual weddings against beautiful backdrops. The only people in the same room are the couple and the priest. Guests attend via link. “It’s a very upscale version of zoom, let’s just say.” Plan for a big in person celebration in 2022.
Be open to other dates besides a Saturday wedding. There are limited days that are auspicious. There are limited days that fall on a weekend. Sonal recommends that clients be open to weekday weddings. “Everybody wants to get married on a Saturday, but in India people get married on a Tuesday or Wednesday. If you can get your venue, if you can get your vendors, you can still have a beautiful wedding. Open up these dates so that you’re a little bit more at peace as to what is available and what makes you happy.”
Be open to destinations traditionally considered for honeymoons. Italy offers many cities for smaller weddings. Consider a private buyout of an island resort in the Caribbean or the Maldives where it is just you and your guests. Create an experience for your guests. “ We have an amazing wedding next May that’s taking place in Switzerland. It’s about 300 guests. So I’m very excited about that.”