The Ultimate Guide to COVID Weddings in Seattle

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Photo: Between the Pine

A fully updated, comprehensive guide to planning your Seattle COVID wedding, including:

  • Learn about the latest COVID-19 wedding guidance (and how to find it yourself)
  • Learn about the different types of COVID weddings, including elopements, micro weddings, minimonies, and small weddings
  • Learn about some wonderful venues, vendors offering special packages for smaller weddings, and so much more!

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Carolyn Kulb

Owner, Folk Art Flowers


"Hi there! I can't wait for you to dig into this guide on COVID weddings in Seattle, and I am so glad you found this resource. I've owned Folk Art Flowers for three years now, but 2020 was a year none of us could have predicted. I have been working closely with our couples all year to postpone, reschedule, and change wedding plans due to COVID-19. And I know 2020 has been such a tough year for couples planning a wedding. I wrote this guide with the hope that it would make your life a little easier in 2021. We wedding pros are still here, rooting for you! If you are still planning your COVID wedding in Seattle, you have tons of options for making your day an unforgettable triumph. I hope this guide will empower you to plan your 2021 wedding with no fear!"


In Our Ultimate Guide to COVID Weddings in Seattle, You Will Discover:

The latest guidance for Seattle weddings, as well as how to find the guidance yourself. It changes frequently!

Not sure what the difference between an elopement, small wedding, or minimony is? We got you.

Learn why COVID weddings hold some of the most amazing opportunities for couples to create memorable experiences.

Learn about great spots to get married in Seattle, whether you are eloping or hoping to have as many guests as you can.

Learn what florals you might need, and how to use design elements to make your small COVID wedding even more special

Learn about some of our favorite elopement and small wedding photographers.

Learn about the current limitations on receptions, as well as a roundup of some of the best tiny-cake bakers in Seattle!

Learn about some of our favorite vendors for calligraphy, invitations, dresses, jewelry, and more - many of whom are offering COVID specials.

Learn how to communicate with your guests, including ways to poke fun at the fact that your plans may have changed!

Learn about ways to keep your guests safe and happy. We'll also share some fun ways to incorporate these into your wedding design!

Some final tips on how to make some magic on your wedding day, even with a global pandemic raging in the background.

READY TO START?

Click on any of the section headers to jump directly to each section. Or, just keep scrolling to read on!

Introduction

Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to COVID Weddings in Seattle! I am so glad you found this guide. 2020 has been a WILD year for couples planning a wedding, and 2021 will continue to be challenging. The good news is that a vaccine is on the horizon! But until then, our ultimate guide to COVID weddings in Seattle will have all the information you need in one place. Our guide was intended to help you navigate the ever-changing rules about weddings, learn your options for celebrating, and find several great vendors for making your dream wedding happen. Remember – love isn’t cancelled! You can still have an amazing wedding, even if it is a bit smaller. We have been so inspired this year by all of our couples’ dedication to one another and their fabulous, intimate weddings!

COVID WEDDING GUIDANCE

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First, you should know that the guidance for Washington state (and Seattle) changes regularly. If you just want to know when the rules are changing, you can always follow us on Instagram. We regularly post these changes for our clients, because locating the guidance can be difficult unless you are following the situation closely. As tired as we all are of quarantine life, it’s helpful to remember that these restrictions are intended to save lives. Our healthcare workers are burnt out, our health facilities are strained, and cases are continuing to rise. Keeping the big picture in mind might help you feel better about navigating all of this!

If you want to stay on top of this yourself, you should go directly to the source, which is the Governor’s office. You can find all of the new rules and COVID wedding guidance where the press releases are listed. Of course, they often do not mention “weddings” explicitly, so look for anything discussing restrictions or proclamations. The most recent Washington wedding guidance was released on January 11, 2021. Thankfully, this time, there is a table right in the press release where you can see the guidance on weddings and funerals! Of course, it doesn't give a ton of details, so let's dig in to those.

If you click on the "plan" link in the press release, you will reach a PDF that has more details on the "Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery" plan. You can also check out the summarized Medium article that was put out. You'll notice that unlike before, we are now separated into regions, with Seattle being in the Puget Sound region. Here is where you will also see that we all started in Phase 1 on January 11th. And they have listed out the metrics required to get us to each phase. I am excited to report that as of February 1, we are now in Phase 2 in the Puget Sound region! Whoohoo! 

So what does that mean? The current guidance clearly states that wedding ceremonies and receptions are permitted, and must "follow the appropriate venue requirements. If food or drinks are served, eating and drinking requirements apply. Dancing is prohibited." The "appropriate venue requirements" include things like physical distancing, having plenty of hand sanitizer available, wearing masks indoors, etc. (You know, the new normal.) Your planner will know how to incorporate all of this into your wedding day!

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A screenshot of the new Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery Plan

We wedding pros have been reading between the lines like this for a year! So, if you ever have doubts, ask your wedding planner, or one of your vendor team. We are all trying our best to navigate these new rules, and have sought clarification from the governor’s office more than once. If we don’t know the answer, we will find out for you!

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Photo: Suzanne Rothmeyer Photography

We want to highlight here that for the most part, wedding ceremonies have so far been unaffected by COVID-19 in Seattle. You can still get married to the love of your life! It’s just the receptions that have been restricted, due to large gatherings of people. In 2020, we have seen receptions banned outright, restrictions on catering setups, and scrambling to re-do seating charts and sanitization stations. Weddings this year have needed to evolve to include masked attendees, 6-foot spacing, plated dinners instead of buffets, extra hand sanitizer all around the venue, signage, and more. But if you are planning a small COVID wedding in Seattle, rest easy - you will still be able to marry the love of your life! You may have to trim your guest count or tweak your reception, but you can still tie the knot and celebrate wedded bliss.

So how do you get there? Our next chapter will talk about the different types of COVID weddings in Seattle so you can weigh the best options for you and your loved ones!

