The window of a wedding dress store with mannequins wearing face masks on Thursday, April 23, 2020. The store is closed because of COVID-19 lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Darko Bandic

The window of a wedding dress store with mannequins wearing face masks on Thursday, April 23, 2020. The store is closed because of COVID-19 lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Darko Bandic

Delay the date: How the COVID-19 pandemic may alter weddings for years to come

Some couples might shift towards smaller soirees even after the pandemic lifts, says planner

Caitlyn Veiga knew once COVID-19 started circulating last March that the wedding she’d been planning for two years would likely be impossible.

She just didn’t think she’d have to postpone the celebration more than once.

The 30-year-old from Toronto and her fiance David Young pushed their original June 2020 date to this summer once the first lockdown took hold. But as cases began rising over the winter, the couple decided to postpone again to October 2021.

The country’s vaccination rollout, expected to reach the majority of Canadians by the fall, should help Veiga avoid a third postponement. But she’s hesitant to look too optimistically into the future.

And the uncertainty of the pandemic has made her re-prioritize which details are important to her eventual wedding.

“I think the biggest struggle is people are putting their lives on hold for something that might not be possible (for some time),” Veiga said.

“Things you initially cared about — bridesmaid dresses, what colour your shoes will be — a lot of that goes out the window. Now it’s like: Can people have a drink within six feet of each other?”

Questions of when weddings can return to normal are plaguing many couples as they attempt to re-plan their big day, in some cases for a third or fourth time.

Limitations on weddings varied across the country throughout 2020, with most areas permitting five-person ceremonies during the initial lockdown last spring. That later expanded to 10, 50, or a reduced capacity percentage depending on venue size.

The volatile nature of the pandemic, however, meant restrictions could change from month to month, causing couples to adapt on the fly.

Toronto’s Melissa Fairey and her now husband Mike were a month away from their dream wedding when the pandemic hit last March. Fairey initially postponed to April 2021 but decided to get legally married in front of eight guests last August once COVID cases started dropping.

The significantly scaled-back soiree was a far cry from the celebration she initially wanted, but Fairey says it still felt “perfect.”

“One of the benefits (of planning a pandemic wedding) is it takes away a lot of the noise and forces you to really evaluate what’s important,” she said. “For us, that was getting married. And it really became about wanting to celebrate with people we love.”

Fairey is waiting for the pandemic to subside — and for bans on dancing to lift — before she plans a more traditional reception.

Dancing restrictions at weddings differed across Canada, with some provinces like Alberta allowing it among households and others, such as Manitoba and Ontario banning it outright except in specific instances like first dances between newlyweds.

Going ahead with a 2020 date meant couples had to find creative ways to fill the entertainment void at their receptions.

Kristie and Cameron Kramer solved that problem by hosting a trivia game for their 48 guests at their October 2020 wedding in St. Marys, Ont., peppering in facts about their relationship with general knowledge questions.

The couple originally planned for a typical reception, and Kristie said the no-dancing rule made them almost postpone entirely.

“Our initial reaction was: ‘hell no, this is horrible,’” she said with a laugh. “But looking back, I really preferred the way it turned out.

“It was a nice, relaxed pace — more like a pub atmosphere than a night club.”

Adeola Damie, an event planner who specializes in Caribbean and African weddings that typically involve lively dance parties, says her four 2020 couples had to modify their reception entertainment significantly. And those planning 2021 shindigs are bracing for the same.

While her couples felt “bummed out” about losing some of that energetic atmosphere, Damie said they made it work by setting up games at guests’ tables, or having them dance at their seats.

Tweaks to food service was another obstacle for Damie’s couples, however. Buffets that often punctuate African and Caribbean weddings were nixed for individually plated menus. And the wedding cake, usually an outstanding show-stopper at Damie’s events, was replaced by single-packaged baked goods.

Damie expects to return to planning big and bold weddings once the pandemic is over, but she tells clients who don’t want to postpone again that small, safer celebrations can still be significant.

“You don’t have to put your life on hold,” she said. “A wedding can still be beautiful and meaningful without 200 guests.”

Neha Chopra, a wedding planner specializing in elaborate South Asian weddings, says some clients — while skeptical at first — welcomed the opportunity to move away from the massive festivities she normally takes on.

She expects couples to gravitate back to traditional weddings in the future, but she sees why some might shift towards smaller soirees even after the pandemic lifts.

Chopra, who organized eight weddings in 2020, down from her usual 60, says there was something special about the intimate events she planned through the lens of pandemic restrictions.

“Couples appreciated after the fact that the ceremony was much more meaningful to them, because it only involved people they were close to,” she said. “Guests were there for the couple — not for the food, not as an excuse to dress up.

“It was really about the people getting married.”

EventsWeddings

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack RCMP officers on the scene of a spreading brush fire in east Chilliwack between the CN tracks and Highway 1 on April 15, 2021. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Firefighters call for helicopter water drop as wildfire expands in Chilliwack

Chilliwack fire crews are on scene at wildfire near Cannor Road, but having difficulty accessing it

Japanese Canadian citizens being transferred into waiting trucks outside Hope Station House. NNMCC L2021-2-1-004. Photographs courtesy of the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre
Fight continues for historic Hope Station House

Ombudsman report and stop work order come alongside district’s move to remove heritage status

Lift equipment is driven away from a fire in an adjacent unit on Industrial Way in Chilliwack on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack firefighters deal with heavy smoke, extreme heat in challenging industrial fire

Crews successful in containing fire to 1 unit in industrial building, adjacent units suffer smoke damage

RCMP on the scene of an alleged attempted murder-suicide on Watson Road in Chilliwack on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Shane MacKichan)
UPDATE: Shooting leaves one dead, one seriously injured in attempted murder-suicide in Chilliwack

Incident Thursday morning in townhouse complex across from Watson elementary school

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to three employees. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

B.C. Attorney General David Eby, Minister Responsible for Housing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. announces $2B for affordable, middle-income family home projects

New HousingHub financing funds will encourage developers, groups – with low-interest loans – to build affordable homes

Most Read