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Toronto wedding planners share their advice for 2021 brides

Many Toronto brides with 2020 wedding dates understandably have postponed their weddings to 2021, and with restrictions still hanging over all our heads local wedding planners have some advice for those who want to tie the knot this year.

2021 isn't the escape from COVID-19 most of us dreamed it would be, but fortunately there are professionals that can guide you through a safe and happy celebration.

"As a wedding planner, I watched my very full calendar evaporate quickly in March 2020. I migrated 24 couples to new dates in 2021, hopeful that a year later we could return to something recognizable," wedding planner Karina Lemke told blogTO. 

"Now that January is waning and our Province remains in a state of lockdown, it is becoming apparent that weddings will continue to look a little different this year and those expecting larger celebrations should get ready to shave their numbers or parachute to 2022 if the option presents itself."

Lemke says her take is that if you really want to get married, you should just do it, but sadly if a big party is your goal, this is not the year. She advises the couples she's currently working with to remain fluid with their expectations, and is only advising clients with high guest counts or border issues to rethink their dates.

"You can have an exquisite, meaningful ceremony, probably followed by a magnificent dinner. You can have glorious flowers, a string quartet, you can share a magical first dance and check every box on the wedding check list with the exception of the epic dance party and opulent late night table," says Lemke.

"Those things are unfortunately going to be sacrificed for the foreseeable future, dance parties and communal food."

While these tend to be some of the most fun moments of any event, much less a wedding, Lemke has heartwarming stories of weddings she's still managed to throw that may have been different from expectations, but were still incredible.

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A small wedding on Toronto Island in 2020. Photo by DA Photography.

"I have had the pleasure of working on a few of the most meaningful and authentic micro and small weddings this past year...a few have been career highlights. It is a trend bourne of necessity in the summer of 2020 but one that shall undoubtly continue this year and I actually hope it to be an option that remains long after COVID," says Lemke.

"I created a series of micro and small wedding packages to address the need and they have been met with such wonderful enthusiasm. For those who may see the loss of a 300 guest count party as a tragedy, there are others, thankfully, who see this as the opportunity to marry in an even more amazing way." 

Like going without dancing and communal buffets, many might see cutting guests as an impossible task, but Lemke has thoughts on how to handle it.

"The advice is to be intentional in your guest list, to focus on the absolute inner circle who should be invited to witness your union...even pre-COVID, this was my often ignored advice," she says. "It's all about perspective."

Angela Zaltsman of A to Z Event Management agrees, adding that you can technically get married now and just postpone the non-COVID-friendly elements of a wedding.

"A micro wedding can be just as memorable and special as a large wedding. So if you want to get married do it and host your big party the following year, everyone will be more than ready to get their dancing shoes on," Zaltsman told blogTO.

Wedding planner Shealyn Angus also feels some of her 2020 weddings have been some of her best ever, and advises couples that the more they embrace change, the happier they'll be with their wedding.

"Flexibility and compromise are so necessary for 2021 clients, but neither in negative terms. Our world is different so therefore events are different, and that’s okay! The more you can lean into that, the less disappointment there is," Angus told blogTO.

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Cutting the cake at a distance during a 2020 wedding. Photo by DA Photography.

"Change is only an opportunity to really focus in on what is important and what is authentically 'your wedding.' We hosted some outstanding 50 person celebrations last year that felt nothing like a compromise. Were hand sanitizers the new popular guest favour? Yup! And we branded them in gorgeous ways to feel personalized and intentional."

Being prepared to be fluid with plans is how wedding organizers deal with every wedding: through lots of research, self-education on policies and keeping open lines of communication. Though it sounds like extra work, Angus says taking these steps can minimize stress.

"We are at the liberty of following the same government information that our clients are. But we can work together with the experience we've gained from going through this with dozens of other clients to create a plan that will not only abide by the ever changing policies, but also allow you to still be creative," says Angus.

"Will there be masks this year at weddings? Yes. Will there be extra hand sanitizers around? Yes. Will events still be smaller this year? Most likely. Do any of these things affect how much fun you can have, how your guests will remember your wedding, or how beautiful your celebration looks? No."

Some of Angus's suggestions for modified weddings include using the extra money you would have spent on more guests on bigger ticket luxury items, having a private concert experience instead of a dance floor band and creating a seated speakeasy with fab lounge furniture. She also wants to remind people of the silver lining of downsized weddings.

"Getting to spend time with each guest personally is a wonderful reason to embrace a smaller guest count," says Angus. "That simply doesn’t happen with 150-plus celebrations."

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