“Want to know what it’s like to be a wedding vendor during this pandemic?
Remember when the Titanic was sinking and the band continued to play? Well, we’re the band.”
- A Meme I Saw Online
I try to find the lightness and laughter these days because, wow, what a year! Before we launch into this, though, I want you to know I am so sorry that you’re here. While you’re going to have an incredible story to tell one day, I’m sure a global pandemic wasn’t exactly on your radar when you met the love of your life. My goal for this guide is that it gets us thinking about alternative ways to make your film special and ultimately gets you excited about a Plan B. It doesn’t have to be a farewell to your dream wedding. Maybe it’s just a pivot!
What are my options?
If you’re thinking about postponing for safety reasons or “I just want my dream wedding exactly as I planned it” reasons, there’s 0 shame in that. The party will be waiting for you on the other side of this pandemic. But I’d recommend making that decision as soon as possible. 2021 dates are few and far between and 2022 dates are booking up faster than is typical for that reason.
If you’ve already decided to (or have been required to) considerably downsize your wedding I’d recommend doing the following if you haven’t already:
Really grieve the change. It’s okay. Cry it out. Then bless and release and get excited about your Plan B. The last thing anyone wants is for you to be in mourning on your special day.
Consult with all of your vendors. Unfortunately, this ain't our first rodeo. We'll all be a really good resource for you. No vendor wants to lose your business! We're flexible, full of understanding, and creative.
Start rethinking your wedding details. This can be exciting! Revisit that Pinterest mood board, girl. A smaller wedding typically means less money spent. Can you save it for the honeymoon? Can you invest in cute decor? Maybe reach out to vendors you couldn’t afford previously? Consider this an exciting second chance.
If you’re just here gathering intel, carry on and check out what some of our 2020 couples did last year.
Due to the pandemic, Evan and Thane eloped privately in March. 4 months later we shot interviews with them in their hometowns, their vow renewals, and several couples sessions as supplemental coverage.
The Destination Elopement
Evan and Thane had always planned to elope, but even their destination weekend plans had to change. So they celebrated privately in March and then 4 months later we shot interviews with them in their hometowns, captured their vow renewals in the Rocky Mountains, and scheduled several couples sessions as supplemental coverage.
THE CEREMONY NOW, PARTY LATER
This couple pushed their big party to May 2021 but still wanted to get married as planned. They opted for a barebones ceremony at their church and a backyard reception with immediate family and their wedding party only . They booked us for a half day of coverage and a teaser edit! This footage will be used again in their official film. Watch below for a glimpse at how they managed to make this day uniquely special.
THE INTIMATE "UNDER 50" CELEBRATION
Meredith and Toby downsized their wedding and saved money by getting out of their venue's contract. Their day's timeline remained mostly the same as planned just smaller and with less pressure all around! Their reception was held at her dad's place of work! She kept her original DJ and the dance floor was poppin'.
You have questions
about your film.
CLIent: What if my day has been considerably shortened or I'm worried about having less content for my film now that we've downsized?
Ali: If you're worried about your film not looking like the epic romance you wanted it to, let me spitball some solutions. No toasts or missing some guests? Ask all of your friends and families to submit self-taped videos of themselves toasting you. I'd be happy to assist you in gathering these assets. You could even send them a list of silly and/or sweet questions to answer! Still want a lot of backstory? One of my favorite things to do for our clients is dig into your family archives and implement childhood photos and videos. We can also include proposal videos, travel videos, miscellaneous and silly social snaps, etc. I just want more beautiful content! I love that for you. If you've downsized a lot (5 hours of coverage or less from us) I'll throw in an extra session for you before or after the wedding. Think: engagement session but with video. Thoughts on inviting me to the rehearsal dinner? I can do that, too. Still not satisfied? Consider adding drone footage to really elevate your film. I'll bring a certified drone operator along with me for $100/hour!
CLIENT: Are there any opportunities for cost savings on my end?
Ali: Sure! If you're cool with it, we can consider downsizing to 1 shooter instead of 2. This is a cost savings of $500.00.
CLIENT: I'm pushing my day and I'm sad. Is there anything we can do together to pass the time?
Ali: Yes please! Budget allowing, consider shooting an engagement film with me. You'll have plenty to talk about, right? This is a really sweet way to get to know each other as client and vendor but more importantly it's important to photograph this time in your relationship to look back on forever. Come down to the Historic West Bottoms and snuggle up together in the adorable studio I have access to.
