Weddings. Nearly every year of our lives a friend or relative finds the person they want to spend the rest of their life with and we as guests begin the process of preparing for their big day. There are engagement parties, bridal showers, bucks’ and hens’ nights, rehearsal dinners and finally the wedding itself. We spend countless hours and dollars on attending these events all in the name of celebrating love, but what do we do now that the world is all topsy turvy?

While weddings traditionally are surrounded by all these formalities and events, this becomes all the more difficult when we are now struggling to plan more than a couple of weeks in advance due to ever changing restrictions surrounding gathering together with those most important to you.

My husband Henry and I decided to have our wedding in 2020, which meant throwing everything we knew about weddings out the window. Most girls spend their whole lives dreaming of their weddings and I was certainly no exception. From the colour scheme, to the venue, to the items on our registry, I knew exactly what I wanted for my big day when Henry got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife.

After getting engaged in November of 2019 we began planning our extravaganza of a wedding in earnest. Being Toowoomba locals, we instantly knew that there was nowhere else we would rather have our wedding. We toured all the major wedding venues in town, but from the start our hearts had been set on one particular venue – The Goods Shed on Russell St. This giant blank canvas of a venue was going to be the perfect backdrop to our wedding which was set to include all the trimmings. Photo booth, foosball, table tennis, dancing, custom Henry and Jamie-Lee merchandise as game prizes, an endless buffet of all our favourite treats and plenty of activities and treats for kids, we wanted our wedding to have something for everyone. With a guest list of 250 people, we wanted to make the most of having all our loved ones in the same space by giving them all a day they would never forget.

And then came COVID…

For many brides and grooms to be this pandemic signalled an indefinite delay on the day of their dreams. However, for Henry and me, the pandemic brought disappointment but not despair as we made the decision to proceed with our wedding on our initially planned date. We took the time to mourn the wedding we lost but then moved forward with an attitude of gratitude, being thankful for everything that we could do in this crazy time. I mourned the loss of being able to have my dad walk me down the aisle, but I was thankful that restrictions had eased, and I could now have both my parents at the ceremony.

After taking the time to grieve the loss of what could have been, Henry and I both began to relish this unexpected turn of events as a chance to really put our problem-solving skills to the test.

Being faced with the challenge of hosting a wedding in a time when travelling more than 100km from your home was illegal pushed us to get innovative. In the many conversations we’ve had with other young couples thinking about tying the knot since our wedding we have repeated the same advice over and over and I thought I might share these little snippets with you:

1.Live stream!

Whether you are having a wedding during the height of restrictions or not, we couldn’t recommend live streaming more. We streamed our wedding directly to Youtube and as a result over 400 people tuned in in addition to the guests we had attending on the day. Family and friends from all across Australia as well as those from the US and Europe were able to attend, albeit virtually. This was more people than we could have ever dreamed of inviting and it was so wonderful to be able to share our day with so many people despite the physical distance.

  1. Find ways to make your guests feel included.

We didn’t want viewing our wedding to be a passive experience for our guests. We added all sorts of little touches to ensure that tour guests felt included in our day. For local guests who couldn’t be there in person we dropped off jars of lollies so that they could binge on our favourite treats will watching our special day. We also set up a Facebook page for our wedding and posted daily about all the ways we planned to include them in the day. Whether it was posting up photos of themselves for us to include in our guest book, watching our ceremony or treating themselves to a delicious meal, we wanted our ‘guests’ to celebrate as much as us!

3.Remember it’s just a day.

While it can begin to seem like every family member and friend has a personal stake in your special day it’s important to remember that there is only one reason you’re putting on this event – to marry the love of your life. Sure, it is wonderful to have every cousin, school friend and great aunt in attendance but really there’s only one person whose absence means that your wedding day can’t move forward, your future spouse. We were certainly sad that all our grandparents, aunt, uncles, cousins, and friends couldn’t be in attendance, but the second we locked eyes on each other all the sadness melted away and we knew instantly what this day was all about. So just remember, your wedding is one day and the people that mean so much of you will still be there to support you and cheer you on in your marriage even if they can’t be physically present on the day.

And with all that being said, don’t be afraid to have your wedding in these uncertain times, embrace life and start your journey into the endless party that is marrying your best friend, you won’t regret it!