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A creative solution to Covid wedding restrictions meant not one, but two wedding receptions for this Calgary couple! Lauren & Braden decided that splitting their reception into a double header was the best way to be able to celebrate their wedding with both friends and family.

Compromising on Covid wedding restrictions doesn’t mean you have to compromise on wedding style. Modern floral arrangements by Pine for Cedar and Lauren’s Theia Couture gown added to the stylish downtown Calgary aesthetic of Venue 308.

From the couple:

What were your original wedding plans and how did they change?
Our original wedding was scheduled for October 11, 2020. We were able to keep our original date but the plans for the day changed drastically. By February 2020, we only had the venue, officiant, and DJ booked and when COVID hit, we stopped wedding planning completely. Our original plan was to have the typical wedding ceremony, 125 guests (50% who would require travel to attend), catered reception, open bar and a BIG party. Those plans were sadly dashed by COVID.

When things were looking slightly better in August, with gathering restrictions being relaxed, we worked hard to pick up where we left off planning. The border closure and aversion to travel meant our guest list shrank from 125 down to 75. While we could have all 75 guests at the ceremony, we had a hard limit of 40 guests we could have for dinner, and we knew that was not going to cut it. We tossed around many hair-brained ideas, but thought a double-header reception would work best. We would have our ceremony on our original date, followed by a reception with family, and a second reception the next night with our friends (with immediate family also in attendance). This way we were able to celebrate with all those who could attend! While we weren’t able to have a dance, our wedding felt intimate and personal. The gathering restrictions and double-header meant that we had more time to spend with each group. A true silver lining of COVID.

What was the downsizing process like for you?
When we stopped planning back in February, there really wasn’t too much to reschedule except for the venue, officiant, and DJ. In early Spring, we reached out to our vendors and asked them to hold a date in 2021. Everyone was very willing to hold two dates for us. We sent out numerous updates to our guests to let them know about the potential date postponement and when we would officially decide our course of action.

When gathering restrictions increased to 50 people for a reception, we deliberated and decided that things may not change in 2021 and we didn’t want to delay our marriage. We sent out a “pre-invitation” to our guests to reply to, letting us know if they were comfortable and able to attend both of our wedding celebration days with the double-header. We would have all guests attend our ceremony on October 11th and break the receptions into two smaller groups. Once we had a final tally, we notified guests which dinner they were invited to attend. Thankfully, we only had to make two calls to notify guests that we had reached our occupancy maximum for the dinners.

Since we had stopped planning entirely, it that meant we had a lot of vendors to book and a whole wedding to plan in just three months. Luckily, with so many weddings rescheduled to 2021, many vendors were available and were extremely flexible with our double-header wedding.

Do you have any advice for couples currently looking at downsizing their wedding?
Get creative! We came up with many different alternative scenarios and our vendors were great sounding boards for what would work and what wouldn’t. Having thought through all the options gave us the space to be able to pivot as needed and not be blindsided by changing restrictions.

While safety of your family and friends is of utmost importance, don’t forget about your vendors too. We asked our vendors what we could do to help them feel safe during the day and while it was a simple question, none had been asked before. They appreciated the thought and concern for their safety too.

We also considered what different guests would most want to participate in. For some, having the livestream of the ceremony was great if they were more risk averse or couldn’t attend. For others, being at the ceremony was important, but the reception was not. For family, they wanted some intimate time with us and to meet the bride/groom’s family. This allowed us to customize each part of the wedding to a smaller crowd who valued an aspect of the wedding celebration the most.

What was something you learned from your unique wedding planning experience?
Think outside the box and consider unorthodox wedding options. During COVID times, our guests were not expecting a traditional wedding, which gave us more flexibility to do what we wanted while adhering to the restrictions. In a lot of ways we actually think it worked out better, even though we wouldn’t have thought of those changes in normal times.

From the photographer:

What was your favourite part of the day?
The bride’s first look with her Dad. This one got me super emotional. This was my first opportunity to photograph at Venue308 and it did not disappoint, especially for this beautiful moment between the bride and her father.
What made this wedding special?
What made this wedding special was that the pandemic had no chance of ruining this day for our couple or their family and friends. Even though everyone was in masks and taking all necessary safety precautions, it still felt like a perfect wedding day. From the moment I started corresponding with this couple and the multiple changes we needed to make, both Lauren and Braden stayed super optimistic that it was going to be the best day of their lives, and it certainly was. Attitude really is everything.
What do you have to say now, looking back on your 2020 wedding season?
Well 2020 certainly threw us all a curve ball, didn’t it? To be honest, once the reality of postponements and reschedules happened earlier in the year, I became very grateful for the change in pace. Weddings seemed to become more intentional. Couples really had to stop and think about everyone’s safety and how that played into their day. My couples have been INCREDIBLE and it reminds me that it’s so important to have a connection with your wedding photographer and other wedding vendors and vice versa. I always say that I’m in the business of trust. I want my couples to always feel like I have their back and that we will get through anything together.

Vendors:
Photography: Sue Moodie // Florals – Pine for Cedar // Catering: Food Works Craft Catering // Hair: Jessie Liao // Makeup: Bellamore Beauty // Venue: Venue 308 // Suit: Ed Williams // Dress: Pearl & Dot, Theia Couture // Officiant: Vows By Judy // Bridesmaids Dresses: Birdy Grey

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