Tales from a Covid-Bride

I’ve always dreamt about what my wedding day would look like. From a young age, I’ve had my Pinterest board adorned with white lace dresses, moody floral arrangements and almost too-good-to-eat cakes.

When I got engaged in January 2019, the dream became a reality and instead of pinning to my wedding board, I was able to start making enquiries and booking wedding vendors.

I’m a very organised person and like to know what’s happening at all times. So it only took my fiance and I a few months to lock in everything from the venue to entertainment, our photographer, celebrant and even my dress.

Ovollo Wolloomooloo Weddings
Ovolo Woolloomooloo - Dom & Florian's wedding venue (image by Fiona & Bobby)

And because I’m organised, I’d also already thought of what could go wrong in the lead up to, and on my wedding day. There were backup plans to my backup plan! But it’s difficult to preempt a global pandemic.

We were to marry on March 28th 2020. My fiance and I resigned from our jobs with exciting plans to move to Paris after the wedding. We would have our first year as newlyweds in the most romantic city in the world.

But March came around, and time started to tick by in super slow motion.

News of a flu-like bug exploding in China had seemed so insignificant to our wedding plans. But every couple of days, there was Scott Morrison appearing before us on our TV’s with news that Australia was not immune to Covid-19. We were told to brace for a total lifestyle overhaul.

I never thought an invisible bug would impact my wedding. Yet here we were. Our
prospects of achieving a wedding and moving abroad were getting slimmer by the day. My well laid plans in disarray. Cue random bursts of crying at the drop of a hat.

On the 20th of March, 8 days before our wedding, the Australian borders were closed to all international travellers. The announcement was expected so we already knew that some guests coming from overseas would no longer be able to attend our wedding.

Due to the travel ban, we had to chop around 20 people from our guest list. This meant having to reshuffle the seating plan and work with our venue to reorganise the space and catering.

The following day restrictions were set to 100 people - including venue staff and vendors.

Ovollo Woolloomooloo Wedding Venue
The Piper Room at Ovolo Woolloomooloo where Florian & Dom were to have their wedding reception. Image by Fiona & Bobby

Excluding our international attendees, we were expecting a total of 150 local guests. Uninviting 60 people was one of the most stressful and difficult moments of the entire wedding planning process. I come from a huge Italian and Spanish family. Invitees on my side alone were close to 100, plus all my fiance’s family and our combined friends. It was heartbreaking having to send out that message.

Our seven-piece band was stripped to a duo and we had to send one of the photographers home early. So many guests were incredibly understanding and some even volunteered up their spot to make more room. However, we did have a couple who weren’t impressed and haven’t spoken to me since receiving the un-invitation.

I lost count of the times I cut our guestlist and redid the seating plan. Over and over again, to try to make it work. Some days my fiance would come home to find me crawled up in the foetal position in different rooms around the house.

I was so frustrated about the entire situation and how helpless I felt in the middle of it all. I had looked forward to this day for my entire life and each week that passed saw that dream slip further out of reach.

I was annoyed at so many things I couldn’t change. I was annoyed at seeing photos posted to social media of those friends who squeezed in their wedding in the months earlier. I didn’t think I was a very jealous person, but the green-eyed monster made an appearance from time to time, leaving a path of hysterical crying and scrunched up seating plans in her path.

The week before the wedding saw the restrictions become even stricter with each venue requiring the square-metre rules enforced. With seven days between this new requirement and the wedding day, we decided our wedding was no longer looking like the day we had originally hoped or the one I dreamt of since I was a little girl. I don’t think I could have coped with the uncertainty looming over my head for another week so we made the call to postpone the wedding.

We informed our wedding reception venue and asked for available dates they had in
September for Fridays and Sundays (we knew Saturdays would have been snapped up
months beforehand). Once we were able to find a suitable date, we emailed our amazing wedding planner, Janet from J Event Design, who coordinated with our incredible vendors to lock in the new date.

