Keenan and I planned our December 2020 wedding during the 5 short weeks that the COVID situation was actually looking pretty good in South Africa. In a post-first wave haze of blissful optimism and excitement, after two postponements, we made the tough call to go ahead with our wedding. Despite the ongoing travel bans and restrictions limiting us to a small celebration with some of our most important people unable to attend, we weighed up our options, calculated our risks, and decided to go ahead and promise forever in front of our absolute nearest and dearest in an intimate ceremony in the Cape Winelands.
Once we had decided to go ahead with our tiny wedding, we felt like we had to completely reimagine our big, traditional day. Our initial plan was a weekend-long celebration in the desert for 100 people. Now we had to ask ourselves; Are we going to keep it super casual in 2020 and maybe do a “wedding-wedding” in the future? Do we only invite our parents, or can we have our bridal party there too? Do I wear a wedding dress now or save it for later in case we have a bigger celebration? Ultimately, we decided to go ahead with a tiny version of a big, traditional wedding. White dress. Wedding cake. Photographer. Bridal party. The whole white wedding production, 2020 version.
As the day drew closer, I became more and more terrified. I worried that we were doing the wrong thing, that we were rushing our big day, that the COVID situation would change again or that I would have a nervous breakdown (Keenan’s emergency appendix surgery a week before the big day might have contributed).
Once we had decided on Boschendal as the venue, and with just 5 weeks to plan, I really wanted to keep the rest of the details as simple and easy to pull together as possible. I wanted to be a chilled bride. But no matter how hard you try, planning a wedding just is not simple nor easy. It is stressful, all-consuming and eye-wateringly expensive. Finally, after many tears and at the recommendation of the Boschendal team, I reached out to Dayna Viglietti, from Strawberry Weddings and Events and asked her to be our coordinator on the day.
From the first moment I reached out to her, Dayna went above and beyond for us, and her help proved to be absolutely vital in the weeks and days leading up to the wedding. It’s impossible to picture just how much work goes into planning a wedding before you start – even if it is a micro-wedding, and I wish I’d had her expert guidance from the very beginning. When it came to double-checking lists, setting up expert timelines, keeping an eye on easy-to-miss details and masterminding foolproof backup plans, Dayna was always there to remind me, support me, encourage me and allow me to vent.
When planning your BIG day, you need to come to terms with the fact that there is no such thing as perfect. Things will not always go according to plan, whether it is the planning of your wedding day or the actual running of your wedding day, things happen that are out of your control.
Even before COVID-19 changed the world, I would always tell clients; ‘perfectly imperfect’ is what you want to achieve for your special day. Your guests are not going to remember the colour of your napkin, but they are going to remember if they were cold, hungry or thirsty on your wedding day.
If I can give you any advice, lovely bride to be, it is to stop using this virus as a reason to not plan, or to keep postponing your wedding day, waiting for the perfect time. There is no such thing as perfect.
Whether you’re at the beginning stages of planning your big day, you’ve completed most of your wedding planning, or you’ve lost the will to plan your wedding yet again, here are some of my top tips for planning your micro wedding during the pandemic.– Dayna Viglietti, Strawberry Weddings and Events
Here are 10 Tips for Planning Your Micro Wedding During the Pandemic, from a Wedding Planner & a Pandemic Bride
1 Decide at the very beginning what’s most important to both of you
Keenan and I both knew that we wanted all our guests to feel like family. We both agreed that we didn’t care about ours being “wedding of the year”, we just wanted it to be happy, love-filled day. When it came to where we wanted to allocate our budget, we both felt that a great photographer, excellent food and lots of wine were most important. Neither of us wanted to go over the budget, which is good to know before you start planning, and can save some fights down the line. Thankfully, Keenan was happy for me to make decisions about things like the decor and menu, and I was very happy that he trusted me to make these calls myself. Some couples prefer to plan everything together, but this worked so well for us. I even had to buy his wedding suit and shoes while he was in hospital.– Natalie
2 Read the T&Cs
Before securing your dream wedding venue, photographer or any other wedding vendor, find out what their COVID-19 terms and conditions are. Check how many times they’ll allow you to postpone, and for how long, what their policies are with regards to regulations and how flexible they are willing to be you in case of COVID regulation changes. Read your contract carefully, and if you need more clarity, ask your wedding planner to scan it for any red flags.– Dayna
Most vendors I reached out to were very helpful and understanding. COVID has impacted everyone, and wedding vendors have had a difficult time too. If you have a dream venue, or caterer, or photographer, it’s worth reaching out to them and asking whether they have any COVID packages available, or whether they are offering packages for smaller events.– Natalie
3 Go Paperless
Go electronic with your Save The Dates and create a wedding website to keep guests up to date if you do need to change your wedding date. It’s not necessary to have pretty paper invitations right now, and the postal services are so slow (even more so now!), that you might have to change the wedding date before the invitation even arrives.– Dayna
I used Canva to design our stationery in about 30 minutes. When we were allocating our budget, it just wasn’t something that was a priority. I used a photo from our engagement shoot with Lad & Lass as inspiration for our colour palette, and included some illustrated roses, inspired by the rose garden at Boschendal.– Natalie
4 Keep the menu limited
