Venues, vendors, and couples adjust to social-distancing challenges
The pandemic has tested not only couples wanting to wed but those whose business is making celebrations memorable.
“Weddings are happy and emotional in normal times,” said Valerie Bergstrom, the wedding coordinator at Park Cities Baptist Church. Add canceled wedding showers and parties, rescheduled vendors, and figuring out the safest as well as the best way to get married, and it becomes, as Bergstrom put it, “overwhelming.”
Some couples pushed ceremonies back to the fall of 2020, hoping restrictions would lift, only to have to change dates three more times, Bergstrom said.
After canceling days before his wedding when both his parents became ill with COVID-19, one groom opted to marry at home and have a chapel ceremony later, she said.
Cain Sargent, owner of John Cain Photography, said although Texas allowed events to resume in 2020, he still had more than 40 weddings postponed.
After the lockdown lifted, weddings resumed in June.
Park Cities Baptist usually hosts 20 weddings or so a year, but in 2020 had only 14 with those after the lockdown held at limited capacity: only 120 guests in a chapel that seats 300. The church allows 200 in the chapel now and even more in the sanctuary.
Bergstrom said it’s heartbreaking when all family and friends cannot attend, but live-streaming ceremonies has been a plus.
“A silver lining of … an intimate wedding was a heightened appreciation between the couple and their families.”Cain Sargent
Iva and JD Cochran considered postponing their wedding last year but went ahead and married at Park Cities Baptist in June 2020, even though the ceremony wasn’t as planned.
“Obviously, our guest list was different … just family and our wedding party,” the couple said in an email. “We never envisioned masks at our ceremony or not having a dance floor at our reception.”
Sargent works closely with brides and their mothers to visualize their big day and captures and preserves the once-in-a-lifetime moments in cherished photographs. Having to change that vision wasn’t always easy.
Some clients, however, embraced what a scaled-down wedding offered.
“A silver lining of … an intimate wedding was a heightened appreciation between the couple and their families,” Sargent said.
With a larger wedding, those little moments can become “all too overshadowed by 28 bridesmaids and 400 guests,” he added.
The Cochrans saw the benefits of their smaller ceremony, noting it “allowed us to focus on what was most important at the heart of it all.”
“One big challenge was how frequently the rules evolved,” Sargent said. The pandemic reined in large, station-style and seated dinner receptions, which required pivoting plans—like a new guest list and floor plans.
“Thankfully, we’re past this point now,” he said, adding, more couples are having sit-down dinners and inviting more guests.
After more than a year of living, working, and existing at home in “athleisurewear,” Sargent sees many clients going all out in formal attire for their wedding. However, those used to prolonged comfort will pair a gorgeous cocktail dress with fancy sneakers for dancing at their reception.
Either way, he said, “special occasions feel more special again.”
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