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Ask a Wedding Planner: What’s it like planning a wedding during the pandemic?

Ask a Wedding Planner: What’s it like planning a wedding during the pandemic?

Playing fairy godparents

Text: Natalie Khoo

What are the challenges of planning a wedding during the pandemic? What's a wedding trend that has been picking up? Is there anything one should *NOT* ask or say to a wedding planner? Hear it from the people who make the magic happen

If you’re anywhere between your 20s to 40s, you’ve probably received a number of wedding invitations of late. It’s no surprise that couples are getting hitched left, right and center after nearly two years of postponements and (re)planning. Even the fact that two people have stuck by each other after multiple lockdowns—whether while living together or apart—is worth celebrating!

But what about the people who make the magic happen? What’s it like to be juggling the anxieties and demands of clients with changing SOPs during the pandemic? For the second instalment of our Ask A __ series, we speak to a few wedding planners to find out how they landed their roles, what changed during the pandemic, and other helpful wedding planning insights to know.

Ally Yap, founder of XO23 Wedding Events

Ask a Wedding Planner: What’s it like planning a wedding during the pandemic? (фото 1)
Ask a Wedding Planner: What’s it like planning a wedding during the pandemic? (фото 2)

When and how did you get into the wedding planning business?

I have been a wedding planner and wedding designer for 11 years and I founded my very own wedding planning and decoration company, XO23 Wedding Events about four years ago. I joined the industry because I'm particularly interested in wedding decoration, wedding floral design, and colour matching. I am a perfectionist and I always want my wedding decorations or planning to be perfect.

Newlyweds shouldn’t have to face any worries or pressure when planning their wedding. My hope is to help provide solutions from the tiniest concern to any major troubles they may have. The most fulfilling thing for me is when couples tell me that getting married is not as complicated as they thought and that they enjoyed the wedding planning process.

What is it like being a wedding planner during the Covid-19 pandemic? Can you share some of the biggest challenges?

During the pandemic, many couples had to postpone their weddings and some wanted to get married on the same date. Thus, we needed to have good communication with all vendors to meet the couples’ preferred date and time. There were also many couples who were overseas and were not able to return to Malaysia due to the travel restrictions during the MCO. As their wedding planner, the main hassle we faced was to facilitate and reschedule arrangements with all parties.

Aside from the lockdowns and uncertainty, did you notice a huge change in wedding events pre- and post-pandemic?

The most obvious changes are the SOPs for weddings. We now have to wear our masks at all time, maintain social distancing in between seats, and follow all restrictions implemented by the government. The number of guests is another obvious change, so couples tend to invite only their close family and friends to keep the wedding intimate. We also have to ensure that all guests maintain cleanliness and hygiene so that everyone can have peace of mind.

What’s the most memorable wedding you’ve ever planned?

Every wedding is very memorable as we treat each wedding as our own. Sometimes, we spend about two to four years together with some couples for their wedding planning. All the couples I have worked with have become my friends too and we still keep in touch even after their weddings.

With that said, there was one wedding which happened before the pandemic that is quite unforgettable. It involved a thousand pax banquet and the couple actually came to us two months before their wedding day, which was a very tight timeline for such a huge scale wedding. Not only that, the couple was often busy and out of the country. There were so many things to be decided, so we even assisted them to buy all the supplies for their Chinese betrothal and actual wedding day. But everything was worth it in the end, after seeing the smiles of the couple on their big day.

What’s a wedding trend that has been picking up recently?

Garden weddings are the trend that many couples look forward to recently. There are a lot of trendy wedding venues in Malaysia now, too. Instead of the traditional wedding banquet, many couples would prefer a relaxed Western-style outdoor Garden Wedding. Other popular trends include travel-themed weddings, modern Chinese weddings, and beach weddings.

We often hear about "questions to ask your wedding planner", but is there anything one should *NOT* ask or say to a wedding planner?

Not really. If we could, we would answer every one of your questions. But we would like to emphasise that being a wedding planner is not an easy task. At the same time, we may be dealing with up to 20 to 30 couples at the same time and we would receive messages even after midnight. Thus, we would really appreciate the kind understanding and patience of all clients to bear with us if there is a slight delay in replies as we try our best to cope with everything as fast as we can.

Follow @xo23_weddingevents on Instagram for more wedding planning updates. 

Tricia Lim and Evelyn Ng, co-founders of Moments

Ask a Wedding Planner: What’s it like planning a wedding during the pandemic? (фото 3)
Ask a Wedding Planner: What’s it like planning a wedding during the pandemic? (фото 4)

When and how did you get into the wedding planning business?

It has been eight years now since we founded Moments. We are sisters-in-law, both from different corporate backgrounds. After Tricia's wedding reception, we sat down over tea after her big day and discussed our wants in life. We couldn't sit still and soon after, we started to embark on a journey to search for something greater, something more 'us' instead of the corporate world!