J Event Design Florals Blue Room
Styling, florals & wedding planning by J Event Design

We had decided to get an on-the-day coordinator to ensure everything ran smoothly and found Janet through Wedlockers. I honestly can’t recommend a wedding planner/coordinator more highly. Janet became our go-to person, taking care of all vendors throughout this process. In hindsight, I’m not sure how I would have coped without a planner.

We had no issues reorganising with our wedding vendors. We didn’t want a refund from any of them because we planned to use their services, just at a later date. In the end, we only lost about $400 in the process, which came from the florist as she wasn’t able to cancel an order of imported roses. We had the roses delivered to our house to brighten up the place.

From the day we made the decision to postpone, it felt as if a weight had been lifted and I could finally think about something other than the wedding.

It’s funny when you find another couple who had to also reschedule their wedding as you both have a mutual understanding of the pain endured in the past few months. I recently had a job interview where I bonded with the interviewer over our shared misfortune and the heartache that we’d endured having to reschedule our wedding. I ended up getting the job!

I laugh when I hear of how stressful people found planning their wedding pre-covid, thinking I would plan three weddings in place of what I went through. It’s cute you were worried about your welcome sign, I had to get a whole new one! Complaining about the cost of posting thank you notes? Try sending out invitations twice!

I guess the most important lesson I took from all of this is whilst the wedding day itself is something so many dream of, more focus should be put on why you’re getting married in the first place.

My fiance was so incredibly supportive and loving during this time, wiping away tears and sending emails all over the place. It was a great exercise of throwing a couple into a high-pressure situation and seeing how they perform.

A message to all those Brides and Grooms who have had to reschedule - hang in there! We’re all in this together. One day we’ll have the fairytale wedding we’ve always dreamt of.

And for those who have friends going through planning during Covid, reach out and let them know you’re there for them. Offer to help or lend an ear for a rant or cry. These are unprecedented times and some days are harder than others, so a quick message checking in goes a long way.

As for me, I’ll be sitting with fingers (and toes) crossed that I can finally get married at the end of September.

You can follow Dom & Florian's wedding journey at The Girl From Sydney.

Cost of Styling Your Wedding

How much should you budget for styling your wedding?  Whether you intend to spend under $1,000 or more than $100k, there’s one sure way to keep costs under control, and that’s to understand the price of products & services up-front and where you can save money.

One of the most enjoyable parts of planning your wedding is nailing its look and feel. Poring over Pinterest, Instagram and Wedlockers will give you all the styling and theming ideas you could ever want - in fact, so many you're virtually guaranteed to be overwhelmed!

Will you have a boho wedding in a tipi? A destination wedding on a tropical beach? A VIP wedding in a museum? A rustic affair in a shearing shed? 

Planning your wedding style long before you have finalised your venue booking is the first step in achieving the look & feel you want for the budget you’ve got.  Because it is the venue that will determine the inclusions you need and the costs involved.

What does the wedding venue include?

Country wedding styling pricesIvory Lane Event Styling in country NSW.  Image: Feather & Birch Photography

A restaurant, hotel, function centre, resort or yacht/golf club will have the basic elements: chairs, tables, dance floor, table linen, table numbers, cutlery, crockery, and glasses. They may also have a range of centrepieces and/or vases, candle holders, AV equipment, and a podium, for example.

A dedicated wedding function centre may have all these items plus a chapel, chuppah, bridal dressing room, arch, signing table and/or aisle runner. They are used to dealing with couples: it’s their specialty. However, a wedding function centre may not offer much “wow-factor” or Instagrammability.

Why not organise a blank space venue?

A blank space venue gives you enormous flexibility and creativity to style the venue in whatever way you want. It’s unlikely your guests will have ever been there – and if they have, it will have been styled entirely differently. 

Imagine you want to get married in your parents’ garden in a marquee. A garden marquee wedding requires you to supply literally everything from the marquee and flooring and then everything inside, and outside as well (such as Portaloos and decking to protect your parents’ grass and your girlfriends’ heels from damage). 

An Indian-style Raj tent marquee for a 100-guest sit-down dinner costs $6,500 to hire on its own, excluding delivery and requires a perfectly flat grass lawn. The grass area needs to measure at least 28m x 4m or 14m x 8m to fit the marquee and its staked poles. Not many homes have that much garden space.