Check out Aubrey + Taylor's engagement film here. These are $1,250.00 and I'm flexible about payment plans.
Another thought is hire a boudoir photographer. Ask me for recommendations! And then add on video. ;)
ClienT: Can you tell me a little more about your livestream services?
Ali: As of 2020, I'm officially offering a livestream package to stream your ceremony. I can shoot with up to 3-4 cameras/angles and stream directly to YouTube where the ceremony will live forever! Because I have to bring in additional shooters to pull this off, I do charge $850.00 for 1-2 hours. This is a great solution for clients concerned about their loved ones celebrating from afar.
CLIENT: What if I literally don't want to have to think about the c-word ever and don't want to see it represented in my film?
Ali: Done. Just let me know ahead of time. I'm a docu-style shooter so am inclined to document your day "as it was" but if that's a huge bummer to you I will do my best to avoid anything pandemic-related onscreen and in your edit.
CLIENT: I've decided to push my wedding Date. What next?
Ali: If we've confirmed I still have availability for your new date, I'll send you a revised contract. There will be a security deposit of $350.00 to hold your new date but no cancellation fee. This deposit will not be deducted from your total like the first one. Other than that we're good to go! The goal is to keep this relatively painless for you.
Julia Gordon, October 10, 2020
If the idea of pivoting your entire wedding vision makes your chest tighten with anxiety - trust me, I get it. I was the stereotypical “dreamed of this day since I was a little girl” kind of bride, and the last person you would expect to change my plans in any way. So when my family gently approached me about the rapidly-nearing wedding date with no resolution to the pandemic in sight, I felt attacked. I knew it was irrational, but it felt like they were implying I didn’t deserve to have the wedding of my dreams. But I know now it has nothing to do with “deserving.” We’ve been dealt a crappy hand this past year and it doesn’t feel fair, but we don’t get to decide the times we live in or the challenges we face... All we get to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
I understand the decision to downsize or even postpone your wedding is a heavy one (remember, I’ve been there) and it is perfectly normal, healthy, and expected to grieve that decision even though you know it is for the greater good. You’re not selfish. You are brave, you can do hard things, and your wedding can still be dreamy even if it looks different.
Friend, bridal culture can make us think we need so much more to be happy than we actually do. Those magazines and Instagram feeds will brainwash you into thinking that if your wedding doesn’t look like theirs, or have an expensive open bar, the ridiculously expensive dress, or super dramatic vows that make everyone cry that it won’t be fun for anyone and your wedding will suck. Contrary to popular belief, none of that is necessary. Humans are resilient and love truly does conquer all, if you do it right.
Looking back now at the mini backyard wedding we threw together in two months’ time, I am filled with so much joy and gratitude even though it was not at all the way I originally dreamed it would be. Going through our wedding photos brings tears of happiness to my eyes, not disappointment as I feared it would. I am forever thankful for Her Third Eye Productions and the way they captured all the intricacies and special moments that are so vital to any wedding. With them by your side you won’t go wrong, no matter what your ceremony or reception looks like. As an added unplanned bonus for changing up our plans, we got some really cool photo ops that we wouldn’t have had access to if we had followed through with Plan A at our first venue (umm can you say GORG pics with horses in a sunset-streaked field?!? Pure magic.)
Regardless of how you choose to move forward, know that you are not alone and have a whole pack of pals behind you who have gone through the exact same thing and made it out satisfied on the other side. We are in a character-shaping period of history and it’s certainly not easy, but it is doable and it is worth it! Sending you so much love and support, and wishing you a lifetime of happiness and “rising to the challenge” in your marriage.
June 20, 2020
We were 90 days out from our 300 person downtown Kansas City wedding when we decided that, regardless of how long the government extended the shut down, it was not worth the risk to us. I’m the first to admit I spent a whole day crying on the couch when we made the call, but after that, I haven’t looked back once. Our guest list was limited to our immediate families and bridal party, and I will be thankful for the rest of my life that we were able to spend quality time with each person on our 27-person “home team” on our wedding day. Walking down the aisle surrounded by just those who have had a front row seat in the last four years of our relationship was priceless. And a reception under the stars in my childhood backyard was just as good as it gets. Our friends stepped up to the plate to find ways to include our original guests and surprised us with a parade after we left our ceremony and a video at our reception with messages from friends and family around the country.
