Updated: May 14, 2020
Hi there, I hope to find you and yours safe and well! My name is Dania and is not typical that you would find me on this side of a blog, but I do enjoy reading them and find them useful, hence one of the reason I have decided to write one on the amidst of this tragic health crisis affecting ALL OF US. You might have getting to know me as the venue manager here at La Esposita Bonita or as the event and wedding planner specializing in outdoor and woodland weddings and today is my intent to provide you with some information and tools to help you navigate trough the planning and execution of your wedding during the pandemic.
There is no denying that our lives have come to a halt affecting Everyone due to the Covid-19 crisis. These are both hard and sad times that we will want to remember not because of how bad they strike us but because of how we manage to survive it together as a community that deeply care for one another.
As a mother it breaks my heart that my child was cut short of his senior year of high school, that he might not be able to go to prom or walk across the stage to get his diploma, or spend one more time at school with his high school friends and teachers or have his year book signed or share his graduation with the whole family or even have a home party to celebrate this milestone and even though that is not okay, we do understand. God always provides ways to compensate the bad with the good. Someone dropped a lawn sign at out door steps that read "Home of a Senior Class of 2020" which I proudly snap a picture of him next to it and found so much strength and love in the messages coming to him through social media and I know is not the ideal situation but he will get to remember the good. He will also remember the acts of selfless people like essential workers, because of them our lives were much better and we get to see the people we love one more day! I also want him to remember that because of actions of selfish people, others will suffer and that life give us choices and is up to us to do the right thing.
I also worry as a mom, wife, daughter and friend because I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Will we be able to have all of our love ones around when this is over? is it really going to be over? when? What about our jobs? What about those that depend on us? Will financial help ever come? Yes like many of you I applied for UI online then after hundreds of calls, I got one back to finalize my application and was happy to hear I was all set!! Or so I thought, just to find out the very next day that my claim was not possible because my application was incomplete, even though the agent on the phone re-assured me I was all set. Yes I still continue to call unsuccessfully ….so you guess it, no I have not been able to claim anything as my application is apparently still incomplete and can’t reach anyone to help me, and my husband is in the same boat, but he never got a call back like I did. I’m sure we are not the only ones under these circumstances and with bills piling up, and the business closed, there is no income.
The question is can we get a break? Nope, not really, utilities are due, mortgages are due, credit cards are due, the insurance company expects you to be on time with payments for the house, the cars, equipment and of course your business even though we are “closed”. But are we really closed? No not really, we cannot be completely closed, and you might ask why if we are not doing events? Well our venue needs upkeep not only of the buildings but also of the grounds, with improvements/additions and that upkeep needs to be year-round for us to be able to keep our promise to you to host your special celebration in the same place you fell in love with a year prior during your tour. In fact, we strive to make it a better place than the one you booked.
We understand, the temporary order for the closure of businesses is not our decision or yours and we also understand that these laws have been put in place for the better good and health of our community. Remember how after 911 security increased at airports, and we though it was annoying and unnecessary to take our shoes off and belts and phones and everything they deemed necessary? and we though it was just until they figure out the situation then it never changed and became the new "normal", well we run the possibility that this can be the new normal or at least for a while but it was for the good of all of us. At La Esposita Bonita Estate we have and will continue to comply with these laws and will enforce any regulation put in place for the safety of all.
But hey, there are some good news....did you know that the venue is located in Wyoming County and as such is considered part of the Finger Lakes? And the Finger Lakes will start its re-opening phases on Friday!!! Sure, venues are in the last phase but there is an early start for us!!!
Next you will find some tips and ideas to keep your guests healthy while celebrating with you a memorable day!
During the Ceremony:
As hard as it is to admit that our lives have been forced to changed and that adjustments are necessary to face our life events, we can agree with the fact that is not the end of the world, people have faced worst challenges than this and at the end of the day we just want to be able to CELEBRATE our special day with the ones we love. The key is knowing how to do that without putting anyone at risk, while following any policies and guidelines in place. As a wedding and event planner I can empathize on the fact that the planning process is stressful enough on its own and now with the pandemic, there are more logistics to factor in in order to create a safe and enjoyable environment for you and your guests. A positive way to look at this is that you are not alone, this is new for all of us, and yes it may be overwhelming but much of us professionals in the wedding industry are working together and brainstorming for alternatives so you can have a unique and special event.
