From Large Event to Modest Elopement | How to Reimagine Your Wedding Day Amidst a Global Pandemic

It’s no secret COVID-19 has disrupted lives, livelihoods, and events around the globe and honestly, I’m about over it. I’m ready to move on with my life and my routine more than ever. But alas, there are still restrictions in place buming the heck out of everyone and keeping us all from moving back into normal life — and sometimes that means swerving on original plans and creating a new plan. For as much as I’m anticipating getting on with business as usual, I’m also a little excited to see what comes out of all of this … and I mean that in terms of changes in the way weddings are celebrated.

When history repeats itself, as it most certainly does, we will likely see that even during times of uncertainty, there are things that never seem to change — people still fall in love and people still get married. What we do see in terms of trends, however, definitely seems to shift. Until normal settles back into our days, looking at a shift in perspective and seeing the beauty in the pivot is definitely essential.

So much in our world is turning out to be more unstable and erratic, but you can rest assured that you can have the perfect wedding day, even if it wasn’t exactly what you first had in mind.



Fear not: you don’t have to cancel all your carefully thought out plans. You can always postpone the big shindig to a date in the future! At the end of the day, you need to do what is right for you, but postponing still gives you plenty of options and doesn’t completely write off everything you had planned for your wedding day.

As long as you feel like postoning instead of canceling is right for you, you can start by notifying your vendors, even if you don’t have all the new details hammered out just yet. The sooner you reach out to your venue, photographer, and other major players, the more likely you will have the new dates you’re eyeing available for all involved.

Personally, I’m working with every single client I have to be sure I’m available for their new date, not charging change fees for postponement, and I offer to help coordinate other vendors so very little has to actually change save for the date of your wedding. Be sure to communicate with your vendors clearly, but also understand we are all doing our best and most of us are as uncertain as you are.

Be sure when you discuss your plans with your vendors that you look at all options. Most vendors are happy to move dates with no fees and are willing to photograph on non-Saturday days. Consider a Friday or a Sunday wedding or even a weekday wedding in order to keep the same vendors. Having some flexibility on the day of the week may keep having to change more plans at bay.

After you have a solid plan in place (or as solid as any plan can be from now until the end of time, amirite?), feel free to start letting your guests know. You can definitely send out additional information via snail mail or you can simply start a Facebook group or send out a mass email. Keeping guests in the loop via technology is helpful because you can make changes as the situation evolves, which it totally has the capacity to do.



Speaking from personal experience, wedding dates are likely chosen for many reasons, emotional attachment to certain dates being one of them. If you are totally set on being married married on your original date, little is stopping you from doing just that! You and your love can still say vows and seal it with a kiss, even during a global pandemic — and this is just the mushy stuff! Getting the legalities and logistics to work in your favor is totally doable as well.

In the state of South Dakota, you can call the courthouse in your county, make an appointment, and still get a marriage license, even if the majority of other businesses are closed. Public and state parks remain open so their use for a small elopement is definitely possible and many smaller vendors are happy to work with fewer employees to accommodate a more modest event.

Pandemic or not, private elopements and intimate ceremonies are incredibly romantic, heartfelt, and truly unique. But how do you pull it all off? I have some foolproof tips for how to make sure your elopement goes off without any more storms than you’ve already weathered.



So, you’ve made the decision to either switch up your whole big day with a smaller, more intimate day or just postpone the big party for later. Either way, pivoting on your original plans will require just a little bit of extra work, but I’ll make it as easy as possible. By making some small changes on some bigger plans, you can have your cake and eat it too. Figuratively and also mostly likely literally.


    By letting your vendors in on your changes, most will be more than happy to work with you to add extra hours, split additional hours, or just plain help out in any way they can. When working with your photographer, discuss splitting your original time contracted into parts so some can be used for a smaller ceremony and the rest for your postponed event or even use some of the time for an anniversary session later down the road if you are foregoing the whole bigger event later. This ensures you keep the same photographer to vibed with enough to hire them in the first place and you have images that match from one portion of your wedding to the next. It also eliminates the need to search for a new photographer in the midst of this mess.

    In terms of flowers, I wouldn’t suggest any more than a boutonniere and a bouquet for your smaller ceremony. Chances are you won’t have a dinner (so no head table decor) nor a large venue to decorate, so be sure to arrange for your existing florist (or another if yours has been shut down, most grocery stores are operational and their floral departments are great in a pinch — also great when working on a smaller budget!) to provide you with a bouquet and a boutonniere.

    You may also be able to get a smaller cake and definitely some champagne for a private cake and champagne moment from your local grocery store. It may not be the sweeping 5 tiered wedding cake you chose, but it is a truly fun moment to just enjoy.

