Love Conquers All: Wedding Planning During a Pandemic

December 2020
Written By: 
Ashley Daniels
Photographs by: 
Fiza Mairaj

Despite some new “don’ts” of the wedding season, saying “I do” is still possible

The New Normal: Though weddings may look a little different amid a pandemic, it doesn't mean that your big day has to be any less special.

Unfortunately, before the cherished “I do’s,” of wedding season, there is a guideline of don’ts that need to be followed by the bride, groom, and their accompanying guest list before COVID-19 crashes the wedding and shows up uninvited.  But that doesn’t mean your dreams of a fairytale wedding have to be dashed! We still have hope for a bright future after chatting with Casey Mungavin, director of sales at 21 Main Events at North Beach, North Myrtle Beach, about how the wedding industry is marching (to the “Wedding March”) on. 

Q: What are some safety precautions your venue is practicing for wedding events? 
Well, we already had sanitizing machines in place in our kitchen for flatware and glassware. What we’ve added to the mix is designating a staff member whose only job is to clean surfaces at the wedding nonstop. I think seeing that helps with guests’ peace of mind. Because, ultimately, we’re not just worried about clients and guests, we’re worried about our staff, too—as a destination venue and being around people from all over. We own two machines and sanitize every surface, every single night, and we’ve been open since May 15 with no issues… We also 100 percent wear masks. I see that as a respect thing because I don’t know where you’re coming from or whether you’re at high risk. Every staff member has a black mask so if they’re in the background of photos you don’t look like you were at the dentist. We see guests wearing masks as well if they’re high risk or traveled from a hotspot. I have to require it when you enter our ballroom, but once you sit at your table, you can take it off. 

Q: Since reopening in May, what changes or differences have you seen in clients that are booking events?
We have some clients that say, “I  don’t want masks in my pictures,” and I say you can tell your photographer to please not attract that, but I’m not willing to tell our staff not to wear one because, again, I need to keep everyone healthy. I think because we’re a destination, there are guests from every which way and we let the bride and groom know of all the precautions we’re taking, but they don’t necessarily tell their guests. I think out of nervousness of being home for so many months, and then traveling for an event, people are nervous and they’re wearing a mask.  We started a new service called the micro wedding. When we were closed, we built a second floor balcony in our fine dining restaurant for 25 people or less; you can get married on the balcony and then come inside for a private dining experience. We did a micro wedding last night. The guests wore masks before the ceremony, and once the ceremony started, when everyone realized they were secluded and they were away from other guests on property, they took off their masks. 

Q: And what about differences in the guests and guest list?
The governor lifted the 50 percent occupancy that had us limited to how many folks were at each table. So if our maximum occupancy is 297, according to the local fire marshal, we were doing head counts of about 140, which is our average head count anyway. We’re letting clients know before they send out invitations, as of right now, you can only send out a max of 150, knowing that you’ll get less than that. There are no restrictions on our dance floor, but we’ve seen guests keeping their distance and dancing with their significant other and not in large groups.

Q: Do you have any general advice for brides reading our wedding issue?
I think you have to refocus on getting married and don’t be nervous. Your guests are adults and will make their own travel decisions. As a couple, you want to plan the wedding of your dreams and not worry about guests… If you worry about every single person coming in, you’ll drive yourself nuts. Times have changed … We live stream weddings, so you can still virtually have folks be a part of it. If you don’t adapt, you’re going to wait for how long for it to be back to normal?