Beware Potential Gaslighting from the Wedding Industrial Complex Over Covid-19

big California wedding

Regardless of what the Wedding Industrial Complex (and maybe even you!) hope for, larger gatherings are–at least temporarily–a thing of the past.

In case it’s an unfamiliar term to you, “gaslighting” refers to a person or group who–in order to gather power–cleverly distorts facts to the point where their “victim” begins to doubt their own reality.

When an individual perpetuates gaslighting, it’s considered abuse. When an industry does it… well, that’s thought to be plain ol’ good marketing!

And it’s coming.

The Industrial Wedding Complex–like everyone else in the world–is eager to get “back to normal” (translated: getting couples to spend big bucks on lavish, large weddings). Combine that with political entities whose primary focus is to “stimulate the economy,” folks who are desperate to get back to work, and all of us that are darn sick of living our lives in the shadow of Coronavirus (“I just wanna get a haircut!”), and we’ve got a perfect-storm recipe for disaster.

It Might Look Something Like This:

Retailers will be the first to reopen.  They’ll be instructed to implement proper social distancing practices. Some businesses and customers will adhere to them; some won’t People will have more options for getting out of the house. This is going to whet their appetite for more.

Other businesses will begin the rallying cry, “if they can open, why can’t we?” This will ultimately lead to clamoring for the opening of things like movie theaters, libraries, gyms, restaurants, maybe even some larger performance venues.

We’ll start to relax a little. After all, we’ve been stuck at home for months. So far, so good. Let’s get out and reintegrate into the world, why don’t we?

Is there a vaccine for the Coronavirus at this point? Heck, no. Is Covid still out there? Heck, yeah. Are we any less at risk on a given day that we venture out simply because we’ve sheltered in place for weeks beforehand?

Sadly, no. Covid is like the movie Fifty First Dates. Your shelter in place immunity doesn’t carry over from day to day. Every day is a new day!

And THEN, It Might Go Something Like This:

Couples are going to get super fed up with putting their wedding planning on hold. Uncertainty will turn into anxiety, which will ultimately morph into resentment, which might then turn into “damn-the-torpedoes, we’re just going to do this anyway.” Besides, everyone else is doing it, so it must be okay.

And that’s where engaged couples are going to be prime targets for the spin that the wedding Industry is going to put on this; a loose version of the truth designed to entice you to speed up the process of returning to normal when planning your wedding.

Facts will be distorted to make you think the risk of gathering in large groups and foregoing masks, etc. is far less than what it is. Emotions will run high (which they tend to do around weddings anyway). No one (well, no one except me!) is going to tell you that having your 70 to 90-ish year old grandparents present at your 150-person wedding isn’t a smart idea. No one wants to burst your happiness bubble.

Concerns about the pandemic will be swept under the rug. The focus will be on the celebration of your “big day,” and how special and memorable it will be to revel in everything with those you love.

And that’s going to play right into what you really want to believe. And you know how that goes: when someone or something validates what you really want to believe: it’s going to provide you with that little bit of approval–the permission you were unconsciously seeking–and you’re going to be incredibly tempted to try and pull off that big wedding.

That’s what the Wedding Industrial Complex is hoping you will do. And they will do everything to convince you to forge ahead with your original wedding plans.

Because big weddings are where all the money is to be found.

They will initially come across as being supportive, with helpful articles advising you when and how to postpone your wedding. That begs the question, where are they getting their information from? The true answer is that for the most part, they’re pulling these “facts” out of thin air.

The hard to swallow truth is that NO ONE knows how this is going to play out. NO ONE can predict the path or intensity of the Coronavirus; NO ONE knows when a vaccine will be developed. (And quite frankly, a vaccine might not solve this problem. Viruses mutate, ya know!)

We do know a few things. Social distancing works. Large gatherings are a recipe for disaster. Hand washing is your friend. Don’t touch your face. Don’t hug, kiss, shake hands, etc. with those with whom you don’t live. Wear a mask when social distancing isn’t feasible.

I’m reading articles now (in April of 2020) advising couples to postpone their large weddings to “July or later.” Seriously? What are these “advisers” thinking? It is highly improbable that we’re going to have a vaccine for this in three months. So why counsel couples to push things out such a short distance into the future? The answer: because this is what couples want to hear. Better to do a quick three-month postponement then contemplate rebooking a year into the future.

Let’s face it, a quick rebooking date means the wedding vendors can capture your wedding dollars sooner. The whole goal is to make you as comfortable as possible as quickly as possible with moving ahead with your big wedding. You’ll see blog posts, websites and ads that totally ignore the Covid-19 issue.and instead evoke images of normalcy, romance, elegance and wedding day bliss.

Can you imagine the stress of having to postpone a wedding not once, but twice over this pandemic???

Let’s not go there.

elopement wedding venue in Colorado

Secluded and intimate venues are the way to go!

So, What Can You Do?

Quite honestly, for most people, it’s not the date of their wedding that is causing the problem, it’s the size.

