If you’re a bride- or groom-to-be with a wedding coming up in the next several months, you might be wondering how on earth you’re going to pull off the planning process when you’re incapable of meeting with potential (as well as already booked) vendors?
Much like the rest of the meetings happening in the world right now, your appointments with vendors are going to have to be virtual—for the time being. “Everything has to be done over Internet and Wi-Fi, which means you have to shift how you plan and use what you have to help you,” says Jamie Chang, owner and destination wedding planner at Mango Muse Events in Los Altos, California. “There are always solutions; it's really just about working with each of your wedding vendors to figure it out together and come up with a form of touching base that works for you both.” Whether it’s doing a live video, talking more in-depth on the phone, or communicating via email until you’re able to schedule a meeting until it's possible to meet in person, she suggests putting something in place with each of your vendors.
Communication is going to be key in ensuring that everything goes seamlessly, notes Leah Weinberg of Color Pop Events in Long Island City, New York. She recommends staying in close contact with your vendors (or potential vendors) so that, as soon as the world is ready, you can go back out and have those in-person appointments. “Keep them updated on your future plans and they will be sure to let you know as soon as they are ready to see you,” she adds.
Of course, different vendor appointments require different extents of communication. Here’s what you can expect from your virtual visits with each of your wedding vendors.
One of the most important pieces to the wedding-planning puzzle is choosing your venue. In ideal circumstances, you’d be able to do this in person so you can get a true feeling for the space and understand how you can use it. Live video and pre-recorded video are good alternative options to helping you do this, notes Chang. “Your venue coordinator can walk you through the space virtually and answer questions on the spot before taking some pre-recorded videos so you can always have it to reference,” she says. “This is a good option when you can't visit in person and allows you to move forward without having to wait to see it in person.” Of course, once life goes back to normal, you should schedule an appointment to visit the venue firsthand.
Most stationers are already set up for virtual meetings, as they tend to have many clients whom they work with remotely on a regular basis. Working with clients remotely has not been a major issue for most. In fact, for Kristy Rice, stationer and owner of Momental Designs in Wyoming, Pennsylvania, stay-at-home orders have made it even easier to communicate with her clients who have been forced to slow their busy lives. “Since we create highly custom stationery for our couples, samples are emailed or posted to our online gallery, which is a normal function of our process and our clients are still able to make progress with their designs,” she says.
For couples who are still in the throes of making decisions, her best advice is to stay connected with your vendors and keep them updated on your plans. “Find out what limitations they might be facing as well, as many businesses are being impacted and much is still uncertain,” she adds.
Hair & Makeup Artist
Sadly social distancing makes it impossible for beauty professionals to provide services for hair and makeup, so trials have to be put on hold. But there is still some important planning to be done and virtual visits to be scheduled in the meantime, notes Lauren Paglionico, owner of LRN BEAUTY in New York City. She recommends creating a hair and makeup inspiration board to share with your hairstylist and makeup artist when you are able to meet in-person. “Send your hairstylist and makeup artist your inspiration board along with photos of yourself and put a zoom consultation on your calendar,” she says. “Because this is new territory for everyone, human contact is essential—plus it is also a way to connect with your client especially if you haven't met.”
If you’ve already purchased your wedding dress and your big day is not until the end of the year, not much will change in terms of your appointments for fittings. However, if your wedding is in the coming months and you don’t want to reschedule your date, it becomes a bit more tricky. If your gown(s) have already been ordered, most bridal salons are on-schedule with deliveries, according to Terry Hall, head of retail at Amsale. If your gown(s) haven’t been ordered, certain styles may have to be rushed. “Though dates are postponed, rescheduled or just in a holding pattern, you can still realize your dream and let the inspiration and planning continue,” he says.
Amsale is one of many salons that have recently rolled out technology that allows a bride (and her bridesmaids) to virtually try on dresses from their home. “Simply visit our website, select the gown(s) you want to try, snap a photo of yourself in the mirror and let our technology do the rest!” he says. “It’s so advanced that it even knows to show a bare arm or leg if that is the silhouette of the gown selected even if you are fully covered!”
Fortunately for photographers, the majority already work from home unless they are off photographing a wedding or engagement session, which is unlikely given the current state of affairs. This means you shouldn’t have trouble booking virtual consultations with your photographer during this trying time. This way you can go over examples of shots you would love to have taken at your wedding as well as discuss important key players in your wedding so that your photographer recognizes familiar faces on your big day. If you’re having to reschedule your wedding, let your photographer know as soon as you’ve selected a new date to see if they are available. “If we have that date free, nothing changes on our end except changing the date on the contract and resigning,” says Lindsey Nicole, owner of Lindsey Nicole Photography in Boston, Massachusetts. After this, she follows up with a virtual consultation to put her clients at ease and remind them that she is here to support and help them through this process.
