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What Weddings Will Look Like in 2021: Advice from Wedding Planners

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2020 was a hard year for all new brides to be out there. Getting married is supposed to be the most exciting moment of your life and the world thwarted (well, Covid) you from celebrating with your family and friends. What a buzz kill. To be frank, it was a hard year on the whole event industry: event planners, caterers, event spaces, bartenders, florists, lighting and rental companies, and DJs to name a few. So many of our valued partners and vendors in the wedding event industry had to re-think what they offered, which always relied so heavily on, well, hosting a wedding! 

We'd like to share three event planners' journeys. Hopefully there's some inspiration here to keep you planning your own wedding. I wanted to know:

Beach wedding inspiration

Photos // Meg Smith

 

What was 2020 like for wedding planners and how do they see weddings shaping up in 2021?

Alison Events

We were introduced to Alison and her company, Alison Events many moons ago. She has been a long time staple of elegance in weddings in Northern Bay Area and destination weddings alike. Alison Events is more than just a boutique event-planning firm, they are a global team with the creative capacity to design and execute an unforgettable party. What always strikes me about Alison and her team is how personable and easy to work with they are. I also am a big fan of how diverse their looks for weddings can be. They can handle just about anything!

 

Elegant Wedding

Photos // Erich McVey

1. What was one glimmer of hope or positive change that you see coming from this year already (after a year of cancelled events last year)?
People are looking to be very intentional in their wedding. Many weddings are still in a more intimate setting then they originally anticipated but couples want to make it especially meaningful for themselves and their guests. They are putting more intention into the details to showcase their love for each other and appreciation of their friends and family that is there to celebrate with them. 
 
2. Are you seeing an increase in wedding dates being rescheduled this year? How are your brides adapting to the new 2021?
We feel like people are seeing a little bit of a light at the end of the tunnel even though there is so much uncertainty. We are seeing more confidence toward the end of the year into 2022. 
 

Indian Wedding Inspiration

Photos // Meg Smith

3. What piece of advice do you give the brides still planning a wedding this year during the end (crossing fingers) of Covid?
Be flexible and create plan A B, and C. If people are willing to be flexible and going in with eyes wide open, it will be an overall more relaxed process.
Hire a planner as soon as you start to plan, it is always best if they help you from the beginning. We typically are hired anywhere from 9-14 months before the wedding. 

 

Brooke Nicols Events

Brooke Nicole Events

We had the pleasure to work with Brooke, of Brooke Nicole Events, on a wedding photo shoot last fall (see photos below), that turned out amazingly well. Brooke is a central California coast luxury event planner in the beautiful town of San Luis Obispo. She offers a unique background in the luxury market and a level of experience that is sought after.

1. What was one glimmer of hope or positive change that you see coming from this year already (after a year of cancelled events last year)? 

I see gatherings with so much more meaning than ever before, with people coming together to celebrate with more love and appreciation. I think it became easy to take social outings and connecting with others for granted, and now that we have gone so long without them - the big weddings will be bigger and better and so, so meaningful! And micro-weddings are here to stay with many couples looking to host small gatherings with just closest family and friends. There are truly so many benefits to both ways.

2. Are you seeing an increase in wedding dates being rescheduled this year? How are your brides adapting to the new 2021?

I am seeing the larger celebrations planned for early 2021 starting to postpone to later in the year, or to 2022. There are couples who have waited so long at this point, who are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel that they are okay with holding out a bit longer. And there are others who are moving forward with intimate, micro-weddings regardless. 

wedding in La Lomita Ranch

Photos // Ashley Rae Studio

3. What piece of advice do you give the brides still planning a wedding this year during the end (crossing fingers) of Covid? 

My advice is to discuss with your fiancé what is truly most important to you two and making decisions accordingly. I think it is great to feel optimistic, but it is important to remain cautious and feel confident in a back up plan should COVID still disrupt your celebration. Having open conversations with your planner and venue to understand your options is super important!