Warehouse wedding stylingWarehouse wedding styled by Upside Down Events in Sydney.  Image CJ Picture 

A "blank canvas" industrial warehouse provides the (concrete) floor and (exposed brick) walls and is inexpensive to hire - but again you need to bring in nearly all your event items. They are also located in, unsurprisingly, industrial areas. Consider if your guests (especially elderly guests) could be uncomfortable in a somewhat “gritty” location and the potential lack of taxis, Ubers, trains or buses.

Choose the best venue match for your wedding theme style

The ideal venue matches your style and offers many inclusions in the style you want. A mismatched venue requires more money and effort than one which is congruent with your style. 

It takes a lot of money and styling for example, to transform a surf club into a garden fantasy wonderland, to turn a city hotel function room into a boho escape, and to create a Hamptons style wedding at an Indian restaurant!

Your styling budget rises very quickly if you need to bring in furniture and structural elements to your venue to achieve the look you want.

Budgeting for event hire

Event hire and styling companies typically have very tight turnaround times (such as 60-90 minutes) to deliver, unpack and install your items before your wedding, and then very late return times of midnight-1am which attracts staff overtime rates.

You should include a delivery and installation fee of at least $1,000-$2,000 in your wedding styling budget.

Personalised Chairs wedding stylingPersonalized chair decals by Nikki Design Co.  Styled by Upside Down Events.  Image by Soul Made Stories. 

If your venue has generic function chairs (think grey or burgundy polyester oval-back chairs) which don’t evoke your theme – or no chairs at all such as with the garden marquee or warehouse venue – you will need to budget for chairs per guest.

The least expensive ones to hire are simple folding wooden chairs ($6-$8 per chairs). Glamorous Tiffany chairs typically run to $10-$15 each as do French bistro-style Bentwoods. You'll pay up to $24 per Victoria Ghost chair so if you have 100 guests your chair component alone can cost anywhere from $600-$2,400 excluding delivery.

Virtually all venues with existing furniture will have round banquet, or rectangular tables to make up communal tables. Both types are usually lightweight laminate-topped so they require tablecloths to make them presentable. However, table linen is typically restricted to white tablecloths and napkins; black table linen is less common.

Napkins provide a pop of colour and help theme your wedding. Coloured polyester or cotton napkins cost around $2.50 each while velvet napkins cost about $4 each to hire. Add around $250-$400 for napkin hire for 100 guests.

Centrepieces options

Wedding Styling and Costs
The Wedding & Event Creators at Secrets of Terara on the NSW South Coast.

Centrepieces are limited only by your imagination and your budget. They can comprise mercury glass compote bowls, mirror cubes topped with silver posy vases, crystal candelabras filled with coloured candles, glass dome cloches full of taxidermy, wooden troughs filled with pinecones, Moroccan star lanterns, blue and white Chinoiserie ginger jars, mini topiary trees, copper geometric terrariums, live goldfish in goldfish bowls, sunbleached driftwood, coral and shells, deer antlers, white pillar candles and foliage, potted maidenhair ferns, gleaming brass lanterns, glass trumpet vases with splayed white cherry blossom branches, infinity light glass boxes, amber fairy light cloches, gold cordless lamps – the list goes on and on.

On our 75cm deep communal wedding tables we had space only for submerged orchids in cylindrical vases. It’s a wise option for allergy sufferers (they can’t smell the florals’ fragrance underwater) and water creates an optical effect of enlarging the florals which gives you more bang for your buck floral-wise. Plain cylindrical vases, often hired as trios in tiered heights cost about $25-$30 per set. Allow for about $250-300 for a 10-table wedding excluding florals. 

Venues with towering ceilings, such as hotel ballrooms, require tall arrangements on guest tables to help absorb the space, to create drama and foster intimacy. 