Trying to reschedule a wedding with 100+ guests is like attempting to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. If the big pearls, pumps and pantyhose wedding is a must for you, then you’re smart to push it off for a year. Or two. Wait until there is a vaccine. Don’t put your loved ones at risk simply so you can throw a big party.

If guaranteeing the safety of your friends and family isn’t a priority, then consider this: you have no idea how far out to push your wedding. Obviously, you don’t want to push it off any further than you have to, so the outcome may be multiple postponements. And the additional downside of that? You have no assurances that your big wedding venue is still going to be in business two years down the road. If large gatherings are prohibited for months on end, these venues are going to have a tough go of it. Many of them not be able to sustain such a long period of financial drought.

Even if things do open up, you have no way of knowing if new cases will spike in future months. Some states may return to a lockdown status. And you’re going to be bombarded with pressure from our government “leaders,” and the Wedding Industrial Complex–and perhaps even your friends and family–to get this show on the road ASAP.

It is your civic duty as an American, after all, to stimulate the economy!

Elopements Will Become The New Normal

There’s only one solution that comes even close to permitting you to have a wedding at any time in the foreseeable future. You gotta go small.

Really small.

Really, really small.

As of this writing in April, 2020, the state of Colorado is prohibiting gatherings with more than 10 people. And people over 65 and any other vulnerable citizens are being told to continue to stay at home for everything but essential trips. This is a prudent plan and I expect more states to follow through. With the two of you, an officiant and a photographer present at the ceremony, that allows you six guests (five if you also have a videographer). That appears to be a doable plan for the time being.

Quite honestly, your best bet is a true just-the-two-of-you elopement. Not only is it more likely to happen without need of rescheduling, but in the unlikely event that you do need to reschedule, it can be done quickly and efficiently.

It’s much easier to for two people to pivot than for 102! (Or 22, for that matter.)

Now before you freak out, I know from experience that “eloping” doesn’t mean you need to partake of a dismal courthouse wedding (and FYI, not all courthouses are depressing. Have you seen the inside of San Francisco City Hall? It’s gorgeous!)

You can still do the dress, the tux, have the flowers, the music, the romance, the gorgeous photos (which will be even more intimate because there won’t be a multitude of guests gawking at you and waving their cell phone cameras in your face!), the post ceremony dinner (imagine celebrating with your one and only and not having to play host to hundreds!). You can have all that. What you can’t have for the time being is 200 of your nearest and dearest there to witness it.

That’s the new wedding reality. You can embrace it. Or you can wait out the trend.

Big weddings weren’t even in vogue until the 1800’s. So consider your wedding to be “vintage,” if that helps.

And what you do with the money you save by going small is up to you.

But you’re really going to have to be (excuse the pun) wedded to the idea of an elopement. Because, believe me, strong forces will try to convince you otherwise. I’m already seeing articles pop up all over the place telling couples that they must have a wedding planner on their team if they hope to navigate the tangle of postponements and reschedulings caused by Coronavirus. (Believe me, I’ve got nothing against wedding planners–an experienced wedding planner is worth their weight in gold if you’re having a big wedding. But even the best wedding planner can’t advise you on timing in this case. We simply have no idea.)

You can’t spend more or hire more vendors to make this problem go away. It’s bigger than that.

garden of the gods elopement

There’s nothing more intimate and romantic than a couple-only elopement

Other Things That Will Become a Part of the New Wedding Normal

Coupled with the idea of “smaller is better,” will be the following:

  • Elopement weddings will be held closer to home. Couples will still want the feel of a destination wedding, but unnecessary travel will be a safety factor in the months to come. Air travel is out. Road trips are in. Eloping in or close to your home state will be the safest option.
  • Lead times for booking will be shorter. Traditionally, couples have booked their elopements with us 6 to 18 months in advance. With policies changing in each state on a week to week basis, it’s going to be tougher for couples to plan that far in advance. And if you’ve already been planning your now cancelled big wedding for months, the last thing you want to do is start with yet another tediously long, uncertain period of wedding planning. Fortunately, most vendors have had their big wedding bookings pulled out from under them for the foreseeable future, so that opens up availability–making it easier for us to make your wedding happen within a month or two.
  • Wedding videos are about to become popular. How else to show off your special day to your absent loved ones? We’re working on a “ceremony video lite” offering which will capture your vows with professional-quality audio and video without all the bells and whistles of our higher priced full blown video offering.
  • Ceremony sites are going to be even less traditional than they have been. I think we can say good-bye to big church weddings for a while. It’s not looking good for Vegas weddings either. Couples will be looking for open spaces, preferably with spectacular backdrops (and few people!). Little known, off the beaten path and private small wedding sites will be preferred; popular tourist/hiking/dog-walking/picture-taking sites with a gazillion people milling about aren’t going to cut it.

Anyway, that’s my take on things. I’m not able to predict what the Coronavirus is going to do, but I do know that simpler and smaller events are less stressful and easier to turn on a dime than complicated and large ones.

We’re in the process of modifying our own limits on guest numbers, advanced notice requirements and social distancing policies to allow your small wedding to happen. Your safety and that of our vendors is our first priority as we help make your special day happen.