Real Weddings: Planning Through a Pandemic
LAUREN + BRANNAN’S INTIMATE LOWNDES GROVE MICRO WEDDING
“Lauren and Brannan were SUPER sweet! Lauren came to the menu tasting prepared with all her decisions regarding certain service aspects due to COVID precautions (like how to present the hors d’oeuvres and cake, for example). This sweet lady was READY to get married and came to the table with positivity and an open mind on how to still have a gorgeous wedding during a pandemic, where everyone could celebrate safely. 😊” – PPHG Event Manager, Carly Terrier
Planning a wedding isn’t always easy. Planning a wedding during a pandemic is a whole other ballgame… but it CAN be done, and you CAN still have the most perfect day! That’s why we’re kicking off a new blog series called “Real Weddings: Planning During a Pandemic” where actual PPHG couples share their stories about planning a wedding in the time of COVID-19. Get first-hand accounts on how to celebrate your love safely with your nearest and dearest. Below, newlyweds Lauren + Brannan share their Lowndes Grove wedding planning experience, as well as the outcome of their big day!
“Pivot” is the word of 2020. In what ways, if any, did you have to “pivot” your wedding/planning to stay within COVID-19 regulations? And did this include moving your original wedding date and/or location?
Pivot is a perfect word for 2020! While we were so blessed that we did not have to move our original wedding date or location, we definitely had to change some things around. Some biggest obstacles were completely rearranging our reception layout to include more tables and chairs as well as new food stations to serve hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour. We had originally planned our layout and seating chart to include 8 people per table, but due to the regulations, we could only have 6. This led to a crazy race against time to come up with a new seating chart and find ways to add more tables without taking up too much room. For cocktail hour, we initially had decided on passed hors d’oeuvres and beverages but needed to come up with a new game plan as well. We wanted to keep a relaxed atmosphere during cocktail hour without forcing everybody to congregate in certain areas, waiting for food or drink and potentially compromising their safety. Thank goodness for Amazon and their huge selection of plastic cups with lids! We were able to tweak our original plan for passed beverages and set up new food stations inside and outside so our guests were never more than an arm’s reach from all the deliciousness! I think our biggest “pivot” of all was finding a new videographer less than 48 hours before the wedding. A new mask ordinance for Charleston County went into effect the week before our wedding and our original videographer did not feel comfortable shooting the wedding. While we completely understood their fear, this left us in quite a bind. Thank goodness we had the BEST planner, Emily Parham with Ooh! Events, for helping us make phone calls and send emails at 7am the morning before our wedding, looking for any available videographer. By 10am, we had booked a new vendor and we felt like we could finally breathe and enjoy our rehearsal day.
Is there any aspect of your original wedding day plan that was important to you to keep?
The biggest aspect that we wanted to keep was setting aside ~10 minutes for Brannan and me to go be by ourselves after the ceremony and take in the fact that we were finally married! Originally, we were going to take this time right after the ceremony was over, but we had to tweak our original timeline slightly to try and minimize any potential crowds forming inside Lowndes Grove, so we did it right after cocktail hour but before our cake cutting. It was so nice to have some quiet time with my new husband, and it even gave me a chance to change my shoes and put on flats so I was ready to dance the rest of the night!!
Were there any positives that resulted from having to “pivot”?
I think the biggest positives were being able to have a more intimate wedding and splurging on some extra rentals and vendors. We originally were not going to include the smaller, side tabby tent for our reception, but due to some flexibility with our budget, we were able to add it. Any extra shade during a July wedding is always a bonus! And looking back, I believe it made for a more cohesive look to our layout design, so it was a win-win. We also splurged a little extra for our new videographer. We had roughly 25 guests that did not feel comfortable traveling during the pandemic, and we wanted them to be able to enjoy our wedding day as best they could. With more video coverage, we were able to share our entire ceremony and almost all of our reception with them, and we are so thankful for those memories.
What PPHG COVID-19 guideline(s) made you feel the safest?
While the new guidelines for seating arrangements caused some stress in the beginning, it definitely gave me peace of mind knowing our guests were safer with the extra distance. Every PPHG employee had their mask on throughout the night, and it was obvious they were doing their best to keep everybody safe!
Did you, your planner, and/or your vendors come up with any creative ways to incorporate COVID-19 requirements?
I could go on and on about Emily/Ooh! Events and how she came up with the best ideas for our new layout and day-of timeline. Emily worked her magic and found room to include 6 more tables in our reception space without taking away from our dance floor or lounge area. We created bathroom baskets that included assorted toiletries someone may need throughout the evening and had plenty of hand sanitizer stations and boxes of masks available. We also decided on to-go tater tots for our late-night bites! All of our guests were so excited when they were passed around.
What advice would you give couples planning a wedding during the pandemic?
It’s all worth it in the end!! I promise all of the stress, headaches, and sleepless nights will pay off when you are finally married to your best friend. It may feel like regulations are changing daily (because sometimes they are!), but remember that, at the end of the day, you get to spend forever with your spouse, and that’s all that matters. Small changes you might have to make will feel like the end of the world, but in the grand scheme of things, you will still have the best day, and chances are your guests won’t even notice any changes.
Looking back, was your wedding still the special day you’ve always dreamed of?
It was everything we’ve always dreamed of and THEN SOME. Mostly in part to PPHG and all of our vendors making sure we had the perfect day. We are so, so thankful we got to share our special day with friends and family and now have memories we will hold onto for a lifetime.
Thank you for sharing your experience, Lauren + Brannan, and congrats!
Venue, Bar, Catering + Cake: Patrick Properties Hospitality Group
Event Planner/Rentals: Ooh! Events
Photographer: Jessi Nichols Photography
Videography: Siegel Films
Florals: Out of the Garden
Beauty: Lashes & Lace
Lighting & Draping: Lowcountry Entertainment
Getaway Transportation: Lowcountry Valet