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Alicia DiPerri

What To Do When Your Wedding Planning Faces Unexpected Changes

Wedding Tips

My friends… you do NOT want to miss this one! I talked with one of my brides, Madison Bradshaw, about how she navigated her unexpected wedding planning changes. I don’t believe I have ever had a bride who has had a to change so much of their wedding plans than Madison! Yet she handled it like a total boss babe and her wedding turned out beautiful!

I will let Madison tell you her story, but I want you to know that this applies in many different situations! Hurricanes come, venues fall through, family members get sick, pandemics break loose..it is all very sucky, but sometimes drastic changes do happen. So if you are in a period of feeling discouraged and overwhelmed by unexpected wedding planning changes, then this blog is for you friend. At the end of the blog, Madison even goes over some advice that she would give to any bride in a similar situation that she was in. With that being said, let’s get started!

What Were Your Original Plans For The Wedding?

Originally I had planned to have a large wedding (of about 185-200 people) all in one venue (ceremony & reception). I had planned on having half of the venue space set up as the ceremony and then the other half set up for the reception. There was going to be a brief 30 minute period of adding tables and moving chairs between while we took pictures.

I had always said I wanted a wedding all in one place so we didn’t have to worry about 2 clean up spaces, going back and worth, forgetting things at one place, ect… We had everything designed out for that space and I could see it all in my head. The outdoor area was perfect for pictures as there was tons of greenery, swings, a pond, and even a gazebo! I knew that it was going to be gorgeous and easy (since it was already so pretty without decorations). 

What Troubles Did You Run Into?

Corona happened. An unforeseen pandemic swept across the world and life halted. Schools closed, businesses closed, life shut down and everything now happened from home. In March when SC was shutdown because of the virus, we assumed a few weeks would go by and life would go back to normal. April came, life was still happening from home. May came, and again life was still happening from our couches.

This is when the decision was made by our venue that we needed to cancel or postpone our wedding. Until that email, I was complexly confident that life would go back to normal by our wedding day (June 5th). I had no worries. My heart sank to the floor when I read the words cancel or postpone. Now what do we do? The day we had made plans for and prayed for (for many years) was now likely not going to happen. Plans had to change. Do we keep our date and have our wedding in our backyard with just our closest family? Our bridal party already had their dresses and tuxedos. Food had been ordered, flowers had been decided on, venders had been paid. 

What Changes Did You Have To Make?

We decided that the date meant more to us then the plans we had made. We lost Chase’s grandfather last year, whom we were both close to. He married Chase’s grandmother in 1965 so we chose 6/5 in honor of the year they got married. So the date meant a lot to us and we were not willing to move it. Slightly panicking we called around to other venues to make sure no one else would offer us to have our wedding there. After several places said no — we weren’t sure what to do. Our church told us that we were still going to be able to have our rehearsal dinner there so I decided that we should consider having our wedding and reception there as well.

After talking to Chase about it, we decided that was our best option (no worries on weather, seating space, or shutdown). A friend suggested to me that we call the Dutch Barn as well because it was an outside venue. We picked up the phone and made the call. The barn gladly allowed us to use the facility for our big day. We then decided that as much as we didn’t want to, we needed to have our ceremony at the church and the reception at the barn due to the space and the fact that the barn was not air conditioned (reminder- it’s June!!). I never wanted a wedding that took place in 2 places, but we decided for reasons that it would be fine.

With changing the venues, that meant changing the decorations. What I had planned for the alter at the first venue now didn’t work at our church. I planned to have a large wooden cross at the alter, but at our church, there is a large cross in the window so it did not look good together.

Then, I had to call all of the venues and double check that they were still going to be able to be apart of our wedding day and tell them about the venue changes (and new setup). Thankfully, my vendors were ok with the changes and were all able to still be apart of the day. My food vender, however, said that they could not serve our food but could only drop it off before the wedding. This meant that I needed a person or two to manage the food area and fill trays and drink dispensers as needed.

