How to roll with the changes and power through pandemic times with out-of-the-box wedding ideas. Read the recap of Knot What You Expected Inspiration Zoom session from Bridal Extravaganza of Atlanta Online July 2020..
1. By when would you need to decide if you’re postponing your wedding date? What happens with your vendors if you do?
JDV Occasions: It’s an unusual time to be planning anything right now. All vendors have been working hard to shift things and have events beautifully and safely. If you are postponing or moving date, remember that food and flowers have to be ordered by a certain date. Your planner can help with figuring out changes that need to be made and by when.
2. How does the current pandemic impact wedding photography and photo entertainment? What are you doing differently?
MYL Photography & Film: For us, we’re getting more bride and groom focused in more intimate weddings. Now we get to spend boatloads of time on the couple. The other pivot has been that we’ve been going to locations that we couldn’t have gone to with large weddings. But with intimate weddings, we can have the bridal party photographed at some really interesting places.
Shutterbooth: There are two things we’ve done to lessen the pandemic impact. For those brides who had to scale down their guest lists, we can still engage the original invitees we launched a virtual photo booth. Couples can deploy a hyperlink to create a video or gift or selfie that will be branded and upload immediately and looks like they were there for the wedding. On site, we’ve gone to a touchless experience.We use facial recognition, no touchscreen to enter email. You can scan a QR code with your smartphone to get your images.
3. What changes can we expect in the hotel industry (buffet service, food packaging? out of town guest experience?)
Hotel at Avalon: You’ll see a lot of new cleaning standards, mask mandates in the public spaces, directional signage, we’re limiting capacity at pool. We’re implementing great guidelines for food service and recommend plated meals for events. Even if it’s not a item we don’t typically do, we’ll incorporate your favorite selections into a plated menu for your event.
4. Are you envisioning changes to room layouts then what was previously popular for weddings?
YES: We’ve been working on more intimate weddings. You can set up tables in half moons or in the round,unique set ups you can’t do with larger groups. We can draw out your room with our programs to make sure you’re social distancing. Venues are being flexible in upgrading to larger rooms. Open air venues are very popular now and are getting booked rapidly. Inventory in 2021 is going to be far less as 2020 couples have postponed to next year. Consider looking at alternatives to Saturday nights for best options. We’re using lounge furniture and hedge walls to separate space into vignettes to give people different spaces to be in. We’re also using personalization in food safety options, like coasters to top butler passed drinks. You can work in more elaborate florals or décor elements with smaller guest count weddings.
We’re putting hearts on the dance floor six feet apart to show guests where they can social distance while dancing, and setting up satellite dance floors so there are separate floors themed and scattered in different parts of the event space. We’re putting baskets with masks next to dance floors. We’re also seeing silent discos so guests can dance at tables. We are seeing branded masks and hand sanitizer kits for guests.
Rolled silverware is a trend for table settings now, and a napkin pocket fold protects silverware.
JDV Occasions: Cute personalized bags at settings are a trend now, for giving favors and also masks.Bags hold masks while eating so they don’t sit on table.
5. Is the buffet/food station approach gone for good? What changes will we see in food menus?
Talk of the Town Catering: The face of catering has changed. This time has given us opportunities to be more creative in what we’re serving and how we’re serving it. Because we don’t want self service buffets, we are having them staffed. Events with lower guest counts you can do some more special details for food. For example, switching to a plated meal because it limits a lot of contact between guests. A lot of people are also doing stations because it’s chef or server attended. It’s creative and fun but safe. Have an honest conversation with your caterer about your concerns so we can make sure everyone will feel comfortable. We’re working on special containers for how to serve different items to guests.
A plated dinner is generally more expensive because it requires additional service. But since we have to add additional servers to buffet service right now those costs are higher. I suggest we price out your ideal meal and then we can make changes and work backward from there.
6. What if social distancing is here for a very long time, how do we dance and party?
Atlanta Fever: All of our team members and production staff are wearing masks and maintaining social distance. We’ve talked about interactive contests for satellite dance floors. We’re livestreaming events and have worked on many Zoom ceremonies. We can bring in a big screen and we customize so much, we can do just about whatever you’re looking for.
7. How will smaller guest counts impact what you can do? How can it still be great with fewer guests?
JDV Occasions: When you think about your wedding budget that was meant for 200 people, we can do so much more with it for your smaller guest list. We can really give your guests a VIP experience. Customized things and white glove service can be done easily with under 100 people. Everything can be branded, we can serve your favorite wine,tablescapes can be more lush and gorgeously lit to make an amazing setting. Imagine you’re a celebrity. Most of them do an elite small gathering so you can envision it more like an elaborate VIP party. All of the elements can still be there. You can include everyone whether they’re there in person or virtually.
8. What should engaged couples know about planning right now?
The Hotel at Avalon: Look at venue availability. All vendors are including a COVID clause in contracts so the risk is reduced if you have to reschedule. Don’t be scared to secure a venue. We’re doing in person and Zoom tours.
Made You Look Photography & Film: When you book with us, we’re completely flexible. Once you’re in, you’re in. But move forward on your 2021 date because they’re going quickly. Make sure you hire a wedding planner to keep everything stress-free!
YES: Make sure your vendors are reliable, reputable and have longevity. We will help guide you in decisions and offering lower deposits to save the date. We’re not trying to doa ton of weddings, we’re limiting our bookings so we can focus on you on your dates. We’re here for you.
Atlanta Fever Entertainment: We are flexible with deposits. People are understandably nervous. My daughter had to change her date three times, so I get it. We’re able to change dates and we can accommodate multiple parties a night. Fridays and Sundays are more open than Saturdays in 2021. We also have a pandemic clause for help couples with change issues.
ShutterBooth: We have relaxed rescheduling options should a shelter in place order occur, or of couples needs to change dates. We have a lot of different experiences available and we’re here to execute them and helping you accomplish what you’d like. Because of rescheduling, 2021 is very busy. Don’t wait to start a conversation.
Talk of the Town Catering: We have the resources to pivot and accommodate changed dates. But keep in mind that you should look at multiple date options in 2021. We have a low booking deposit and have tastings by appointment available now. Do your research and know who will still be around and stand by their commitments.
Shelly: 2021 is going to be a huge wedding year, so get your preferred date to the vendors you want to work with soon!
Get expert tips on all the little details you don’t want to forget. Read the recap of From Ring to Reception Inspiration Zoom session from Bridal Extravaganza of Atlanta Online July 2020.