Whether you’re using your venue’s in-house catering, or have outsourced your own caterer, don’t give your guests menu options to choose from. Rather plan your menu yourself, and serve your guests the same dishes, with special dishes for specific dietary requirements. This way, if you need to postpone your wedding, you are not going to have to contact each and every guest for their updated menu choices, as most venues and caterers have seasonal menus.– Dayna
Budgeting tip: You really don’t need dessert if you have a delicious wedding cake. One of them is going to end up going to waste. We served our guests Sweet Lionheart cake and MaMére macarons as the dessert course of our three-course menu and both were a huge hit.– Natalie
5 Less is best when it comes to flowers
Think greenery, lots of candles and just a pop of colour from your napkin. That’s really all you need to create an effective reception centrepiece. In most cases, expensive floral arrangements are started days in advance, and if you do need to postpone due to COVID, your florist is not going to foot the bill for the thousands of rands worth of flowers they’re stuck with. This is where your bridesmaids come in handy – ask for their assistance in sourcing local greenery from your nearest floral wholesaler.– Dayna
I absolutely loved the work of Ilse from Blomstories and would have loved to have her do our flowers. Our budget didn’t stretch that far, and it ended up being so hot, that I don’t think the flowers would have held up very well anyway. In the end, we decided that Boschendal’s jaw-dropping scenery would be our main decor feature, and we had a table runner of greenery that one of my bridesmaids picked up from the Adderly Flower Market.– Natalie
6 Say yes to The Dress sooner rather than later
Don’t put off purchasing or making your dream wedding dress! Find the one that suits you now, because it can take longer than you think. Don’t put it off until the last minute, as many dresses are produced overseas, and COVID can cause delays in shipping. I guarantee that even if you do end up having to postpone your special day, you will still want to wear that beautiful dress when the time is right.– Dayna
I only tried dresses on at one bridal studio, and found my dress that same day. I always knew I wanted to find my wedding dress off the rail, because I wasn’t sure what would suit me. I didn’t want to design a dress that might not feel right when I finally put it on. I stepped into Bo & Luca’s Cape Town studio and immediately knew I would find something. The rails were heavy with silk and beading and soft fabrics hand-died in tea. It felt like stepping into a dream. With the help of their lovely studio team, I tried on about 15 dresses – even the ones I would never have selected myself – and loved something about each of them. But it was the dress that made my bridesmaids sigh “you look so happy and comfortable” that I walked down the aisle in.– Natalie
7 Forget the expensive wedding favours
This is a nice to have, but a very unnecessary expense. In my experience, guests often forget the beautiful and thoughtful gifts from the bride and groom anyway. Couples put so much effort into purchasing these gift, but personally I would rather allocate this budget somewhere else – especially if you were planning to have your wedding date on your favours. Can you imagine having to change the date last-minute? If anything, an edible favour is what your guests are most likely to enjoy. (Were they really going to use that sugar spoon with your wedding date engraved on it?)– Dayna
We gifted our guests with delicious treats from MaMère Confections. Everything Lexi makes is truly delicious, but the Speckled Egg Nougat in particular was a huge hit with our guests. They could not stop talking about it. The MaMére packaging is so pretty that all you need is a clear box and a thank you note to make it feel super special.– Natalie
8 Keep the printed stationery to a minimum
Don’t go overboard with printed stationery on the wedding day. A welcome board at the ceremony, a seating chart and name tags are all you need. On that note, a seating plan is really not as old-fashioned as you think it is. Guests really want to know where they are expected to sit, and if you neglect a seating plan, your wedding coordinator will be the one getting the question “where should we sit?” over and over while your guests wander around.– Dayna
9 Be clear and honest about what you want your bridal party to wear
I really complicated the situation by trying to be too easy going about what I wanted my bridesmaids to wear. Instead of saying “I just want you to be comfortable”, I should have said “I definitely want you to be comfortable, in a formal dress, in one of these 5 colours”. The term “Bridezilla” loomed over my every request leading up to the wedding, and I wish I had just pushed that sexist term out of my head and accepted that my bridesmaids love me and want to make me happy.– Natalie
10 Try to avoid analysis paralysis
Since this is the biggest and possibly most expensive event of your life, it’s easy to become super overwhelmed with decisions and choices. Everything from the colour of your napkins to the flavour of your cake needs to be decided, and if you’re anything like me, that can start to feel very anxiety-inducing, very quickly. My advice is to limit your choices from the start. Decide on your decor supplier, and select only from what they have available. Once you’ve found your dress, stop looking. Give yourself 20 minutes to make a decision, and then go with your gut. This really helped me move from one task to the next without having sleepless nights about my choices.– Natalie
For all you lovely brides planning your special day, please don’t wait for COVID to be “over” to plan your wedding. It is possible to have your dream wedding during these unpredictable and crazy times. It is somewhat more special and romantic when you are a smaller group of wedding guests, with your nearest and dearest coming together to celebrate YOUR special day. A smaller wedding will also allow you to have more budget for a honeymoon, or better yet, not go into debt hosting a wedding for 150 people!– Dayna
My Incredible Wedding Vendors
Hair & Makeup: DIY by Natalie Mulvaney
Wedding Ring: Gold & I
Bouquet: Fleur Le Cordeur
Wedding Planner\Coordinator: Dayna Viglietti, Strawberry Weddings and Events
Venue: Rhone Homestead at Boschendal
Decor/Lighting/Furniture: Baie Goeters
Cake: Frilly Antoinette by Sweet Lionheart
Wedding Favours: MaMère Confections
Videography: Aletta Francina
Music: Gary Thomas aka Moodship
Officiant: Pastor Patrick Boucher