I recently wrote a post about the perils and uncertainties of our wedding plans for 2020 due to Covid-19. Since then, N and I have gotten married (May 15), moved into our new-to-us home (May 22), and have started our journey as a married couple together (present-day). We are now a week away from our 2 month anniversary, yay!
In this post, you can read all about how we got married in the midst of a pandemic. The steps listed are pretty similar to how you would plan a wedding for any other year, with a few minor tweaks and considerations.
Step 1: Find out how to get your marriage license in your state
We were so lucky that Colorado allows for self solemnizing. What that basically means is that you and your partner can get married by signing the papers yourselves–no need for a witness, a pastor, or a religious ceremony.
With Covid-19, getting married was made even easier. We didn’t even have to leave our house. All we needed was a downloaded application online, print and fill it out especially making sure to mark the “self-solemnize” box, sign it with ink, and send it to the clerk’s office in Denver County with the application fee and a copy of our driver’s licenses.
Step 2: Add people to your guest list
Covid-19 has drastically cut down on the number of guests who can attend weddings being held in 2020. For some, it’s a plus, for others (like me) it was tragic.
I really wanted to have our whole guest list present and have both our extended families meet as we were in a long-distance relationship. If the pandemic didn’t happen, we would have had 500 people on our guest list.
We had put a deposit down for a super cool venue that would have fit our guest count and still had some space to spare; there was definitely a lot of “what would have been” as we changed our perspective throughout our planning. (That super cool venue will host our big celebration next year.)
When we were planning to get married in May, our state would only allow 10 people at group gatherings, and we tried hard to stay as close to that as possible. We had 15 people on the guest list (shh…): immediate family members, the pastor, and my maid of honor, and her husband. Choose your people and stick closely to the state or county guidelines.
***Side note: My then fiance and future-in-laws were flying in from California. Now I know that would be cause for mask-wearing, but my family was pretty flexible and we didn’t mandate masks. That’s a personal decision you and your partner would have to make and ensure that your people are okay with everything.
Step 3: Pick your venue
Our options for free venues were my home church, my backyard, or the mountains. As our guest list was super teeny and the church seemed so big, I personally didn’t want to hold our small ceremony there.
I actually wanted to go hiking somewhere in the Rockies and say our vows in the mountains. But the logistics of getting everyone there seemed to take a lot of coordinating that I didn’t want to expend energy on thinking about.
So I talked to my parents and we decided to hold the ceremony in our backyard. At first, I was just imagining the pastor’s arrival, we would have chairs set up, and then we’d get married and eat afterward.
But our venue (and wedding) got upgraded little by little as we continued discussing our backyard wedding. My mom wanted to put in an arch that was available to us by our very creative women’s group at church. My MOH’s sister was also willing to let me borrow her decorations that we had beautiful lanterns to set up. My dad and brothers cleaned the backyard by washing the concrete and moving a lot of things to set up space.
It all came together nicely and we really thought we could rent out our backyard as a small venue for 2020 weddings.
Since our wedding was in my backyard, we decided to make a home-cooked meal. We had eggrolls, rice, lo mein, Mongolian chicken, and a salad. It was tasty delicious and super easy to set up. People grabbed food from our kitchen then ate outside where we rearranged the chairs for everyone to sit in a circle and eat together.
The person in front of me was definitely 6 feet away, even if the people on either side of me were less than a foot away.
If your family can manage it, I would definitely recommend a home-cooked meal. At the time of our wedding, many places weren’t open for takeout. With that being said, so you may have more options for catering now if you would prefer to not worry about cooking a meal.
Step 5: Photographer? Music?
Yes and yes. The trick here is to have a huge family of people who are super talented in many different ways. Thankfully, I had that going for me.
My brother picked up photography as a side hobby, so he had all the right equipment and great training for small groups of people. We didn’t have to hire a photographer to add to our guest list, and he was willing to take photos for us that we are so grateful for. My advice: see if the people on your guest list are able and willing to contribute to your small, big day.
You can choose to have someone play live music (my brother was our number one choice, but we chose him for photography instead) or use a speaker with a Spotify playlist, which is what we chose to do.
N and I picked the song to walk down to and the song to play after the kiss, but apart from that, my siblings put together a playlist of their favorite love songs and traditional wedding songs to play. We placed our speaker above the trellis as that was an area that would play music to the whole backyard. It all worked out nicely and we kept the music going all day.
