Destination Wedding Planning During COVID-19
Mwai Yeboah is the proud owner of the luxury wedding and event planning business, Love, From Mwai. With over 15 years of event planning experience, Mwai helps culinary enthusiasts, fashion admirers, and adventure seekers plan experience-focused weddings that exceed their dreams and leave their guests in absolute awe! In addition to the countless awards she has received over the years, she’s also written and published her own book about wedding planning. Mwai is one of QC’s leading tutors for the Event & Wedding Planning, Luxury Wedding & Event Planning, Event Decor, and Destination Wedding Planning courses.
In my two-decade career as a luxury destination wedding planner, I’ve never come across any task quite like destination wedding planning during COVID-19. Planning events during these unprecedented times has been interesting, to say the least. If I’m being completely honest, it’s one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done in my career! But with the right tools, resources, and mindset, destination wedding planning during this pandemic is absolutely possible. In so many ways, it can even be extremely rewarding.
Today, I’m going to share some expertise to help you plan seamless, stunning celebrations during these challenging times. Read on for important tips to keep top of mind as you plan!
6 Destination Wedding Planning Tips During the Pandemic
1. Health and safety should be just as much a priority as decor and festivities!
The number one thing I quickly learned about destination wedding planning during COVID-19 is that couples have different priorities. These days, they’re just as concerned (and often more concerned) with health and well-being as they are with things like food, aesthetics, and activities.
Rather than treating pandemic precautions as an afterthought, treat them as an additional, equally important piece of the planning puzzle. In so many cases, these new factors will drive the event decisions you make. So, make well-being a foundational piece of the planning process.
2. Take extra steps to help your couple make informed decisions!
Ensuring that your clients feel comfortable and confident in their selections requires more work now than it did before the pandemic. Remember: these couples are trusting you to host a celebration of their love during a global pandemic. They’re expecting you to play a vital role in keeping their guests safe. This is a massive responsibility, and one you should never take lightly.
Recently, I did a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) for a venue. This was done so I could help my clients better understand every last pro and con of hosting their destination wedding there during COVID-19. It was an extremely helpful step! By doing this, I also ensured that I covered my bases by proactively communicating everything that could go wrong long before the couple ever signed a contract with the venue.
3. Ensure guests have all of the resources and information needed to stay safe!
A key part of a wedding planner’s role is to keep guests comfortable and informed – and that’s now more important than ever! Just as you want your couples to feel confident in the decisions they make surrounding the venue, seating, gathering spaces, etc., so too do you want their guests to feel equally as comfortable about attending the wedding. A few things you can (and should) do include:
- Creating a “Health & Safety” page on your couple’s wedding website that clearly outlines the steps you’re taking to make sure the celebration follows all current COVID-19 protocols;
- Find the nearest hospitals and add a card that lists their locations to your guest welcome packs;
- Include items such as hand sanitizer and face masks in your guest welcome packs;
- Have sanitization stations throughout the event (which you can dress up to ensure they fit into the overall aesthetic) that include hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, etc.;
- Include face masks (perhaps sequined or otherwise celebratory) at the ceremony entrance, or placed on each guest’s chair;
- Use signage throughout the event to keep people distanced and walking in the right direction. This will minimize the risk of clusters or getting bottlenecked in high-traffic areas.
4. Keep logistics around COVID-19 testing top of mind!
When you’re undergoing the task of destination wedding planning during COVID-19, logistics is a huge piece of the planning puzzle. The good news is, wedding planners are logistical mavens. So, managing a million moving parts and laboring over complicated logistics shouldn’t be brand-new to you! It’s simply the type of logistics you’ll need to manage that are different during these unprecedented times.
A few things I recently had to do while planning a COVID-safe destination wedding included:
Checking if the local hospital had COVID-19 testing facilities.
I unfortunately found out that the town we are having the wedding in doesn’t have any COVID-19 centers. So, we had to engage the Ministry of Health in the destination country and pay an extra service to have COVID officers on-site. This way, they can test the guests on both arrival and departure.
Enlist four of my team members to become “COVID-19 Managers”.
This then became my go-to team for handling any concerns that related to the pandemic. With constantly evolving circumstances, flight cancellations, changes in RSVPs, and last-minute (unwelcomed) surprises are all but guaranteed. Having a designated person or team who can oversee and iron out these issues will allow you to focus on ensuring that the celebration is everything your couple is dreaming of (and more).
5. Understand how COVID-19 will affect your seating charts and gathering spaces!
There really is no area of a wedding that’s unaffected by COVID-19 regulations and safety concerns. That being said, perhaps the two most important are seating and gathering.
During a recent destination wedding, we had to seat same-household members at the same table, with a maximum of eight people per table. Anyone from different households had to sit one meter apart, with only 5 non-same-household people allotted per table. Another issue was the dance floor. We had to place this in an entirely separate room! However, we elevated the experience a bit by calling it the “Disco Room” and working the decor and setup around this.
6. Keep calm and know that destination wedding planning will survive!
I won’t mince words – destination wedding planning during the pandemic can be tiring and complicated. But I also found the recent wedding I planned to have been the most rewarding wedding of my career! It reminded me why I do this job in the first place. I absolutely live for good communication and effective teamwork – and it took tons of that.
Plus, to see guests dancing and having the time of their lives (in a space that was as safe as it could possibly be) was a confirmation that destination weddings will absolutely survive. Overall, would I do it again? Absolutely! I’m actually onto planning my next “pandemic wedding” for this upcoming February!
As wedding planners, it’s our duty and our privilege to serve couples by alleviating stress and lessening overwhelm. We help create the space and experience our clients need to truly enjoy themselves, share their love story, and savor their celebration. If anything, COVID-19 makes that responsibility more important (and more rewarding) than ever.
Remember: producing a safe, successful destination wedding during COVID-19 is all about working harder, communicating more clearly, and focusing a bit more. But none of this unmanageable, especially with the unparalleled passion and unique logistical skills you have as a wedding planner! Keep that in mind, and you’re bound to help couples make much-needed memories during these challenging times.