Florists are moving what would typically be an in-person meeting to conference calls by phone or video calls through Zoom, Skype or FaceTime. Now more than ever, they are relying on photography to showcase different flowers to their clients. While selecting florals without seeing them in person might leave you apprehensive, Oleta Collins, florist and owner of Flourish Art Design Studio in Bakersfield, California urges brides and grooms to trust in their selected professionals who know their vision and genuinely want to make sure it comes to fruition for you and your partner. “Virtual visits allow us to show you items we have on hand, or screen share with you to walk you through your layouts and designs as if you were in the same room,” says Collins.
If you are still a little bit unsure about an item that they have in their warehouse and you live in the same area as your florist, she recommends inquiring about whether or not they have a pickup service. “You could drive up and do a curbside pick up of one of the items, so you can see it in person and can make an even more informed decision,” she adds.
Many meetings, particularly the introductory ones where you select and initially work with an officiant, are typically done in person, but they can also be held via video conferencing, shares Karla Firestone of Marry Me Karla in Boston, Massachusetts. She’s transitioned much of her contact with her clients to interviews and conversations via Zoom and FaceTime. The same is true for Reverend Laura Cannon, owner of Ceremony Officiants in Ellicott City, Maryland, who says that the important thing for couples planning a wedding right now to know is that availability is at a premium. “Although a lot of couples are hesitant to start the planning process before things settle down, it's important to note that the longer they wait to get started, the fewer dates will be available,” she says. “We are in the process of rescheduling hundreds of ceremonies right now, and they are all moving to prime dates later this year and in the Spring of 2021."
Video conferencing works well for exchanging ideas, taking notes about what a bride and groom might imagine for their big day, and giving your DJ or band the chance to get to know you better. Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services in Livermore, California does a tech audit of his client experience twice yearly, so the pivot for him has been fairly seamless. “Couples can still sign up for appointments through our scheduling app and with Zoom, we can share our screen when necessary,” he says. “We also do lighting and drapery, and have an ample collection of images we can share to illustrate our work.” Before your virtual meeting, Dennis recommends coming prepared with questions at the ready and make sure you have a quiet room with strong Wi-Fi and no distractions.
Like your venue, experiencing a tasting in-person is super important. You might not be able to taste food virtually, but you still have some options available. First, if you live in the same area as your caterer, Chang recommends asking your catering company about the possibility of doing a drop-off/pick-up tasting. “To make the experience even better, you can do a video call with your catering contact and have them walk you through the menu items as you taste them,” she says. “It will be a social distancing version of a tasting that still allows you to taste the food, ask questions and give feedback in real-time.” It’s important to keep in mind that the food won’t look as good from a presentation standpoint as it will on your big day, but the caterer can share photos of what it would look like when plated.
If you don't live in the same area as your caterer, she suggests relying on your catering manager to help guide you through creating the best menu for you. “This will require clear communication to make sure they understand what you're looking for so they can give the best recommendations,” says Chang. “You can then use that menu for now and postpone the actual tasting to be closer to the wedding day (when travel is deemed ok) or set it up for when you're onsite for your wedding.”
Similar to catering, cake and dessert tastings are hard to do at a social distance, but bakers are developing new ways to give clients a similar experience remotely. Heather Anne Leavitt, owner of Sweet Heather Anne bakery in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and her team are currently booking virtual consults and making tasting boxes for clients. Lori Schneider, chief cupcake officer at The Cupcake Bar in Boston, Massachusetts, is offering a non-contact pick-up or non-contact delivery of samples for local clients as well as coordinating Zoom or FaceTime meetings to talk through options, answer questions and do an initial contract review.
For a virtual meeting with your baker, Schneider recommends coming prepared with questions. Depending on the timeframe of the wedding, she also suggests a follow-up meeting for once things have settled down to cover any additional questions that might have popped up. If you have time to wait to do your tasting and design experience, she recommends waiting a month or two to see if things have settled down. It isn’t the time to postpone finding a vendor, however, as spring wedding cancellations mean fall is going to be busier than usual, according to Schneider. “If you know you want to work with someone specific, I would recommend getting a deposit down to secure your date,” she adds.
Planner & Designer
Given the social distancing restrictions, most design-oriented vendors have put a halt to face-to-face appointments with clients and are now strictly communicating virtually through apps like Zoom. “Virtual consultations have truly been a lifesaver in a time where physical meetings have disappeared altogether,” says Eddie Zaratsian of Eddie Zaratsian Lifestyle & Design. “Visuals are something we live by, so take advantage of tech during this time!” He suggests creating Pinterest boards full of imagery that you would want to see at your wedding and sharing them with your designer. Virtual meetings where you can see each other face-to-face is also encouraged so that you can further flesh out ideas and go over supplies.