Stress free wedding planning! As a bride of mine said the other day, “Ah feck it. We just want to get married.” Even though Irish lockdown restrictions mean only a handful of her family members attend, she wants to go ahead with her wedding after postponing it a whopping three-times. 

This got me thinking. 

I can share advice from brides and grooms who’ve battled the mammoth issue of how to have an incredible wedding day at their favourite Irish wedding venues. Intimate weddings are in vogue now we’re living with COVID-19, so prepare your #hashtag, get your guests to save the date (twice), and with a few simple tweaks you can have your dream Irish wedding.

You heard me. Before you curl up underneath the bedcovers to dodge the mountain of organisation you’re climbing, here are creative solutions to ease your wedding planning woes.

One Word That Immediately Removes Stress

There’s one fabulous action you can do right now that will ease stress and invite relaxation quicker than a spa day, and that’s ‘delegate.’ By sharing your load, you lighten it, which means you can rest a little easier. 

So, have you considered hiring a professional wedding planner? Teaming up with a wedding planner will transform your life in the run up to your big day. A good wedding planner will have you breathing easier, sleeping more deeply, and feeling like a Disney princess. Your planner will liaise with your suppliers, dispatch invitations, arrange flowers, then co-ordinate your day so that it runs like clockwork. You? You don’t lift a finger unless you’re getting your nails done. 

Look for chemistry when you talk with your future wedding planner. If you’re unsure where to look, put a call out to your friends for recommendations. Wedding planners are worth their weight in gold. 

Recommended Wedding Planners, Ireland

Wedding planners I’ve worked with and recommend based on seeing them in action are as follows. Naturally, there are others, and if I’ve missed out on any top-rated, in-demand Irish wedding planners who should be on this list, please let me know. I’ll be sure to check them out. Meanwhile, here’s whom I’ve witnessed make wedding dreams into a stress-free delight:

When Working with a Wedding Planner, Remember

If you’re collaborating with a wedding planner, the chances are they will have a list of go-to favourites. It’s common for wedding planners to put forward wedding suppliers who they have worked with before. Remember, it’s your wedding, so you can decide on getting the team and venue you want. 

How to Have Your Dream Wedding Day, Despite Everything!

A big reason for cancelling a wedding is that few guests are permitted to attend, yet government restrictions cannot limit how many people participate in your wedding; they only limit who can attend in person. It’s time to embrace technology.

The Strange Virtual New Normal: Your Remote Wedding Congregation

Now that strange is our new normal, it’s perfectly acceptable to have guests tune into your wedding as if they were sitting down to watch a favourite episode of Friends or Greys Anatomy. Many wedding venues can facilitate setting up a camera to live-stream your ceremony. 

The advantages of remote congregations are plenty. First, you’ll not have two hundred hands to shake during the receiving line. In this day and age, when safety is at the forefront of our minds, you help reduce the spread of risk by going remote. Another advantage that we can include in our ‘feeling good about remote’ basket is a reduced carbon footprint.

Another unique quality of live-streaming your wedding ceremony is the photograph opportunity your photographer will insist upon snapping—cue bride and groom waving to a tiny webcam!

Encourage your wedding guests to dress up in their finest wedding attire, don hats, and gather around their computer screens with a glass of bubbles. For an added sense of fun and inclusivity, mail out your order of service. OK, it’s not exactly like having your Uncle Pat’s baritone underpinning your favourite hymns. However, guests will still clasp tissues and spill tears of joy. Your wedding will be a collective moment, especially when you link it to…

Your COVID Wedding Hashtag

Create your COVID wedding hashtag so that guests can share their version of your day. Encourage the pinning of posts to Instagram with your unique tag for images that tell your wedding story from multiple perspectives. 

Of course, some members of your wedding party might need help getting to grips with Instagram and what hashtags mean. Consider that as part of the fun, a cross-generational skillshare, if you like. Share your hashtag with your wedding suppliers, too, so that everyone can add to your wedding album with a difference. 

To make the most from your wedding hashtag:

  1. Get your guests to document their day by sharing short videos as they pop a bottle of bubbles, dance and lip-sync to the soppiest love song, or cut a slice of virtual cake and make a toast to you.
  2. Encourage your guests to become a wedding photographer for the day.
  3. Remind them to share the photographs by including the hashtag. 

If you’ve gone one step further in your wedding planning with a wedding website, consider hosting the pictures for posterity so everyone can add to your wedding memories, providing you with a surefire way to enjoy your wedding for years to come.