Basically, in three weeks I had to completely replan our wedding. From the venue, to decor, and how things were going to run. Schedules had to change to accolade the now two places, ect. Along with the place change, we also had to adjust the amount of people that could come. We had about 150 RSVP at the time we found out about the venue change. Our new venue suggested we keep the people down to around 75-100. This meant calling people and letting them know that we had to make changes and unfortunately couldn’t have as many people as we would have liked. That was hard. It was the most difficult change to have to make. 

How Did You Go About Making The Changes?

When we decided that we still wanted to keep our wedding the same day, the changes were overwhelming and stressful. I’m not going to lie, there were times that I was ready to give up. Ready to call it quits and wait until next year. My (now) husband was very supportive (and very aware of my fragile mental state) and he was always there by my side to help. Having a wedding coordinator/director is also a big life saver. I was lucky enough to have a very good coordinator who helped me tremendously through this tough patch. Whether that be calming me down when I panicked, calling around to other venues, creating checklists, ect. The changes scared us, but in many ways made us even more ready for our big day to finally come. 

How Did You Feel When Everything Started To Change?

I panicked. I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to pull it off. Constantly questioning if we were doing the right thing. I was an emotional wreck and I thought the world was just crashing in. The family started to feel it as well and there was quite some tension between us all. Chase and I tried to work together as much as we could and COMMUNICATION was key. Every time I felt worried or something wasn’t going right or even to praise something, I chose to shoot Chase a text or call him. That helped me get through it. Any kind of support from others is a big help. I stayed determined and tried not to let fear take over. Attitude and faith are everything. 

What Are Some Things That You Were Happy You Did?

At the end of the day, I told myself that no matter what happens we will still be married. We will still have each other and it doesn’t matter what the day actually looks like. When we first heard about the virus and the shutdowns I knew that no matter what we would get married that day – whether that be in our backyard or just like we planned.

A helpful tip for planning and keeping up with everything is checklists and a wedding notebook. I purchased a simple lined spiral notebook that fit in my purse and I took it everywhere. When I called the vendors, I logged everything in it. When I created my list of how I wanted people to sit or walk down the aisle, I put it in my notebook. EVERYTHING went into the notebook. That way-everything is in one place! It was AWESOME!! Best tip ever! It is important to be organized, especially in cases like this when you have to up and change things. 

What Are Some Things That You Wish You Did Looking Back Now?

Looking back I wish that I would have went small and simple from the beginning. I think having a small wedding was more me and it makes it more meaningful. It also would have been less stressful! I was not prepared for the amount of work and money that goes into a wedding. This is what stressed me the most. I also think it is important to stand up for what you want and be completely honest with people. But as far as big changes (to our already changed wedding), I wouldn’t change anything. 

Are You Happy With How Everything Turned Out?

I am more than happy at how our day turned out. It was better than I imagined and it was perfect for the two of us. It was true to us and to what we wanted. We were surrounded by some of our closest family and friends in our beautiful church. It was perfect. As far as the two places, my worst fear happened and I left a vital item at the church At my rescue though was my amazing bridesmaids and maid of honor! They saved the day and flew back to the church to get it. I always feared that happening..luckily the church was less than 2 miles down the road!

What Advice Do You Have For Any Bride In a Similar Situation?

My advice to you is this…do not let today’s culture and wedding traditions get in the way of your day. At the end of the day, no matter what happens, you are still with the love of your life – big wedding or not. Do not let other things get in the way that. At the end of the day, I was not fearful of what would happen because I knew that I wanted to be his wife and virus or no virus it was still going to happen one way or another. Hey at least it will be a cool story you get to tell your kids one day! 🙂

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I'M ALICIA CAITLYN

Wedding and lifestyle photographer, rescue dog mom, Disney lover, and a type 2 BFF. I'm glad you're here! Now let's get to know eachother!