Surfing the waves of uncertainty While daring to dream: Wedding (re)planning during Covid_19

May 5 2020


Over the past weekend I spoke with five different couples about their wedding (re)planning during Covid_19. Three couples are existing 2020 clients, one a new client for late summer 2020 (conditional date), and two new clients for 2021. If there is any thread that binds these couples together, it’s the feeling of trying to find some sense of certainty in uncertain times.

Reading any of the online wedding boards and one can see the similar sentiments echoed in spouses-to-be. And there appears to be a few clusters emerging: 1) those that are holding out hope that their 2020 date (and therefore existing plans) will stay the same; 2) those that are planning to have *just* the ceremony on their planned date with social distancing measures in place, saving the bigger celebration for another time; and 3) those postponing the entire wedding ceremony and celebration.

Regardless of where you may locate yourself in these clusters, I do want to offer a gentle caution if you’re contemplating an elopement style ceremony, with the maximum of 5 people (officiant, two witnesses, spouses) if your original plan was a larger gathering surrounded by family and friends and selected vendors.

I want to encourage you to hold onto your dream wedding. I say this as an officiant who profoundly respects the ritual of gathering, the value of community and as someone who honours the importance and sacredness of collective meaning-making moments.

When I read or hear people are drastically shifting their wedding day plans, I wonder what is informing the decision. I wonder what potential elements of what was to make their wedding day meaningful to them might they be setting aside? Are they holding any lingering concerns about regrets?

How does one downscale a dream?

To this end, I asked a client of mine if I could share an email thread that was exchanged between us over the weekend.


Hi Jodi,

I hope you have been keeping as well as you can be J Just wanted to touch base about our October 17th, 2020 ceremony. As of now, we are looking at having a slight change of plans. We are hoping to continue with having our legal ceremony occur on this date, but it will just be an intimate ceremony with just us and the required witnesses. We are still wanting to have this take place in North Bay/Mattawa, but perhaps somewhere outside on the water/in a forest with just the necessary people.

This would ultimately change what we are looking for in our ceremony, as we are hoping to keep this one short and sweet (though, still meaningful and romantic!). We are planning to save our personalized written vows for a postponed date, and on that day we will have the wedding that we dreamed of. (We will not have an officiant at this event, as we will already have been legally married a year prior). Is this something that would work for you?

I see that you are getting crazy booked for 2021, so I’m hoping that by keeping our date as planned this will help alleviate some of those re-booking issues.

Good evening!

So good to hear from you :) I appreciated the “don't panic” subject line lol. Yes, absolutely I can keep your ceremony short and simple, as long as we able to proceed. I am so sorry your wedding plans have been shifted, but do know we can have a wonderfully warm and meaningful ceremony together on the 17th. I look forward to an outside ceremony in a forest or waterfront! I will be home in North Bay that weekend regardless :)

Sending love,


Hello Jodi!

Thank you for your response. This is such a difficult decision and I’m so scared of making the wrong choice! Though at the end of the day, things unfold just as they should :) If, by chance, we were to decide to fully postpone, do you still have any availability for October 2021? I do of course have worries that by having our private ceremony, it might slightly change how I feel on the “main event”. I worry that in my heart I would feel differently, and I would hate to have any regrets. We are certain that we are postponing the main event until 2021.

Since making that decision, I have felt so relieved to not have to leave everything up to chance. However, where I am having troubles is deciding on if to have our legal ceremony beforehand. I am so sorry for this long winded email! I do not wish to put any sort of strain or burden on you because you have been nothing but supportive and caring through this whole process! I am just trying to make some sense of this whole situation in my mind and in my heart.

Please let me know what my options might look like! I also apologize for the lateness of this email... clearly this has been keeping me up!

Good morning!

I feel all the emotions you're swimming in, that's for sure. And the impossibility of knowing what you will regret and long for. I am here, and will always have the patience and understanding to work these things out. As it stands now, I have the weekend of October 23rd 2021 and possibly the 30th as well. I really think, if you're leaning toward worrying about regrets that something will feel missing without the legal ceremony, you need to trust that feeling. I worry that so many folks who are opting to do the legal ceremony and have the party later, are going to be deeply saddened that they didn't save their ceremony too.

That doesn't mean we can't mark you original date in some way special, it just means the ceremony to make it legal waits a while longer.


I am following your lead. Deep breaths.

Sending love, Jodi

Hi Jodi

Thank you so so so much for being so understanding and caring. I really appreciate and value your opinion and insight on this whole situation! My heart goes out to everyone having to make these decisions and change their plans; and especially to you who is having to pick up the pieces along the way. It is not fair to you, and I truly thank you for doing all that you do. If it is ok with you, we would love to move our booking to October 23rd, 2021 and carry on with the wedding that we dreamed of - ceremony and all! As you said, the risk of regret is very real, and I think that it is a risk that is too high!

I want to feel all the emotions as naturally and as raw as they should be - happiness, nervousness, love, HOLY CRAP THIS IS REAL, joy, excitement, etc. Lol Also please do not hesitate to ask for additional compensation. I am sure that this is very difficult for you to navigate through. You still need to make sure that you are taking care of yourself!

Thank you again so much!

* * *

I know - it’s impossible to know what your future self might regret based on the options available to you now, and the competing priorities that accompany the decision to postpone, downscale a wedding or straight out opt to elope. Finances, family, health, shifting priorities, of course these come into play now in ways that were hard to imagine even just a couple of months ago.

For some of my clients, the context of (re)planning in the context of Covid_19 has absolutely provided them with the opportunity to re-align their wedding plans back to their original vision, one that manifested before the tugging of expectations and obligations of something BIG. For other clients too much has indeed changed, and there's no way to both postpone their ceremony while holding onto the planned full scale wedding day. The idea of a smaller, simplified wedding is exactly what's in order. And to that end, we've all exhaled and have gotten to the work of making it happen.

As an officiant, and the only vendor that’s legally required for a wedding to happen, my caution comes entirely from a heart space. I will perform ceremonies as soon as it’s safe to do so because we’ll be needed for weddings to proceed. My only intention is to encourage you to take pause, to think through the moments of your day you were most looking forward to, and what does it feel like for you to imagine them not happening alongside your ceremony. And if for all intensive purposes it really just isn't possible for you to postpone AND hold close to your prior wedding plans, then please know I walk alongside you as you (re)image and dream new dreams of your wedding day. I believe in the possibility that even more meaningful wedding moments are on the horizon, when we gather together in groups large and small.

Dreams will be realized again, so
I invite you if possible to hold onto yours, or even to dream anew.

Perhaps more than ever, holding onto dreams of what is to come matters.

* Special thank you to Anne from The Wedding Ring for inspiring this post, and to my incredible vendor community who continues to inspire me with their passionate commitment to their clients and to one another.