You can hire gold metal stands (typically 100cm high at $35-$45 each) with florals arranged above, or faux trees of 150cm and taller ($400-$500 each). If you had 10 tables and wanted to alternate the tables, for visual interest and improving sightlines in the room, you'd be looking at $2,175-$2,725 before florals.

Centrepieces (including the florals) should measure under 30cm high or over 60cm. If centrepieces measure 30cm-60cm high which is eye level when sitting down, your guests cannot see each other across the table without leaning sideways. You don’t want your guests getting so irritated at their centrepiece they take it off the table!

Communal tables vs round tables

Event Hire Costs in MelbourneThis below-30cm-above-60cm centrepiece rule applies both to venues with round banquet tables and communal tables (including the bridal table).

There are advantages and disadvantages to using round vs communal tables. Round tables let guests speak equally with everyone on their table creating good feng shui (you’ll notice most Chinese restaurants have them) however they are more formal in style. Communal tables are faster for waitstaff to serve guests and easier for your photographer to shoot, however your guests are limited to speaking to those immediately opposite and adjacent.

Ensure your communal table is at least 100cm deep. With guests on both sides taking up to 40cm depth each for their plate (and charger plate if applicable), and water, wine and champagne glasses you have only 20cm for centrepieces. Typical centrepiece choices need to be narrow, such as a slim glass and mirrored trough filled with tealight candles, or a slender base such as the 100cm high x 100cm wide x 20cm deep gold metal frame which can be topped with candles, lanterns, vases, greenery or blooms well above the line of vision.

Allow about $5-$6 per guest for hiring gold wide stripe or glass beaded charger plates and $8-$10 per guest for hiring gold, iridescent, copper, black or rose gold cutlery (based on an entree fork and knife, dinner fork and knife and dessert spoon per guest). This will add $1,300-$1,600 for 100 guests.


M Event Hire StylingM Event Hire in Perth 

When are you getting married? If you specify non-seasonal florals, you will pay an exorbitant amount for flowers to be flown in specially. One option is to get acquainted with flowers that approximate each other in look. This gives you flexibility should Mother Nature decide not to supply your chosen blooms that week (which happened to me) and helps you achieve a similar style - sometimes at a lower cost. 

For example, the gorgeous, but overhyped (and expensive) peony, is available from October-November. Flowers which closely resemble the peony include the lisianthus and ranunculus (available year-round), and the David Austin Cabbage roses and Rosalind roses (available during peak wedding season which is October through May).

Chat with your florist about florals suitable for your venue. If you fear your summer wedding flowers could wilt in the heat, choose the hardy carnations, calla lilies, antheriums, amaranthus and phalaenopsis orchids.

If you're getting married outside, you may like to scent the air with fragrant tuberose, sweet pea or garden roses, all of which have the longest lasting scents.

Faux florals are generally cheaper than genuine flowers however you will be renting them from your florist so you will be charged for the hire pickup after the wedding.

For example, supplying peach and white roses, tropical foliage & green fillers, accompanied by white orchids & gypsophila for 10 guest tables, with a 10-person bridal table and a cake table, hiring 10 x 100cm gold metal stands for each guest table and 5 x gold metal cubes on the bridal table with a small posy for the cake table costs around $3,000-$3,500 while swapping to fully faux flowers and foliage costs $2,200-$2,700.

Your choice of venue will have a big impact on the cost of styling your wedding. A good venue choice can save you thousands, and so too can a great wedding planner & stylist!  Browse awesome wedding stylists and planners plus a huge range of wedding venues right here on Wedlockers.

This article was written by Elizabeth Hollingsworth from www.myeventdecor.com.au.  My Event Decor sell, hire & source bespoke decor for instagrammable weddings and other events in Melbourne. Cover Image by James Day Weddings











Wedding vs Elopement

How to Have Your (Wedding) Cake and Eat it Too

So you’re getting married! Congratulations! You’ve found The One! Or maybe you’re just keen on wedding planning and have decided it’s time to get some of the ducks in a row, significant other TBA. If so, that’s ok too. This is a safe space.

