Tips for planning an Irish wedding in 2021

Life’s Journeys podcast - Episode five

Our Life’s Journey podcast brings together the expert and the novice in the type of conversation that we all wish we had the chance to share from time to time, providing advice and guidance on some of life’s biggest decisions.

This episode centres around a big part of Irish life that’s seen some big changes over the past year – and that’s weddings. Bride-to-be, Doireann Sweeney has been busy adapting plans for her New Year’s Eve nuptials while Sharon Griffin, wedding consultant and owner of Frog Prince Weddings, has seen it all this year. Together, they discuss some of the most common problem areas surrounding the future of weddings in Ireland as well as some practical solutions.

Available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from their chat.

Have a plan B

A lot has happened this year that has left a lot of uncertainty surrounding weddings and panicking about your change of plans can lead to making poor decisions. Sharon says that taking back control and ownership is possible if you make a plan A, B and C.

Have your crisis plan in place to avoid any unnecessary stress and, so that no matter what restrictions are in place, you’ve thought about it, had the conversations with your partner, and can roll with the punches. And if you’re really not comfortable, push it out; the most important thing is that it’s a special day that you can truly enjoy.

Downsize your guest list

With limited numbers of guests permitted, many guest lists will have to be cut down to size. The most important thing to bear in mind is that your guests will understand and empathise with your situation.

Sharon recommends speaking to everybody on the phone. Split the list with your future spouse so you can each contact those closest to you – this will help reduce stress for both parties. As for how to go about reducing the number of invited guests, Sharon offers a few pointers. Think of who’ll be around you in 20 years’ time; they should be at the top of your list. Do away with plus-ones; couples will appreciate if the circumstances dictate that only one is invited. And with elderly relatives, explain that you completely understand if they don’t feel comfortable attending; they may very well feel that way.

Communicate with your venue

While you might have done painstaking work in choosing the perfect spot for the day’s celebrations, Covid-19 safety measures and restrictions have introduced a lot of new things to think about. It’s important to have an open and honest conversation with your wedding venue and to come prepared with a list of questions that covers all your bases.

To start, Sharon highlights five questions that you should be asking:

  • What’s the minimum spend the hotel is contracting for?
  • What happens if there are new restrictions introduced?
  • What happens if my county goes into a lockdown?
  • How far in advance will the decision to change the date have to be made – and how will it work?
  • Can a deposit be transferred to another date?
Add to that list anything else you think is important – and remember that in this unprecedented situation, there’s no such thing as a stupid question!

Adapt your surroundings

As Doireann is getting married in a huge church, she’s worried about how it’ll look with less guests in attendance; Sharon advises that some little touches can make a big difference. If pews need to be blocked off, do so with ribbons rather than signs and encourage guests to sit as close to the altar as possible to make it feel more intimate.

Similar approaches can be used at your reception location. If your wedding is set in a hotel, ask if there are different sized rooms available. If not, consider using partitions to turn a large ballroom into a more intimate space. Also, request that organisers avoid spreading the tables out too much; while the plan will need to abide by restrictions, you don’t want to lose the energy in the room.

The good news is the unique circumstances for weddings taking place at during Covid-19 presents wonderful opportunities too. Large weddings can easily stress your budget, so a smaller affair allows you to spend your money on things you really care about, creating an event that your guests will remember fondly forever.

Including guests who can’t make it on the day

Whether it’s friends and family abroad, or those who couldn’t make it because of Covid-19 guidelines, there’s every chance you’ll want to share your special day with those who can’t be there in person. Sharon suggests the best decision you’ll ever make is to put a little money towards your solutions.

Hiring a videographer is one fantastic option; you’ll get to relive your day for decades and you’ll also be able to share with those who are absent. A lot of videographers are even live-streaming ceremonies and celebrations, meaning people can feel a part of everything despite the distance.

It’s also worth considering using Zoom calls for speeches or asking the best man or maid of honour to arrange pre-recorded messages from those who can’t make it. Most hotels will have A/V capabilities, so trust their expertise; unless one of your party is a specialist in the area, don’t give them the responsibility. Also, get the best man to make sure that Zoom is working before the speeches; the last thing you need is a dodgy connection!

If you enjoyed this episode, check out our other podcasts here.

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At Aviva, we automatically increase your contents cover by 10% for 30 days before and after a wedding in your immediate family, giving you one less thing to worry about in the run up to your big day. Get your quote today.

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