Fancy attire, guests dancing the horah in a crowded ballroom… This might be what a wedding used to look like. In 2021, after a year of global pandemic, couples are giving time-honored wedding traditions a second thought. For some, that means breaking the rules or moving the wedding outside. For others, it means creating the wedding celebration they had always envisioned, just at a later date after getting legally married.
Regardless of which route couples take, they are more appreciative than ever of celebrating (safely) with their family and friends after a challenging year.
Legally married and ready to celebrate
Pamela Kasenetz rescheduled her wedding multiple times since her original date of April 2020.
She plans to have the party of her dreams this July at her original venue — the Willard InterContinental in the District —now that it’s safe.
“I wasn’t so upset that we kept pushing the date, I just hoped it wouldn’t become an annoyance to everyone,” Kasenetz says. “I just wanted to do it when people are vaccinated, because for me, the vaccine is the endpoint.”
All attendees and staff will likely be asked to show proof of vaccination or have a rapid test within six hours of the party.
Kasenetz always envisioned that her family and friends would watch her get married, but the pandemic altered the plans for the ceremony.
“The big change for us was doing the religious ceremony in a much smaller, intimate space with only immediate family present,” she says. “Because we had no idea how long restrictions would be in place, we thought it prudent to make it official from a legal and Jewish perspective. It was a beautiful thing to marry Matt Kahn last summer and it didn’t matter that nothing about our actual ceremony followed the trope of what a wedding should be. I knew we’d all be celebrating together soon enough.”
This summer, they’ll finally be able to celebrate with family and friends with their original vision and vendors for the reception.
Kasenetz sees significance beyond just celebrating her wedding this summer. “Yes, it’s celebrating Matt and me, but it’s also probably one of the first big events that people will have gone to in a year and a half. I hope it’s a sign to people that things are returning to normal again. For us, this is a celebration and we wanted to be able to do it when we felt like people can actually let loose and celebrate.”
Breaking some rules and homing in on what’s important
Andrea Weinberg is planning a September wedding at an inn with mountain views in southern Vermont. She and fiancé, JohnPaul Dicks, looked for a venue that would be within driving distance to their friends and family who are largely on the east coast.
Weinberg says the pandemic has allowed her to break some traditional rules. “The pandemic definitely enabled some of our laissez-faire thinking when it came to wedding planning,” she says. “I think the last year has caused a lot of us to reflect on what really matters and there were a lot of wedding elements that, upon reflection, we realized were just not important to us!”
For example, Weinberg is going paperless with online save the dates, invitations and RSVPs. She’s also keeping her guest list smaller than she would have in a normal year.
“I think that planning a wedding during a pandemic is a unique experience, with some obvious cons,” says Weinberg. “At the same time, I think it has been pretty liberating for my fiancé and me to be able to strip our wedding vision down to its most important elements. The pandemic has definitely helped me feel more comfortable focusing on the things that feel important, authentic and will better serve ourselves and our loved ones and if it breaks tradition in the meantime, so be it.”
An outdoor wedding
Tara Gelb and fiancé Matt Molinaro are planning to get married in October of 2021 at the Inn at Haven Harbour in Rock Hall, Md. The couple is moving back to Washington this summer after three years in Cambridge, Mass.
“When we first started thinking about different venues, I really wanted to keep it outside and I wanted to keep it as COVID-friendly as possible,” says Gelb. “Even though it’s looking like things will be a lot safer, I’m still really glad it will be outside because we don’t know what it’s going to be like in October.”
Part of what Gelb loved about the venue is that many of the wedding guests can stay within walking distance, so less need for people to be on shuttles and buses.
For Gelb, one difference in wedding planning in a pandemic was not seeing the venue ahead of time. “We chose the venue without seeing it, which I would not have done before the pandemic,” she says. “I would have flown in and seen it. We also chose the band without hearing them live first.”
While the pandemic has pushed Gelb toward an outdoor venue, the overall vibe is what she always envisioned. “Even before the pandemic, we would have still wanted a fun, casual wedding,” she says.
The couple is keeping their eyes on what’s important throughout. “Matt and I were already so close, but the pandemic brought us even closer. Our wedding already would be such a special day but having so many of the people we love in one place, after not seeing them for so long, is just going to be extra special.”