How to have a COVID-19 safe elopement
It’s been a pretty crazy year and I empathize with couples who still want to have their wedding and have had to change their plans one or more times. There’s a saying that I have and if you know me, you’ll probably know what I’m about to say:
“A Wedding is Ultimately About a Marriage Not A Party”
Even prior to COVID-19 I would see the immense stress and pressure couples felt around planning their wedding. There is the constant bombardment of Pinterest, wedding blogs, friends’ weddings and advertisements that already make couples feel like they “need” to have this or that in order to have a “perfect” day.
In 30 years you won’t care about the linens, or the dancing and drinking. You’ll remember the sweet moments with your spouse, the excitement you felt, the emotion of committing to one another for forever. Heck, I’m only 5 years in and that’s what I care most about even now.
It’s absolutely valid to want to have a party with 150 of your closest family and friends. That’s totally okay. It just might not happen right now, or exactly the way you envisioned it. You can have that amazing party eventually after eloping, and you can still have the full day experience – it just might look a little different right now.
This summer may still see some restrictions in place before the vaccines start to roll out. If you’re thinking of splitting your coverage to two dates or just proceeding with a smaller wedding then we have some tips for you!
Reach out to your vendors
Chances are this is now the second round for us and we’ve got some plans in place for how to proceed. We feel more comfortable and confident being able to offer you opinions and suggestions on how to move forward with your celebration. Chances are with photography, you can still plan to have the same or close-to amount of coverage if you opt for more time for formals! These are often rushed on a busy wedding day so having the flexibility to have an extended session in multiple locations is pretty much a photographers dream come true. This will also allow you to enjoy that experience more and have more options and beautiful images to choose from later on.
Getting ready photos
If restrictions ease and you are able to get ready indoors, limit the number of people to just the essentials. If indoor gatherings are still not permitted, consider having your final touches outside. There’s nothing to say you cannot have all of your beautiful details and heirlooms photographed outside if the weather is favourable. Get dressed indoors and have those final touches done outside. These are special and emotional moments that you can still have!
First things first: in all of your plans ensure you adhere to all government guidelines/restrictions. Avoid temptation to bend any rules which may ultimately place your trusted vendors in positions where they have to make questionable choices. The top priority is keeping everyone safe so that we can start to move past these current circumstances!
Planning your new ceremony
Ceremonies during an elopement run almost exactly the same way as they do pre-pandemic. The only difference is they are a lot more intimate and emotional at times. You can even throw in a first look beforehand too. Friends are able to get a temporary license to marry you, or if your officiant is still available, it’s a great way to continue to support their small business as well. You can choose to get married pretty much wherever you like, without the lighting restrictions of a church. Timing is up to you (and your officiants availability). Our recommendation is to opt for a first look and photo session prior to your ceremony, and then another chunk of time for photos afterwards. This allows you to really take advantage of perfect lighting conditions in the later part of the day. Early spring dictates timing to be anywhere from 2-3:00pm and summer ceremonies around 4:00/4:30 pm if you’d like photos afterwards.
Ensure that any guests outdoors (guest count limited to permitted number) social distance. You can even place markers on the ground for them. Provide sanitizer and masks as well and ensure you social distance from your officiant.
“In 30 years you won’t care about the linens, or the dancing and drinking. You’ll remember the sweet moments with your spouse, the excitement you felt, the emotion of committing to one another for forever.”
Planning for your formals
Formals can go ahead as you had planned. If you choose to include your witnesses and are in the same household you can stand together. If not, there are a lot of fun ways to do your formals with your witnesses/bridal party that are safe and socially distanced. Should you be able to split your coverage, you can also plan to have photos with them on your reception/new date for your celebration in the future.
As I mentioned above, the one nice thing about elopements is that you can have an extended formals session together in multiple locations.
Ultimately, even with restrictions in place (depending what they are as things are always in flux!) you may still require 6-8 hours of coverage for an elopement. Typically there is only about 1.5 hours or less to have formals of the bride and groom and their wedding party on a traditional wedding day. Being able to take your time allows you to truly enjoy the experience together which will reflect in your photos.
It usually takes about 20-30 minutes for anyone to get comfortable in front of the camera so to have this flexibility is wonderful. You will be calm, happy and ready to shine. You can opt to have an hour or two for coverage near your ceremony site and then have enough time to budget to head to another spot or two that is special!
You may have time to even find multiple spots in the mountains which on a typical wedding day you may only be able to go to one very briefly let alone many different spots. You’ll have a broader selection for your photos in the end!
The celebration: How the heck do we do that?
As of the most current update, receptions are not permitted. Bummer. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a treat supplied by your favourite local vendor, or a cake to cut together! You can also have a bottle of champagne to share (or several if you are in the mood and want to practice popping bottle photos!)
In warmer weather, socially distant picnics outside catered by local vendors may be another option, or a safe bbq if you are more low-key. There are many vendors that supply picnic materials for you as well so that you don’t have to lift a finger!
Dance under the stars together. Bring your boom box (do they even call them that anymore?) and go Sixteen Candles style and have a little dance with the two of you together.
No matter how you choose to celebrate your wedding, your vendors are there for you to help you in this planning process and you can lean on us to help you through this time. At the end of the day, you will be married to the love of your life and what’s sweeter than that?
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If you’re wondering how to reduce your wedding guest list because of COVID check out our latest post!
Interested in more planning advice? Check out our post on adapting your wedding day to Covid-19!