In Review: 2020 Weddings and More
Every year I write a data-driven post about the previous year’s weddings (you can read about our 2019 weddings, our 2018 weddings, our 2017 weddings, and our 2016 weddings. ) I love writing this post every year because it gives me a chance to reflect.
The 2020 look back post is going to be a little different. I only have 4 weddings to talk about, and they were all VERY different from each other, so I don’t think I can assemble them into any significant data points. But I will review each in detail for you. And I’m going to talk about some behind the scenes and business-y things for you as well.
2020 Wedding Recap
In January I had a “normal” wedding. Honestly, when I was working on this wedding in 2019, I had a hard time counting a January 4th wedding as a 2020 wedding – it felt like an extension of 2019. And boy, it really was. It was a Catholic wedding ceremony on Capitol Hill followed by a reception at Saint Francis Hall with about 180 guests.
In June, I had my first official micro wedding. This couple had been planning for June, then moved to September, and then we realized that the federal government was completely botching the virus response, they slashed their guest list, canceled their reception, and went forward with their Georgetown wedding ceremony as originally planned in June.
In September, I had a destination wedding in Delaware, pretty much as originally planned. The guest acceptance rate was lower – originally they had planned for about 125 guests, and they wound up with about 80. We had masks and sanitizer and offered those color-coded bracelets so one could telegraph how strict they wanted to be with social distancing. To be honest, I had an incredible amount of anxiety with this one. Beforehand, I was worried that I would bring the virus to the group, and we would be one of those fateful weddings on the news that resulted in multiple deaths. Afterwards I was worried about the sheer number of people I had been around and the fact that I had a wedding in 2 weeks. Luckily I was able to get a test five days after the wedding weekend and it came back negative.
In October, I had another micro wedding: 20 adults and 7 kids, all immediate family of the couple. We had a ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing at the bride’s mom’s Maryland waterfront home, which sits at the end of a peninsula in South Creek, off West River. Originally we were planning for a DC wedding with 200 guests at a large church followed by a museum reception. Similar to other 2020 events, they shrunk their guest list, moved venues, and kept their original wedding date. We squeezed a beautiful clear-top tent between the house and the water, and transformed it into a secret garden.
So what’s the deal with 2020 wedding postponements…
I get asked this all the time. And I understand the curiosity. We all had travel, events, milestones disrupted in 2020. Larry and I both had milestone birthdays. In April 2021 we have a nice round number wedding anniversary. It feels cathartic to talk about the loss, to share the grieving of what could have been in 2020.
I had seven 2020 weddings move to 2021 or 2022. It’s easier to explain them one by one.
I had one couple for April 2020. They are already married, this was basically an anniversary party and almost all of their guest list is international. First, we moved to September 2020, then to April 2021. Since it looks like international travel will still be highly restricted for a few months, we moved to April 2022.
My early May couple pushed their celebration by a year and then had a micro wedding in the late Fall. They have decided to stick with their May 2021 date, regardless of how restricted the guest list may be.
My Memorial Day couple first moved to August 2020, then to May 2021. Because they do not want to shrink their guest list to oblige possible government restrictions, they are no pushing to Memorial Day 2022.
A late June couple first moved to August, and then to June 2021. We are moving forward as planned. Their celebration is on private property, in a tent, in an area of Virgina that is remote and hopefully will be in phase 3. We feel good about our plans for this year, and intend to move forward without much issue.
My other late June couple first moved to September, then cancelled the reception altogether and moved their ceremony back to June 20 with a sub-25 person guest list at their original chapel. I mentioned them earlier as one of my four 2020 events.
A DC August wedding moved to April and they want to keep their large guest list so we are now looking at Fall 2021. They need to make a decision very soon to change dates, change venues, or both!
Our Labor Day wedding moved a full year out, to the Sunday of that same weekend. This was mostly due to the limited availability of their venue.
Our late September couple moved a full year out as soon as the country shut down in March. Her mom works government-adjacent and I think had more foresight than all the rest of us.
And now some of my 2021 clients are postponing as well.
An early May 2021 client has pushed out a full year, as they do not want to move more than once.
Another early May 2021 client has moved to November, and moved from a Maryland venue to Virginia.
I am hopeful that this is the end of the chaos for my clients.
2020 Wedding Business Recap
In January of 2020, I engaged a PR firm for the first time. Mostly for help with submitting 5 real weddings from 2019 to magazines and blogs. This Meridian House wedding was featured on The Knot, this Tranquility Farm wedding was featured on Honeysuckle Brides, and this District Winery wedding was published on Party Slate. I am awaiting a publication on Carats & Cake, I hope it is launched soon! OFD Consulting also helped me be quoted in 28 other online publications, including Brides, Martha Stewart, and Special Events Magazine. And I have two quotes in the latest issue of Virginia Living Magazine, within their annual weddings section. I was *thisclose* to having a quote in Harper’s Bazaar. Oh, well, there’s always 2021.
When postponements began, I, like many others, called up my attorney and got clarification on what COVID-19 meant for our contracts. I spent a hefty fee revising mine, but I consider it a great investment. To be honest, because I invest a lot of time in cash management, we were financially solid in 2020 – also thanks to EIDL, PPP, and the stimulus checks. I felt obliged to help others who were furloughed, so I did outsource some items that have been at the bottom of my to-do list for some time. I also invested in print and digital advertising with Washingtonian, which had been sending me solid leads.
When a wedding planner doesn’t have weddings to work on, we are forced to work ON our business. So that is what I did. I engaged Action & Co and did a little revamp of this very website you are on, and did a total makeover of the website that supports my free ebook, The Elegant At Home Wedding. Please go take a spin over there, it is beautiful.
Over the summer, I participated in the Minted Flat Lay Challenge and came away with an honorable mention. Which, to be honest, I was quite pleased with because my submission was so incredibly simple. I thought this was a brilliant idea by Minted, and I enjoyed flexing my creative muscles, if only for a brief time.
Coming in 2021…
I am sincerely so excited about 2021. I have so many beautiful weddings coming, at locations I’ve never worked before, with amazing couples who are so excited to be married. And I’ll be back at some old favorites like Dumbarton House, The Omni Shoreham, and Hotel Monaco. On a personal note, I can’t wait to get back to concerts and baseball games and seeing my friends on a regular basis.
If you like these kinds of meaty posts, with far more words than photos, I have good news for you: I’ve written about sample wedding budgets for five of DC’s most popular wedding venues and real costs for some of my favorite design pieces.
And for even more wedding planning advice: Everything you need to know about wedding insurance policies, room blocks, how to write your own wedding ceremony from scratch, and how many guests can fit at a table.