    Another thing to consider is the person performing the ceremony. Many churches may be willing to perform the ceremony as long as you are respecting laws and restrictions currently in place. Someone you love may also be able to become ordained online and perform the ceremony.

    A small side-note regarding vendors: please PLEASE be kind to them. They are doing their best in a world just as uncertain as yours. Please do not ask them to break any laws for you.


    Next, you’ll want to choose a location. Depending on the state you live in and current restrictions on the day of your ceremony, it may be tricky to find somewhere to have the ceremony, but everything is possible if you are willing to be flexible and think outside the box. Your vendors may have some insight as to what locations are open or which location would be the most aesthetically pleasing without much for decoration or planning involved. Even locations as simple as a backyard or a local garden can be stunningly gorgeous.


    That seems a little frivolous, but many hair/makeup vendors are unable to work at this time, so you’ll want to take some time to practice your makeup and hair that you may have to do on your own. Again, this varies state to state, but just to err on the side of caution, knowing how you will take care of those things yourself will def curb any last minute anxiety later.

    Also consider what you’ll wear. Maybe you’re dying to wear the dress you spent months looking for. Maybe you want to opt for a different look and style you considered for your big wedding day but now have the chance to rock on a second day! Whichever way you decide, make decisions early as shipping times and product availability is a bit spotty these days.

    You can also put together another Pinterest Inspiration Board if you feel especially like your elopement is a different vibe than your larger wedding celebration. This will help your photographer especially to capture it the way you imagine it. Pinterest also has a ton of ideas for smaller ceremonies in terms of decoration that is super DIY if you want to spend your quarantine crafting — especially when you’ve reached the bottom of Netflix.

And really, that’s it! Swerving on your original plans just gives you an opportunity to be thrifty and creative in making this crap-sandwich an amazing story to tell generations to come.



In the months (if not years) you’ve been planning your wedding, you’ve likely seen timelines to make sure you’re ready in time for the big day. Switching plans to an elopement is similar but has a whole different set of things to do to make sure you’re completely prepared for your intimate ceremony. Keep in mind, these are just suggestions and you can totally make it your own based on your own plans for your ceremony.


  • Confirm changes with vendors. Book new vendors, if necessary.

  • Choose location, check local restrictions for availability.

  • Purchase a wedding gift for your partner.

  • Shop online for wedding attire. Purchase any outfits you may need, shipping times are a little laggy right now.

    • You can always use the outfits you were going to wear for your big celebration or you can def take the opportunity to wear something completely different. For example, if your large wedding day will be more classic and timeless, you may have fun wearing something more eclectic and boho. Don’t feel bad about taking the opportunity to be creative!


  • Plan a post-elopement quarantine-approved date night.

    • With all the social distancing still required, getting dressed up for a fancy made-at-home dinner (or even some take out) or a fort for two and a movie. Maybe take some time to plan your honeymoon over a bottle of wine for when you can travel again.

  • Purchase a wedding gift for your partner. Even a simple, heartfelt letter will do. Having a small ceremony makes the entire day about you two and no one else.

  • Get your marriage license. Be sure to check if your state is open for marriage licenses and see if you need an appointment to get one.

  • Choose your witnesses. Keep in mind, they can even be your vendors if you’re keeping your day super intimate.


  • Purchase all hair and makeup supplies. Don’t forget to do a trial run with any new products.

  • Select any music, purchase any new songs if necessary.

  • Confirm with all vendors.

    • This includes: photographer, videographer, florist, officiant, etc.

  • Confirm with all witnesses.

  • Try on all attire, make sure everything fits the way it’s supposed to.

  • Create your “day of timeline” with your photographer. They can help you decide the best timing for everything in terms of lighting, which is incredibly important for images.


  • Write your vows.

  • Be sure your nails are clean and filed (since salons may be closed for a mani/pedi).

  • Check the weather and confirm with your photographer.

  • Purchase champagne or a special drink (can be something you like to drink together) for a toast after the vows. Make it fun, make it your own! You have the opportunity to get creative and truly unique!


  • Announce your elopement! Your photographer may be able to fast track you some images so you can share the news with your nearest and dearest or share it with the world! Your choice!

  • Celebrate quarantine style. Enjoy some truly one-on-one time with your love and remember — this will be the story of a lifetime for you to share with generations to come. Embrace the crazy!


Look, I know this isn’t ideal. This is not the scenario you nor anyone else had in mind for 2020 (seriously, this was supposed to be my year, guys). For as much as I want to tell you that it sucks and it’s unfair, remember that everything has a silver lining, even if you have to look incredibly hard to find it.

You have the opportunity to have an intimate and romantic elopement despite a global pandemic. WHO CAN SAY THAT?! You can. And it can be the greatest time of your life if you let it.