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TYPES OF COVID WEDDINGS

ELOPEMENTS

Elopements and various types of “small weddings” are the two main categories of COVID weddings in Seattle right now. Let’s start with elopements, because they are more straightforward. Elopements represent the smallest of small weddings: just you, your partner, an officiant, and perhaps a handful of close friends and family. An elopement typically involves fewer than 10 people, including the officiant.

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Photo: Brittany Jezak Photography

Traditionally, an elopement has had cultural connotations of “running away” to get married. Couples eloped to escape the pressure of a traditional wedding or familial expectations. In our popular culture, elopements almost always require some element of travel to accomplish this.

However, in COVID times, elopements are getting a much-needed makeover. Eloping has become a fresh, new way to wed with your closest loved ones in the most intimate settings. And an elopement is the perfect COVID wedding option for Seattle because you don’t have to go very far to find a gorgeous backdrop! You can elope in an amazing Seattle park, backyard, or right in front of the Pike Place Market sign if you want. The courthouse downtown has also been a popular, modern option lately. And some couples have chosen to make it an adventure, by eloping in the mountains. All of these elopements are wonderful options for your COVID wedding!

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Photo: Between the Pine

Benefits of elopements

COVID elopements also have a ton of benefits because they are so small and nimble. Here are some of the biggest bonuses:

  • Planning: Having a small group of people to wrangle means way less planning. You only need to figure out everything for 3-10 people!
  • Location: Smaller groups allow more flexibility in location, from literal mountain tops around Seattle, to fields of autumnal grasses. And if the weather turns, as it often does, you can change your plans at the last moment.
  • Safety: Elopements may be one of the safest options for reducing your exposure to COVID, simply due to their size.

You and your small elopement wedding party may only have 2-3 households mixing at one time.And asking 5 people to quarantine prior to the wedding seems pretty reasonable, compared to “small” weddings with 30 people.

  • Experience: Elopements allow you to do activities with your wedding party that you can’t do with other types of COVID weddings in Seattle. With only a few people, you can rent a house together, dine outside together, or go wine tasting together.
  • Budget: Elopements can be an amazing way to make the most of your wedding budget. With only a handful of people to dress, flower, wine, and dine, you can spend way more on the extras to give your little group an amazing experience. In 2020 we’ve seen custom gifting, super luscious florals, and atmospheric décor that would be difficult to pull off otherwise! And we love it!
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    Photo: Missy Palacol Photography

    SMALL WEDDINGS

    “Small weddings” are another popular option available to couples planning a COVID wedding in Seattle right now. There are all sorts of words being used to describe these weddings– minimony, microwedding, tiny wedding, small wedding – but are they all the same? The truth is that those terms may mean different things to different people. The definitions we are using here are based on what we see among other wedding professionals and venues in Seattle, and nationally.

    • A “minimony” is a small wedding from 10-30 guests that focuses on the ceremony, without a reception.
    • A “micro wedding” or “tiny wedding” could be anywhere from 10-30 guests, and would ideally include a reception.
    • Based on our current guidance, we would say a “small wedding” is one where the couple also has around 30 guests, and would also ideally include a reception. In previous years, a “small wedding” might be defined as one with fewer than 50 people.

    Since our current guidance right now bans all receptions, basically none of these small weddings would be able to have a reception of any kind. This sort of blurs the lines between this terminology. So we made a little graphic to help you better understand the features of each of these types of Seattle COVID weddings.

    Benefits of small weddings

    Small weddings of all kinds have several benefits, too. Here are some of the biggest benefits we are seeing with small weddings right now:

    • Planning: You can invite the maximum number of people! So in Seattle right now, you can have up to 30 people at your wedding or ceremony. This might make culling your guest list a little less terrible. Minimonies have the added bonus of allowing your closest friends and family be a part of your big day, without ever planning a reception!
    • Location: Small weddings are still allowed at Seattle wedding venues, so you can get a fancy ceremony at a fraction of the cost. If you choose to wed at a venue, you will get the “full wedding” experience, just on a smaller scale. Many venues are offering special packages for small ceremonies and receptions (when allowed).
    • Budget: Small weddings free up your budget and allow you to make your wedding a completely extravagant experience for your guests. For these small weddings, we are seeing quality over quantity. Couples are spending more on things like lush floral designs, stunning décor rentals, upscale table linens, and all kinds of bespoke personal touches.
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    Photo: Ariena Photography

    Small weddings often feel like elaborate, exclusive dinner parties, and we love how couples are cultivating intimacy and adding these special touches!

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    Photo: Suzanne Rothmeyer Photography

    If you are stuck on what type of COVID wedding celebration to plan, you can boil it down to two main questions:

    • Do you want to hold your ceremony in a venue?
    • And is there a reception, ideally?

    Those two questions should guide the type of COVID wedding you are planning. Again, small weddings of any kind may not be able to include a reception, based on the current COVID guidance. But on the flip side, some weddings in 2021 may be able to have more than 30 guests. So, we encourage you to plan for the wedding you want, but be flexible when new COVID wedding guidance emerges! And if that means you are planning your ideal wedding for 300 people, that’s okay too!

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    HIDDEN ADVANTAGES OF COVID WEDDINGS

    A huge takeaway from 2020: COVID weddings can be absolutely incredible, with a LOT of hidden advantages for couples. We’ve already talked about some of the benefits of the various types of smaller weddings and elopements. But even couples that have been bummed about postponing their big weddings have decided to get married anyway this year – and the results have blown us away. If you initially envisioned a big celebration, keep planning it! It

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    Photo: Missy Palacol Photography

    could become an amazing first anniversary party. But we would also encourage you to get married before then, and experience some of these wonderful benefits.