La Esposita Bonita Estate is very unique place with plenty of room outdoors and beautiful settings for the ceremony to happen where you guests can participate from your I DO’s from a safe distance, so take advantage of that, you will be able to have your ceremony in the open, or in the woods or the barn if you prefer. Some suggestions include: Keep an empty row in between seated guests or create more space among rows. Families that live together can sit together. Allow for a minimum of 6 feet between guests/families. If standing is more practical, then create spot markers so guests know where to go. If masks are not mandatory but your guests prefer to wear them, embrace it. After all they make the trip to be here for you. Assuming this pandemic is a one in a lifetime experience, then might as well let your creativity shine. Make masks for the bride and groom, the bridal party or for all if you feel generous and inspired. Begin now that you have the time at home. We all know this is a party favor much needed by all and will make for a remarkably interesting pictures that people will be talking about for generations to come. Tips: Sports theme (Bills, Sabres, etc), Color theme (match your wedding colors), floral or anything that float your boat!!! How can you do this? Have either an usher or two or your wedding coordinator or their assistant help with this. They can welcome your guests from a safe distance and direct them where to stand or sit.
You probably have worked out your ceremony details already but, if you haven’t then this should make your decision a lot easier! Have the officiant stand in place or walk first. If kids present, have them walk alone or together (if live in the same house). The distancing in between? A minimum of 6 feet. Bridemaids/Groomsmen instead of walking together, have them walk individually, this is a popular procession style. Then allow them to stand by your side 6 ft. apart. (Remember if more proximity is allowed, then you can make changes accordingly). If you are eloping, have decided in a more intimate ceremony or is not feasible place all of your bridal party 6 ft. apart, then only have your Best Man and Maid of Honor standing by your side for the ceremony. The rest of the bridal party can join you for pictures later on where proper distancing is possible. If you have not hired a wedding planner or coordinator yet, then this is the time to do so, they will be able to pace the processional in a safely manner, tell everyone where to stand, cue the DJ and open doors for you in a safe manner.
WEDDING RINGS AND SPECIAL CEREMONY ITEMS
Because preventing the spread of germs is one of our goals, consider: Providing the ring bearer with symbolic ring pillow or empty ring box while keeping the actual rings on the groom’s pocket. If you have decided on a special type of ceremony such a unity candle, sand ceremony, or other style that requires multiple people touching one or more objects, then consider either skipping it altogether or have gloves, wipes and/or hand sanitizers on hand for those participating. Your coordinator should be able to setup and tear down and package these items for you to take home.
WEDDING THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA AND LIVE STREAMING
The is no question we want to have ALL of our love ones in attendance for such a special milestone in our lives, at the same time we would do anything to protect them from harmful ways and unfortunately with the pandemic still being around, there is a chance we could jeopardize the well being of those in attendance, specially the elderly and those with immunocompromised bodies. The great news is that technology is around to save the date, so those unable to physically attend can still be present! Set-up a Zoom, Microsoft team or Google meeting. You might need to help grandparents with this task prior to the wedding so they are ready to connect. Facebook is a popular social media channel for all and easy to navigate, create a private group then share moments from the wedding. Create a hashtag for everyone to use so you can keep pics your guests took from the wedding, seeing different angles from the celebration is always fun. Because couples’ names can be the same around the world, adding the venue or its initials #LEB or #LEBE tags will bring you exactly to your wedding pics. Based on experience, couples seen to have more success with Verizon network, so if you need wifi for streaming, consider acquiring a hotspot or asking anyone with phone service/hot spot to live stream for you. Don’t share phones, instead ask family and friends that don’t know how to use social media platforms to share with you via email.
EXCHANGE OF VOWS
If you did not plan to have a microphone for your vow exchange, now more than ever you should consider doing it. With social distancing, it will be a bit more difficult to enjoy the moment if those present cannot hear what is going on. Talk to your DJ for your options. If possible have one microphone for the officiant and other for the couple.
Minimize the guess from your guests! By making clear announcements as to what, when or where to be could make ones experience so much enjoyable. Remember you probably know all of your guests, but they might not know each other and while you can add a sign here and there with general information about event happenings (which by the way we encourage you to do), having that re-assurance of what is next would put your family and friends at ease and FYI this is also a common practices at weddings and other celebrations. The DJ is probably the best person to do this or the officiant for before and after the ceremony. Provide him(DJ), your coordinator, vendors and the venue with a timeline so everyone is in the same page. Be understanding of your guests in this situation, not everyone feels comfortable going out in large gatherings, remember they are not familiar with the venue and can wrongly assume we are like many other venues around where social distancing is almost impossible. Share with them the website or tell them about La Esposita Bonita so they can see that there is plenty of space here and that measurements are being taken for the safety of all.Also explain and request that if anyone is feeling under the weather, sick or believe can become sick, then the best option is to stay home, stay safe. If they decide to come while sick even if the symptoms are mild, they must wear a mask for the safety of all people present, we highly recommend for them to be home. If they feel sick while at the wedding, they should go home or let anyone to call for medical assistance if needed and must isolate themselves from the rest of people present. They and all guests and patrons at venue must comply with the venue rules and regulations even if those rules are temporary and are in place in response to the current situation of Covid-19 virus and our attempt to keep everybody safe while stopping the spread.
