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Wedding Planning

REVAMPING YOUR PLANS DURING A PANDEMIC

What do you do when you’ve paid $60,000 for a wedding that’s supposed to take place in five days and a pandemic threatens to bring everything to a halt? 

Aimee Fennessey, local wedding planner and owner of Amanda Rose Weddings, says, “Modify!”

That nightmare scenario unfolded last March just as a year’s worth of work with an out-of-town couple who wanted a destination wedding on Hilton Head Island came face-to-face with newly imposed travel restrictions, health requirements and sanitation demands. 

Fennessey suggested options that remain relevant in 2021: having the wedding on the beach and scaling back the guest list.

readyset2The couple decided to have a wedding that would include their parents. 

Snagging the last marriage license before the office closed on a Thursday, the couple successfully wed on Friday. 

Every flower ordered was used and the photographer captured every perfect moment.

“Everything was absolutely gorgeous,” Fennessey said, adding that it’s all about modifying and prioritizing needs. 

Scaling back the guest list of more than 100 people to a manageable 20 has become the norm.

“Everyone needs to be flexible,” Fennessey suggests, as locations and dates are still on a revolving timetable.  

Hannah Bozard, Senior Catering and Sales Executive at The Westin on Hilton Head, and Steve French, Director of Sales and Marketing, also emphasize “collaboration.”

“All of this is new to every single person in the world, so just collaborating with each other and working as partners is essential,” French said. 

Sometimes that means postponing until a later date or revamping the layout of the reception.

“We’ve tried to take the response of being extremely pro-active with each event and communicating upfront about current restrictions,” French said. “The whole effort is to create a safe and secure environment that provides good flow.” 

Bozard said meal style is one way in which the resort has upgraded its services. Instead of food stations, plated sit-down dinners are encouraged.

Plexi-glass dividers allow for cookie stations or an appetizer display to be an option, though servers are used to limited food contact. Software was also purchased to make visual diagrams of options for staging tables and seating with proper social distancing.

Other revised wedding options, according to bizjournals.com, include individual nibbling boards and ready-to-drink cocktails.

The Knot says “shift weddings” are a way to have more guests, but not all at the same time. Instead, the guest’s times are staggered to witness certain aspects of the wedding. One group might experience the ceremony, and another group arrives for the reception.

Mismatched seating is also popular. Instead of standard seating options, The Knot says mismatched tables (seating for four; others for six) are being invoked for safety.  

A sequel wedding, as outlined at weddingpro.com, is also an option. The couple has multiple ceremonies, with the first wedding being more intimate, followed by, at a later date, a larger celebration. Typically, couples initially have a microwedding and then gather with an expanded group of family and friends for the sequel wedding.

Challenges still lie ahead as mandates and restrictions keep evolving, but Bozard promises that her team is committed to finding solutions. 

“There’s a lot of emotion and money involved,” she says, “so we want to be as big a partner as we can be ­ — and so far, so good.”