    BREAKING WITH TRADITION

    First, getting married during COVID offers you a huge opportunity to break with tradition. To be honest, after 2020, none of us know what to expect anymore! So, use this opportunity to free yourself of all of the expectations of what you “should” do at your wedding. With a COVID wedding, you don’t have to wear a white wedding dress – or a dress at all. You don’t need to walk down an aisle. You don’t need to make sure 17 family members feel included, or sit through two hours of toasts. You don’t even need seating!

    Think about the unconventional aspects of your relationships, your hobbies, or the things you love, and lean in. Buy the floral print dress. Hike to the top of a mountain. Have a Gatsby-themed backyard party. Convince your parents to dance to your favorite songs –especially if they aren’t “wedding songs.” On such a small scale, you can do anything you can dream up – so do it! The big, traditional celebration can come later. Having a COVID wedding can be a great excuse to get super creative and super fun with your wedding day.


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    Photo: Brittany Jezak Photography

    BESPOKE WEDDINGS

    COVID weddings also empower couples to personalize and tailor every aspect of their wedding. When you have 200 people, you are forced to make limiting decisions – after all, you can’t have 200 kinds of wine available. And going all-in on luxury wedding style can drain wedding budgets pretty quickly. But when you are planning for 10 or 20 of your closest family and friends, you know what everyone likes. You can splurge on the little details you love, from elegant table linens to fancy shoes. And you will deliver an experience that every single one of your family and friends will be raving about for years.

    Your wedding may be more unconventional because of COVID, but it can also be all more memorable as a result! So, think about how you can treat yourself, and your family and friends, to a wonderful time together. Tailoring your wedding to be as dreamy as possible, whatever that means for you, will make it so much more special to the people you love.

    FOCUSING ON YOU

    Finally, having a COVID wedding pares down everything to focus on one thing: celebrating you and your partner. 2020 has shown us that in the end, a wedding is just a celebration of two amazing people and their love for one another. And the power of love keeps prevailing! It has been really amazing to see. Couples have put their heads together during COVID and created inspiring, intimate, pared-down events that highlight their love stories. It’s been a beautiful year for focusing on those stories. And we have loved seeing couples’ family and friends support them so strongly in a difficult time.

     We really don’t know how to articulate it, but seeing a wedding with 10 people who all fiercely love one another is a very different experience from a 200-person wedding. There is something almost heroic about these COVID weddings, their simultaneous power and vulnerability, their raw emotion. Every wedding has been an incredible reminder that love can really move mountains.

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    Photo: Between the Pine

    With that said, we hope you are convinced that you can still have an incredible wedding during COVID. So we’ve talked about the why – what about the how? In the next sections, we will talk more about various venues, vendors, and other things you will need to think through to have the dreamiest COVID wedding possible. Let’s go!

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    COVID WEDDING VENUES IN SEATTLE

    The first step for most couples planning a COVID wedding is to decide about the type of wedding. Your type of wedding (elopement, minimony, or micro/small wedding) will inform your choice of venue. So, once you have your type of wedding figured out, it’s time to look at venues! For this guide, we are separating venues out between elopements and “small wedding” venues. (As before, we will lump minimonies, micro weddings, and small weddings into the “small wedding” category.) Many venues are offering special packages right now for couples, so this is a great time to start making your plans! And finally, none of these venues asked us to write about them – this is just based on our research, and we’re not getting anything for sharing with you here.

    ELOPEMENT VENUES

    For elopements, typically you are looking at “venues” that are just out in the world, as opposed to a traditional wedding venue. And as we discussed earlier, you don’t have

    wedding budget depends on number of people and flowers

    Photo by Suzanne Rothmeyer

    to travel to call it an elopement – you can elope in your backyard! Of course, picturesque settings are always a plus, so you will want to think about parks, trails, landmarks, and water. Here are some of our favorite elopement locations:


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    Discovery Park in Seattle

    This is hands-down our favorite park in Seattle for elopements. It is within city limits, but has every habitat from evergreen hiking trails to grass-filled meadows and pebbled beaches. Oh, and did we mention there is also an incredibly picturesque lighthouse on the edge of the Puget Sound? What more could you ask for?! If you had to pick one place in Seattle, this is it. Keep in mind that you do technically need a permit to photograph or hold a ceremony in any Seattle park.

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    Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle

    The Seattle Art Museum operates this park, which features grassy greens along the water. This greenspace is peppered with gigantic sculptural works by some of the world’s best artists. The park offers amazing views of Eliott Bay and downtown Seattle, and it’s easy walking to a wide number of downtown bars, restaurants, and hotels. It’s also only a 15-minute walk to the iconic Pike Place Market sign, if you want to capture an iconic Seattle elopement scene! If you are art lovers like us, this is a great option for elopement. You will need to contact them for a quick approval, but it’s an easy yes if you are not setting anything up.

    The Mountains

    Feeling more adventurous? There are so many stunning places to elope in the mountains – and you do not have to go very far. We are surrounded by amazing mountains, rivers, lakes, and other natural features that we can enjoy year-round. Consider renting a cool A-frame cabin in the woods near Mt. Rainier, going up to Picture Lake, or experiencing the majesty of Snoqualmie Falls. We are so lucky to live in a place with so many amazing options for getting out into nature! And if you are unsure where you want to elope, our pro tip is to hire a photographer who specializes in elopements. They know all the best spots!

    SMALL WEDDING VENUES

    Right now, many Seattle wedding venues are offering small wedding packages and options for 2020-2021 couples. We are still not sure when large weddings will be safe, so this is an awesome option to get a full wedding experience with a smaller guest list. Here are some of our favorite venues in our region that are offering special packages for small weddings.

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    Photo: Between the Pine

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    Photo: Ariena Photography

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    Photo: Missy Palacol Photography

    The Willows Lodge

    The Willows Lodge is a gorgeous venue in Woodinville wine country, and they are currently offering small wedding packages for up to 40 guests. These packages include rentals, staff to set up and tear down, and even a guestroom for the night before and the night of the wedding! They also have a restaurant and catering available onsite, for wedding dates that may be allowed to have small receptions. This is a wonderful option for couples who want a full wedding experience on a smaller scale.

