Needless to say, 2020 has wreaked havoc on many people’s plans. So many of our clients have been checking in to see what the wedding and event world is like right now. One of our Moxie To Go stylists had a wedding this year and I could not miss the opportunity to share a glimpse of the wedding world during covid. Getting this blog together was almost like an interview. Brenna is taking us on a journey in her shoes getting ready for her special day in the midst of the novel Coronavirus.
Casey and Brenna got engaged in late October 2019 and within 3 weeks they decided on the wedding date, May 24 2020, on her parents property, conveniently located on a lake. They chose this date because 1) it was memorial weekend and they wanted a Sunday wedding so for Monday being a holiday it was perfect. 2) Memorial weekend is the one Holiday (most) of her family from Tampa comes to visit annually.
Second big decision was that they wanted a “small wedding”. That quickly proved harder than intended. Casey and Brenna have tons of friends and were only able to cut the list down to 150 people (75 of them being family). As a way to still celebrate with their friends, Casey and Brenna chose a ceremony time of 11am on the lake with a catered lunch and then planned to bus everyone to Cypress and Grove brewery in downtown Gainesville, Fl. where they could invite everyone else they couldn’t accommodate at the ceremony. “This was going to allow us to have a big celebration without the cost of extra tables and chairs, no expensive venue fees, and no expensive catering fees. Simple, low key and fun!” – Brenna
They hired a wedding planner, a caterer, a florist, ordered the cake, got a dress, ordered linen suits for the boys, designed the wedding band, started getting quotes for portable bathrooms, transportation, hotel blocks, tent, table and chair rentals, and a musician.
As March came and the spread of the virus was catching everyone’s attention Brenna started to get quite discouraged and pretty much put everything on hold. Things were uncertain, nobody knew what the virus was doing. Could the wedding still go on? Then everything shut down. Casey and Brenna were both out of work and nobody knew how long this was going to last. Brenna felt defeated.
Early April was when Brenna got an email from her wedding planner suggesting that they postpone the wedding for fall or to the same date next year. Her first thought was, “no way am I postponing to fall when nobody even knows what’s going on and there could be a big possibility that we would have to cancel a second time.” So, Casey and Brenna discussed it and they both felt very strongly that the marriage was not about the wedding and that it was about their love and commitment to each other. At that moment they decided they were keeping the original date and if they can only have 2 people there then that’s what it was!
Back to the drawing board:
Cypress and Grove was out due to limitations on restaurants and bars.
The guest list: they decided to cut the list back to ONLY family that lived in Gainesville, Fl./ Ocala, Fl. area…. this meant cutting out any traveling family, even the 30 family members in Tampa. Brenna purchased a template on Etsy to make postcards to notify guests that they were not able to invite anymore due to the changes and uncertainty with Covid. Brenna told them that they would try their best to plan a celebration in the future.
The Caterer (Blue Water Bay in Melrose, Fl): Originally they were going to have a fryer and grill on sight with the first request being fried shrimp, calamari, and grilled chicken. Brenna’s experience was absolutely amazing with them. They were still more than willing to work with them despite the huge cut in the guest list. Although with the list drastically smaller they were not able to accommodate the on site fryer and grill as the cost was not efficient for the small number of people. At this point they had not paid a deposit as the cost of food is constantly changing, so this worked out great.
The florist (Iron and Clay in Gainesville, Florida): originally they had 10 sit down tables and multiple cocktail tables that needed flower arrangements. The florist was more than happy to revise the quote for only 4 table arrangements. They were absolutely stunning!
The suits: Brenna ordered the groom and best man suits online and was notified about 2 weeks later that they stopped production. She canceled the order and the week before the wedding they went to Dillard’s in Ocala, Fl. (Gainesville, Fl. mall was still closed) and found linen suits for the boys. Thank God they had exactly what they wanted!
The Ring (the village Jeweler Gainesville, Florida): Brenna needed the band custom made to fit flush with the engagement ring. The jeweler made a cast and sent it to a second location to make the band. Another road bump was when she was informed that they also closed production. “The most stressful part was feeling like you’re losing control of everything you had planned. Also having no idea when things would be up and running. After calling almost every week they finally had it back. And 2 weeks from the wedding they still had to put the diamonds in.” – Brenna. They made it happen, she picked it up 2 days before the wedding! Talk about cutting it close!
