August 5, 2020

Love & Marriage in the Age of Covid

Things Aren’t the Same as Before

As a Palm Springs wedding photographer, I do a wide range of weddings. Usually my couples are those whose hearts beat to a different drummer, take the unfamiliar and adventurous path, and whose spirits embody a love thats free and true. There is a thread of nonconformity with all of them that makes every wedding so exciting to shoot. With their weddings it can look like a secret Joshua Tree elopement to a big 300 person everybody in type desert wedding. I’ve done a wedding that took place in a hot air balloon, to couples (more than once!) who brought their Burning Man experiences into their wedding. (Fire dancers anyone? Massive colorful Moroccan tents!) I feel confident to say that while I may not have seen it all, I’ve seen a lot. But, these days are new with a pandemic running rampant around us, and begs to ask the question, “what does a wedding look like now?”

Shifting from Grand to Family Style

Our first wedding back post Covid was due to be at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, but due to county restrictions at the time, the wedding had to be moved to the Pasea Hotel in Newport Beach. A new option for weddings that need new plans, would be to scale down your guest list, drastically. This wedding in particular was expected to be about 75-100 guests, but due to logistics because of the pandemic, the wedding was scaled back down to about 30 people. Elderly, those of vulnerable health, those traveling from far away distances, declined to attend. Weddings like this can still happen, and as an option, shouldn’t necessarily be taken off the table.

Having your wedding done this way allows room for social distancing, allows vendors to operate safely, and give you the chance to get married in spite of all the obstacles life has thrown our way.

Face Masks Anyone?

Unfortunately, we have a new normal. Immersed in our daily routines are the extra steps of adorning masks, extra hand washings, pocket hand sanitizers, and the awareness of keeping your distance from just about everyone. Take these daily routines, and steep them into your wedding day activities, and there you have a few new lines on your wedding planning check list.

With our wedding at the Pasea, face masks were bought, and hand sanitizers were more abundant than cocktails. Be prepared to maybe do, or consider the following:

  • Your tables will be spread apart and you will have to have your seating arrangements be planned according to household and family members. Have hand sanitizer accessible for seated guests
  • Have masks ready and a plenty on hand. Be creative! Keep them on brand with your wedding style, or adorn them with a wedding memento.
  • Family photos. Your photographer will have to maintain a safe social distance, and should make a prior shot list for you to review. Will everyone be comfortable being close in a photo together? If not, keep those lists coordinated with only those comfortable doing so
  • Dancing is likely at this time, not safe and not advised. In most counties, wedding receptions are still not allowed. In this case, plan an amazing cocktail hour, outside, with plenty of space for everyone.
  • Ceremony. Choose a space that allows wide spread seating. Open air is our friend right now.
  • Masks. again. Be prepared to have a lot of your photos with masked folks. Unfortunately, its just a way of life right now.
  • Hair and makeup. This bride chose to forgo anyone else in the room with her as she got ready, even me, the wedding photographer. The tradition of having your crew getting ready with you, is not likely to happen. Many hotel rooms are small, and on most wedding days, super crowded. Depending on size of the hotel room, you will have to reduce drastically the amount of people in the room with you so that the makeup artist and photographer have the space to be safe while creating memorable photographs.

Hard Pass on the Guests, Let’s Elope

Twilight Ceremony in Joshua Tree National Park

Right now, this is the most viable option for most couples. You won’t have to think about guests, be constantly aware of maintaining social distancing from the people you love, and feel like you are maybe walking on Covid-19 eggshells.

A popular location is Joshua Tree National Park – where the expanse is as wide as your eyes can see, and you will feel like the only souls around. If you don’t mind having nature (and your photographer) be your only witnesses – this is a romantic and beautiful option. Joshua Tree elopements are a joy to photograph and have their own magical elements.

Depending on what Airbnb or rental you have, you can do a lot of your wedding customs such as getting ready and first look on the property. And, if you get permission beforehand, you may even be able to celebrate and do it all on the property itself. Think of it this way, take any traditional wedding timeline, and shrink it down to having no guests. With a Palm Springs elopement or a Joshua Tree elopement, time is on your side with everything you want to do. Wedding photography is no longer on a hard timer, dressing into your wedding clothes can take 5 minutes or 50 (your call!), and without having to dress many tables with flowers, you will find that yes, now budget will allow for the bouquet of your dreams.

Decisions Decisions

Its for sure a lot to consider! For many couples, the easiest and most seamless way to have the weddings of their dreams, is to postpone. Scaling down to a family style wedding and eloping comes with a lot of compromise, and a lot things you will have to consider giving up, or coming to terms with.

If you are curious about a full scale Joshua Tree elopement, check out our sister biz – Desert Pop Up. We do so many elopements a week and its testament to us through this, that while life looks so different, unpredictable and scary at times, that love cannot be put on hold, or cancelled.