    The Salish Lodge

    The Salish Lodge overlooks stunning Snoqualmie Falls, just outside of Seattle, and they are currently offering small wedding packages for up to 50 guests. These packages vary, but they are currently running a special where you can get a free River View Room! If you are determined to get married soon, this is an awesome option with lots of ways to customize your tiny wedding.

    JM Cellars

    Owned by a husband-and-wife team, this gorgeous winery is in Woodinville, just outside of Seattle. They are currently offering an all-inclusive ceremony (minimony) package for up to 30 guests, which even includes florals! If you want to tie the knot with minimal planning, this is a great option. They also offer intimate wedding packages for up to 50 guests, including seating for a reception, with more options for customization.

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    Photo: Ariena Photography

    Novelty Hill Januik Winery

    This top-rated winery is in the heart of Woodinville, just outside of Seattle, and they are currently offering small wedding packages for up to 40 guests. These packages include their gorgeous space, as well as in-house wine and catering services for an intimate wedding.

    Treehouse Point

    Treehouse Point is an absolutely dreamy collection of literal treehouses in Fall City, just outside of Seattle. (Bonus: they are right down the road from our farm!) They offer small wedding options for 2-18 people, and are well-suited for these smaller events. If you have always wanted to spend the night in a treehouse, this is an excellent excuse to do it.

    Almquist Winery

     Almquist Winery is a family-run winery in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle, right on the canal. Many of their options are for large guest counts, but our favorite part of this venue is the small greenhouse, which seats up to 48 people. It’s the perfect cozy in-city setting for a small ceremony and reception, and great for cooler months since it’s covered!

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    Photo: Between the Pine

    Seattle is home to dozens of gorgeous in-town venues, but few are offering small wedding packages on their websites. Don’t let this discourage you – it is definitely worth asking about minimonies, micro weddings, and small wedding packages! We think that the pricing will be pretty variable depending on what you are looking for, which is why they are not offering packages and pricing up front. But while they may not have packages on the website, we bet many of them would be happy to host your small wedding or ceremony! So if you see a venue you like, reach out and ask!

    We hope this list helps you find a COVID wedding venue that works beautifully for your ceremony! Whether you are eloping or providing a full wedding experience, there are options out there for everybody right now. Our clients typically decide on their type of ceremony and venue first, and then start thinking about the other items on their checklists. So, the subsequent sections of our guide will cover guidance for florals, photography, catering, and more!

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    COVID Florals & Design

    We have an amazing floral community in Seattle, and a lot of us are friends. We help each other all the time. So we won’t be offended if you read this guide and choose someone else to do your dreamy elopement or chic micro wedding! But obviously, we cannot recommend other florists here when we are so excited about these smaller COVID weddings. So, if you are planning a dreamy COVID wedding, you can tell us all about it here. And if we are not available, we promise to refer you to an amazing flower friend we trust!

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    Photo: Missy Palacol Photography

    Okay, now that that’s out of the way, you should know how amazing small COVID weddings have been in 2020 for florals and design. With couples finding they have more budget than they thought, we have been able to make some INCREDIBLE design happen! This is especially true now that couples are thinking outside the box for design inspiration and color palettes. In 2020, we were able to pick from the best of what was on the farm to meet each couple’s design inspiration. I’m talking romantic summer blooms on mountaintops, dreamy boho backyard weddings, and moody vintage blooms for fall. It has been so much fun! So don’t think that your small COVID wedding has to be less exciting than a big wedding – it’s actually the opposite. You have so much latitude in design with a COVID wedding that you can make some real magic happen!

    WHAT FLOWERS DO I NEED?

    For an elopement, you may only want personal flowers for you as a couple: florals like bouquets and boutonnieres. Sometimes our clients add personal wearable flowers for their officiant and close family and friends, which is a great idea! Trust us, we have never given someone personal flowers that they were lukewarm about. Everyone is thrilled to get their own flowers on your wedding day! It just makes everything feel that much more special and personal. And with fewer than 10 people, it’s pretty affordable to get personal flowers for everyone.

     Many couples eloping during COVID also request some kind of arch floral installation. Whether this is feasible depends almost entirely on your elopement location. Setting up an arch floral installation requires tools, buckets of flowers, and the arch itself. For a mountaintop elopement, we’ll go ahead and say you are probably on your own, because carrying everything would be a tall order. But a backyard elopement arch would be totally feasible! Elopement arches in public parks are iffy, and often require additional permitting or permissions.

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    Photo by Brittany Jezak Photo; Planning by Hannah @ A Bird With A Plan

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    Photo: Between the Pine

    So, if you are dead set on an arch floral installation for your COVID elopement, make sure you choose an elopement location that we can easily access and set up.  And please plan ahead for permitting and getting permission to install a temporary art piece! Most parks have rules about what can and cannot be done on the grounds.

    For small weddings, you can usually go as wild with florals as you want! Small COVID weddings, including minimonies and micro weddings, most often take place at wedding venues. This means that for every small wedding, we are able to load in early and set up as if you are any other wedding. We can make an extraordinary amount of magic happen, totally transforming your venue, even if you have fewer guests. If you are just having a minimony, you will not need table centerpieces since guests are not staying after the ceremony. But that is just an opportunity to make your ceremony backdrop even more incredible!

     If you are having a small wedding with a reception, you can think through all the normal flowers you would think about for a wedding. This includes items like personal flowers, arches, aisle flowers, centerpieces, floral installations, and more! If you need help with this, please check out this past blog post – we have a gigantic checklist that will help you. And as we discussed earlier, the small nature of COVID weddings allows so much creativity and personalization that may not come through in bigger weddings. So, use this opportunity to get creative with your design inspiration and work with a pro who can support your vision!

