Back in March we were one week away from our couple’s wedding to be held at Forest Creek Golf Club in Pinehurst, North Carolina on March 21, 2020. All the planning had been done, the seating chart was created, the place cards were finished and all we needed was the 175 guests, a bride & groom and a beautiful day in Pinehurst. Then, on Thursday March 12 we started a weekend of numerous conversations, phone calls, & texts of how we were going to move forward with a wedding amidst the Coronavirus. I remember that weekend and the days to follow seemed like 2 months. We had never faced a situation like this before in weddings. It was all so new. The world was shutting down around us. WHAT DO WE DO? Do we cancel the wedding, do we postpone the wedding, do we have the wedding? All these questions were running through their mind. I did all I knew to do, which was to “grab the bull by the horns” and press on. Using what little knowledge we had about the virus and the world around us, I started contacting all the vendors and the Country Club to find out their thoughts and how we could find a solution together. Minute by minute the governor was changing the number of mass gatherings. As we’d find a solution, he’d change and then we’d have to revise another plan. All in a course of a week!
After many discussions, our couple & their families decided they would move forward with the wedding but with only 30 people and it would be at the parents house all outside. Using all social distancing measures.
Their house was actually a perfect setting for a small, intimate backyard wedding! We went from 175 guests to 30 guests in a week but we were able to keep a lot of the same elements from their wedding. Our Florist, Leslie with Jack Hadden Floral & Event Design, used all their same flowers to re-create a beautiful backyard garden wedding. Ward Productions assisted us with getting the garden ceremony chairs, tables, & linens for the dinner setting in the courtyard.
We used extreme caution and measures to keep everyone safe. We only placed 5 chairs at a table, spaced out ceremony chairs, wiped down all chairs and surfaces with Clorox wipes. I went through an entire box of latex gloves that day. Constant hand washing and hand sanitizer. We stayed outside most of the day while only checking in on the bride a few times while getting ready inside. We asked all guests to stay outside. Guests grabbed their own plates. Flatware & glassware was set on tables. When guests were finished eating, we asked all guests from the table to leave at the same time to get their champagne at the bar so we could collectively clear their plates while they were not sitting at the tables. All in all the wedding was absolutely beautiful! We couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous day under those circumstances. Everyone came together for the good of our couple and made it the best they could for them.
I asked our bride a couple of questions about their experience so we could help other brides. And these were her responses.
What was the original wedding plan? And how did that look? The original plan was to have the ceremony and wedding reception at a private golf club surrounded by tall pines trees and sweeping green hills. We envisioned the ceremony outside overlooking the water on hole 9 followed by a cocktail hour on the patio and an indoor seated station-style dinner. All of this was crafted for approximately 150-175 guests with a five piece band and an incredible custom menu designed by the house chef.
What was rescheduling your wedding like? As Lennon said, ” Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Our plans changed quickly and on a daily basis reacting to the news updates regarding Covid-19. Once we made the decision to get married no matter what that may look like, it helped us accept what we could not change and change what we could. After all was said and done, we decided to have a small backyard wedding at home with around 30-35 guests. Apart from scaling down our wedding, we had to address the obvious concerns surrounding the virus and how to implement the necessary safety measures. We decided to have only immediate (non-high risk) family and close friends who were nearby, had not traveled recently, and were 100% comfortable with our plan to attend. As odd as it was for a wedding, we requested guests refrain from touching (handshakes, hugs, etc.) and to respect social distancing guidelines.The ceremony and reception were held outside with plenty of space between the individual chairs. We had two catering staff, one to serve the food and one to serve drinks to limit touch points on serving spoons, bottle openers, etc. Hand sanitizer was readily available and encouraged. The dance with my dad was a funky social-distance disco. Was it perfect?? Of course not! But the measures we took to make a safer environment put us and our guests more at ease. It is crazy to know that only one week before our venue had been open! One week was all the difference between the original plan and our backyard wedding. In retrospect, I truly believe everything changed for the best. I’m thankful that those who attended and those who could not attend our wedding stayed healthy.
One thing I do know is that we could not have managed disassembling our original plan and converting it to what ended up being an elegant, intimate, and truly fun wedding celebration without the help of our wedding planner, Nicole. She juggled all of the changes quickly, professionally and created something magical in the meantime. I easily could have believed I was walking into a garden in full bloom at an Italian villa instead of the backyard at home! If anyone is ever on the fence about securing professional event planning services, deliberate no more. You won’t regret it!
What was wedding day like? And what elements were you able to include from the original plan? As we were moving everything around, we were able to look at the weather a few days out and decided to move our wedding up by one day. It ended up being the best decision and the most beautiful day of the year we’ve had thus far. We woke up to clear blue skies and 78 degrees outside. That morning, the family and Nicole were already buzzing around the house helping to get everything ready. The vendors we were able to retain were really wonderful and worked with us to make the changes we needed. We originally planned for two of our good friends to play the music for the ceremony. They were both able to attend and set up their instruments on the lawn. I couldn’t have imagined anyone doing a better job than they did. We decided not to have our band attend to further decrease the number of people and instead opted for music through the garden speakers for dinner. Little elements such as our original seating chart, signs, place cards, etc were still set up (why not!). As we had moved our wedding up one day, the Thai restaurant where the rehearsal dinner was originally scheduled agreed to deliver the food to the house instead. My Uncle is ordained and was there to marry us. Somehow, we pulled it off. Everything was simply stunning. At the end of the day, I married my best friend. The intimate setting was really special. I was able to have an actual conversation with everyone and soak up the moment. Looking back, the only things I missed were being able to hug everyone there and wishing we could have shared the day with family and friends who could not attend.
How did you feel/emotions during the planning? The entire process up until the world was upturned by Covid-19 was not stressful. It was actually enjoyable and easy.
What was the most helpful to you during this process? Any advice for other couples? Remember what’s important (getting married)! Don’t sweat the small stuff. Go with your gut instinct. Sometimes less is more. Nobody knows what you had planned, so if something small goes “wrong,” just go with it. Enjoy the red wine too. Your dress is going to get dirty – It’s ok.
Thank you to the amazing vendors that helped us with pulling off this beautiful wedding!