Wedding Planning Thoughts From Sandy Hammer, Mother of the Bride
So it’s the day after my daughter’s wedding…
Last week I shared a post about being the Mother of the Bride and how I handled communication. Today, let’s talk about planning.
Planning a wedding during COVID-19 is something totally different. Everything you have experienced or done in the past is not relevant. You have to think very differently.
Here are a few points that helped us during the planning of my daughter’s wedding during the pandemic, which had to be rescheduled from its original date in April.
An outdoor event space or a place that has an outdoor area is a great option. The higher risk guests will need and appreciate the option to sit outdoors. We found a beautiful winery that had many levels to the event space, but only started doing weddings a week before our wedding date! (Boy, did we educate them for hours and you know how grateful they were – they now know exactly what they are doing!!!)
In our country (Israel), event spaces are not open yet. The rule states that to have an event, you must use a restaurant. The winery had a restaurant and you are allowed to have pods (groups of people the amounts are based on Sqm)– very complicated to run – especially in a space that has not done weddings before and of course had no floorplans or anything to help.
Now obviously, Allseated can jump to the rescue! The space was incredibly challenging because of the different levels. We were allowed in this area to have up to 130 people. Most of you would say that’s amazing – however in Jewish weddings, it’s not even enough guest count for the family! Jewish weddings can be around 400-500 people and our original wedding end of March was going to be close to 400 people – so 130 was quite a challenge!
Once we knew the number of people, we were able to start working on the pods in various areas of the winery’s many levels. We knew some of the areas would feel a little disconnected as they were not in the main area overlooking the dance area etc., so we had extra speakers brought in to pipe the music. We also asked our musician to walk around during the evening to make all guests feel included.
Ditching A Strict Wedding Timeline
The timeline was very challenging because, in the hundreds of weddings or events that we have run in the past, the timeline is our bible. We follow it to the rule to make sure the event runs smooth and nothing is overlooked or missed. During this unprecedented time, however, we decided to be flexible with the wedding timeline (which was challenging but let me explain).
With groups around 30 people in some areas and 20 in others, we decided to make small buffet stations because we did not want to have so many waiters serving the food, and also, we did not want to make exact times for the food to serve because of the dancing. The dancing was key. We were not sure how the 130 people would dance (even though I really did since over 80 of them were under 30), however, we were not 100% sure if the dancing would be the usual set-times of 45-60 mins, etc. The idea of the buffet was that the food would be running all evening. Having four buffet stations was a great idea because everyone could stay in the pod and we built the guest list according to age and health issues like grandparents or someone we knew was very worried all sat in the same Pod.
The reception started at 6 pm and the idea was to show people to their seats and/or show them the direction of there pod. The hor-devours were plated and passed around by a waiter per Pod. People could mingle and then come back to where the bride was sitting and say Mazel Tov, then directed to the Ceremony area and wait for the Procession.
We had nothing on the tables except flowers – the bar would act as cold drinks and alcohol – we did have a waiter per pod that was dedicated to ordering drinks and shots would be served on the dance floor – but everyone got to pick up the glass themselves.
My day-of coordinator was amazing at juggling the layout – changes to guests and table assignments till the last minute – because in this situation, you are getting calls that people have been asked to quarantine or someone thinks they have been infected so they don’t want to take the risk and you don’t want to waste that empty seat, so you invite a friend at the last second. Most people understand the situation and are OK with the last minute call. Our place cards had to be printed on the day and we knew we might have to handwrite a few!
The flowers we kept the same as planned from the original wedding date. We had a lovely flower cart that made flower crowns on arrival – as well as flower pins for the men. We kept video, photographer, pretty much all the same for the big wedding we were planning we kept it all on with all the same vendors so that was great for us.
We went with the same band that we had originally booked (six-piece) which we thought maybe we would take down to four but truthfully, at the last minute, we decided to go with all six (they agreed to walk around our guests). We canceled the after-party as we knew we could not go past midnight (it was close to residential).
The idea was to try and keep everyone in their spaces as much as possible – but ultimately we knew we had to let it ride and see what would happen we did not want to police the event. As the venue was on a few levels we put the more at risk higher and left the younger crowd (we did have a few pregnant couples so we offered them to sit higher up and they gladly accepted)….. We knew the bride and groom really wanted it to feel as normal as possible and also wanted dancing.
We had arranged a few family dances so that we could entertain if things did not pick up – we had some fun t-shirts made for the family (we are quite a big family so that helps as that’s a big Pod!) We have a fun video wall with pictures of the bride and groom and a movie that my talented son made that was hilarious again some personal entertainment.
After The Wedding Thoughts
Well what can I tell you – did it work, how did it flow, how did it come out? Well, you will have to wait for the final pictures to be shown. I am sure the minute I share the pictures you will see for yourself! In the meantime, whatever the outcome, it is important to plan – to run a wedding especially a wedding at this time is a big responsibility and you need to think about grandparents and well everyone really. At the same time, it’s a wedding and a celebration and you can’t forget that as well —— either way you have seen me use the word challenging quite a few times and honestly, that’s what it was but it did not ruin any of the planning. It made me think wider, it made me be more creative, and ultimately, it pushed us to work much closer together with the bride and groom and with the parents of the groom so that all expectations were communicated and everyone felt involved.
The wedding was last night and I am in the recovery stage. It was truly magnificent and everything we could have hoped for — stay tuned for pictures!