The window of a wedding dress store with mannequins wearing face masks on Thursday, April 23, 2020. The store is closed because of COVID-19 lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Darko Bandic

The window of a wedding dress store with mannequins wearing face masks on Thursday, April 23, 2020. The store is closed because of COVID-19 lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Darko Bandic

Delay the date: How the COVID-19 pandemic may alter weddings for years to come

Some couples might shift towards smaller soirees even after the pandemic lifts, says planner

Caitlyn Veiga knew once COVID-19 started circulating last March that the wedding she’d been planning for two years would likely be impossible.

She just didn’t think she’d have to postpone the celebration more than once.

The 30-year-old from Toronto and her fiance David Young pushed their original June 2020 date to this summer once the first lockdown took hold. But as cases began rising over the winter, the couple decided to postpone again to October 2021.

The country’s vaccination rollout, expected to reach the majority of Canadians by the fall, should help Veiga avoid a third postponement. But she’s hesitant to look too optimistically into the future.

And the uncertainty of the pandemic has made her re-prioritize which details are important to her eventual wedding.

“I think the biggest struggle is people are putting their lives on hold for something that might not be possible (for some time),” Veiga said.

“Things you initially cared about — bridesmaid dresses, what colour your shoes will be — a lot of that goes out the window. Now it’s like: Can people have a drink within six feet of each other?”

Questions of when weddings can return to normal are plaguing many couples as they attempt to re-plan their big day, in some cases for a third or fourth time.

Limitations on weddings varied across the country throughout 2020, with most areas permitting five-person ceremonies during the initial lockdown last spring. That later expanded to 10, 50, or a reduced capacity percentage depending on venue size.

The volatile nature of the pandemic, however, meant restrictions could change from month to month, causing couples to adapt on the fly.

Toronto’s Melissa Fairey and her now husband Mike were a month away from their dream wedding when the pandemic hit last March. Fairey initially postponed to April 2021 but decided to get legally married in front of eight guests last August once COVID cases started dropping.

The significantly scaled-back soiree was a far cry from the celebration she initially wanted, but Fairey says it still felt “perfect.”

“One of the benefits (of planning a pandemic wedding) is it takes away a lot of the noise and forces you to really evaluate what’s important,” she said. “For us, that was getting married. And it really became about wanting to celebrate with people we love.”

Fairey is waiting for the pandemic to subside — and for bans on dancing to lift — before she plans a more traditional reception.

Dancing restrictions at weddings differed across Canada, with some provinces like Alberta allowing it among households and others, such as Manitoba and Ontario banning it outright except in specific instances like first dances between newlyweds.

Going ahead with a 2020 date meant couples had to find creative ways to fill the entertainment void at their receptions.

Kristie and Cameron Kramer solved that problem by hosting a trivia game for their 48 guests at their October 2020 wedding in St. Marys, Ont., peppering in facts about their relationship with general knowledge questions.

The couple originally planned for a typical reception, and Kristie said the no-dancing rule made them almost postpone entirely.

“Our initial reaction was: ‘hell no, this is horrible,’” she said with a laugh. “But looking back, I really preferred the way it turned out.

“It was a nice, relaxed pace — more like a pub atmosphere than a night club.”

Adeola Damie, an event planner who specializes in Caribbean and African weddings that typically involve lively dance parties, says her four 2020 couples had to modify their reception entertainment significantly. And those planning 2021 shindigs are bracing for the same.

While her couples felt “bummed out” about losing some of that energetic atmosphere, Damie said they made it work by setting up games at guests’ tables, or having them dance at their seats.

Tweaks to food service was another obstacle for Damie’s couples, however. Buffets that often punctuate African and Caribbean weddings were nixed for individually plated menus. And the wedding cake, usually an outstanding show-stopper at Damie’s events, was replaced by single-packaged baked goods.

Damie expects to return to planning big and bold weddings once the pandemic is over, but she tells clients who don’t want to postpone again that small, safer celebrations can still be significant.

“You don’t have to put your life on hold,” she said. “A wedding can still be beautiful and meaningful without 200 guests.”

Neha Chopra, a wedding planner specializing in elaborate South Asian weddings, says some clients — while skeptical at first — welcomed the opportunity to move away from the massive festivities she normally takes on.

She expects couples to gravitate back to traditional weddings in the future, but she sees why some might shift towards smaller soirees even after the pandemic lifts.

Chopra, who organized eight weddings in 2020, down from her usual 60, says there was something special about the intimate events she planned through the lens of pandemic restrictions.

“Couples appreciated after the fact that the ceremony was much more meaningful to them, because it only involved people they were close to,” she said. “Guests were there for the couple — not for the food, not as an excuse to dress up.

“It was really about the people getting married.”

EventsWeddings

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A student works in a science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary on Friday, March 12, 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
COVID-19 exposures at 2 Central Okanagan schools

Ellison Elementary and Ècole Kelowna Secondary School are reporting exposures

Nolan Foote becomes the 62nd Rocket to suit up in an NHL regular-season game on Sunday afternoon (Photo: Kelowna Rockets)
Former Kelowna Rockets captain plays first NHL game

Nolan Foote played his first game with the New Jersey Devils on Sunday

Pastor Cliff Siebert of the Okanagan Landing Community Church (centre) addresses some of his congregation in-person for the first time in many months Sunday, April 18, as the church held the first of what they hope will be regular outdoor services with COVID protocols adhered to and obeyed. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Vernon church hosts outdoor service

Okanagan Landing Community Church put strict COVID protocols in place to hold sermon in back parking lot

The City of Armstrong has been named one of Canada’s 20 best towns to live based on low cost of living and high paying jobs, according to a survey by Numbeo. (Facebook photo/Rhythm Productions)
Armstrong lands among 20 best cities to live in Canada

Survey conducted based on low cost of living and high paying jobs; five other B.C. towns on list

Vernon Vipers forward Ryan Shostak (centre) fends off a check from Salmon Arm defenceman to get a close-in scoring attempt on Silverbacks goalie Owen Say during Vernon’s 3-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play shootout victory Saturday, April 17, at Kal Tire Place. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers photography)
Vernon Vipers use shootout to subdue Salmon Arm

Snakes score 3-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play win at Kal Tire Place

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
National fitness group condemns unlicensed Kelowna gym’s anti-vaccine policy

The Fitness Industry Council of Canada says Flow Academy is shining a negative light on the industry

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A Kelowna Pride Festival 2019 participant holds up a flag. (Kelowna Pride Society)
Kelowna Pride, RCMP continue to work on ‘Safe Place Program’

A new committee has been formed to refine the ‘Safe Place Program’ created by the Kelowna RCMP

A strange odour at a West Kelowna apartment building prompted the evacuation of 150 residents on Sunday morning, April 18. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Strange smell at West Kelowna apartment prompts evacuation of 150 residents, pets

150 residents ordered evacuated from a West Kelowna apartment building early Sunday morning

Most Read