This post is Part Two of The Covid Chronicles, our deep dive into a few Lake Tahoe weddings in 2020 that were impacted by the covid-19 pandemic. We tackle the ups and downs, the silver linings, and the disappointments, from the viewpoints of three different couples. And we 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: Meka and Nicki
Meka and Nicki met online in 2018 and became close quickly. They did quite a bit of travel together that year and Meka even invited Nicki to his family's annual reunion! Living in San Francisco and sharing a love of the outdoors, they also took a number of trips to Lake Tahoe together - skiing in the winter and enjoying the lake in the summer.
Nicki's family has a lake house and a deep connection to Tahoe (her brother got married at the West Shore Cafe!). So when Meka proposed and they began planning a wedding, a lot of locations were considered but, in the end, Lake Tahoe just felt "right."
The couple hired One Fine Day Events (OFD) as their wedding planner and at first explored private estate venues - a specialty of OFD. Ultimately though, they wanted a location where all of their guests could stay together and had easy access to the lake, which of course pointed them to The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe.
With a June 2020 date booked, Meka and Nicki invited around 200 guests and planned for a ceremony/cocktail hour on the cottage green, followed by a formal dinner inside the ballroom. The design plan included a complete transformation of the Hyatt's lakefront ballroom - draping, lighting, and hanging florals. A big dance party was also a high priority and the couple spent a lot of time working out the perfect playlist with Music in Tahoe.
And then... Covid hit. Since the wedding was scheduled for June, Meka and Nicki started thinking about contingency plans before the lockdowns started. Their planner, Vanessa, even remembers a conversation with Nicki in February about her bridesmaid's dresses. The shop was experiencing delays due to a "recent outbreak" in China.
When lockdown happened in March, Vanessa began working with the Hyatt right away and, in hopes that things would settle down by summer, they rescheduled the wedding to August 1. There were several iterations of a "new plan," the first just moving the full wedding to the August date. They also switched to email invitations, anticipating that guests would need to be sent a lot of updates.
By June, it was fully clear that Covid wasn't going away. Meka and Nicki decided to move the dinner outside, use the ballroom only for dancing, and reduced the guest count to 100. Rental and floral orders were adjusted to reflect the smaller size and the decor plan for the ballroom changed.
Ten days (!!) before the wedding, Washoe County (NV) tightened their restrictions again, limiting capacity to 25 guests. At this point, any use of the ballroom was eliminated and all the events would have to be held outdoors on the Hyatt's cottage green. With plans changing on an almost daily basis, Meka and Nicki talked about canceling but ultimately decided to move forward - with more changes and elaborate safety/social distancing measures for guests.
With careful planning and perseverance, all the beautiful details that OFD is known for, and so much love, Meka and Nicki's ceremony on August 1, 2020, was absolutely gorgeous and incredibly special. They are married - and planning a larger reception for summer 2021.
Wedding Planner Q&A with Vanessa, Principal Planner at One Fine Day Events
As a planner, what was the first thing you did when the shutdowns began?
I emailed Meka and Nicki to create an action plan and also pulled all of their vendor contracts, reviewed policies on cancellation/postponement, and talked to each vendor about what they needed from us.
How did you make the date change possible?
We got lucky on the new date - a Saturday in the summer is hard to come by on short notice. But a date opened up so it was easy to move to August.
What COVID precautions did you have to put in place at the wedding?
Haha - all of them! We had tons of masks, shields, and hand sanitizer available at all times. We placed the ceremony chairs and dinner tables so that each household could stay separated. The food and drinks were all served covered or in individual containers and everything was moved outdoors. I remember praying every day for the weeks leading up to the date that the weather would be nice! I don't know what we would have done if it rained.
What were your favorite changes made to the wedding?
It wasn't a change we made on purpose, but rather something we just had to roll with because of the timeline. We had flowers for a 100 guest wedding, but ended up with only 25, so there were a ton of flowers. Brandie Chisholm of B&B Designs essentially doubled the size of our centerpieces, added more to the arch and ceremony arrangements, and the custom bar front - each piece got an upgrade so we wouldn't waste anything.
What do you recommend to couples planning now?
Keep your guest count small. I think couples wanting to get married this year will have an easier time and the best chance of their plans coming together if they plan for a small wedding from the start.
What were the biggest hurdles you had to deal with?
Definitely the fact that things changed so drastically, so often. It was hard to keep up! By the time I'd revised the plan and updated all the vendors based on the new guidelines, the guidelines would change again and we'd have to adjust everything... again.
What did you enjoy most about planning this wedding?
Nicki and Meka's response to all the challenges. It was inspiring to see how they worked through everything and made every decision together. I don't often get to see my couples' reactions to the "for worse" parts of "for better or for worse." But these two really nailed it. They fought hard for their vision and pushed to make sure the guest experience they had wanted in the beginning still happened.
Any other details, thoughts you would like to share with our readers?
A few weeks before the wedding, the mother of the bride called me with a surprise plan, which ended up being a really special part of the day. We asked all of the guests who couldn't be there to record a video for Nicki and Meka. I brought our Cinematographer - John from Steelhead Cinema - in at the last minute to edit the clips together, and we played the video for them during the reception. I'm sure they would have rather had all those people at the wedding in person, but it was really cool to see family, friends, the vendors and the Hyatt's A/V department mobilize so quickly to pull that off.