Planning a wedding in N.L. this summer? These experts have some advice

A wedding planner, a caterer and a photographer have advice for couples planning their big day.
Although restrictions are loosening in Newfoundland and Labrador, wedding experts say it's important to have a backup plan. (Shawn Taylor Photography)

Even during normal times, planning a wedding can be a stressful and overwhelming process. Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic derailed even the best laid plans.

This year, Newfoundland and Labrador is embarking on its reopening strategy, and formal gatherings are starting to return to normal, but wedding experts still advise caution when planning this summer.

Andrea Hounsell is the owner and lead planner at Borrowed & Blu, a local wedding and event company, 

"I would say the keyword for weddings going ahead this year are backup plans," Hounsell said. "Backup plans on backup plans."

Although there is no way to predict how the pandemic may change wedding blueprints this summer, Hounsell says there are several things that couples can do to ensure the main event goes as smoothly as possible.

A middle-aged woman is sitting on a couch, looking to the side and smiling.
Andrea Hounsell, owner and lead planner at Borrowed & Blu, says there are lots of creative ways to remind guests of the restrictions. (Sandra Lee Photography)

As of July 1, the province is allowing formal gatherings of up to 250 people outside and up to 200 people inside, or 75 per cent capacity with physical distancing, whichever is less. According to the province, a wedding is considered a "formal gathering" if it is run by a recognized business or organization, for instance, a wedding planner, caterer or venue operator.

If your wedding is not run by a recognized business or organization — like in your backyard or home — you're limited to 50 attendees outside, and only your "steady 20" inside.

If you're feeling nervous about capacity limits changing, Hounsell recommends dividing the invite list into three chunks: your immediate family and closest friends, extended family and friends, and everyone else.

She suggests sending out virtual "uninvited cards" if gathering limits tighten and you need to cut some people from the invite list — and to not feel bad. Couples can live stream their ceremony for friends and family who can't be there.

"Those people are going to understand if restrictions change," said Hounsell. "That's out of your control."

Hounsell says couples can be creative when reminding guests of the restrictions by providing personalized masks and hand sanitizers, or dressing up physical distancing signs with florals and other theming.

As of July 1, dancing at weddings is allowed once again, but couples are encouraged to check with their venue for specific rules and regulations.

In lieu of dancing, karaoke and trivia games can also keep the energy high. If part of your wedding is outside, Hounsell suggests setting up lawn games to keep people occupied and socially distanced.

Food and photography

Maria Clarke is the owner and baker at Petite Sweet, a local dessert company. Before the pandemic, the company specialized in large self-serve dessert tables for weddings and other events. Since buffet-style food options are not currently allowed, Clarke has pivoted to smaller-sized dessert "charcuterie boards" and individual portions.

She says cookies can be personalized and individually packaged as a party favour.

"They're a good way of meeting guidelines, and also being kind of special and creative," Clarke said.

Photography is an essential part of capturing wedding memories, and this year, photographers are also doing things a bit differently.

Shawn Taylor says photographers are using different lenses to maintain social distancing, and taking pictures of smaller groups of people. Kelly Roche, left, and Roger Codner were married on May 28 at Trinity Church. (Shawn Taylor Photography)

Shawn Taylor, a full-time wedding photographer for the past 15 years, says photographers have a variety of equipment that allows them to stay distant from the people they're photographing.

Since not everyone is part of the same bubble, photographers are not doing as many formal family photos, and they're taking pictures of smaller groups of people.

For couples nervous about tying the knot this summer, Taylor said, it's important to remember what the wedding is all about.

"You're gonna be marrying your fiancé, the person you're in love with," Taylor said. "The most important advice I can give, once people decide to move forward with things, is be present on your day and take it in, because it goes by so quickly."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


  • A previous version of this story said that indoor formal gatherings could have up to 100 people. Those gatherings can have the lesser of 200 people or 75 per cent of a venue's capacity with physical distancing.
    Jul 11, 2021 10:49 AM NT


Darrell Roberts is a reporter for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John's.