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    Photo: Ariena Photography

    EVENT DESIGN & RENTALS

    We should also note here that adding event design and rentals can make your small COVID wedding even more amazing. Obviously, most couples that request a floral arch will also rent the arch from us. But there are some really cool event design rentals that will transform your wedding into a truly incredible experience. How about a jungle-themed sit-down dinner with rattan chairs and lanterns, tropical foliage, and leaf print napkins? Or maybe a Moroccan-inspired wedding with rented cushions, lanterns, and blue Moorish patterned dinner plates?

    Creative event design can totally transform your wedding into an unforgettable experience for your guests. And while florals can definitely help create this type of atmosphere, rentals are also key to this type of design. Think about details like seating, furniture, lighting, fabrics, menus, plates, flatware, and artistic objects. We offer event design services to our couples, and we absolutely love adding these types of details to our floral packages to help couples create truly extraordinary events.

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    Photo: Missy Palacol Photography

    So if you are taking this opportunity to make your COVID wedding even more exciting, think about finding a florist who can also help you with event design! (And if you want to have the jungle or Moroccan wedding of OUR dreams, please get in touch!)

     We hope this helps you think through the wonderful possibilities that a COVID wedding can offer you in terms of florals and design. If you can’t tell, it is something that we are super passionate about, and one of the few silver linings of 2020. If you can dream it up, you can probably make it happen! And this is the best opportunity to break from tradition and do something that feels true to you! So we encourage you to get creative, think outside the box, and design a COVID wedding that reflects your personality. Next, we will talk about photography options for small COVID weddings in Seattle.

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    COVID WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS

    2020 has been the year of the pivot, so it is no surprise that most wedding photographers in Seattle have been willing to take on smaller COVID weddings. However, some wedding photographers specialize in elopement, adventure, or destination weddings. No matter what your plans are, you can definitely find the perfect person to capture your special day! As before, none of these photographers asked us to write about them. This is based on our research and experience working with great people, but we’re not getting anything for sharing with you here!

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    Photo: Between the Pine

    ELOPEMENT & ADVENTURE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS

    Between the Pine

    Mollie at Between the Pine is a Seattle-based adventure photographer whose work is amazing! One of our clients hired her this year, and had such a great experience. They initially planned one route that became impassable due to rain. Then, our couple also decided they wanted to include some older family members who were not game for hiking. So Mollie suggested some alternate locations, and they found some perfect spots to include everyone in the mountain elopement. And can we just say? The photos came back STUNNING. We are slightly biased because we got to work together this year, but we would hire Mollie in a heartbeat. She also put out a blog post earlier this year about ADA-accessible elopement locations – so her inclusivity is really cool.

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    Photo: Brittany Jezak Photography

    Stephanie Keegan

    Stephanie Keegan also specializes in adventure-based elopements here in Washington. Her work is also incredible, including a backpacking elopement in the Enchantments – so you know she is game to hike with you! We have not worked together, but her portfolio is amazing. And like Mollie, she has great resources about all the best spots to say your vows. If mountain elopements are your jam, she would be a great choice.

    Adventure Instead

    Adventure Instead is a group of three photographers and best friends who will follow you anywhere in the world! They are based in Oregon and Colorado, but specialize in adventure elopements in WA, OR, and CO in case you are looking a little further afield. They are also all ordained officiants, which means you can keep your elopement even smaller if you want to! We are particularly fond of their photos with San Juan sea planes – so cool.

    SMALL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS

    If you are planning a slightly-less-adventurous elopement, or just a small wedding, most wedding photographers are willing to shoot for you! We have so many talented wedding photographers in Seattle, so you are bound to find someone whose images speak to you.

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    Photo: Missy Palacol Photography

    You can find a wonderful list of pros on WeddingWire or the Knot, or just by googling. But here are some of the people we really love!

    Brittany Jezak Photography

    Brittany is a super talented photographer who offers full wedding coverage and elopements. We were lucky enough to work with her in 2020, and we had a blast together! She was able to capture so many wonderful moments, including a lot of laughter. You can check out her portfolio and wedding photography options here.

    Jenn Tai

    Funny story – we haven’t worked a wedding with Jenn, but we totally thought we had. When one of our helpers ran into her at a recent wedding, we 100% thought she was shooting our clients’ micro wedding. But it turns out she was working a totally different wedding on the same property – and was super nice about our little mix-up! So because Jenn is nice AND a super talented photographer, we would love for you to check her out! She shoots everything from traditional weddings

    to destination weddings and elopements. You can check out her portfolio here.


    CAT RUCHALSKI

    Cat is based in Bellingham, but works in Seattle and throughout the region– so she is a wonderful choice no matter where you are getting married in the PNW. We love her style, and the way she is able to capture intimate moments between couples. She is also a total sweetheart to work with! You can find her beautiful portfolio here.

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    Photo: Suzanne Rothmeyer

    We hope this short list helps you find an amazing photographer for your small COVID wedding – no matter what kind of wedding you’re planning! Seattle wedding photographers are generally willing to travel, and incredibly gifted at what they do. If you hire any of these amazing pros, we would love to hear about it! Next, we will talk about some of the other vendors you should think about for your small COVID wedding in Seattle.

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    COVID WEDDING FOOD & BEVERAGE

    Traditional weddings focus heavily on a sit-down dinner, catering, and a bar for all to enjoy. But with most receptions being banned this year, it has been more difficult than ever for couples to share a meal with their loved ones. Currently, as a result of Phase 2, receptions are allowed to happen with 30 people or 25% occupancy, whichever is less. Our guide currently does not include caterers or bartending services, but we will update it as the guidance evolves!

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    For your small COVID wedding or elopement, keep in mind that guidance can change rapidly. For example, last summer, receptions were allowed, but tables had to be placed a certain distance apart. Rules about buffets and bar service during receptions also changed. The Governor’s office also mandated venues have a certain number of handwashing and/or hand sanitization stations available to guests. And all of this led to changes in floor plans, catering plans, bar plans, and signage.

