VOICES: Shay Brown // Planning a wedding in quarantine


As our community works to collectively adjust to this new normal, we want to share the perspectives of people in the Asheville community who are working to adapt their lifestyles, family dynamics, business models, workflow, + more. Today, we’re hearing from Shay Brown, owner of Wedding Planning & Design Boutique Shay Brown Events. This is a contributor-submitted Voices piece. Want to join the conversation? We invite you to write for us. Learn how to share your voice here.

What’s surprisingly sweet about a quarantine wedding?

While we are faced with a lot of changes currently during this pandemic, it has brought to the forefront the true meaning of a union to your betrothed. Most of my clients are wanting to keep the initial date for the ceremony and are opting to have a small family affair with family making the cake, gathering flowers from the garden, and doing a family dinner following the ceremony.

What is the most important aspect of a wedding?

It is the love, devotion, and joining of two families. So, I see the meaning of the ceremony becoming more intimate and meaningful to families, and the excitement of helping them realize this is very rewarding.


How has coordinating wedding details – like the venue, flowers, hair/makeup, clothes, photos, and food – shifted?

There are a lot of moving parts to the rescheduling of a wedding date, and all of the vendors and venues that we work with have been very accommodating to our clients. We are giving our clients the option to move the reception to a fall or 2021 date.

The first step in doing this is to consult with the venue and find an alternate date. Once this is determined, you need to work with the hotels in moving your guests’ block of rooms. Then comes the fun part of notifying the guests. We have a letter for our clients that explains the circumstances that we give to them to send out to their guests.

We are also reaching out to all vendors. Most of them are making it work, and our clients realize that in adjusting the date, there might be some alterations to the original vision for the wedding. Of course, we are monitoring on a daily basis all current mandates to make sure that there are no further adjustments we need to make.

What are some tips you can share for people who have had to postpone, cancel, or significantly downsize their weddings?

First and foremost, this is not your fault and nothing you can control, so take that pressure off of yourself. Understand that your guests are going to understand that for the safety and benefit of everyone, things have to change.

One of the most frequent questions I get is: How do we uninvite someone to the wedding if we need to downsize? A good method that we have come up with is the following: By now you have most of the replies from your Save the Date, and you need to make a column and list those that replied yes. Then, make another column for those that have not replied. These are guests that might have another obligation and who will understand that the pandemic dictates the wedding party downsize.

Then, send a lovely note to these guests explaining the new decisions. Invite them to log in virtually to attend the ceremony and let them know that the reception is for the family and wedding party. And when it comes to traveling to attend a wedding, a lot of guests are not going to take a cross country trip at this time, or even when the ban is lifted.

How are you seeing people innovate – or how can they?

Right now, a creative way to be innovative is having an intimate 10-person wedding for family on your original date and then pivoting the reception to a fall date for a gathering and celebration of the union with family and friends. Until the large gathering ban is lifted, we have to create something that might be different than originally planned. Gathering family in a large field and implementing social distancing for the ceremony or taking a hike with family to the top of the mountain where you exchange vows are ways to get creative and stay safe.


How can people connect to their family and friends, even if they can’t be present?

We are doing a lot of virtual connections for friends and family for the ceremony. It is always great to have an amazing photographer and cinematographer to help capture the day and send a clip of the day for guests to enjoy.

What have you learned from helping folks plan their nuptials during this unusual time?

We have been blessed with understanding clients at this time and only a few that have cancelled their weddings. I think for everyone this is a time of realization of a bigger picture in working together, supporting others, and lending a hand where it matters. While I would love to be back at work today, I appreciate the value it has set forth for people.

Has the pandemic caused you to pivot on any big events? Let us know in the comments below. ⬇️

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