Photo Credit: Sabrina Scolari Photography
What’s better than your wedding day? Being asked that question you have always waited for: “Will you marry me?” Getting engaged was the best way to end 2019, and we planned to tie the knot exactly one year later to the day on December 19, 2020. The date is so special to us, and we knew it would be significant for the rest of our lives together.
My fiance Scott and I live together in South Boston. Our love story began over five years ago at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. Scott plays professional soccer for the New England Revolution, and we met after one of his games! To ensure no conflicts with the soccer season, we can only have our wedding during Scott’s off-season — December into January.
Growing up, I always imagined a September wedding in a New England setting. But when I met Scott and quickly knew that he was the man I was going to marry, I began to picture a winter wonderland. As we began to plan our special day, our winter theme began to come together... and then COVID-19 hit.
Here are 5 tips to not let COVID-19 ruin your special milestones:
1. Celebrate Being Engaged
Send out Engagement Cards instead of Save-the-Dates
This year is probably very different from what you originally pictured. Some of us have been picturing this day for years now, and it is hard to be okay with adjusting your expectations for the best day of your life.
I realized through this experience that there are no rules this year. You don’t need to follow every timeline must-do or get every must-have you read about. For example, we held off on creating (and sending) save-the-dates. We did not want to send save-the-dates just in case we have to postpone or have a smaller wedding. We had an amazing engagement photo shoot with our wedding photographer at Gillette Stadium and at our wedding venue, Lakeview Pavilion, and I found myself feeling sad that we could not use these beautiful photos on save-the-dates. But I realized I had another option: an engagement announcement!
We sent announcements to our family and friends, which was our way of sharing our happy news and our love with those closest to us. There was no wedding date on the card, just a note reading, “We wanted to share our happy news and our love with you.” I am a graphic designer, and I wanted to get a bit creative with the card. We landed on a multi-photo standing card, which was really fun to make! This allowed us to spotlight our fun engagement photos and to send happy news to people during this unprecedented time we are living in. It was also something fun to focus on and celebrate.
2. Don't Stop Planning
Propose to Your Bridesmaids!
I always wanted to ask my bridesmaids to share in my special day in person; I didn’t want to send the bridesmaid invitations via mail because I wanted to see their faces when I asked. I had sent out a “Bridal Brunch” invitation for my bridesmaids to attend on April 11, 2020; I was going to surprise everyone with a “Maids & Mimosas” brunch. I thought it would be great to get together and celebrate... but the event was spoiled by COVID-19.
I struggled emotionally with the idea that I would need to forgo this fun get-together and resort to asking my girlfriends to be in my wedding via mail. Instead, I told myself again there are no rules and chose to wait until it was safe to have an outdoor bridal brunch two months later. The silver lining was that I was able to pick out the bridesmaids' dresses and have them all there to surprise the girls! Yes, I adjusted my plan, but instead of rushing and changing what I wanted just to stick to a timeline, I was able to surprise the girls, ask them to be in our wedding, and have their dresses there as a secondary surprise.
The day was absolutely lovely. I greeted the girls before they came into the backyard with a special personalized card. We separated out across a few tables rather than just one together in order to have more distance while eating. We toasted with champagne and fun bridal-themed treats. After we ate, I had everyone close their eyes, and I brought out the dresses for our special day. It was so very exciting, and all the girls loved the additional surprise.
Use wedding planning as an outlet for the bad news going on in the world. Focus on planning all of the fun details that you can right now, and worry about the tedious details later. Wedding planning is supposed to be joyful, and while it is stressful even without a pandemic, it is also the happiest time of your life. Embrace that.
3. Don't Rush and Have Regrets
Allow Yourself Time to Find Your Dream Dress
I was fortunate enough to get my dress the week before the world shut down, and I am so incredibly thankful for that. I cannot imagine having to pick out a dress virtually; I think that would’ve immediately solidified a decision to postpone our wedding. I pictured the day of finding my dress for years, and I know I would've regretted changing that plan.
I went to four different bridal shops over the course of a few weeks and had such an amazing time trying on dresses and determining which one I’ll be wearing when I marry my best friend. I was always hooked on the designer Hayley Paige; I grew up watching her on Say Yes to the Dress and always said I would walk down the aisle in one of her designs.
At the beginning of dress shopping, I gave myself a personal budget. I told myself to try my best to stick within that price point, and I also told that to the bridal stylist who helped me through my appointment. My favorite experience was at Madeleine’s Daughter Bridal in Portsmouth, NH. This bridal boutique was recommended to me by a friend who said she had an amazing experience there with Brandi, her stylist. Brandi did not disappoint! I tried on various dresses throughout the appointment — a few Hayley Paige, as well as a few different styles to get a feel for what I wanted. At Madeleine’s Daughter Bridal, you have your own private bridal suite with your “entourage,” and the dresses are brought to you. This allows you to stay within your budget, and your stylist is there to help you stay on track. I ended up choosing a Hayley Paige gown that was in my budget, and I could not be happier. The experience was amazing, and it is one that I will never forget. I cannot wait to be a Hayley Paige bride!
My point after all this is that you can’t rush these moments. You will regret fast-forwarding some of these memorable experiences. Don’t just rush because of COVID-19. If you need to postpone so that you don’t miss out on these moments, you might be happier in the long run.
4. Embrace Online Experiences
Create Your Registry
We live in a world where we are always online, especially during this time. We are avoiding going into stores, making it difficult (if not impossible) to create a registry in person. Building your registry is so much fun, and we quickly discovered that starting one online makes it a lot easier. You are able to compare items a lot faster and get a feel for what’s included in each set.
We finished our registry with a private shopping appointment (special shout out to Crate & Barrel!). We were able to go inside all alone with their staff to look at certain items we were thinking of adding to our registry. They gave us such a thoughtful goodie bag upon leaving as well!
Build Your Website
I recommend creating your own wedding website. We used Zola and purchased our own custom URL so that our friends and family could find the site easily.
Your website is a great spot to provide some lesser-known information for your guests. We wrote a “How We Met” story and showed off all of our engagement photos across the site. We also did a “Wedding Party” page, where all individuals in our wedding party are spotlighted with a description of why they are special to us.
It’s also a convenient spot to share the nitty gritty details and any updates. We currently have hidden the ceremony timing details, as well as our date (just in case), but there is nothing wrong with having this site created to celebrate a bit! Again, no rules! Additionally, you can put your hotel blocks and travel information. And, every store we created a registry with is linked on that site, making it one convenient spot for everyone.
Look for Sales and Make Online Purchases
Take advantage of all the sales happening out there. I browsed online for bridesmaids’ dresses for months and couldn’t find anything I liked. After simply searching for the color dress I was looking for, I located the dresses I fell in love with on sale at Kleinfeld Bridal online. I scooped up all the dresses for my 'maids, guessing on their sizes, and got them at half the price they would normally be (p.s. extended return times are your friend right now).
5. Remain Optimistic and Remember the Big Picture
As cliché as this sounds, everything will happen how it is supposed to. You will marry your best friend, your person, your forever. It may not be how you pictured it to be, but it will happen. Stay calm and have faith that things will work out. Everyone is going through similar times right now. Your vendors want you to enjoy your wedding celebration just as badly as you do. Talk to them and try to have an open line of communication as you decide what to do.
Additionally, don’t feel guilty about how you are feeling right now.
It is okay to be feeling emotional.
It is okay to be upset that your special year isn’t what you expected it to be.
It is okay to cry out of the blue.
It’s all okay.
At the end of all of this, you will have gone through one of the hardest times in your lives together, and your marriage has not even begun. You can take on anything together.