    We saw a lot of last-minute scrambling for these events. So if you are planning a small wedding reception, please be flexible and patient as your vendors work hard to make it happen! We are all subject to state and local guidelines, and sometimes we are required to make changes within a couple weeks of your wedding. Our goal is always to make your wedding day amazing, no matter what changes.

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    Photo: Brittany Jezak Photography

    With all of that said, the one thing that everyone looks forward to is wedding cake! Some weird loopholes happened in 2020 with cake. At one point, COVID guidance allowed people to eat together in small numbers, indoors, but cutting a cake turned it into a “reception,” which was banned. So again, make sure you know the rules and how they will apply to your plans! Venues, caterers, and other vendors should also help you stay on top of the rules. However, couples eloping in 2020 and 2021 frequently add a miniature wedding cake to their plans. You might want to share it, or just order something special for the two of you! No matter what option you go for, here are some of the best bakers in our region for wedding cakes.

    HONEYCRUMB

    Carla and her baking team at HoneyCrumb are straight-up magicians! They make art that just happens to be cake, in exquisite flavors like Chocolate Fig Balsamic. They also offer gluten free and vegan options for those of us with restrictions.

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    Photo: Between the Pine

    And the finish is guaranteed to wow - from painted buttercream to sugar flowers, these cakes are stunning bespoke creations. Honey Crumb is currently offering several popular selections for small weddings and elopements, which you can find here.

    South Fork Cake Co

    Katherine at South Fork Cake Company is another fantastic baker, making everything from stylish wedding cakes to customized macarons. We particularly love her use of florals on her cakes (duh!) and that she offers tiny, single-tiered elopement cakes! With classics and upscale 

    flavors like Champagne Raspberry, you can check out her cake portfolio and details here.  

    Lady Grey

    If you have ever wondered what an abstract painting would look like in cake form, Lady Grey has got you covered! Baking duo Alia and Becca are creating some gorgeous, artistic cakes for weddings big and small. They custom build all of their orders, so the best bet for a small wedding cake or elopement cake is to contact them directly. We love that they offer a rotating seasonal cake menu with flavors like Dark Chocolate Bourbon

     Butterscotch – yum! You can get in touch with them here.

    Deep Sea Sugar and Salt

    If you are eloping at the last minute, you should head straight to Deep Sea Sugar and Salt. As a neighborhood cake shop, baker Charlie only requires a 7-day notice for ordering your tiny cake. And if you miss the window, she has a limited selection of whole cakes ready to go each morning. You can check out the seasonal pre-ordering menu here, which right now has flavors like Chai Apple Cardamom and Molasses Stout. 

    We know that not being able to have a reception is a bummer. But even without receptions, you can totally treat yourself to a small wedding cake and a bottle of champagne! It’s up to you whether you decide to share it with your closest family and friends. These boutique bakers are offering up some incredible flavors and artistry that you may not be able to afford for 200 people. So take advantage of your small COVID wedding and treat yourself instead! Order a special something to share with your partner, and freeze a portion to eat for your first anniversary. Each of these bakers is sure to make your small COVID wedding way more memorable – and tasty!

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    Photo: Missy Palacol Photography

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    COVID WEDDINGS: OTher Vendors We Love

    This would not be a comprehensive guide to COVID weddings if we didn’t tell you about some of our other friendors (friend vendors) whose work we love. Since you might have a little extra budget to splurge, these businesses will definitely be able to help you in your wedding journey.

    Wedding Planners

     You might not think you need a wedding planner, but we always recommend that our clients at least have someone there the day of 

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    the wedding. Even for a small wedding, you do not want to have to be the one to keep people on schedule, tell folks where to go, or keep up with current Washington guidance! So, outsource your stress to someone who does this for a living – you will be grateful you did.

    A Bird With A Plan Events

    Hannah at A Bird With A Plan is one of the most organized people we have ever met! She always has a spreadsheet or a clipboard at her side. And she is not afraid to lend an extra hand with all sorts of things the day of your wedding. We can’t recommend her enough.

    Hallea Events

    Hallea at Hallea Events does some seriously beautiful work! She is super easy to talk to, and comes from a background in project management. So you know she’s got all your bases covered! We love some of the gorgeous things she has been up to lately.

    Willow & Ivy

    Alex at Willow & Ivy recently talked about she has become known for her lounge setups at weddings. We love that! She has impeccable taste and a laid-back vibe. And we’re 99% sure she loves flowers as much as we do.

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    Photo: Brittany Jezak Photography; ring by Everling Jewelry

    JEWELERS

    What if we told you that there are jewelers here in Seattle who can custom craft sparkly, magical things for you? And that they use recycled metals and ethical gemstones? Have we piqued your interest yet? These two jewelers are master craftswomen who love what they do. And we love what they do, too! Take a look, because you will not believe that sustainable jewelry could look so cool.

    Everling Jewelry

    Adrienne at Everling Jewelry uses recycled metal and diamonds to make one-of-a-kind jewelry. They offer custom designs, and we particularly love their rings – from ferns to art deco diamond masterpieces. They also offer ready-to-ship items, which would be a perfect way to snag the right earrings or necklace. We swoon over every piece they make and can’t recommend them enough!

    Valerie Madison Jewelry

    Valerie Madison is a fine art jeweler and a Black Latina-owned business – how cool is that? They also use recycled metals and gemstones to make custom beauties, including wedding and engagement sets. And they have the cutest collection of handmade studs – one of our weaknesses! They also offer some gorgeous necklaces and other accent pieces. We adore every single thing they make, so go check them out!

    CALLIGRAPHY & INVITATIONS

    A little secret for you, in case you hadn’t looked into this yet: hand-lettered invitations and fine stationary are a bit of an investment. They are just as much an art form as floral design or metalsmithing. So if you have some extra budget, and only a handful of people to invite to your wedding, consider getting hand-lettered invitations. They make wonderful keepsakes for you and your friends and family! Here are a few of our favorite people in this space:

    Sablewood Paper Co.