Whether you’ve always planned a big wedding, or have forever dreamed of eloping overseas, as soon as there’s even a possibility of a wedding on the horizon, it seems like everyone’s got an opinion. While elopements have come a long way since the Elvis-assisted Las Vegas chapel imagery that we all know and love, you can safely assume that others will expect you should/must have a wedding. (For them, obviously – weddings are AWESOME).

Everybody loves a wedding

As much as everybody loves a wedding (and having their two cents worth about yours), it’s worthwhile taking a step back and thinking about what you – the people getting married - actually want (gasp). A wedding day can quickly become about pleasing others, from managing your in-laws’ extensive international guest list, to politely declining that family heirloom, to accommodating small children in numbers that virtually scream mutiny.

South Coast Family Elopement
Mutiny at Seacliff House - Jon Harris Weddings

Expectations from family and friends can be overwhelming, and in an age ruled by social media, it can be hard for couples to cut through allllll the #weddinginspo. With an ocean of wedding vendors and services available, the line on wedding must-haves and lust-haves can quickly become a little blurry.

After all, who can say no to an epically Instagrammable venue, hand-made invitations, or to that dream long-sleeved lace wedding dress. With custom overskirt. Or to the Louboutins to match – after all you’ll absolutely wear them again. Of course, you also need the perfect bridesmaids’ dresses in contrasting yet complementary tones. 

It’s all so worthwhile and completely justifiable. Your wedding is the biggest party of your life and will be captured forever in the photographs. By that cutting-edge wedding photographer that you’ve been casually following for the last two years. Who only has two available wedding dates remaining in the next 12 months.

Beth Fernley Weddings and Elopements
The biggest party of your life - Beth Fernley Photography

Are weddings the new avocado toast?

Before you can Google “perfect yet reasonably priced Sydney wedding venues”, the wedding juggernaut can well and truly get away! With the average cost of an Australian wedding reportedly at the $53,000 mark, a wedding is accepted as a significant financial commitment.

An increasing number of couples, especially millennials - forever tarred by the stigma of financial planning in units of avocado toast - are questioning traditional wedding concepts and formulaic wedding spending. That money could potentially otherwise amount to a good chunk of a house deposit.

Destination weddings: the fence-sitters of the wedding world

More accessible air travel has resulted in an increase not only of activewear as acceptable (cough) flight attire, but also in the prevalence of destination weddings. Many couples are happy to up the honeymoon component of their trip and invite a small circle of close family and friends to witness their vows and join in on the holiday.

Of course, this concept applies as much to domestic destinations as it does to international locations. Beaches, mountains, wineries and adventure locations (think rock climbing, hiking, music concerts, boats and helicopter rides) are great choices for local elopements, allowing for a romantic, individualised experience, epic photos, and a holiday, all in one!

South Coast destination weddingDestination Wedding in Kiama - Peter Izzard Photography

Let’s elope!

Although elopement purists out there (and obnoxious sticklers for definitions - we all know at least one) may be wrinkling their nose at the suggestion of an elopement with any guests, the notion is quickly gaining traction. Many of our very own wedding celebrants specialise in bespoke elopements, including Josh Withers of Married by Josh and The Elopement Collective. The focus is on the celebration of the marriage over the hosting of a wedding, with core elements of a beautiful location, an intimate and meaningful exchange of vows, and stunning photography to capture the memory.

Married by Josh
Sunset elopement in Wanaka - Married by Josh

This modern concept of an elopement-plus-guests gives couples significant freedom in planning their day to include as much or as little formality as they desire with little pressure to conform to others’ wedding expectations (because Auntie Sharon, it’s an elopement and to be honest, you’re lucky to have an invite).

Of course, an elopement can also remain as Auntie-Sharon-free as you’d like. In cases of competing or unreasonable expectations from families, it’s the ultimate free pass, allowing you to merrily disregard other people’s menu preferences. As most married couples who have made it to the flipside of a traditional wedding can attest, the wedding planning process can take on a life of its own, leading to the occasional cross word, testing of friendships or episode of rocking in the corner while breathing into a paper bag.

