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2020 has undoubtedly brought a range of unanticipated challenges not only to each individual, but to every profession on a global scale. With the wedding industry uniquely impacted by fluctuating restrictions and social distancing practices, tying the knot and saying ‘I do’ during such circumstances has required careful adaption. Here, Western Australia Wedding & Bride editor Bethany Hayes speaks with a range of the state’s wedding experts to explore how they have evolved their practices amidst changing restrictions and shares their hopes for nuptials of the future.

Tying the Unprecedented Knot

Images courtesy of: Squint Photography, Joondalup Resort, Vanessa Ord Celebrant and Fireteller Wedding Films

With the COVID-19 pandemic introducing unexpected and ever-changing circumstances, plans for weddings in 2020 have been turned on their head. As these Western Australia wedding vendors share, the key has been adapting to changes as they happen, helping couples navigate restrictions, and remembering that – regardless of guest lists or location – the celebration of this union really is all about love.

VANESSA ORD – Civil Celebrant

Spending her earlier years working in drama teaching and theatre work, Vanessa Ord’s organisational skills, ability to work with people on a personal and intimate basis, and strengths in writing and presentation aligned themselves perfectly for a career as a civil celebrant. “Who doesn’t want to be part of such a wonderful occasion?” she remarks.

Prior to 2020, Ord’s work would typically begin a year to eighteen months before a wedding, with couples contacting her for an initial meeting after booking a venue, during the earlier stages of the wedding planning process.

Debbie Waite Civil Celebrant
“My work would be to give them advice and information on some of these [planning] matters but mainly cover the initial paperwork, provide them with resources and a checklist of what was to happen in the preparation time before the wedding and perhaps book a rehearsal date.” After sending her couple a questionnaire, Ord then leaves them to concentrate on other wedding preparation until three months out from the wedding date, when they would meet again to start pulling the ideas and structure of the ceremony together.

With the unpredictable and unplannable nature of a global pandemic, Ord’s work, like that of so many celebrants and wedding professionals, has changed substantially. “At first, most weddings were simply postponed, as everyone assumed this would be over in a few months. Then couples needed to decide whether to change the whole nature of the wedding and simply keep it small and simple, or to wait it out until they could have everyone attend.” The implications of this meant Ord lost most of the season’s weddings, with approximately half being put on hold and the rest being either cancelled or rebooked for another time and place. For the weddings that do go ahead, the most consistent and frequent change that Ord notes is the size of the guest list, which simultaneously alters the nature of the ceremony itself. Without overseas or interstate guests, the people present at weddings “are a very small, select and personal group”. Ord notes that this difference has prompted writing more

Flowers Victoria’s 2019 Wedding Table Competition

intimate ceremonies to reflect the location – with many couples marrying in private homes, restaurants or small parks. “What has been both surprising and delightful has been how so many of my couples have reflected that this was actually better than the ‘big wedding’; they have been made aware of what is really important.” The celebrant praises hosting your wedding in a relaxed and open space, with surrounds of nature, which allows guests to socially distance but still remain present during the event.

“I think there has been a huge shift in the way young people see their wedding. I have been gratified to see that the ceremony itself, the commitment to each other, has assumed a greater significance as couples can’t enjoy the ‘party’ so much but are aware of the real nature of the day itself.” While Ord believes the implications and social distancing practices from the pandemic will indeed stay for a while, she speaks to a hopeful future. “All of us in this industry hope that in the future couples will again have the choice to have the wedding of their dreams, in whatever form it takes, and that healthy competition and high standards of professionalism will prevail in the industry to the good of all.”

ROBERT GORDON –Owner Of Squint Photography

Drawn to the camera from a young age, Robert Gordon’s passion for wedding photography stems from the range of personalities he has been able to meet while capturing such a special day in people’s lives. Having photographed weddings with guest lists as high as 450 in the past, a typical wedding for his company would involve the photographer capturing every aspect of the day as it unfolds – from the bride and groom getting ready, to full ceremony and reception coverage – with each moment preserved for eternity in a beautiful image.

The early months of 2020 and the implications of the pandemic have seen Squint Photography reschedule and reorganise numerous weddings for a later date, with many weddings often being of much smaller nature; some comprising of just the bride and the groom, their closest family, the celebrant and photographer present. While the easing of restrictions has seen weddings largely go back to normal in Western Australia, being able to adapt to these changes, and support couples along the way, while still capturing the abundance of love at their wedding, has been crucial throughout the course of the year.

Flowers Victoria’s 2019 Wedding Table Competition

“As a whole, I think we have been very fortunate in Western Australia. There have been many other places in Australia that have had much greater restrictions,” Gordon notes. “I think most photography studios have been in a similar position, where we have been juggling with organising and rescheduling our current clients while still trying to maintain bookings for new clients.”

Gordon reiterates that factors, such as this pandemic, are out of any couple’s control, and instead encourages couples to focus on their connection and love for one another. “The only advice that I could give any couple is that they always need to remember that this is a situation that is out of their control, they just need to do the best to cope with what is put in front of them, try to stress as little as possible, and as long as their love for one another is strong everything will be okay.” Looking down the barrel to the future, Gordon predicts there may be more midweek weddings to try and clear a backlog of weddings from 2020, with lots of new weddings being planned in addition to the rescheduling of weddings that have been affected by COVID-19. 