After our wedding, friends and friends of friends were calling me for insight when they made the call to downsize their wedding and I told them all the same thing: do not limit your photography or videography packages- the slower pace of the day just allows them to be even more creative because the schedule isn’t nearly as tight! And having photos and video to share with all the friends who weren’t able to be there to celebrate with you in person is more important than ever.
And let me be the first to give you permission to make your small wedding as over the top as you want it to be! Just because the guest list is small, doesn’t mean the celebration needs to be. Get yourself a giant tent, hire a chef to make dinner safely on site, rent out massive marquee letters to keep the whole place glowing all night.
We were able to work with our vendors to adapt our plans to an entirely different wedding in less than three months and now we wouldn’t have had it any other way!
April 25, 2020
Having a wedding in the Spring of 2020 was a rollercoaster. Having a government mandate that no weddings would take place is not quite what you want to hear, but honestly I was fortunate (my March 2020 self would NOT have called myself fortunate she probably would’ve said cursed/unlucky/tortured/punished). My large “traditional” wedding ceremony/reception that I thought was going to happen got cancelled with 40 days notice. So I had more time than some other couples had to pivot and was not forced with the personal decision to go forward with it, cancel, or postpone like couples later in the year. Sadly I have no advice on when to make the decision to reschedule since that just wasn’t my experience - that decision was made for me. When I was told by my venue that they were not going to host my wedding well I cried on the phone, I cried at my desk at work, I cried texting everyone that there was no wedding, and I cried until I felt emotionally numb. Jay (my then finance now husband) being the emotionally lacking human he is (I swear I love him but I’ve only seen him shed a single tear once over the 6+ years we’ve been together) took over logistics. After he contacted every single vendor to ask about cancelling/rescheduling and a few days had passed we’d decided to go forward with still getting married on our original date no matter what that looked like and have a 1 year wedding reception in 2021 with all our vendors. Our new plan was to just have a ceremony at our church with our immediate family only. At this point our pastor had okayed our immediate families to be there since the stay at home order would have ended on 4/24/2020 and our wedding was to take place on 4/25/2020. So I went ahead and put together my wedding essentials - a marriage license (getting that was another story), my dress, Jay’s tux, a bouquet, a cake, and H3E to do photos and video. I also wanted hair and makeup because I’m terrible at that but that didn’t happen (so cue the tears again), but I realized that truly that wasn’t essential. I went through the whole grief process of mourning my wedding. I complained to friends who’d gotten married that I wouldn’t have the typical wedding experience, but I’d finally come to acceptance. And then hello extended stay at home order a week before 4/25/2020. Our pastor told us he’d still be willing to do the wedding but it’d be restricted to us, him, and two witnesses (only two other people could come inside the church with us). I cried again (still no tears for Jay). Luckily for us when we reached out to H3E, Ali and Meg were still willing to document our wedding. They won the lottery for the two witnesses (sorry family). 4/25/2020 was an amazingly relaxed simple and special day. We made our own traditions like Jay making a lowkey breakfast that morning, having him button up my dress, driving ourselves to our ceremony, taking photos around our house, and simply being able to just soak up the day with each other. I had zero expectations of my wedding day being anything amazing but just being able to strip the whole wedding experience down to its core was a gift.
My advice for anyone going through a COVID wedding is take your time to mourn. In one way or another you’ve lost something in regards to your wedding you’ve been planning. There’s been added stress to your plate with how to deal with replanning or making adjustments to your day. Take your time to be upset and sad and however else you’re feeling.
I’ve come to a point that for my 2021 wedding reception that it’s going to be however it’s going to be. I’ve embraced a go with the flow attitude, which has been amazing for my mental health. But that didn’t happen overnight, it’s taken time to come to this point. Try to embrace that attitude if you can!
To round out this long ongoing message I’ve had tons of people tell me that they’re sorry for my wedding and how it happened and I now respond with a comment along the lines of oh there’s nothing to be sorry for, it was still a special day and I still got to marry Jay, it was the perfect day for the two of us! My wish for anyone going through this time and planning a wedding is that I hope you get to look back on your day whenever it ends up happening and still feel like it was perfect. It might not have been what you originally had planned but I hope that you get to look back and appreciate the journey leading up to the day and that your wedding day was amazing and perfect for the two of you!