Step 6: Other considerations
All the steps listed above were our main concerns. Here are some details to consider as you imagine and plan for your day.
“Should I wear my wedding dress?” I had planned to wear a cute, white spring dress for the ceremony, and N was planning on wearing jeans and a nice button-up. At the time that we had decided to postpone our wedding, I didn’t even have my wedding dress.
It was originally scheduled to arrive in the middle of March then it was postponed to April. Finally, in May on the week of our quickly planned wedding, the boutique called to let me know my dress was in the store and ready for pick up.
My MOH and one sister went with me, strict guidelines from the store, to try on the dress. We were super excited and in the midst of that excitement, we made an impulsive decision to have me wear the dress on our wedding day. N approved.
In terms of decorations, we borrowed a lot of fake flowers from my church to place on the arch and in the lanterns, which made everything beautiful.
I made my own bouquet out of paper; it was the test bouquet to make sure I could make the real one for our special day. N and I also bought small bouquets of roses for our moms to hold while walking down the aisle. We didn’t have our whole wedding party present and there was really no need to have additional flowers or decor.
We also asked our newly instated pastor at my home church to officiate for us. We didn’t need one for legal purposes, but N and I wanted someone to talk us through the ceremony.
The pastor also made the wedding and our marriage more serious as we performed the traditional steps of the ceremony such as a short devotion, exchanging of vows and rings, and the kiss to seal our marriage.
He also walked us through a 2-minute rehearsal beforehand, which was so helpful in deciding where to enter, how parents should sit, when to exchange vows and play music, etc.
It’s usually recommended that couples hire a day-of-coordinator, but that wasn’t necessary for us on this day. I had my sisters, who were bridesmaids, direct all of us into walking down the “aisle.” That kept us to our minimal number of guests and also allowed us to have the walking aspect of the wedding ceremony.
This was all decided day of when we, again impulsively during rehearsal, made the decision to walk across the yard to the arch so that we would have a long aisle.
Covid-19 encourages stay-at-home orders and social distancing, but we wanted to create a space available for friends and family that couldn’t be present on our day. In our Facebook event, we posted a zoom link for friends and family to join us. My tech-savvy brother ran the static zoom video while my MOH walked around with her iPhone recording from different angles.
Personally, I wanted people to be able to join us virtually, but I also knew that I would see our guests when we celebrate big in 2021 so I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself to have a zoom link completed weeks in advance.
I posted the link about two days before our wedding day. Granted, this is all after I’ve already announced to our guests that we would be postponing our face-to-face celebration to 2021 and that we were planning on having a small ceremony that guests could view virtually this year.
I’m so thankful that everyone was flexible and able to view it as they could. I would recommend that you get your invite link out as soon as possible if this is your one-and-done wedding day.
Also, make sure to go say “hi” to everyone on zoom afterward. And double-check that it’s being recorded before the ceremony starts. We forgot to record our wedding ceremony, and that is one thing I regret not doing as I heard we missed some interesting conversations that weren’t muted.
Step 7: Make it fun!!
I didn’t have a group of girls to toss my bouquet to, so we did a sibling toss instead. Any guesses on who caught it?
Also, my awesome siblings had a surprise in place for us we ended our afternoon of celebration. N and I were taking pictures all afternoon long and were ready to get out of our outfits and play some board games.
But they had somehow tricked us into taking a break, in our wedding attire, as they planned an elaborate hour of friends coming by to wish us good tidings. It was a great time of thank yous, as well as goodbyes with friends in a time where social gatherings weren’t allowed.
Every group came in and took a polaroid picture for memories, then walked on over to us for a nice picture and conversation. Groups weren’t allowed to have more than ten in the area and weren’t allowed to stay more than 10 minutes.
Everyone stayed safe and observed social distancing as best as we could while making great memories together on our wedding day.
That’s a wrap on the deets of our wedding day. I hope these steps, though they may seem common to some, are helpful for you as you plan your wedding day in the midst of this pandemic.
My best advice is to let go of the things you can’t control and make great plans for everything you can. Once I knew our wedding was going to look different from everything I had ever imagined for our original plan, I was able to enjoy the moment and not become upset about fun details I had to let go of, like seating charts or wedding favors.
Have you planned your wedding for 2020? How did everything go? What else would you add as a step in essential planning for a 2020 wedding? Comment below.