We started helping friends plan their wedding day, then helping friends of friends plan their ceremony and as we went along, we learned the ropes. There were many ups and downs, but we took the good, the bad, and the not so beautiful as small little bumps to help make a better us! Today, we can truly look back and say what an awesome step of faith!

What is it like being a wedding planner during the Covid-19 pandemic? Can you share some of the biggest challenges?

We were suddenly overstaffed! From planning weddings every single weekend back to back to being locked up at home with only emails to send and Zoom meetings to get matters sorted. Initially, we found it a struggle to get things done. The postponement of weddings in itself was overwhelming! We were worried about everyone's health, the SOPs were ever-changing, and most vendors and venues were scrambling to come up with their respective company policies to handle the pandemic which was tough on our part to explain to our clients.

On top of that, we were worried about the company's financial status as we felt responsible for our staff and we still needed the team to help us ensure each and every postponement is properly done. There was also plenty of juggling between our client's perspective of their right for refunds and also the vendors' stance that all deposits were strictly non-refundable. Every client had a different matter that needed to be addressed and we could only do it via Zoom!

After about eight months into the pandemic, things were much more in control and today we can say that we find online meetings a norm and have become accustomed to it. We learn that most things can be handled remotely and yes, we can overcome!

Aside from the lockdowns and uncertainty, did you notice a huge change in wedding events pre- and post-pandemic?

Before the pandemic, our clients placed a lot of importance on the type of performance and entertainment for the event; their bridal parties had more than 10 pax; and they needed big capacity venues to host their reception because they were obliged to invite their friends, business associates, and extended family members. Post-pandemic, today, weddings are way more intimate. Only people that matter, such as immediate family and close friends are invited.

What’s the most memorable wedding you’ve ever planned?

We don't have one particular memorable wedding. Each and every wedding planned has its moments that will forever be etched in our hearts. But what we would like to share is that the most beautiful of unions does not necessarily have to be the most expensive flowers, the most beautiful venue, or designer gowns. The recent post-pandemic intimate weddings we have planned remind us of the importance of finding joy in the simple things. It is the parent's speech written from the bottom of their heart to their child, that father-daughter dance to Butterfly Kisses, that moment where the groom looks at his wife in absolute adoration, the gratitude the couple shows to their parents, and, most of all, the simple thank you conveyed to us for helping plan their day makes it all worthwhile!

What’s a wedding trend that has been picking up recently?

Ikebana-inspired weddings. Recently, most weddings have been much smaller and simpler and many were interested in the simple yet challenging Ikebana-style of flower arrangements. We personally love this new zest!

We often hear about “questions to ask your wedding planner”, but is there anything one should *NOT* ask or say to a wedding planner?

1. Can you please be a ‘Dai Kam Jie’ (master of tea ceremony in Chinese weddings) for my tea ceremony?

We are just not that talented!

2. Can you use your phone to do livestreaming or Zoom calls with our family and friends?

As your planner, we prefer to focus on our role which is to ensure that your wedding is a smooth one. As such, we strongly suggest leaving these roles to professional teams.

3. Can you please help to emcee my wedding reception?

Some people are meant to do only back-end work and that's us!

Follow @momentswedd on Instagram for more wedding planning updates.

Zuriee Ahmad, founder of Zuriee Ahmad Concepts

Ask a Wedding Planner: What’s it like planning a wedding during the pandemic? (фото 5)
Ask a Wedding Planner: What’s it like planning a wedding during the pandemic? (фото 6)

When and how did you get into the wedding planning business?

I started my career in Corporate Event Planning in Penang in the early 2000s, where we were sometimes required to handle small weddings back then. My love for wedding planning developed after I watched The Wedding Planner starring J.Lo. From then on, I was very determined with this ambition and kept looking for a career in KL before finally landing a job with a local fashion designer.

How is it like being a wedding planner during the Covid-19 pandemic? Can you share some of the biggest challenges?

Everything is always very last minute. There are shortages in supplies including props, flowers and even manpower. Costs have been increasing too high.

Aside from the lockdowns and uncertainty, did you notice a huge change in wedding events pre- and post-pandemic?

Yes, weddings now have a smaller number of guests which I personally love because it creates a more intimate wedding.

What’s the most memorable wedding you’ve ever planned?

There are too many! But I would say the most memorable one for me was the wedding of Iman and Fattah at Tanah Larwina, which is very rustic and organic with nature surrounding us. Nothing pretentious about it.

What’s a wedding trend that has been picking up recently?

I think the rustic trend will be gone soon. I don’t know what to forecast because trends change so fast as influenced by social media, which allows you to get access to the whole world in a second.

We often hear about “questions to ask your wedding planner”, but is there anything one should *NOT* ask or say to a wedding planner?

I am an easy person, so you can ask me anything about weddings but if you want to know the inside stories about my clients, then it’s a big NO.

Follow @zurieeadmadconcepts on Instagram for more wedding planning updates.

Read more wedding-related stories here.