The Wedding Industry Is Still Coming Back—Here's How to Start Planning Without Overwhelming Your Team

It's not a race to the finish line, even if it may feel like it right now.

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Art by Tiana Crispino

After an entire year of being on “pause,” the wedding industry has finally been given the green light to resume business per usual, depending on state restrictions. While this is understandably wonderful news for both the countless couples in the thick of planning and their loyal and hardworking vendors, it has created a bit of a manic race to the finish line—a stark competition for resources and an increasing shortage of dates and timetables. 

It’s also put vendors in an impossible situation: trying to plan and replan all of the weddings that weren’t able to happen in 2020 along with a swarming number of weddings for recently engaged couples eager to make sure their big day happens.

We are now working around the clock, answering hundreds of emails each day and trying to keep up with the demand that we are grateful for.

"As an industry, we are now working around the clock, answering hundreds of emails each day and trying to keep up with the demand that we are grateful for," Tessa Lynn Brand, a California-based wedding planner and owner of Tessa Lyn Events, posted on her Instagram story, in a plea for couples to be extra patient with their vendors who are running behind. “If something is not urgent, perhaps it can wait for a bit?” she added. 

Amanda Hudes, event planner, life coach, and author of Smiling Through the Chaos of Wedding Planning, has been so inundated with requests, even ones with impossible timelines, such as planning a wedding for two months from the current date. “While, of course, we can plan that quickly, there are skipped steps, such as getting the dress of your dreams when it just won't come in a month from the order date, or sending the gorgeous invitations you wanted because it takes time to design and order them,” she explains. “I think people are just exhausted from this past year and feel like it’s time to make sure that we celebrate life and make memories instead of just waiting.”

Most wedding businesses are made up of small companies run by people who have suffered the loss of life and revenue so they are working to get back to where they were to best serve their couples.

While couples might be more than ready to press “play” on the planning process, the wedding industry as a whole is still recuperating slowly. “Most wedding businesses are made up of small companies run by people who have suffered the loss of life and revenue so they are working to get back to where they were to best serve their couples,” says Jove Meyer, founder of Jove Meyer Events in Brooklyn, New York. “Humans are not machines—we cannot just turn on and start back up—so there is a process involved to get people who’ve built their company, invested their entire life into it, and watched it literally disappear in front of them to now bring it back to life.”

Just as couples were empathetic to the trials and tribulations their vendors had to deal with at the onset of shutdowns, it’s more pertinent than ever to have that same level of empathy as the industry heals and grows stronger. 

If you’re eager to start planning your wedding, that’s totally understandable, but in order to get the very best planning experience possible given the circumstances, here are some expert tips for how to plan without pressuring your vendors. 

Hire a Top-Notch Wedding Planner

Even if you’re a DIY type of person who didn’t originally imagine hiring a wedding planner to help you plan your big day, it’s a good idea to reconsider. A professional wedding planner can not only help guide you in the best order to hire vendors and connect you with those best-suited for your budget, style, and personality, but they also know which to-dos need to be expedited and which you can take your time on, explains Meyer. “A good planner can lead your experience and help put your eager mind at ease,” he adds.

Have a List of Priorities Ranked in Order

As with planning a wedding at any time in history, planning a wedding in 2021 and beyond still requires a similar-looking laundry list of to-dos, but also very likely with a shorter time period in which to get everything crossed off. For this reason, Brand recommends organizing your tasks based on what is the most time-sensitive, what can wait a while, and then a "no rush" category for more lackadaisical items. “For example, booking a photographer is a time-sensitive matter, but ordering your cocktail napkins for 2022 is not,” she says. “Assess what can wait, collect all of your thoughts in one email, and trust your planner on their execution of that timeline.”

Give Your Vendors Time and Space Off-the-Cuff

It is important to remember that while your vendors are working hard to plan or replan your wedding, they are also doing the same for all of their other clients who are in the same boat as you as well, Hovik Harutyunyan, Los Angeles-based wedding planner and owner of Hovik Harutyunyan Events, points out. “Vendors are still dealing with shipping delays, labor shortages, constantly changing restrictions, etc, which means they are inundated with emails and phone calls that may slow down their response time,” he says. “Please do not take this personally, as all vendors are under a tremendous amount of pressure right now.” A good rule of thumb is to set a reminder for yourself to follow up in three business days—don’t forget how busy they are on the weekends!—if you have not heard back from a vendor.

Respond to Emails and Inquiries ASAP

When you do finally get a response from a wedding vendor, try your best to get the answers and information as soon as you can to ensure that there’s no hold-up in the planning process. “When I have to follow up several times for a response in order to plan your wedding, it is not beneficial to you or to me,” says Hudes. “I'm working hard to get you the vendors who will make your wedding amazing, but if I don’t hear from you in time, we’re likely to lose them to another couple.” 

It’s understandable that you, too, have a busy schedule, so if you can’t respond sporadically throughout the day, Hudes recommends carving out a half-hour a day to respond to your vendors’ inquiries. 

Don't Expect a "Pre-Pandemic" Timeline

Wedding timelines prior to the pandemic were much more streamlined and organized, mainly because production was consistent and predictable and availability and scheduling were more even-keeled. However, the pandemic threw a wrench in pretty much all areas of planning, which made things very complicated for vendors. While recovery is happening, it’s important to remember that we’re living in a new reality and operating under a new mode, notes Harutyunyan. 

“If you don't have your wedding invitations yet, don’t stress out about it, as your guests will understand why they didn't get wedding invitations back in January or February when the wedding industry in almost all states was still heavily shut down,” he says. “Keep in mind that, with a great team of vendors, you will be working a reenvisioned wedding planning timeline that will not feel normal, but will be great and the same in the end.” He urges brides and grooms to make decisions as efficiently as possible so as not to cause any further delay in their planning.

Accept That Weddings May Not Look “Normal” Yet

While reopening is a huge step to gaining a sense of normalcy once again, it’s important to remember that the landscape of the wedding industry has changed. This may affect the look and feel of your big day. “While your venue may finally allow your desired guest count, they may stipulate a certain number of seats per table, mandate that all guests keep their masks on while not drinking or eating, require social distancing rentals like plexiglass barriers or sanitization machines, or conduct contact tracing at check-ins,” he says. “This won't feel fully normal, but it's a small price to pay to once again have the opportunity to celebrate your love story with all of your closest family and friends.”

Remain Flexible Throughout the Planning Process

Flexibility on the part of the couple is the best way to reduce stress while planning your wedding in a shorter, busier season, according to Meyer. “If couples are set on peak wedding days, like Saturday, in peak wedding season, which is June through September, and in a peak year—i.e. 2021—they will find limited vendor availability,” he says. “If couples can be flexible and host their wedding on a Thursday in the off-season they will find many more vendors who are available and excited to work with them!”

 

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