Summer is usually wedding season, but 2020 is a little bit different with the ongoing pandemic and restrictions on gatherings. As some couples move forward with more intimate ceremonies, live streams and elopements, others are postponing until next year and beyond.
Jacqueline Delorme, founder of Calgary-based wedding company Jacqueline Rae, usually works on roughly 20 weddings each summer but the majority of their clients have postponed their ceremonies planned for this year, with about 70 per cent of them being pushed to next year or even later.
“Those other clients have either decided to elope or have a really intimate celebration of love in 2020, adhering to social distancing practices and all the mandates from the government. And then moving their full party and maybe even a non-legal ceremony into that 2021, 2022 dates” says Delorme.
When helping clients decide how to move forward with their weddings, Delorme says that a conversation about the couple’s mental health is necessary. She says it’s important to be asking questions about how the couple is feeling going into their weddings at this time, if they’re OK going forward with a socially distant ceremony or hugging their guests.
“Or do you actually just want to fully let go of that, enjoy the rest of your summer, as much as we possibly can at this point, and then go forward in a positive way knowing that you’re going to get everything you want and more?”
If couples do choose to move forward with a ceremony, one of the biggest hurdles they may face is the space needed.
“It’s like 180 feet for even 30 guests depending on if they’re distanced together as a household, or whether they’re singles. You have to give it that space, which means you need a really large footprint,” she says.
Jacqueline Delorme has been planning weddings for seven years with her company Jacqueline Rae. Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Delorme
Michaela Barke, a bride-to-be who planned her own wedding for this summer, has decided with her fiancé Bogdan Lykhosherstov to move forward with a modified version of what was planned.
Many vendors they were working with have shut down due to COVID-19, meaning the couple had to let go of much of the vision for their outdoor event. They went from having a 200-person guestlist with a catered meal, down to roughly 35 guests and doing all the cooking themselves. The only people attending the wedding will be immediate family and the bridal party.
“It was really hard to navigate, like basically re-planning our entire wedding in two months before it was actually due,” says Barke.
They’re now hoping to be able to have a big reception on their one-year anniversary with all of their original guests. This is especially important to them because one of Barke’s brothers lives in Australia, while her fiancé is from Ukraine and many of his family members will be unable to attend this year’s ceremony.
Ultimately though, after having been dating for almost five years and both graduating university this year, the couple is ready for their next chapter.
“At the end of the day, I think we both realize that the whole point of getting married is to, you know, say that we’re getting married to our best friend and starting a life together,” says Barke. “Regardless of how that looks it’ll still be a great day and we’ll still make it a great day.”
On the other hand, Ellysa Styner, another bride-to-be and aspiring wedding planner, decided with her fiancé Brendon Simon to postpone their ceremony, with a 139-person guestlist, until next summer.
“I went back and forth a bunch if we should just do something little where we get married this year and then just do a big party, but [with] me wanting to do wedding planning I kind of want to have it all in one day,” says Styner.
They were originally planning to have their ceremony in Salmon Arm, B.C. on Aug. 20 but have now pushed it back to Aug. 19, 2021.
“Most of Brendon’s family is from Ontario and his sister’s in England, so we weren’t really sure if they were going to be able to fly by this summer, and we didn’t think we’d be able to have events with our guest count.”
Other than the date, Styner says not much has changed about their plan. The only foreseeable roadblock they face going into next year is whether or not buffets will be allowed again.
“I’m hoping by next summer we’ll be okay for buffet, but if we can’t we’ll obviously do plated style,” says Styner.
Delorme says that she thinks catering service and how food is served may need to be permanently adjusted going forward, especially in regard to family style, buffets and food sharing.
As this year’s couples work to shift their weddings to next year and beyond, they are having to compete with couples who were already planning weddings in the coming years for dates with their venues and vendors, says Delorme.
“Couples have to be open now to a Friday or a Sunday, knowing that there could potentially not be a Saturday option anymore around the dates that they were looking for.”