Zoom: Your Wedding Party Online

If there’s one craze that’s taken off in the last twelve months, it’s groups of people sitting in their social bubbles crowded around an open computer screen. Maybe you’ve escaped the phenomena of Zoom, or you prefer an alternative virtual meeting environment, like Google meet-ups. Either way, you’re about to become familiar with this new mode of socializing when you move your wedding party online. 

To arrange a Zoom wedding party, head to Zoom; set up an account then issue invitations to the email addresses of everyone who you want to attend. Ensure they save the date, then prepare yourself for a party that’ll go on longer than you expected. Speaking from experience, I advise you limit the amount of alcohol (no five litre boxes of wine, for instance) that you have within easy reach and ensure you eat beforehand. Lining the stomach is always wise… Just saying. 

Safeguarding Your Nearest and Dearest

I said I’d not mention the C-word again, yet I field questions about how brides and grooms can make their COVID wedding safe. There are steps you can take to enhance your day so that everyone feels they’ve space to breathe. Consider arranging your environment to reduce what people come into contact with and confer with wedding suppliers. After all, you’ve every right to insist your supplier ensures good practice, too.

Will I Have to Wear A Mask?

Brides and grooms do not have to wear face masks during the wedding ceremony. However, when you’re moving through certain areas, like a public space, you are best to check with the venue and follow their advice. Certain areas may require temporary mask-wearing as you transit from one room to another. 

Thankfully, masks come in a range of styles, and there’s no contesting that they accentuate the eyes, the window to your soul. I say that we use this to our advantage. 

Depending on when you selected your wedding attire, masks may or may not have been part of your conversation. Many designers of bridal gowns and wedding attire now include masks in their designs. Why not have a mask to match your dress or suit? 

You can go so far as having colour-coordinated masks for your handful of guests, too. Sure, we have personalised drinks glasses, M&Ms, and other wedding favours, so why not a timely mask?

We’ll not dwell any longer on you and your beloved covering your gorgeous faces; instead, we’ll turn to your suppliers. 

Prepare the Space for Your Wedding Suppliers

To reduce transmission, prepare the space for your wedding suppliers. Why not take a moment to set your wedding gown, shoes, and rings in a separate area where I can photograph them for you?

I make this suggestion for any wedding since setting aside your wedding attire into a separate well-lit area saves time on the day. It reduces frantic searching and reaching for ear-rings or cufflinks. It also means that we reduce our contact with shared surfaces. 

And since we will be in close contact with one another, it’s worthwhile ensuring you have hand-sanitizer situated in prominent spaces, too. 

What’s My Responsibility as Your Wedding Supplier?

As a wedding photographer, I’m used to getting up close with wedding parties. However, with current guidelines I too have adapted to the world we’re in and have taken the following steps.

Here are the steps I take to safeguard you.

  • I will wear a mask throughout the day. I’m becoming a pro at smiling with my eyes! I’m also learning to project my voice so you can hear me while I’m hidden behind my camera. But despite the challenges of wearing a mask, it’s better on than off. As much as I’d love to take it off, I wear my mask for the majority of your wedding day unless we’re outside and socially distanced.
  • I will use a long lens. To get up closer without breaking social distancing etiquette, I strap on my long lens to snap close-up shots. A long lens doesn’t affect the quality or style of photographs that I shoot for your wedding album. 
  • I will be less in the crowd. Where I’d once be in the throng of a wedding dance floor or glancing in for close-up shots of wedding guests, I use my long lens to capture the detail from further away. You still get the style of images you love (the reportage and mix of classic wedding photographs). You’ll just not have the joy of The Jerv breaking social distancing norms.

We will still:

  • Have your couple’s shoot and glorious sunset shots at golden hour.
  • You will get more photographs than you thought possible—with fewer guests, the emphasis is on the wedding couple. 
  • Have an incredible time.

From the COVID weddings I’ve shot, I can say that certain elements ring true for every wedding. There is the joyful, triumphant fact that you did it. There is the powerful, visceral experience of achieving your date despite setbacks. And there is an increased sense of wonder and gratitude as we turn our attention to the one thing above all that is important: love despite restrictions.

Final Thoughts

Can I urge you to get married with a minimal number of wedding guests? By no means, as you have one wedding and deserve to celebrate your union as you wish. What I can leave you with is the thought that if you’re struggling to arrange your wedding day, keep going. It is worth it in the end. And the end will come; there will be a day when you can have dozens of guests attend your wedding party, a time when social distancing is a thing of the past, and your mask just another souvenir from a time gone-by. 

Until that time, if you need any help (or consolation) with planning your wedding photographs, get in touch.