The musician (TJ Brown Band): Brenna had contacted him but due to how overwhelming planning a wedding is mixed with a little procrastination she followed through. She still contacted him again closer to the wedding to see if it was still an option, he was more than willing to still come play but she ultimately decided that with the small amount of people it was best to save money in this area. She then realized she had absolutely no computer skills and didn’t even know how to make a playlist (like me she’s just a pandora kinda gal). They ended up having a friend who is a “retired” DJ and tech wizard help out! This was decided the week before the wedding! His amazing wife and our friend, Mayra Dickerson (an amazing violinist) played for the ceremony! Mayra was original to the plan but then Brenna wanted her to attend the wedding. Low and behold she and all of our friends who attended had some duty to take care of but that was the key to their invite.
The officiant: The couple was originally going to have a gentleman who they refer to as the reverend officiate. He has married a handful of acquaintances hence the nickname. Unfortunately his daughter is immunocompromised and for the safety of his family needed to cancel. That’s when I came to the rescue. I got ordained last year to marry my brother and his beautiful bride. Needless to say I was very excited to jump right in!
The cake (Sugar Refined Bake Shop in Newberry, Fl.): The original order was a small cake to feed 25 people and had planned to make up for the lack of cake with different desert options. So this worked out. They didn’t have to change anything, just didn’t get the extra dessert options. They even had cake left over. They were not interested in saving the top tier for their anniversary.
The wedding planner (Avi’ Events) after deciding to keep the original date and cut the amount of people, Brenna contacted the planner and decided that with how small the wedding was going to be it wasn’t really necessary. Having unexpected free time on her hands due to the shutdown Brenna was able to do it herself. Having made 2 of the 4 payments, Brenna suggested using the payments for a future event so as not to have to ask for a refund during such trying times. The planner agreed. But then 2 weeks before the wedding they get the OK for salons to open again! Back to being stressed! Back to work, full book, trying to adjust to the new restrictions, and get all the last minute details for the wedding. How was she going to do this? Back to emailing the planner, last minute! Brenna had suggested instead of potentially using her services for a future time asked instead if they could please have 2 people on the day of the wedding just to help out. Help set up, clean up plates, help navigate the caterer and florist, etc. and they came through! They had no idea how much they would need them! Unfortunately, they have now had to close their doors as a result of the virus.
The photographer (Jimmy Ho) had already been paid in full and had paid for 8 hours of his time. Once they cut back they emailed him with the details of the new arrangement. This meant they would no longer need 8 hours. Knowing how hard this shutdown affected this industry Brenna did not request a refund. Due to the time frame cut they requested to have an extra session on a future date (family photos with Casey’s side of the family as a birthday gift for his grandmother, that also had got postponed) the photographer was so gracious and agreed to that! All the pictures came out amazing!
The day of:
7am wake up call.
8am Hair and makeup started. It was only Brenna and her sister for hair and 4 (including the mothers) for makeup
8am the planners and florist arrived and got to work with the help of her parents and in-laws!
Photographer arrived at 10am
Ceremony started at 11:30 (half an hour late, but that was expected)
Family photos then cocktail hour while the couple did photos
First dance, mother and father dances
Dancing (yes you can dance at a day wedding)
Wedding started to wrap up around 3-4ish
Everyone who was staying changed to their swimsuits to swim in the lake. (Casey and Brenna ran into the water fully clothed! Yes in her dress! Lol)
The day of the wedding the bride is typically overwhelmed with a lot of questions just to make sure everything is set up how she wanted but for the most part by that time Brenna really didn’t care. The stress melted away (with the help of some bubbly) and if things didn’t go exactly how they wanted, they didn’t care. Brenna was there to marry the man of her dreams and to have fun!
One last bit about wedding preparation. Brenna hired a trainer (through swamp fitness) that was willing to make house calls (zoom training during shutdown). Her program came with a nutritionist via phone calls about 5 months prior (she lost 10 lbs). She also started a regimen of facials once a month (with Jessica at Dr. Tyrone’s office… Until they were also shut down) to get her skin looking flawless. The Monday before the wedding she got a full set of Eyelash extensions with Ashley Murray MUA. Nails and toes done 2 days before (with Ann at Noir Nail Bar).
If you have a wedding or an event that is coming up I hope you find this story reassuring. Vendors came through. Friends and family are understanding. People show up when you need them. When it comes down to it like Brenna said “our marriage was not about the wedding it was about our love and commitment to each other.” Maybe focusing on what’s important and doing your best with the rest, come what may, is a lesson we can all take away from this strange year.