Lori and Jess had envisioned a larger celebration, with all of their loved ones by their side, but COVID had other plans. After talking it over, Lori and Jess decided to plan an intimate ceremony and gathering at Franklin Park... in less than a week.
L & J reached out to me on a Thursday in October, and asked if I was available to photograph their wedding that Saturday (yep, ~2 day lead time). We had a quick call, went through details, and I confirmed that Cynthia, one of my associates, would be their photographer.
Their wedding was absolutely beautiful; perfect weather, gorgeous afternoon ceremony, and a great group of friends eager to help and support to make sure it was a memorable ceremony. A few of our favorite photos are in the gallery below (the pug in formalwear really takes the cake, folks).
When I asked Lori and Jess what their tips were in planning a short-notice wedding, they said:
Prioritize together - Decide on what matters most to both of you, and prioritize the top few aspects on that list. Sort out those details first, and know that you may not get to some of the others, and that's okay!
Use community pages - There are vast community Facebook groups that you can use to find vendors on short notice without having to hunt down websites or register for wedding networks. Lori and Jess found Sacred Harbor through a Facebook group post, and also found tables and chairs from neighbors.
Delegate as much as possible - Lori says, "We were surprised at how much our friends and family wanted to be involved in our 72 [hour] planning marathon! If we didn't have help from our friends and family (to do everything from help us shop, decorate, make-up and even buy a full-length mirror), I don't know if we would have been able to pull it off." In making your list of most important details for your wedding day, see if you have a friend or family member that would excel in managing or planning that task.
Enjoy the ride - Although it may not be what you originally envisioned, it'll be an experience you'll never forget! Think of the stories you'll tell your friends, kids... "In 2020, we couldn't stand within 6 feet of one another, so we went to the park and got married, with a handful of really special people as our guests!" You're going to be anxious and stressed out, but try to remember that a party and all the guests aren't the focus - it's you, your partner, and your love for one another. Take time to live in the moment of an intimate ceremony!
From Jess: Lower your expectations - "As long as you go into it with bare minimum expectations and just being happy that you get to marry that person, nothing can go truly wrong."
Here are a few other ideas that might help you with your planning:
Plan around a "home base" - consider using your home or a hotel room as a home base, where you can leave all your stuff and potentially even instruct your guests to congregate. This is especially helpful if you're planning an outdoor wedding; you don't want your guests to get lost! Either both people or just one of the happy couple can lead the guests to the anticipated spot, so it's a fun party walking over, and your guests can even help carry things like chairs or decorations! The other person can come along shortly thereafter to create the "first look" moment, or you can both walk to the ceremony site together.
Gorgeous venues don't have to be expensive (or complicated) - Check out our post about public spaces around MA (https://www.sacredharborphotography.com/post/mapublicspaces) for some ideas on beautiful spots you may not even have to book! Just show up and get married, and have a gorgeous backdrop for photos. And, outdoor ceremonies are considered much safer than indoor ones right now.
Use natural decorations - you don't need glitz and glam to make your wedding day special. Nature, skylines, and skies can be the most beautiful decorations without having to invest any time, money, or effort. I've had couples get married in their own backyards, on the Harbor Walk, in the Boston Public Gardens... each one of those spots was iconic and stunning without needing lanterns, carpets, arbors... you get the drift.
Let guests bring their own ____ - Don't be afraid to ask your guests to bring their own seats, drinks, umbrellas, etc. They're coming to support you, and part of that support is not making you buy or rent a dozen random chairs on short notice. Everyone has a chair they can bring (I had an aunt bring a wooden dining chair, and it was the talk of the town!), and if you're having a small celebration afterwards (maybe back at the "home base") you don't have to worry about guests touching one another's drinks - just let them serve themselves!