4. What is your #1 tip to make a wedding run smoothly?

Hire a wedding planner!! And, hire professionals to assist with the planning and to carry out the day. I strongly advise against DIY for such an important day in your lives - and in those scenarios, oftentimes I see family and the couple so extremely stressed out and full of regret following the event. This is the time to relish in the important, once in a lifetime moments with family and friends and relax, knowing your day is taken care of by professionals. In the long run, the additional investment will always be worth it!

Elopement Ideas and Inspiration

Photos // Kelley Williams Photography

5. What are your tips for a small or elopement wedding?

Details!!! With a smaller guest list, most couples now have the luxury to put more into beautiful signage and stationery, or fun lighting installs and draping, or a well thought out, beautifully curated welcome gift basket (like Bestowe's!). The budget goes further with the “pretty things” when you have fewer mouths to feed. 

6. How long before your wedding should you hire a wedding planner?

I recommend 10-14 months out!! The best ones book quickly. And, it’s invaluable to bring on a planner with professional advice and recommendations, prior to booking any vendors.

7. What are your recommended destinations for weddings in 2021?

A little biased, but I’m a big fan of the offerings in the Central Coast, Santa Ynez, and Santa Barbara areas. There is so much variety - from wineries and vineyards to large private estates to modern ranches. With COVID, we have been able to plan and design at some beautifully intimate Airbnbs that I would have otherwise never found! :-)

Lea Stafford Events

Next up is our friend Lea at Lea Stafford Events

Lea and I live in the same zone and got acquainted during Covid during our micro-wedding inspiration shoot that recently was highlighted in Martha Stewart Magazine. She was also recently named one of Martha Stewart's chosen Best In Class Event Planners of 2020.

Luxury Wedding Event Planner

1. What was one glimmer of hope or positive change that you see coming from this year already (after a year of cancelled events last year)? 

People have a newfound confidence in move forward with their plans. Whether that comes from living with the pandemic for a year, the advancement of the vaccine, or the new Administration, it seems, some or all of these factors have provided some sense of assurance and I love it.

2. Are you seeing an increase in wedding dates being rescheduled this year? How are your brides adapting to the new 2021?

My company has not experienced any reschedules just yet. Last year I sat a bit, digesting what was at that time this new virus and its magnitude. I realized something this impactful could not possibly have a cure and proven effect earlier than late Summer/Early Fall of 2021. With this in mind, I encouraged all of my clients to consider pushing their dates to this time of year or later. I really hope we do not have to push again.

Bold Minimalist Micro Wedding Inspiration

Photos // Sarah Eichstedt Photography @saraheichstedtphotography

3. What piece of advice do you give the brides still planning a wedding this year during the end (crossing fingers) of Covid?

Be open-minded and truly comfortable with your plan B, C, or D. 

4. What is your #1 tip to make a wedding run smoothly?

Communication and picking the best event partners for the couple are the two key factors for a smooth wedding day. Finding those partners who share a similar lifestyle and interest as the couple provides a deeper connection. These partners will then be able to pick up on the smaller details that are important to the client without having to be told from the client. Communication is always important while working on any project. Staying in the loop with all those involved throughout the planning process and the day of (when things shift) is extremely valuable.

5. What are your tips for a small or elopement wedding?

Do not allow the outside "noise" to influence what feels right for you and how you make the decisions for YOUR day. 

Beach Wedding Inspiration

Photos // Joni Bilderback Photography @elopewildfree

6. How long before your wedding should you hire a wedding planner?

Hiring a planner at the beginning of the planning process is extremely important. I recommend booking your planner at least 12-14 months before your event day.

7. What are your recommended destinations for weddings in 2021?

Because it is a little late to book a 2021 location, and travel restrictions are still in place, I will share what locations I am looking forward to being with my couples this year, and that is along California's beautiful coast in Carmel, Inverness, and Santa Barbara. Now as for 2022, checking out Tuscany and Australia is a must! When you are ready, please let us know!

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What are you doing for your wedding? We'd love to hear your story about challenges you faced and inspiration that helped you overcome them. 



 

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