2020 - Pandemic Wedding in Michigan

The Year of "Covid Weddings" - Surviving and Thriving During a Pandemic

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2020 might be the year you thought wedding photographers didn't work, right? True, wedding season did get pushed back and yes, I had more than half my clients rebook into 2021, and a few that cancelled completely in the beginning. But a lot of people still had their weddings. Not the wedding they'd dreamed of, but an intimate, downsized, more relaxed wedding. 2020 was the perfect wedding year for all the introverts out there. What better reason to axe your guest list down to 12 at the pandemic's peaks or whittle it down to 75 of your favorite people who don't mind living on the edge a bit more than your other friends.

2020 was certainly a year like no other. This was a year where I had the most perfectly balanced wedding year spread out and paced just right. It was supposed to be one of my busier year with lots of new venues in store. I was really looking forward to it.

The oddest thing about 2020? So much freaking creativity happened that year. I personally ended up with more photos that made the tight edit of photos I want to add to my website times 100. I usually add just a handful of pics. This year, I added a TON! Maybe it was the oxygen deprivation, maybe it was that with fewer guests I could spend more time with my clients getting super cool and unique portraits. Maybe I'm just more creative know I could die from photographing a wedding. I don't know the reason, but creatively, this year produced some amazing photos. That's why this slideshow is so freaking long.

Keep in mind while you look at my 2020 favorite wedding photo portfolio that I only photographed about half the weddings I normally would have photographed. Yes, there are some masked guests in the photos and a couple of brides and grooms masked as well, but here was the odd truth about 2020 Covid-19 weddings. By and large, they looked almost exactly like a non pandemic wedding! Did that freak me out? You bet it did. Does this mean all my clients were science denying, death wish loving, head in the sand people? Nope. All but one of my couples had every intention of sticking to safety protocols. Venues tried to follow the Michigan Executive Orders in place at the time of the ceremony and reception. But here's what happened.

I start the day with the couple getting ready. Usually the wedding party has been hanging out for a day or two at this point. Most had their bachelor/bachelorette parties ending up being the night before their weddings. So they are over wearing their masks at this point. The women are paying for their hair and makeup and they are NOT covering up that $75-$100 look.

This was the first time most of the people attending the wedding were out of their sweat pants all year. They wanted to look good. The bridal party isn't wearing masks, their parents pretty much don't wear masks and so... one by one, the guests take off their masks. By cocktail hour, there isn't a mask in sight. Not only because they now have liquid courage, but they are so damn happy to have one "normal" day. All that social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing stuff just leaves their happy brains. While they are dancing, yelling at the top of their lungs, screaming at me "You'd NEVER know there is a pandemic".

I get it. There are a zillion distractions during a wedding and it's extremely easy to get swept up in anything that has zero to do with Covid-19. For many people attending the wedding, this was probably the first time they'd been around people outside their "bubble". For a few, this might be the first time they'd been asked to wear a mask. As the season wore on and mask wearing became more politicized things got a little trickier and a new trend started by July. Guests that believed there was a pandemic and were afraid of the crowds (and traveling and staying in a hotel), self selected out of attending the wedding. Maybe they took up the "Zoom" option, but they stayed away. The guests who did come were the folks that did not worry too much about the risks involved, weren't nearly as likely to wear masks unless they were mandated to and were usually amongst like minded friends and family members who were not likely to remind them to wear their masks or enforce the State mandate.

This put couples in a real bind. All but one of my couples took Covid-19 very seriously. Nobody wanted to be the couple who ended up in the headlines as hosting a super spreader event.

So the pace of weddings in 2020 was slower. We all spent more time outdoors. We all got used to adjusting on the fly. We got used to going on to plan B, plan C, all the way through the alphabet.

There was a LOT of teamwork and flexibility involved in 2020. Creative problem solving to the max. Most common gift given to guests? Hand sanitizers (once it became available) and unique masks (early in the season, this was a really novel, hard to get and prized item).

Thing that will probably endure past 2020? Smaller weddings might just be a new thing! I do think streaming weddings will also stick around. Great and fairly easy way to have friends and family attend that would have missed it.

So what will happen in 2021? Sadly, the first part of 2021 is like deja done all over again. With a huge surge in Michigan starting in February, few couples continued to plan their weddings for 2021, not wanting to have to replan. Some poor couples did choose to push their weddings back one more year. That means a 2 - 3 year engagement! Lots of couples ended up having babies waiting for their big day and a whole bunch kept their original dates and are having a big reception later when they can in theory have everyone they want share in their joy. Here's hoping we get back to normal pretty soon. It's been a lot for all of us. But dang, I really do love the wedding photos from the "Year of the Pandemic 2020".

© Marci Curtis