    Holly at Sablewood Paper makes some delightful stuff, y’all. And she is just as delightful to work with! Whether you have full invitations, or you need to send out postponement notices, Holly has you covered. She even has cute little PNW stamps you can buy in her online shop. What’s not to love? Check out her custom stationary options for a paper suite that is 100% custom-designed for you and your love story.

    Nisha Calligraphy

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    Photo by Ariena Photo

    Nisha at Nisha Calligraphy does hand-lettering on all kinds of surfaces! Whether you need a big sign, small invitations, or something in between, Nisha can make it pretty. We love her penmanship and the fact that she is as fashionable in real life as her handwriting would suggest!

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    Photo: Between the Pine

    Wedding ATTIRE

    Remember how we said that your small wedding is the perfect time to break with tradition? Well, wedding attire can be one of the most visible ways to do that. This year we have seen women in cool pantsuits, men in velvet jackets, and brides in non-white dresses. Whatever wedding look you are going for, these folks are bound to be able to help!

    Brides for a Cause

    This boutique has locations in Seattle and Tacoma, and specializes in secondhand bridal couture. The cool

    part is that your purchase raises funds for women-focused charities. To date, they have given away over a million dollars by reselling wedding dresses! So if you are looking for a way to do good (and get more sustainable) on your wedding day, this is a perfect option.

    BHDLN

    BHDLN (pronounced “beholden”) is an offshoot of Anthropologie and owned by Urban Outfitters – but they make some gorgeous stuff at affordable prices. While most folks shop online, BHDLN also has a Seattle store! Their gowns have been a super popular

    option among our clients this year, and they are a great option for nontraditional looks like pantsuits and separates.

    Bellevue Bridal

    Bellevue Bridal is one of the longest-running shops in our region. We love that they have a varied selection of plus-size gowns, as well as offbeat selections like gowns inspired by Disney princesses! They also offer men’s formalwear, which makes them a great choice for hetero couples who are looking for a one-stop-shop.

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    Photo: Missy Palacol Photography

    We hope these lists help with your planning and finding some amazing vendors to work with! Definitely let us know if you wind up working with any of these businesses – we love to see it! Next up, we will talk about some of the logistics for a COVID wedding, including communicating with your guests.

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    COMMUNICATING WITH GUESTS

    We know that 2020 did not go as planned – and it’s possible that most of 2021 will also be a challenge. No matter what your wedding plans are, you may agonize over making decisions, changing plans, and having to communicate all of that. Here are some tips we’ve found helpful this year as couples have planned during COVID.

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    Photo: Brittany Jezak Photography

    • Postpone, don’t cancel. Folks are going to be so thrilled to celebrate with you when they are safely able to do so! We have seen a lot of couples have a small COVID wedding in 2020, but postponing their big celebration to 2021 or beyond. Right now, nothing is normal – so there are no rules about throwing an epic first anniversary party! If you had always envisioned a big wedding, you can still plan for it.
    • Your guests understand! Don’t feel bad about having to trim your guest list, change your date (sometimes multiple times), or constantly change plans. Guests understand how difficult your planning must be, and will generally be good sports about this. Don’t beat yourself up over things that are outside of your control.
    • You are allowed to poke fun at the situation! We have seen
    • funny cookies, signs, and fresh save-the-dates that all make light of an impossible situation. Sometimes gallows humor is required during this process!
    • Use technology! You can still have your wedding during COVID, and thanks to technology, your extended family and friends can still watch your wedding! All it takes is a little setup and testing of Zoom or another video chat provider.


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    Photo: Etsy - KindredInkDesigns

    Your tech setup doesn’t have to be fancy, although you could also hire an audiovisual pro to help you out. Either way, this is a great option to protect everyone and still invite them to celebrate with you.

    We hope these tips and examples help you as you continue to plan! Next, we will cover some basic safety measures that have been in place in 2020. There are fun ways to comply without sacrificing your vision!

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    COVID WEDDING SAFETY MEASURES

    As if wedding planning weren’t hard enough, COVID wedding planning requires that couples, venues, and planners think through guest safety. The good news? Recent research shows that guests now expect couples to reach out about safety measures prior to the wedding. In fact, 71% of guests want to know about safety measures before they will even RSVP! So don’t be shy about laying out your safety plans to your guests from the outset. Your transparency will delight the vast majority of your guests. And they will be eager to hear more about what your plans are.

    Guests might have questions about several aspects of your wedding to assess whether they should attend. For example, will the wedding be held indoors, or outside? Will food be served, and if so, how? Will you require masks and enforce social distancing? Your guests will want to know all of these things. They should feel confident in making the right decision about whether to attend, and feel safe if they do choose to do so. Here are some of the most common safety measures we have seen so far this year.

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    Photo: Suzanne Rothmeyer Photography

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    Photo: Missy Palacol Photography

    SYMPTOM SCREENING

    Most couples ask guests to pre-screen themselves for COVID symptoms prior to attending. If anyone is feeling sick, has a fever of 100.4° or higher, or has lost their sense of taste or smell recently, they should stay home. You can set out your criteria in advance, and then send your guests a friendly reminder in the days leading up to your event.

    Some venues, planners, and couples are also asking guests to do temperature checks upon arrival. Again, anyone with a fever of 100.4° or higher should not attend your wedding.

    Mask Wearing

    This one is pretty obvious, but people should wear masks at any wedding as long as COVID is circulating. (This includes us vendors, by the way!) Guests can bring their own masks, but you should also make sure to have enough for everyone onsite, just in case. To make it less doomsday, you can choose masks that align with your creative vision for your wedding. You might print your wedding date on the masks as a keepsake, or give your guests masks that vibe with your décor (for example, an assortment of tropical prints for your jungle-inspired wedding). Have fun with this! If we have to wear masks, they might as well

    be beautiful. You can also custom-order some beautiful matching masks for your wedding party!

