Strategic Wedding Planning for 2021

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (19/11/2020)
Categories: | Wedding Planning |
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Watercolor spray of flowers with the words
                    Strategic Planning for your 2021 WeddingWith so many weddings rescheduled from 2020 to 2021 because of COVID-19, if you've just got engaged and are hoping to be married in 2021, whether you can pull off the wedding you want, within the time frame you want, will depend on how flexible you are prepared to be. You're going to need to be very strategic about your wedding planning, or very lucky!

A matter of supply and demand

Pandemic aside, nabbing the venue you want on the day and time you want it comes down to supply and demand. Ditto for the many wedding service suppliers. On the supply side, for venues, the larger the number of people on your guest list, the smaller the pool of venues that can accommodate your wedding. For other suppliers, the more mobile nature of their service gives them greater flexibility. For those services it will come down to whether they can provide simultaneous service at more than location.

Three ways to go

, for
If 2020 is your target year for getting married, there are three approaches you can take:
  • The obvious (the ones most people will think of or be advised to think about)
  • The not so obvious (the ones fewer people will think of)
  • The way wacky (the ones almost no-one will think of, but they work)

So here are some ideas to get you started

Going for the obvious


For most couples wishing to marry on the most popular day of the week (Saturday) the sticking point is the venue. Finding a venue that specialises in weddings and has availability any Saturday in 2021 may prove difficult, particularly during peak wedding season So the obvious solution might be to be flexible about the day of the week and the time of the year and approach your preferred venue on the basis of "When do you have availability?"

The good news is that marrying off-peak means that not only will there be less competition, it will generally cost you a bit less.

The trend to marrying on weekdays has been quietly developing for several years now. The proportion of couples marrying on Sundays and Fridays has been increasing. And Thursdays are becoming more popular too. You will have the least competition on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, despite the fact that, for most people, taking a day off on Monday is easier than taking a day off on Friday, or in the middle of the week.

It would, however, be a good idea to ensure that the people you most want to be at your wedding would be up for taking a day off, if necessary, to attend it. Having your wedding later in the afternoon, however, would give guests the option of taking only the morning off. And the good news is that it seems that guests are much less likely to complain about off-peak weddings than they were pre-COVID!

A second obvious solution might be to have an earlier wedding. Breakfast weddings, Lunch time weddings, and Afternoon Tea weddings are all alternatives that work well.

A third obvious solution might be to increase your venue options by trimming down your guest lists. It is much easier to find a venue that can accommodate 50-100 people, even with COVIDSafe requirements regarding density of occupation (the 4 sq metre/2 sq metre per person rules) than it is to find one that can accommodate 150-200 people.

And the fourth obvious solution is to opt to having your wedding in a private property, your own backyard being a popular choice. However, in 2021 that could be a gamble should another wave of COVID-19 bring refreshed restrictions on numbers of people allowed in a domestic residence, including, apparently, rural properties such as farms.

Not so obvious solutions

Time to put on your thinking caps and come up with some not-so-obvious venue choices where you can have a reception can be a great solution. In Australia you can be married anywhere, so there are no legal limitations on where you have your ceremony, giving you a very wide choice of spaces that are commercial, public, or private. The only limiting factors will be the number of people who will be present.

When you are looking for a venue for your reception, the limiting factors will be whether the space is suitable for the ceremony only, or for both the ceremony and your celebration afterwards, and what restrictions there might be on use of that space.  For example, some venues, like some of the historic town halls scattered around Brisbane, allow bookings for ceremonies, but not for any sort of party. Some public spaces may restrict the consumption of alcohol or bringing in of furniture such as tables. Some may not allow amplified music.

Your challenge is to find a place where a group of people can gather and where you can celebrate after the ceremony. These do not necessarily have to be the same place. Having your ceremony in one place and your celebration at another is another form of flexibility. It also gives you the option of getting married and making a group booking for a meal at a restaurant rather than going for the full, traditional reception.

