Don’t let the pandemic ruin the best day of your life! We turn to real brides for advice and tips on how to plan a wedding in Singapore.
Planning a wedding isn’t easy. Throw in a pandemic and stress levels increase tenfold. There are so many factors to keep in mind! And since the situation is ever-evolving, you never know what new obstacles will be thrown at you. Many couples have had to scale down their wedding, postpone their ceremony or even sell their packages to others.
I totally empathise as I’m in the midst of planning my “pandemic wedding” too. I recently had an intimate ceremony for my civil marriage and I’m currently planning for my bigger traditional wedding next January. I’m lucky I have a “second chance” to rectify the mistakes I made but not all brides do. Perhaps the situation will get better by then but I’m not taking any chances. That’s why I reached out to two other real-life brides for advice on how to plan a wedding during a pandemic. So listen up, brides-to-be! We’re dishing out helpful tips for a safe and smooth experience.
Meet the brides
Charis Lee initially planned to have around 250 guests for her wedding banquet and over 250 guests for her holy matrimony in church this March. She dreamed of a cold pressed juice counter, a photobooth and even a cocktail reception. But of course, the Covid-19 restrictions put a damper on everything. The couple didn’t get to interact with guests aside from a few minutes during photo-taking. They couldn’t invite too many guests, which was a bummer as both Charis and her partner have big families. But, they were thankful for understanding friends.
Rachael Quah had her wedding in 2020 during Phase 2. Hers was originally planned for 300 guests but had to be scaled down to 20 due to the restrictions. She and her partner chose to hold it in a more intimate, size-appropriate setting. “I found myself in a situation similar to several of my friends today – about to get married in a Phase 2 environment, but uncertain about the wider public health situation, and disappointed that many of my earlier plans had been scuppered.”
And me, fresh off my intimate ROM ceremony. My partner and I initially planned to celebrate our civil marriage with a big party with friends in early 2019 (yes, pre-Covid times). But we changed our minds to have a small one at the ROM office with just family. However, the restrictions (we were four people over the 10-pax rule in March) actually forced us to move to a different venue. We ended up spending a little more than planned but we’re thankful everything fell into place.
Now, let’s move on to some words of wisdom, shall we?
8 tips for planning a wedding during the Covid-19 pandemic
1. Think about Plan B… and C
Sure, we all hope for the best but it’s practical to think of alternatives in case something crops up at the last minute. During these uncertain times, you never know if community cases will increase and current measures will tighten. Weigh your options by creating a couple of programmes suited to possible restrictions including a tiered guestlist and a venue change.
“Speak to your vendors about alternatives,” Rachael says. “We had originally catered a buffet reception which wasn’t possible in the end. [Our vendor] agreed to let us convert our order to takeaway bento sets, which we delivered to all our relatives. It was a win-win because we didn’t have to wrangle over a refund, and were able to cater to family members that couldn’t join us in person. Our photo booth vendor allowed us to convert the deposit to a family photo shoot instead.”
2. Be prepared for difficult decisions
There’ll be a point where you have to put on your big girl shoes and make tough decisions. That includes being strict with your guestlist (this one’s a toughie if you have big families), stripping down the programme and maybe even skipping the wedding reception. I still can’t come to terms that I’ll be serving bento boxes at my wedding. I think we can all agree that a key wedding highlight is catching up with long-lost friends over a meal while we celebrate the couple. But looking at the bigger picture helps. After all, these measures are in place for our safety. During these times, turning to a good support system helps a ton.
3. Prioritise what’s important (or not)
Photography and videography were of utmost importance for Rachael and her partner. “It was the only way we’d be able to share our big day with those who couldn’t be there personally. Other things like flashy wedding cars, multiple outfit changes and hair and makeup looks were of lesser importance to us, so we did away with them. That helped in budgeting and minimising any unnecessary costs.”
4. Think outside the box
Living in the 21st century has its benefits so why not use it to your advantage? Aside from livestreaming the wedding, you can also entertain guests with virtual activities. Trivia game Kahoot! is a popular option as anyone can play it anywhere. I’ve also attended a couple of weddings where performances and speeches by family and friends are recorded beforehand and screened at the wedding. If your budget allows, send a DIY wedding kit for those who can’t be there in the flesh and conduct a fun wedding reception via Zoom.
5. Don’t harp over the small things
You can plan everything to a T and things still may not go according to plan – and that’s totally fine. Almost all my married friends have shared obstacles that occurred on their wedding day. What did they do? They either laughed about it or brushed it aside. I had a small hiccup right before my solemnisation and I couldn’t get over it. In fact, I’m still regretful that I let it consume me during an important moment in my life. Tip: don’t let that negative energy from a little hiccup ruin your big day.
6. Look on the bright side
In hindsight, maybe having a scaled down “pandemic wedding” isn’t so bad after all. “It saves quite a bit of cost and planning. Being a bride, there are already so many things to plan and look after. I’m somewhat thankful that I didn’t have many vendors to take care of. You’re just too tired at the end of the day and thankful that there are lesser things to manage. At least my bridesmaids and groomsmen got their rest time,” Charis explains.
7. Keep an open mind
Nothing’s set in stone. The rules can change according to the situation so try to plan as you go to save costs and the trouble of replanning from scratch. Charis advises couples to settle major stuff like the guest list, venue, photographer, videographer and makeup artist first. Other vendors like food and decoration can be handled closer to the date.
8. Remember, your wedding is but a moment in the long road of marriage
I think all new brides can agree with Rachael’s statement above. “I was reminded by those wiser than me that this is one event in a lifetime of memories we will both make together.” TL; DR: remember the bigger picture – you’re getting married to the love of your life and that’s all that matters!
So if you’re nervous about planning your pandemic wedding, take a deep breath and remember our tips.