This post was originally published on Michigan Chronicle

Per popular wedding source The Knot, the average cost of a wedding was nearly $30,000 in 2019. Derailed by COVID-19, the wedding industry took a big hit in 2020. With average wedding costs dropping to an average of just around $19,000 in 2020, many brides were forced to postpone their wedding plans causing havoc across the wedding sector. As venues closed their doors, brides were left with little alternatives. Some brides eloped, held intimate gatherings or simply pushed their dates back, while others forged full steam ahead and are making their day more memorable because of COVID.

Sharhonda Warren became engaged last August and is set to marry Travis Wilson in August 2021. Getting engaged mid-pandemic did not delay popping the question. Surrounded by family and friends, Warren said yes and launched into wedding plans.

“I have to say, planning our wedding has been much smoother than we anticipated. The only issue we’ve had so far was the venue not having our original date available,” says Warren.

For Whitney Breech and Daquan‌ ‌Hamlet‌, their September 2021 nuptials will also go forward despite the pandemic’s hold on social events. Welcoming a son in 2019, the future Hamlets are experiencing love on a Shakespearian level and their plans for the perfect day are in full swing. With the pandemic almost forcing a wedding getaway, even as restrictions are lifting, the couple is opening their wedding festivities to include a few more guests.

“Our experience is running a lot smoother than expected. Because of the pandemic, my initial expectation was something small and private. We almost eloped! As things started opening, we realized we could do a little bit more, but we’d have to push things back. We went from 25 with a dinner party in July, to around 75 with an outside reception for September. It’s really starting to feel like a dream, which is something I never imagined before, but I am truly planning my dream wedding,” says Breech.

Becoming engaged on New Year’s Eve 2020, Angelica Moore and Charles H. Ellis IV started 2021 off with a bang. Setting a date just six months after their engagement, the future newlyweds jumped right into the business of planning. Almost having to cancel thanks to the pandemic, the Ellis union is set for this June.

“I have to say, planning our wedding has been much smoother than we anticipated. We certainly expected to have many more hiccups than we experienced. Although one of the major issues we had to deal with was not knowing the size of our wedding for quite a while. We had to reduce the size down to half to follow current mandates. At times, it was a concern whether our wedding would be canceled, due to the pandemic, but we made the decision to continue with our plans in hopes that things would get better closer to our wedding date, which it has,” says Moore.

As the pandemic had placed restrictions on the guest list, brides are now forced to narrow down the number of attendees for both the wedding and reception venues. An already tough decision is made even more difficult due to limitations. Wedding plans are made even more difficult when planning the event in another state.

“We currently reside in Georgia, but I am from Michigan and my fiancé’, New Jersey. So, planning a wedding from another state, while also coordinating with immediate family and friends from 3 different states, feels like a lot in such a short time,” says Breech.

Receptions are typically a time where the bride and groom can spend time with their guests and celebrate the union is a lavish party-style atmosphere. With COVID and some guests still leery of its presence for some brides one thing they all agree on is masks will be requested of guests.

“We are following all current COVID restrictions, as outlined by our state for our wedding. We have worked closely with our venue’s coordinator to ensure we are fully aware of all changes, up until the day of the wedding. Even though our state now allows individuals to go without masks indoors if they are vaccinated, we have made the decision to require masks for all guests while indoors, just for another layer of protection and to make sure all guests remain comfortable,” says Moore. “Our guest count is at half capacity and the wedding reception is both indoor and outdoor, which allows for a safe and social distanced wedding.”

While mask mandates will be in place for the Wilsons, restrictions on social distancing will be left up to the guests.

“We are asking that all of our guests wear a mask. I also think it will be kind of hard to practice social distancing at the reception if everyone is dancing and socializing,” says Warren.

An outdoor ceremony or reception is one option and will allow guests to feel comfortable while attending. As vaccinations ramp up, brides are worrying less about the pandemic and welcoming guests who have been vaccinated.

“Our wedding and reception will be outdoors, so we are not requiring masks and will not enforce social distancing. The majority of attendees are already vaccinated, so we are leaving that decision up to our guests,” says Breech.

For these brides, though the process of planning ran smoothly, the pandemic was unable to put a pause on true love. Congratulations and cheers to the happy couples.

The post Brides and COVID: How A Pandemic Shook the Wedding Industry  appeared first on The Michigan Chronicle.