Planning an elopement

Eloping can be as romantic and intimate as you’d like it to be. For your Australian marriage to be valid, you’ll need to have two witnesses (hint: your photographer may be also be happy to be your witness), but the rest of the guest list (or complete absence one) is up to you. There is incredible intimacy in exchanging vows without an audience present, allowing you and your partner to relax, focus and exist completely in the moment together. There's none of the  ‘pressure’ that some people may feel in a traditional ceremony format in front of their gathered loved ones.

Josh Withers Elopement"Weddings should make you smile.  Here's an example" - Married by Josh

Of course, elopements are only one option and the concept doesn’t suit every couple. If you’ve always dreamed of a big white wedding, then your wedding day is absolutely the full-princess moment you’ve been waiting for. Gather up your five metre train and get on it! You only get married once (in statistical likelihood).

Wedding traditions

Weddings also offer many opportunities for those moments of celebration that we’ve often been conditioned to look forward to during our lives – the bridal preparations, hens’ and bucks’ nights, dress shopping, first dances, speeches and of course the opportunity to publicly declare your love to your partner with the exchanging of vows. If you’re a natural-born planner (show of hands, please), you and your A-type personality may thrive on the huge and exciting project that comes with planning a wedding and (ahem) organising everyone and everything around you to match your vision. All of this is ok. If you and your partner are on board for some serious wedding palooza to rival the royal nuptials, you do you, hon! And make sure you send us the pictures!

If your family heritage encourages big weddings, this alone might sell you on the concept of a big family wedding as a rite of passage. A snap decision for an elopement could potentially create discord within the family or leave you dealing with feelings of having missed out down the track, so always carefully examine your motivations and expectations if you’re feeling excited but apprehensive about the idea of an elopement.

Equally, many couples pause to re-examine some of the historical concepts behind some customary wedding goings-on, and choose to modify or omit some parts of traditional wedding proceedings. We’ve seen an increase in couples walking down the aisle together in line with changing societal views about gender equality. Weddings are evolving, and almost every aspect of a wedding day is negotiable.  

Erin Shanley elopement
You do you! Erin Shanley Hair

Is an elopement the right choice?

Some ways to test the waters concerning your feelings about an elopement is to have an open conversation with your family about your plans, and to examine how you feel during and after the conversation. Some couples decide to let their parents or immediate family know in advance about their intentions to elope. It can soften the impact of a sometimes shocking “Surprise, we’re married!” announcement after the fact. 

Wedding decision angst (it’s a thing)

The good news here is that ultimately, you don’t have to choose between a wedding and an elopement. The two concepts are best viewed as ends of a sliding spectrum to find the sweet spot at either end (or right in the middle) where the couple are comfortable.

It’s very much a case of being able to have your cake and eat it too. Whether you choose to have a registry wedding, ‘pure’ elopement or legals-only ceremony, you’re still entirely able to host a big, all-in celebration, renewal of vows or formal celebration as well. On a different date or even on the same day. Some couples even choose to have a close friend or much-loved family member ‘officiate’ at a larger ceremony after a legal ceremony has been conducted in private, given that the couple are therefore already officially wed.

Planning a destination wedding

Some couples strategically choose a destination wedding that ticks boxes on their travel bucket-list, also knowing that only a handful of their nearest and dearest will attend. This also allows for variations on the elopement concept such as inviting family or parents only to join the couple for particular dates, including the ceremony, but also allowing the couple to effectively already be on their honeymoon and enjoy time together in their preferred destination both before and after their ceremony. A further attraction of this approach for travel-loving couples is an almost-compulsory trip back to where it all began for an anniversary celebration or family tour in years to come. 

Elopement Wedding Reception
South Coast Elopement - Jon Harris Photography

Planning a wedding or elopement: where to start

Wedding or elopement, the single most important consideration is to make decisions that are true to what you and your partner really want for your day. A simple exercise is to each write down a few key desires and considerations for your celebration and see where they overlap.  Once you have big picture agreement on what’s important to you both, it’s easy to start browsing locations to fit your concept, and watch your big day come together.

Join Wedlockers to get started.  It's free.





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