What will weddings be like in the future?
As COVID-19 cases rise again in many areas of the US, states are slowing their plans to open their economies, and some are even reversing their strategies, instituting new restrictions to try to curb new spikes. The reality is no one knows how long our society will have to live with the COVID-19 pandemic with numbers changing every week.
When it comes to getting engaged and planning weddings, that creates a very different set of expectations (or lack thereof) and issues to anticipate:
- How long will social distancing last? How long will group restrictions last?
- Is it better to wait it out until a big wedding reception is possible, or should engaged couples find a different way to celebrate?
- Is it even possible to book a date with a venue in the next year with all the rescheduled weddings occupying future availability?
- What if the virus comes back in cycles next year, too?
When the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out, we at Markel Specialty outlined tips for planners and couples who are working on a back-up plan amid the pandemic and then what to expect when filing a wedding cancellation claim for those who had purchased insurance prior to COVID-19. While we don’t know how long this will last, it’s clear that weddings are going to look very different for a while – if not for a couple of years. But that’s not going to stop people from falling in love and wanting to celebrate it. In fact, wedding vendors are adapting to provide wedding magic in new ways as couples go through with their vows.
Venues offer small group or “elopement” packages
One such event business is the Pabst Theater Group in Milwaukee, WI that is now offering what it calls elopement packages for couples who want to celebrate in style with a few close family members and friends – either a 10-person gathering or party of 25 – at one of their historic theaters.
“With the current COVID-19 event restrictions, we’ve reimagined how we can give couples a special way to celebrate on their original wedding date while they hope to have a big reception some day in the future,” said Ann Lennart, Director of Private Events at the Pabst Theater Group. "In our historic theaters, they can still have all the style and elegance they envisioned, even though their plans have had to change."
The three-hour rental package allows couples to select one of the classic theaters for a ceremony, light reception, and freedom to roam the couple’s chosen venue for a photography session.
“While we offer high-quality live stream production and recording services, bar service, and a photographer, our clients are free to work with the original vendors they had selected if those vendors are still available,” said Sara Peronto, PR Director at the Pabst Theater Group. “Hopefully this allows couples to preserve as much of their original vision as they can while still helping them create a beautiful new celebration if some vendors aren’t able to accommodate the new plan.”
The group has installed plexiglass at the bars, incorporated touchless payment systems, and integrated new staff standards for sanitation and wearing masks. Currently the elopement package is temporary, as the business works to offer large parties when groups of 50 or more are allowed to gather again.
Officiants and wedding vendors help make new wedding plans special
As venues offer ceremony-centered packages for small groups given current restrictions, other wedding vendors are doing what they can to accommodate new plans or rescheduled dates, too.
Rev. Jennifer Miller, PhD, is offering complimentary rescheduling for her clients, working with them to rethink their plans for a smaller scale ceremony. For couples who selected her regular wedding ceremony package, she’s even offering to officiate a legal wedding on the original wedding day while still planning to do the original ceremony for them at a later date.
Having officiated weddings nearly every weekend in the past couple of months, she said, “Most everyone is skipping the meals and receptions and concentrating on what matters most: the actual wedding ceremony. This is a true testimony of their love in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health."
Rev. Miller notes that elopement-style weddings are popular with a guest list of under 10 people, and outdoor ceremonies are becoming more common, too, taking advantage of parks, backyards, and porches. Many couples are getting creative with video streaming tools, such as Zoom, so friends and family can participate remotely, and some are still able to work with their selected florists for scaled-down needs and photographers to capture the day.
While it may not be what couples imagined, she reiterated, “Remember the marriage itself is the whole reason for all the celebrating, and we can always make the marriage happen, even under quarantine. You can be legally married and have a beautiful testimony of your love for each other. That's the important part, so don’t hesitate to get married. This is about you and your love, and not even a pandemic can stop the power of love.”
Are you adjusting your wedding plans because of COVID-19? We want to hear from you and with your permission, may share your story. Email us your story at email@example.com.
Photo courtesy of The Pabst Group
*Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated, the underwriting manager for the Markel affiliated insurance companies.