Weddings Amid COVID: The Unexpected Joys of Revision

Catherine and Dylan had originally planned a large indoor wedding but ended up with a guest list of 20 in the backyard of their home. Read our Q&A with the couple to see what made this change of plans extra special.

(Images provided by Eileen K Photography).

Had you ever considered a backyard wedding before weddings had to change this year?
No we hadn’t. Catherine has a very large family, on both sides, and we had a lot of friends we originally had invited, so a backyard wedding would not have been possible, but to be honest, it was perfect.

When and how did you decide to change venues and minimize the wedding?

We decided earlier this summer before our major down payments were due to vendors. We realized that COVID-19 was not likely going anywhere and it just was not going to be safe to have our grandmothers and parents at a wedding with over 200 people, especially an indoor wedding. So, we decided to change plans and make it super small so everyone could feel safe about it.

What other options did you consider when you decided to alter the original wedding plan, and why did you ultimately land on the lakeside home? 

We considered postponing our wedding and we also considered moving it to a rented outdoor space in the Twin Cities. After a lot of discussion, we decided that we were really ready to get married and did not want to wait any longer. As far as considering other outdoor venues, my parents offered the lake house and it was so perfect and meaningful that now we can’t believe we considered paying for a different venue!

Tell us about your wedding ceremony and reception – location, how you felt, how many guests and who they were, etc.

We decided (due to COVID) to have our wedding ceremony and reception at our lake house on Rock Lake, Minnesota. Although we were disappointed that a lot of our friends and family couldn’t join us, we were both pretty excited about the change in plans. The lake house has been in Catherine’s family for almost 50 years and is a really special place with a lot of meaning for us. Catherine’s grandfather purchased the property and built by hand the first cabin and then many years later Catherine’s family built this home. We have so many memories here and now we get to add another big one, our wedding day!

We decided to keep the guest list under 25. There ended up being 21 of us and were mainly close family. Anyone that was part of our original wedding party was invited, along with their significant others, so that ended up being three of Catherine’s cousins, her sister, and then Dylan’s best man/officiant. We then had our parents, Catherine’s godfather, and Catherine’s grandmas.

What was special about your wedding that you didn’t anticipate? 
The location, how much meaning it ended up holding for us being at a family place and out in nature, and how intimate the wedding ended up being. Also, when the best man/officiant broke out into song during the ceremony…

Does your home feel different now, having had that celebration there? 
Yes it does! It now feels even more like home and I love the new memories we now have here. Being stuck working from home all the time, it is really cool to be able to look out the window and instantly be taken back to our wedding day and how much fun we had.

What planning advice would you give engaged couples? 
Hmmm, this is hard…probably, hire Todd [of Woodland Events]! Having a wedding planner is extremely worth it and helpful, but also make sure to do your own research on vendors. Look at vendor Instagrams and read the reviews, so you can make sure you are working with people that you will click with and can make your ideas come to life. Also, when it comes to budget, know your top three important things that you will not compromise on and then you might have to make other choices to stay on budget, but in the end, you will have what is most important to you as part of your wedding day.

How important was having a wedding planner? 
So important! See above. We can honestly say that our wedding day was a lot of fun. Without Todd, we would have probably been super stressed out, but instead we got to enjoy everything about the day.

What did the smaller celebration provide that a larger one wouldn’t have been able to?

We got to really focus on getting married, which should be obvious because it is our wedding day, but I think the larger the celebration becomes the more it becomes about making sure you say hi to everyone and stressing about all of the attention. The smaller wedding took all that stress away and we got to just enjoy being married in front of some of the people we are closest to; to share a special moment with special people.

Bride and Groom kissing after being declared married

Having a smaller wedding allowed us to add a lot of personal touches that may not have been possible if we had had a large wedding. Catherine’s godmother and grandmother put together by hand party favors that are an Italian wedding tradition. Catherine’s grandmother also made Italian cookies for dessert, which were not only delicious and beautiful but also meant a lot to her grandmother to be able to bake something for the wedding. 

Catherine, her mom, and her sister thrifted some really cool green, vintage sorbet dishes that we got to use as champagne glasses, which added some amazing color to the scene.

Also, originally, the large indoor venue we originally booked was pretty ornate looking inside so we had decided to keep the florals neutral and white. However, with the smaller wedding being outdoors and in Fall, we got to then play with a lot more color.

The wedding flowers and unique pillars became center pieces to the smaller wedding and were gorgeous. Our photos are beautiful with all of the reds and pinks we then decided to use.

What’s something you want vendors to know / do differently regarding pandemic policies?

We would ask for a lot more flexibility. It is a difficult time for everyone, as a couple, we are heartbroken to not be able to host the wedding we had been planning and we understand that it is a hard situation for vendors as well. That being said, if we cannot safely put on the wedding we were planning, then we should not be locked into postponing such a big life event as our wedding day or paying for services we are not receiving. Honestly, the vendors that were super understanding and flexible with us, we worked extra hard to keep them part of our wedding day. We also plan to host a large reception in the future when it is safe and would have liked a little more flexibility from vendors because we will happily work with the same vendors for that celebration.

Shout out to Woodland Events, Deco Catering, Eileen K photography, High Brow Studio, and of course, Ediflorial, for making our lives easier and our wedding so amazing. All these vendors were super understanding about us downsizing our wedding and therefore, some of the packages we originally had signed up for and the designs they originally had made for us. Our wedding was beautiful and it was so helpful to work with understanding vendors like them.

If you’re engaged and wanting to plan a smaller celebration, we’d be happy to help you plan. We love hearing couples’ visions for their event and want to pair people with vendors who share your values and style. Contact us to start the conversation!