October 21, 2020

COVID-19: Time for a Downsized Wedding?

It is time to downsize or rethink your large wedding to a downsized wedding?

This is a HELLA stressful time to be a bride or groom. I would know, and you would too if you read my last blog where I explain why I chose to scrap my October wedding and host an ultra small destination wedding instead. The reality is a lot of people are in the exact same boat you are in right now. And as sad as it may be, it might be time to call the curtains on your big, spare no expense, spare no invitation wedding. Either way, it’s going to be okay! You have a few options to still have the wonderful wedding you’ve been dreaming about, even if you decide to make it a downsized wedding. 

I’m sure some of you have been planning your wedding since you were five years old. For all my Friends fans out there, you might’ve been planning “since the first time [you] took a pillowcase and hung it off the back of [your] head.” And that day deserves to be everything you have ever wanted it to be. You owe it to the five-year-old you with the pillowcase. So before we make any impulse decisions, let’s talk through some important topics and questions to help.

Location and quarantine requirements for downsized wedding

Is your wedding location in a state with restricted numbers when it comes to gatherings? You may be able to get around this one a little if your event is hosted outdoors, OR if you agree to follow strict guidelines according to your state. Believe it or not, AARP published a great article with info on every state, and they’ve been updating it regularly. You can find it here. For example, Arizona is allowing gatherings capped at 50 people, but if you agree to follow certain guidelines, local authorities can give you the green light for more people. Of course the best place to look is always your state’s website or the CDC’s website. But if you want a quick, all inclusive reference, the AARP site has your back. 

Even if your state is allowing large gatherings, it’s best practice to check with your venue to see if they are allowing gatherings of your size or if they foresee themselves potentially reducing the number of guests allowed in the future. Each establishment is allowed to create their own rules as long as they are stricter than the state’s rules. 

Travel for guests

If you are planning a destination wedding or if you have a lot of guests traveling for the wedding, it might be a good idea to check out that AARP site to get an idea of what your guests are going to have to go through to make it to your Big Day. Some states are still requiring a mandatory 14-day quarantine when traveling out of state. So what might seem like a quick, little getaway for you could actually look like your guests having to take at least two weeks off of work to make it. This can greatly reduce your guest list, which brings me to my next point. 

Are you prepared to lose some important people from your guest list?

It’s not fun to talk about, but there is a chance some of your guests aren’t going to feel comfortable attending even a downsized wedding in the midst of a pandemic. Their anxiety could stem from a number of reasons. They could feel anxious about traveling to the wedding, especially if they are flying. They could feel anxious being around others if masks are not enforced. Even if masks are enforced, they could feel anxious attending dinner at a table of people without masks. Guests also may not feel comfortable attending due to a pre-existing health condition, and you can’t do anything about that. 

While you might be okay if some guests RSVP that they can’t make it, it might be a devastating blow to have a sibling let you know they can’t make it because they don’t feel comfortable attending. My husband’s parents didn’t feel comfortable attending in the midst of a pandemic, and that was really sad, but we didn’t blame them. My grandmother also didn’t attend our wedding because of the risk, and she is the light of my world and vice versa. It doesn’t matter how close you are to the person, they might not feel comfortable attending, and that is that. End of story. 

What if someone contracts COVID?

If the last topic wasn’t fun to discuss, this one won’t be either. But a world-wide virus that has infected millions deserves to be discussed seriously and fully for the benefit of YOU and your beloved guests and family. This topic is meant to help you reflect. What I want for you is to have an incredibly beautiful marriage that is reflected through an incredibly beautiful wedding day. 

If someone were to contract COVID from attending your wedding, how would you feel? It’s important to remember that if a guest contracts the virus from your wedding or had been unknowingly infected at the time of your wedding, it would be your responsibility to communicate this information to all guests who were in attendance.

How would your future spouse feel? 

Are you both okay with the risk? Would you or your spouse harbor negative feelings or judgement on the other if someone were to get sick?


If you two decided to postpone or cancel, are your deposits refundable? Make sure to check with ALLLL of your vendors. If they are not refundable, would you consider picking a new date to have your big wedding and instead do a small, downsized wedding with your future spouse in the meantime?

I spoke with a bride getting married next Saturday, and she said the big reason they were not postponing was because catering wasn’t able to give them a refund. For a wedding of 300 people, they spent a pretty penny on catering and weren’t willing to throw thousands of dollars down the drain. For some people, this is the deciding factor. 

If you have a relative contributing a considerable sum of money for the wedding, it might be a good idea to check with them to make sure they will still help fund your wedding—even if they decide they won’t be attending. If they choose not to, that’s okay! You may have to restructure your budget and prioritize differently if you would still like to have your wedding on that specific day. 

The wrap up

There is no wrong or right answer here. The bottom line is IT’S YOUR DAY. It’s up to you and your future spouse to decide what you two want to do. And on the flip side, it is also up to your guests to decide if they feel comfortable attending. I hope this has opened the floor to some good conversation between you and your spouse. 

If you find yourself wondering about alternatives for your Big Day, here are a few options that I’ll discuss further in the next blog. 

  • Downsize your large wedding to a smaller wedding while still taking necessary precautions
  • Legally get married on your original wedding date, but save the party for later 
  • Elope! 
  • Postpone the ceremony and reception until you as well as your guests feel comfortable

I’ll also be talking about ways you can still have a fairly large wedding with all the bells and whistles AND do your best to make your guests feel safe.


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