When looking for an alternative type venue, you are not restricted to places that are already in the wedding business. I've officiated marriage ceremonies in commercial premises where they've never had a wedding before, but when approached, were up for either hosting the full wedding, both ceremony and reception, or making the premises available for you to bring in catering and other services. One thing that COVID-19 has possible done is forced businesses to be creative, just to keep their heads above water.
  • Consider restaurants and cafes that might be new to the idea of hosting a wedding but willing to do so.
  • Favourite coffee shop that normally closes at 3 pm? Ask them.
  • Research blank canvas venues that may have kitchens and basic tables and chairs such as community halls (including scout halls), and local sporting clubs.
  • Find a blank canvas space where you can have food trucks or to which a caterer can bring a mobile kitchen. A blank canvas space is anywhere that has an open space you can bring furniture in to and have styled the way you want. I've done weddings in shearing and other rural property sheds, commercial photographic studios, and double and triple garages under sprawling Queenslander homes. Church halls can often be hired for a reception, even if you aren't getting married in the church.
  • Holiday park or camping ground with a communal kitchen and eating area
  • Art gallery in private ownership. Some years ago I officiated a surprise wedding in a small art gallery. No styling or decorating needed as the venue provided fantastic backgrounds for photos.
  • Masonic temples.
  • Business premises. Many have meeting rooms and other open spaces that are modern and classy. 
  • Public parks where you can have a ceremony and a picnic. There are 1000 parks in Brisbane alone. And many of them do have public toilets. 
  • For small weddings, you may be able to find a short-stay house or apartment where you are allowed to have a wedding.

Wacky solutions that work

When you go beyond thinking outside the box, and throw the box away completely, you will come up with wacky solutions to which you can apply some practical logic, for example
  • Have a double wedding
    Do you know another couple also trying to book a 2021 wedding? If you know them well, have compatible values and tastes, and guest lists that overlap, a double wedding can work well. Double weddings have lots of historical precedent. It used to be quite common for two sisters to be married in a double wedding.
  • Have a shared (consecutive) wedding ceremony
    How this works is that if you know someone or can find someone who is willing to share a venue booking with you, so that one ceremony immediately follows the other within the booked time (generally 2 hours in Brisbane parks with designated wedding sites, for example), you not only can secure your preferred site, but by sharing the site and the styling (there wouldn't be time for a decorator to set up twice), you halve the cost. It will require both of you to be punctual so that the first ceremony starts on time and the space is well and truly vacated before the guests to arrive for the second ceremony, so that the second ceremony can start on time and be concluded in time to meet the deadline for the end of the booking and for removal of chairs etc. And it will require flexibility and compromise on the styling, and some nifty crowd control to move the guests from the first wedding on and prevent early arrival of guests for the second wedding distupting the first, but can work brilliantly. You could even consider using the same celebrant and the same photographer for the ceremonies.
  • Have a sequential (sequel) wedding
    During 2020, restrictions on weddings resulted in many couples opting to get married anyway, for many of them with the bare minimum of a celebrant plus. two adult witnesses, one of whom might have been their photographer doing double duty, and plan to have a big party later down the track, possibly with a non-legal wedding ceremony as part of the celebration. That is still an option.

Wedding vendors

Because they are not location dependent, the various wedding service vendors that you will need or want to book are able to provide their services at whatever location you choose. Some, however, will have more availability and flexibility than others. You are also likely to have a wider choice of these vendors than of venues, given the numbers of people entering the wedding industry.
  • Part-time vs Full-time
    The wedding industry has a large proportion of services being provided by individuals for whom it is a side-hustle, a business run in their spare time because they either have full-time or part-time salaried positions. Some may not be available on certain days of the week.
  • Celebrants
    Your celebrant has to be legally authorised to solemnise your marriage, and must be present physically present in order to do so. So, while celebrants are more flexible than a venue, being able to conduct your ceremony at the place you choose, they can only be in one place at a time and cannot send a substitute authorised celebrant without formally transferring your legal documentation to that person ahead of the wedding. Whether you book celebrant first, or venue first, is part of your priority setting.
  • Other vendors who provide real-time service
    Some of the vendors you hire need to be present during the wedding in order to provide the service, for example photographer, videographer, MC, DJ, caterer. Some need to be present to provide the service in the period leading up to the wedding, for example, hair and makeup artists and wedding decor stylists. Some may work alone. Some may have a small team who work with them or can be available to provide a simultaneous service at another wedding.
  • Vendors who provide services that are completed before the wedding
    Your florist, cake maker, stationery supplier, and dressmaker, for example will be able to accept multiple bookings for weddings to be held on the same day. But you need to be aware that there is a limit to their capacity, and be prepared to work to their deadlines.
Thanks for reading!
Jenny xxx Let's talk soon about how you
                      can have the best ceremony ever
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