Updated May 12, 2020
When something big happens, we come together. To celebrate. To grieve. To share. To hug and laugh and cry. And sometimes to eat donuts and take goofy pictures. But all those things are up in the air right now, thanks to this pandemic.
What to do? What to do?
In my case, it’s keeping on top of what’s going on. Holding hands with my people as we figure out new ways to come together. Because reverse only happens in automobiles (and the odd Kitchenaid appliance). Life moves forward.
So here are some things I know and some questions that may help you get some clarity.
Here in BC, we have a 4 stage recovery program
The big take away from the May 6 announcement is that gatherings must be smaller than 50 for the foreseeable future with social distancing. In Phase 2, we will start to see the opening of parks and other areas. It isn’t until Phase 3 that we see hotels, and camping allowed which as Premier Horgan said “could be months.” Phase 4 will be when full-scale weddings are allowed again but that will be “Conditional on at least one of: wide vaccination; “community” immunity; broad successful treatments.” For the unforseeable future, any sort of gathering will be limited to 50 people (including professionals, servers, etc.)
For now, Dr Henry asks us to think small for events with social distancing and try to be outside.
Do you have guests travelling?
This chart from aa April 29 Destination BC presentation about when travel restrictions may be lifted.
Protecting the Vulnerable
No matter what happens, the most vulnerable segments of the population are those over age 60 (and it increases with age), and the immunocompromised of all ages. Many will either not be able to attend or will opt out of attending group events, and that number will increase with group size. Those who live who the vulnerable may also self-isolate.
Ok so a huge summer splash is not an option this year….what else? Some ideas about what my couples are opting to do (and why)
1. Postpone the party (or everything)
If you have guests travelling from outside BC/Canada, people you simply can’t imagine being married without, it looks like US travel will back by the end of the year for sure and International travel by Spring 2021. Remember though, that the 50 person limit may still be in force in 2021, conditional on at least one of the following: “wide vaccination, “community” immunity, broad successful treatments.” (This is Phase 4, timing depends upon how well the previous stages go.) So take some time and figure out who your non-negotiable people are abd talk to them about travel. And consider some live streaming for people who are not willing or able to travel post-pandemic.
2. Elope Now, Party Later
Did you choose a special date for your 2020 wedding? Or are you starting a family, buying a home, or just wanting not to wait? Well then elope! But don’t choose the “nobody is coming so let’s just rubber stamp it” route. Make it REALLY special. I’ve been doing some dreaming with my couples this year and we are coming up with some wonderful adventures (think…what would the perfect day look like? what have you always wanted to do? what did you do on your first date?) More inspiration here.
You can even tie together the 2 dates if you wish (my couples are telling me that they don’t just want a party later, they want the walk down the aisle, the wedding party, the chance to not miss out on a moment of big love.) So for example, we’re doing some pretty cool handfastings (either legal or symbolic this year, and net year they will finally “tie the knot.”
3. Downscale to a tiny wedding
The wedding industry has just discovered “microweddings”, but I’ve been doing them for years…:) There’s something very special about an intimate celebration with your closest people. The energy is totally different, you have more time to relax and be present with them. And if you want, you can still add the big party later.
Just as with an elopement, there are ways to tie the 2 dates together so things feel more seamless and real. Here’s a bit of inspiration.
4. Head toward that 50 person target
Lots of discussion in the wedding industry right now about how to make these happen. According to Dr Bonnie Henry, the largest threat in a 50 person gathering is when everyone is together celebrating, and the Ministry of Health would prefer weddings of this size to be cancelled this year.
Go to minute 47 for general gathering, 50 specific to weddings (above from May 11, 2020.)
If you want to go ahead anyway, here are some things to consider:
- will you be able to find an officiant or commissioner willing to perform your ceremony? Some are working within 5 person max, keeping ceremonies separate from the party part…a lot of MC’s are in the #1 target age group. And others may/may not be willing to be in charge of ensuring that a large group of people are social distanced.
- who will be in charge of ensuing that the social distancing rules are followed? you? your planner? your venue? What will happen if there is an outbreak as the result of your event? Who will be responsible?
- what about food service? Just coming together now, but it looks like it might be single food service at separate stations, disposable plates and cutlery. No plated meals, no buffets (yet).
- seating and safety. An interesting article about how the virus travels.
- your guest list. Who will not be able to attend? Who will likely opt out of attending?
This is all still unfolding now.
Just know, that despite all this uncertainty, life will go forward and what will happen for you will be a beautiful thing, even if it is different from what you originally envisioned. Hold hands with your vendors and let us help you make it so.
Memorials and Celebrations of Life
We come together, to remember, and to say goodbye. It’s what we do in times of loss. We mourn better together than apart. So then what happens when you can’t be together?
I firmly believe (and the folks I am serving are discovering) that Co-vid, while on one hand devastating, also has its gifts. It’s teaching us the lost art of grieving. And it’s helping us to learn that saying good-bye is a process. That event planning is only a small part of it. And that there are a myriad of ways that are even better that what we’ve been doing.
There are ways to come together and remember. To tell stories. To listen and remember. And along the way, to actually create a real and honest tribute that may be more personal, more real, more memorable than you ever imagined pre-co-vid. Because now you have the time to. And everyone can come out of the process stronger. I can help you, whether it’s a zoom storytelling session or mapping out a really fitting way to honour a life now and in the future when you can come together.
In the meantime, my colleague Linda Stuart has co-written a wonderful article with ritual ideas to stay connected.
And from another colleague, the gifted Danna Schmidt, a must-read about grief in these days.
People often celebrate with hugs. And if you are a hugger (like me), a celebration doesn’t feel great without them. But…there are ways to do powerful work without personal contact. More on this in my CHLY radio interview from May 18, 2020 (link coming).