During the RECEPTION:
Once the ceremony is over, we all look forward to the reception and this part of your wedding Day is where most of the social interaction will happen. Hugs, kisses, close talk, drinks, food, dancing, restroom visits and a lot of touching throughout. Making all of this happen without touching and while following local guidelines is going to be a challenge. It does not have to be any less special! Its important that you take steps to avoid any stress on your guests and the two of you on your wedding day. If you are lucky and have put together an amazing team of pros they will help this come together. Nonetheless, we have put together some tips to help you with some of the logistics.NYS is constantly releasing information on the different phases needed to happen for the re-opening of wedding venues and safe ways to celebrate. We follow local and state policies and CDC guidelines so any tips presented here might change in order to comply with the law. Overall, guests, pros and families need to stay 6 ft. apart when at all possible. If not possible, individuals should use a face covering, practice proper hand hygiene, cough etiquette, cleanliness and sanitation.SEATINGMinimize the number of guests per tableSeating arrangements will keep things easy on your guestsConsider not serving a seated mealSeat families together
Buffet lines and stations must be served by catering staff. Condiments served by staff or individual pockets can be provided. Use disposables if possible and do not reuse for refills. Cake should be served by catering staff and sitting in reception area. Appetizers and finger foods must be served/ passed by staff. Consider carving stations for meat and chicken, Waffle and dessert stations. Provide individually wrapped desserts if possible. By keeping the meal option versatile, guests can possibly spread out to where they feel comfortable.
Skip the dance floor- or create personal dance spaces. Take things outdoors and enjoy the country air, remember you have space outdoors so use it to your advantage. Setup multiple buffet lines and bar service areas. Mark 6 feet lines at bar, buffet, restrooms to keep things easy on guests. Remove dessert and cake tables or add signs so is approached individually. On dance floor bust a move from a safe distance.
GENERAL HEALTH ANS SAFETY
Have hand sanitizer stations at every entrance, at bar and buffet lines. Post signs “To have and to hold, from 6 feet apart”
Event staff should wear masks and gloves.
As the couple, you will want to have plenty of PPE (Personal protective Equipment) including hand sanitizer for all your guests. Post signs about keep social distancing. Remember, two months ago if you were to do or take much of these measurements it could have been seen as an overkill, tacky, weird, ridiculous or “clean freak” but now, these same measurements only says that you are thoughtful, caring, smart and possibly a trend setter welcoming everyone to what could be the “new normal”
SHOULD WE POSPONE or CANCEL OUR WEDDING?
That’s a very valid question but before you make a decision consider the following: Is your wedding date directly affected by the mandate? If this is the situation then your wedding plain and simple cannot happen, its illegal, its selfish and your venue and professional vendors will not go against the law and risk losing their licenses and/or businesses. Most importantly if the orders are to stay at home, there is a big reason behind it, we are all in this together….it’s a pandemic we are dealing with, people and lots of them are dying and continue dying because of it; so why in the world would you want to break the law while risking the lives of the people you care the most?
Its understandable that the date you chose for your wedding date might have a special meaning, buy hey you might be able to elope in such a day and celebrate later with ceremony and all. Couples planning to marry later in the summer (June, July, August) or next fall or winter, should wait and see what public health officials say. How many months should you wait? No one knows, but Governor Cuomo said, "This is not a short-term situation...It’s going to be four months, six months, nine months...We’re in that range. Nobody has a crystal ball; no one can tell you.”
From a legal stand point, always check your contract. For the most part Cancellations are not refundable and one of the reason is always advisable to get event cancellation insurance, which by the way is not the same as event insurance. Also canceling the wedding does not mean your financial obligations go away, as a matter of fact you can setup yourself for a bad start as financial institutions will count this against you once they see it in your financial report. Whoever cancel the wedding will be under breach of contract and will void any further considerations. At La Esposita Bonita we are always happy to help our couples and we are offering the opportunity to re-schedule (Re-scheduling fees are being waved due to the pandemic) your wedding if it fells under the mandate or if the mandate is within 30 days prior to the wedding. Re-scheduling is being done for later in the 2020 season. 2021 is being considered right now for October weddings that will fell under the mandate only, but if you wish to re-schedule for 2021 there is a re-scheduling fee and your original date will be released. Note that the venue is not likely to re-book your original date and will be losing the opportunity to book a future date. We are a local business and we count on your support to remain open so please be considered when making any decisions.
On behalf of our staff and myself I thank you for your understanding and support.
Please stay safe!