In this three part series, we are taking a deep dive into a few Lake Tahoe weddings in 2020 that were impacted by the covid-19 pandemic. We'll tackle the ups and downs, the silver linings, and the disappointments, from the viewpoints of three different couples and will hear from the wedding planner they worked with too. Our hope is that this series will support other couples in navigating this storm and help those who have gone through something similar know that they are not alone.
The Couple: Maddie and Bryce
Maddie and Bryce met during their undergraduate years at college but their romance did not begin until a few years later. Bryce proposed on the beach in Huntington Beach and, as they started planning their nuptials, a destination wedding in Lake Tahoe became the clear choice.
They hired Forget Me Knot Events + Design as their wedding planner and selected the West Shore Cafe in Homewood, California, as their venue. The plan was to invite over 150 guests for a lakeside ceremony and dinner with indoor dancing to follow on August 9, 2020. But as the pandemic progressed, couples with late summer 2020 wedding dates went through a grueling series of ups and downs... and these two were no exception.
When the original venue informed Maddie and Bryce that, in accordance with state regulations, their event would be limited in capacity and might not be able to be held at all, they chose to move to a new venue in the state of Nevada. Because of state by state variance in restrictions, The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe in Incline Village at this point anticipated being able to accommodate the couple's full wedding plans. They rented double the space to allow for social distancing, in case restrictions tightened.
Eventually, covid restrictions reduced their booking to 50% capacity. Then, two weeks prior to the wedding, even tighter restrictions now only allowed for 25 people in the outdoor wedding space. At this point, the couple struggled with the decision of postponing entirely or moving forward with a much smaller wedding.
Through it all, Bryce had adamantly maintained that "he was marrying Maddie on August 9th, 2020 - no matter who was there to witness it!" With his resolve and Maddie's deep desire to be married in Lake Tahoe with their families present, they forged a creative new plan.
Holding the ceremony on the Hyatt's cottage green allowed some guests to watch the ceremony from their hotel room balconies - which became known as the "box seats" for Maddie and Bryce's wedding! Each balcony was decorated and a personal delivery of happy hour food and drink was provided.
After the ceremony, the wedding party was introduced, the couple had their first dance, and the cake was cut - essentially a mini-reception with Maddie and Bryce's "cheering section" in the balconies and 25 close friends and family on the lawn. All guests then proceeded to dinner, either lakeside on the lawn, in the ballroom (limited capacity), or at the Hyatt's on-site restaurant, where they hosted an additional 30 people.
For their creativity and perseverance, Maddie and Bryce were rewarded with an incredibly intimate wedding, allowing for quality time with each and every guest, and a glorious clear, sunny day. Like many "covid couples," they believe that this revised (several times over) version of their wedding was ultimately even more meaningful.
Wedding Planner Q&A with Allison Keasal, Owner of Forget Me Knot Events + Design
As a planner, what was the first thing you did when the shutdowns began?
As a company, we began to pivot by offering virtual consultations to couples that were in need of professional advice, to navigate potential postponements and create a game plan moving forward. For our couples that were already working with us, we created useful resources that covered lots of COVID FAQ's and began reaching out to each of our couples to talk through our strategy moving forward for each wedding.
How did you make date changes possible?
For Maddie and Bryce, we explored lots of different options from downsizing to different layouts but ultimately began looking at different venues that were in areas that were more open so we could move forward with their original date.
What COVID precautions did you have to put in place at the wedding?
We got creative by splitting their guests into multiple event venues to meet the maximum capacity for each space. Guests were also required to wear masks. We had to rework food service style and table settings to accommodate new restrictions for food and beverage service. We also kept guests in their family/household groups throughout the event.
What were your favorite changes made to the wedding?
We got to really focus on making each detail really special and creating memorable experiences for each guest. We created "box seats" in the cottages surrounding their ceremony site so we could have more of their guests attend the ceremony. We also designed a center stage where all of the important events took place so all guests could see and hear.
What were the biggest hurdles you had to deal with?
There were frequent changes to state and county regulations which would happen without any notice so we were constantly having to change plans and adapt.
What did you enjoy most about planning this wedding?
Maddie and Bryce had the BEST attitude about this wedding given the circumstances. They kept their love for each other at the forefront of every decision they made and they were persistent!
What do you recommend to couples planning now?
Remain flexible and keep your eye on the ultimate prize - you are marrying the love of your life! The rest will fall into place.