Plan X - The 2021 Wedding Must Have

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (05/01/2021)
Categories: | Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Planning |
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Plan X - necessary to respond to Covid
                    RestrictionsBorders being slammed shut in the last minute of 2020. Allowable wedding numbers yoyo-ing up and down. It's a wedding planning nightmare. And of course you have a Plan B in place. But in this situation a Plan B (and B1, B2, B3, etc) only goes so far. You need a Plan X (also known in less polite circles as the O-Sh*t Plan)

What is a Plan X and how is it different from a Plan B?


Plan B is the plan you put in place in case your original plan becomes impossible on the day for any of a number of reasons - fire, flood, access to the venue, for example. It is all about alternatives to allow your wedding to go ahead as closely as possible to the original plan (Plan A).

Plan X, on the other hand, is the plan you have ready to guide you when your wedding, as planned, can't go ahead on the day because of restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19 outbreaks. These could be universal restrictions, such as a border closure, or restrictions on individuals, eg mandatory self-isolation or quarantine after being in contact with someone who has the virus.

Pre-emptive planning (which I like to call What If Planning) can significantly reduce your stress levels, both anticipatory stress and stress should the worst happen.

Your Plan X aka your What If ... Oh Sh*t Plan should address three important questions
  • Will we postpone our wedding or go ahead on the day with a much smaller guest list?
  • Would we be happy to adapt our original wedding plan?
  • If we decide to/are forced to postpone our wedding, how will we mark the original date?

Decision 1: Postpone or downsize?

The first decision you need to have in place is your response to last-minute imposition of restrictions that would cause chaos with your wedding as planned. Not only whether you will cancel or postpone your wedding, or whether you will roll with the punches and adapt your plans, but what circumstances will trigger that decision, bearing in mind, that unlike Plan B, where your decisions will be driven by practicalities, Plan X decisions are very largely driven by emotion. So first step is to make a list of people whose presence at your wedding is all-important to you.

COVID-19 restrictions generally impact on weddings in one or more of 3 ways
  1. How many people can be present
  2. Where those people can travel from
  3. Where the ceremony can be held

Number 3 is largely a reprise of Plan B so it is a matter of practicalities. It is 1 and 2 that will trigger your emotional decisions about whether to postpone or downsize if any of your all-important people will be prevented from attending.

Decision 2: Is adapting your wedding plans an option?

A very wise woman (moi) is in the habit of advising that when you are faced with the choice of two alternatives, perhaps you should pick the third. Actually, I stole that from someone, but so long ago that I've forgotten who, so it has become one of my mantras!

While most people know that you can get married without having a wedding (often referred to as a legals only wedding), did you know that you can have a wedding without getting married? So the third option is to just have a legal wedding with two witnesses and then, down the track when everyone can be present, have a non-legal wedding with everything you've planned except the brief legal statement your celebrant has to make and the legal statements you have to make that create your marriage (often referred to as the legal vows).  So essentially your Plan X may be to get legally married on the original day, with photos, and postpone your wedding until later.

An alternative option you might not have thought of

Invoking my when faced with two alternatives always pick the third mantra with a twist - there is a legal step you can take that doesn't involve getting married, and won't either emotionally or actually compete with your wedding, and will fit with your decision if you decide against a two-step wedding as outlined above. You can register a civil partnership without having a ceremony.

While it is different from a marriage, taking a formal, legal, step to register your relationship will give you some added protection and may help soften the disappointment of postponing your wedding.

The following information is about registering a civil partnership in Queensland. The process may differ in other states.
  • Registering a civil partnership without a declaration ceremony doesn't cost you anything (though you will have to fork out for the certificate)
  • The marriage of either partner automatically ends a civil partnership, so you won't have to do anything extra when you marry
  • Except for a 10 day waiting period between application and registration, you have to do all the same things that you had to do in preparation for your legal marriage
    • Fill in a form
    • Sign it in front of a qualified person
    • Provide documentary proof of your birth and identity
    • Provide documentary proof of how your previous marriage (if any) ended
  • You also have to provide proof of your residential address (not required for marriage)
  • The same restrictions as to who you can marry apply to a civil partnership (i.e. one person who is not a close relative)
  • One of you must be resident in Queensland.
Sending off your application to enter into a civil partnership could add significance and a sense of accomplishing something important to the day, despite your wedding being postponed. Having all of the above in place, form filled in, signatures witnessed, and certified copies of documents ready, should you need to postpone your wedding all you would need to do is find a handy mailbox.

Decision 3: How to mark the original day if you decide to postpone?

One thing I've seen during 2020 is the sense of loss many couples experience when their wedding is postponed and the original wedding date rolls round. So I would strongly advise that your Plan X should include a plan for marking the original day.

There are many ways to do this. Put you minds to it and you'll find what will work best for you. It might be something as simple as a special meal, a miniature wedding cake, some bubbles, or something that takes a bit more organisation, like sharing with loved ones remotely via Facetime, Skype, Zoom, etc something as simple as a toast, perhaps a taste of your planned vows, cutting a cake while they indulge in a matching cup-cake you've supplied by one means or another. Whatever it is, make sure you get photos. At your milestone anniversary celebrations they will be an important part of your wedding story.

The practical stuff

Because your Plan X involves postponing or radically changing your planned wedding, make sure you include in the plan what you have to do in relation to each of the services you have engaged for the day, together with how you will notify guests
  • What are the conditions that apply to a change of venue, postponement or downsizing?
  • Who do we need to contact?
  • Who will be responsible for making contact, notifying service providers and guests? You need to make sure that that person is viewed as authorised. Many service providers, myself included, are wary of acting on information provided by someone other than the marrying couple. If you plan to involve others in the notification process it would be a good idea to include who that is and what decisions they are authorised to make in your contract. Applies to Plan B as well.

Further information

Thanks for reading!
Jenny xxx Let's talk soon about how you
                      can have the best ceremony ever
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