NATHAN KEENE – Director Of Fireteller Wedding Films

With more than fifteen years of experience working across film, television, corporate video production and documentary filmmaking, Nathan Keene and his team of premium cinematographers at Fireteller Wedding Films are no strangers to capturing the moment, and take pride in producing the best possible video for couples, being especially drawn to the storytelling aspect of weddings.

Flowers Victoria’s 2019 Wedding Table Competition
2020 has seen the team of videographers become more creative than ever when it comes to wedding films, with Keene emphasising the benefits of livestreaming your wedding – regardless of the guest list. “We have some great innovations to help couples record their wedding during COVID 19. We can livestream weddings in real time! To cater to absent friends and family who were not able to travel or attend due to restrictions, they are able to watch the wedding, edited in real time with multi-cams, [from] anywhere in the world,” he explains.
Flowers Victoria’s 2019 Wedding Table Competition
Adapting to restrictions earlier in the year, the videographer explains that the pandemic has been able to “give us perspective in how important family is and how special a wedding truly is. It’s also given us a chance to shake things up and innovate our way through hard times”. The team have been especially conscious about hygiene safety during every shoot, with the videographers “making sure [the] lapel microphones have been cleaned with alcohol or … using directional boom microphones to avoid any possible transmission”. Such microphones will not only ensure safety but allow for clarity during the all-important vows. “A wedding film is not a wedding film if you can’t hear the vows. We have some great innovations to help couples record their wedding during COVID-19,” Keene says.

For weddings of the future, Keene hopes the celebrations can be bigger and better than ever, with couples able to bring their special day into fruition exactly as they intended. “I hope everyone bounces back safely in 2021 and that couples are free again to plan the wedding they have always wanted. I also hope 2021 sees a boom in destination weddings as couples start to explore overseas again. We can travel anywhere in the world for a destination wedding and can’t wait to get back out into the world.”

ALISON MAYNE – Wedding Executive At Joondalup Resort

Having an enthusiasm for organising events and undeniable creative flair, Alison Mayne’s role as the wedding executive at Joondalup Resort is an ideal match for her organisational skills and love for all things wedding-related. Having brought countless weddings to life before, Mayne describes it as a huge honour to be involved in the creation of a couple’s special day. “I love the reaction of the bride and groom and seeing all the months of planning and the details come together on the day,” she explains.

Prior to the pandemic, Mayne’s days would be filled with the buzz of wedding preparation; with endless phone calls and emails, clipboard and walkie-talkie use, staff setting reception rooms, gardens being mowed, centrepieces being erected and a “venue full of guests having the time of their lives!” At the peak of Western Australia’s COVID-19 cases, the resort had a number of couples choose to cancel their weddings and a period of temporary closure, but Mayne coins travel restrictions as one of the pandemic’s biggest implications on the wedding industry. “Most weddings have interstate or international guests, so due to the borders being closed and the risk of COVID-19, guests have not been able to travel to the wedding,” Mayne says. She describes the inability to travel as possessing a knock-on effect, making a “huge impact with attendance numbers dropping, and in turn a loss of revenue impacting on all areas of the wedding industry”.

Complete with picturesque, sprawling garden settings and five stunning ceremony rooms to choose from, Joondalup Resort is fortunate to enable social-distancing practices to take place with ease, and thus, allow weddings to continue while following safety protocols. “We are lucky enough to have a venue where we have been able to move many weddings to a bigger space to cater for social-distancing guidelines, so [a couple’s] wedding will go ahead as normal,” Mayne affirms.

Her advice for couples who have had to postpone their nuptials in 2020 is simple; don’t stop planning now! “Keep organising your big day as the more you can do now, even in ‘lockdown’, the less stressed you will be as the day draws closer,” she says. Mayne also encourages couples to remember the real reason they are getting married in the first place – to celebrate their love. “Never lose sight of why you are getting married and who you are marrying. It will become one of the most memorable days of your life so it’s worth the wait!”

Mayne advises couples to follow their selected venue’s COVID-safe protocols, and engage with a trusted wedding planner to ease some of the wedding planning stress, while ensuring you are still abiding by the rules and regulations to keep everyone in attendance safe. “Leave it up to the venue to take care of the COVID-19 restrictions and please follow their guidelines and ensure all your guests do as well,” she explains. “At Joondalup Resort, our staff have been fully trained to ensure the safety and security of you and your guests at all times. Don’t take on any additional stress of trying to work out how it will work at your venue as the planners are there to do that for you – so speak with your venue and go through any questions you have.”

When considering nuptials of the future, Mayne’s wishes are for couples to enjoy the magic of the wedding planning process, while feeling safe and supported to do so. “I want brides and grooms to feel safe to return to the world of wedding planning,” she affirms. “I feel there will be an influx of couples very eager to get married who have postponed from 2020… so it’s full steam ahead for 2021!” The challenges of 2020 have been unlike any other. Serving as a reminder that at the very core of these unions is love, the strength and resilience of the wedding industry is ever inspiring – prompting us that by working together going forward, future weddings are looking brighter than ever.