2020 brides, do not panic.

Take a deep breath, girlfriend. We got this.

Not only am I a wedding and elopement photographer - I also do some work in healthcare, which gives me a unique perspective on the 'rona situation. While we all need to be doing our part to promote health and safety, there are some ways to have your cake and eat it too! *pun intended. Lighten up, y'all.*

You can still have your wedding.

I've heard so many people talking about their venues cancelling, their out of town guests not being able to travel, etc and my heart just breaks for all of you! You have some hard decisions to make in the days ahead. While these uncertain times are trying, there's nothing like a little celebration to keep your spirits lifted. I hope these suggestions are helpful. If there's anything I can do to offer you additional ideas, resources, etc don't hesitate to hop on over to the "contact" page and shoot me a note!

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1. Evaluate your guest list.

The social distancing is real, folks. If you have a wedding planned for March/April/May, take a look at your guest list and see if there's opportunities to downsize your wedding party. The CDC offers some great guidelines for keeping your community and family safe, so try to keep your elderly relatives or anyone with small children at home. Trust me, they'll thank you later. By having a smaller wedding, you may be able to still pull off your ceremony with fewer people there and minimize risk! Planner Marcy Blum suggests that you only include guests between ages 20-40.

2. Think local!

I have personally gotten inquiries lately from couples who booked out-of-state vendors that cancelled on them last-minute due to travel restrictions, suggestions from their governors, etc. So if you are moving forward with your wedding, look for some local vendors in your town that you can support! You have the opportunity to sustain your own community, and also have reliable, neighborly service. Catering, florists, media, etc can usually be sourced within a reasonable distance. Check out local groups on Facebook or ask for referrals from your friends nearby. And speaking of vendors...

3. Don't scrimp on your photos.

I bet we all have a sweet aunt or friend or cousin who just got a really nice camera and is learning and would be willing to take the photos for almost nothing. It's tempting. Don't do it. Your photos and your new spouse will be ALL you have left of your big day, and if you're planning a smaller/modified ceremony, your photos will be all that your grandparents, extended family, and friends get to experience too. Hire someone with experience to capture your wedding day that will tell your story moment by moment. Not only will you get to relive these rapturous moments again and again, but your loved ones will be able to experience it with you, even if you are practicing social distancing. I don't regret one penny that I spent on my wedding photos, and I wish with all my heart that I had hired a good videographer. I never actually even got my wedding footage, because we asked a friend to take the video. Find someone reputable to capture your day, and invite all of your friends and family to share your experience through those photos!

4. Get outside!

Nothing says social distancing like the great outdoors and open air! If your venue is cancelled, ask around about local farms, fields, and parks that may allow you to have a small ceremony outside. Not only will you have a beautiful background for photos, but you decrease your risk of spreading germs! Bring your hand sanitizers and toilet paper, and hike a mountain or climb a fence and get hitched. Some local farms and distilleries offer deals and discounts if you're willing to tag them in your photos and boost their advertising presence, so be sure to mention how willing you'll be to give them a big shoutout! *Side note: Some parks do require a permit, so be sure to ask before showing up with an armload of folding chairs and a preacher.

5. Keep it clean.

If you're having your wedding just like you planned, you may want to take some precautions on contact with your guests. Skip the hugs, and take a photo together instead, or touch elbows instead of shaking hands. Opt for a white-glove service - have white gloves available as a favor for your guests and ask that your vendors also wear white gloves. Not only does it lend an elegant touch, but it helps keep germs from spreading. Have your reception meal family-style instead of buffet-style, or have boxed meals ready to pick up. And of course, wipe the mic down after every toast!

6. Elope.

You knew I would say it eventually, right? Weigh it out in your mind. This article may also help you decide if an elopement is right for you. Couples are not going to stop getting married, and with the elopement trend on the rise, this might be the perfect excuse for you to ditch the formalities and change gears to an elopement. Pick your location, put some boots on your officiant, and have your dream day anyway, with a TBA reception party after the panic is over.

The bottom line...

The COVID-19 virus has created a fluid situation that makes it next to impossible to plan. All that really matters, though, at the end of the day, is that you get to celebrate your love, marry your soulmate, and include your loved ones however you see fit to do so. It’s a common piece of advice to go with the flow on the wedding day as snafus do arise. Just stay safe and keep smiling. Don’t let a virus steal this amazing life experience from you. It might be different than what you originally planned, but you might discover that it’s even more meaningful and romantic.