    HANDWASHING

    Many planners and venues now have experience sourcing additional handwashing and hand sanitizer stations. Use them, and encourage your guests to use them! If people are walking past a station every time they get up, they will be more likely to frequently use handwashing as a method of prevention.


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    Photo: Brittany Jezak Photography

    PHYSICAL DISTANCING & MODIFIED DANCING

    We like to say “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing,” because after all – marriage is a social occasion! Physical distancing means that there is no handshake line, and few hugs. People can congratulate the couple from 6’ away, or with a quick elbow bump. Physical distancing also often places guests 6’ apart (or more), and also attempts to reduce contact between households. As an example, you might seat your guests by household at your ceremony, in little groups of chairs that are 6’ apart. You might also give every household their own round table for the reception, again 6’ apart. Or you might only seat a table at half capacity, leaving every other seat open to minimize contact. Whatever this looks like for seating, your planner and venue will know best on how to minimize contact between people from different households.

    Dancing at a wedding has become a difficult proposition. Photo booths, bands, and open bars have also fallen by the wayside. Instead of having a dance floor, lots of couples are choosing to simply have an elaborate dinner party with no entertainment or band.

     Other couples are splitting up their dance floor into several separate sections, so that people can dance together, apart. And in Washington right now, no receptions are allowed, so there is no dancing at all! Again, the goal here is to reduce contact between people from different households. So even if it is allowed, try to work with your planner and venue on ways to keep your people safe.

    Catering & Beverages

    If you are able to have catering and a bar, you may be unable to provide a buffet, passed appetizers, or cake slices. Most caterers now are doing plated meals and apps, so that the catering staff (in gloves and masks) are the only ones to touch the food and utensils. Everything would then be brought to your guests at their tables, rather than folks moseying around the venue. The same may be true for bar service; you may need to have drinks served at tables rather than the classic scene of people waiting in line at the bar. You can also ask your guests to keep wearing their masks between sips, and before and after eating.

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    Photo: Between the Pine

    SIGNAGE

    Enforcing things like mask-wearing and hand-washing can feel really weird. We’ve all seen the random guy in the grocery store without a mask, and been too afraid to say anything. So adding some customized signage telling people what to do takes the pressure off you and your loved ones. With signage, it sets an expectation that the guidelines will be enforced, and that guests are expected to behave. You can get super creative with signs that align with your décor! And if you have family or friends you know might have trouble with this? Respectfully, consider leaving them off your guest list.

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    Photo: Ariena Photography

    Other Considerations

    There are so many other “normal” things that might cause trouble. For example, your wedding party members might prefer to walk down the aisle alone, rather than holding arms. You may need to have a gloved attendant pass out programs to folks, or place them on seats prior to arrival. And you may want to ask guests to contact you or your planner if they fall ill with COVID-19, so that everyone on your guest and vendor list can be notified.

    We know this section is scary – but this whole pandemic is scary! These precautions will help keep you and your loved ones safe, while also being able to enjoy celebrating together. Getting married during a global pandemic does not need to be unsafe, life-threatening, or sketchy. But if this section has made you rethink your plans, that’s totally valid, too. All of us in the wedding industry will be so excited to help you whenever you’re ready. And we know it’s a tough call – so whatever you are deciding, know that you’re not alone, and so many couples are working through these issues.

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    MAKING YOUR COVID WEDDING COUNT

    This guide covered everything from where to find COVID wedding guidance, to vendors we love, to safety! We know it’s a lot to digest, and a lot to work through with your partner, family, and friends. Whatever decisions you make, the wedding industry will be here to support you! But all of that said – getting married during a global pandemic could be an amazing opportunity for you, and we want to help you make it count.

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    Photo: Ariena Photography

    A small COVID wedding could be an opportunity to deliver an incredible experience to your guests. Think of the wedding of your wildest dreams. Now think about how much easier it will be to pull it off with only a few guests! If you want a lavish ballroom style wedding, you can do that, and it will be a hell of a lot cheaper than the same thing for 300 people. That’s money in the bank for other things that are important to you – maybe it’s a stunning couture gown, the best wine, or an epic party next year. If you want to backpack for 4 days and get married under the Milky Way, you can do that, too.

    The sky is really the limit for your creativity here – so plan a wedding that you would be thrilled to have, even if COVID were not a thing! You don’t have to wait or have something boring just because your options are “limited.” Sometimes having a few limitations allows your creativity and personality to shine even brighter. This is true in art and design, and it is probably true in wedding planning, too.

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    Photo: Suzanne Rothmeyer Photography

    The other truth here is that smaller, more intimate weddings refocus the attention on you and your partner, your love, and your life together. This is the whole point of celebrating! And we have absolutely SWOONED this past year over our clients’ intimate celebrations. They have turned out to be incredibly special, heartwarming, and moving. There are no distractions, no random people there who are friends with your parents, no drama, no sloppy drunks. These smaller weddings feel so pure of heart. When you are left with just two people and their fiercest allies, it turns into something really beautiful and transformative.

     Again, we wish we had better words to articulate this – but stripping away some of the pretense and performativity in 2020 has been so, so refreshing. So, if you do decide to have a small COVID wedding – make it count! Make it unforgettable. Come up with something only the two of you could have planned. Lean in to what matters, which is your love for each other, and the people most important to you. If there is anything 2020 has taught us, it’s that those people are not replaceable. So make it count!

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    Photo: Missy Palacol Photography

    We really, truly hope this guide has been helpful to someone out there. We are here for any questions, comments, or help you need in your wedding journey! If you want to talk about wedding flowers, you can do that here. If you have no idea what to do about wedding flowers, you can check out the “Wedding Flowers 101” series on the blog. And if you want to share this, you can do so below! Thanks for reading!

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