If 2020 was the year of the micro-wedding and minimony, then 2021 will be the year of the “I Do, Take Two.” And with the vaccine rollout and spring’s much-welcomed arrival, hosts and hostesses are feeling optimistic about the return of gatherings, be it for weddings, anniversaries or other life milestones.
According to The Knot 2020 Real Weddings Study [Covid-19 Edition] released last month, 47% of couples who planned to wed in 2020 will now celebrate in 2021 or later. And as many aim to make up for missed celebrations due to Covid-19, hotel and resort venues have launched creative packages for those who had to cancel weddings since the start of the pandemic.
Kristen Maxwell Cooper, editor in chief of The Knot, says, “We’ll see more variety with event formats and wedding-day details at future weddings, as couples embrace their unique priorities.”
As a hotel that launched during the pandemic in September 2020, the Lotte Hotel Seattle had to get creative before its grand opening. It just unveiled Re-Do I Do, offering wedding packages with a special touch. These exclusive elements range from personalized dining menus for a few dozen, to in-room celebrations for two.
Just yesterday, the Lotte Seattle was allowed to operate at 50% capacity, or up to 160 guests in the main ballroom. “We’ve seen several weddings booked in the last 90 days contact us to increase their guest list and that’s exciting to be able to scale up depending on the comfort level of the bride and groom,” says Matt King, director of marketing at Lotte. He adds that weddings in the summer and fall, meanwhile, have expanded guest counts to as high as 300, contingent upon safety measures.
But not all affianced couples are feeling butterflies about a new wedding season. “There’s still a ton of apprehension in the market, for sure,” says King. “We even hired a part-time wedding counselor to get them through the stress of planning.” He points to brides and grooms who ran into problems in 2020 with other vendors, some dealing with multiple cancellations and losing out on deposits altogether.
King says the key to safely booking a wedding in 2021 and beyond is ensuring there’s flexibility within the contract. “We have something called a ‘pandemic clause,’ where we will abide by all safety guidelines at the time their wedding takes place, and if anything else changes we can postpone or reschedule.”
Says Cooper from The Knot, “Out of a year that posed unforeseen challenges for all—especially for those who planned to wed in 2020 and the vendors who planned to help bring these celebrations to life—comes a time where individuals are yearning to celebrate the milestone of marriage once again surrounded by all of their loved ones when it’s safe to do so.”
While there is pent-up demand for celebrating love, the CDC maintains its Covid-19 safety guidelines for mask-wearing, social distancing and hand-washing, as well as avoiding big crowds and poorly ventilated places. Here are some hotels across the country offering creative packages and airier venues for those who want a second chance at tying the knot (with safety in mind).
In addition to its “pandemic clause” contract, the Lotte boasts The Sanctuary ballroom venue as the centerpiece of its wedding offerings. The newly built hotel is attached to the 100-year old Beaux Arts structure (which was America’s first United Methodist Church).
The structure retains its towering ceilings, original pipe organ and stained glass windows, and is now a spacious area that accommodates social distancing. Smaller weddings are of course safer. But a scaled-down guest list does not mean you have to dial down the elegance. The Lotte’s on-site Charlotte Restaurant & Bar presents private dining rooms with stunning views of downtown Seattle, and a customizable menu featuring contemporary Pacific Northwest cuisine.
If you are envisioning an even more intimate celebration, the Lotte will also accommodate an exclusive in-room celebration. Choose from its selection of suites, including the Presidential Suite on the fifteenth floor, with sweeping views of Seattle’s ports. Guests will be treated with Pastry Chef Artis’ artisanal cakes and a bottle of champagne. Newlyweds can also turn their wedding weekend into a spa escape by ordering a signature treatment, like the “Crème Fraiche & Honey.” The exfoliating experience may be what a couple needs to brush away the stress that comes with wedding planning during a pandemic.
If you are envisioning rustic chic, The Barn at GrayBarns in Silvermine is a reclaimed structure that was disassembled in upstate New York, only to be reassembled in this idyllic Connecticut town (less than two hours from New York City). The main inn, which once hosted Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher on their honeymoon, overlooks a pond and provides a beautiful backdrop for day-of preparations.
The property hosts a range of spaces that can accommodate up to 75 guests for an intimate, open-aired wedding. The Tavern has a private dining space that is perfect for a rehearsal dinner, while the Mercantile across the street is a great space for welcome drinks.
For those who prefer an art deco theme, this flatiron building, built in 1929, has about a dozen venues that can house up to 120 standing guests. As for its outdoor options, check out the Cabana Club terrace on the sixth floor, and of course the Up Room on the thirteenth floor rooftop.
The trendy rooftop cocktail lounge at this Wicker Park hotel offers sweeping views of the Chicago skyline and features The Grotto, a private alcove in the building’s bell tower, perfect for intimate yet memorable occasions.
This boutique hotel won Oregon Bride Magazine’s Best of 2020 Award for Best Hotel/Resort Venue. The century-old Portland landmark has crafted a Bridal Suite Package to streamline the wedding planning process. It includes a free, two-hour pre-wedding photo shoot set in the former Meier & Frank department store building property furnished with tasteful decor. When it comes to food and beverage, couples and guests can enjoy a Make-Your-Own Mimosa kit including a bottle of sparkling wine with orange juice carafe, delicious chocolates and dining credit at the in-house Urban Farmer Steakhouse.
The Hotel Figueroa in DTLA is a nearly century-old property boasting Spanish Colonial charm. The boutique hotel caters to a range of budgets but ultimately serves up Instagram-worthy backdrops for all. Last year it launched “Micro-Weddings At The Fig” for those aiming to throw a socially distanced alfresco ceremony amidst 70-year-old cactus gardens and a Mediterranean-inspired setting that can host up to 25. For those who can’t make it, the venue offers audio-visual packages including full projection capabilities. Other sweet touches include a wedding cake and desserts by local bakery and cake artist, Flouring L.A., and a photo booth that will capture the couple’s “wedding aura.”
The entrance to this midtown Manhattan is marked by the thick, wood-carved door embellished with gold accents. Once you walk through the lobby entrance lined with crystal chandeliers, tufted leather and a cozy nook with a fireplace, the hustle and bustle of surrounding Times Square will melt away.
The Sanctuary Hotel teams up with wedding coordinating agency NY1 Minute to provide couples with everything from officiants, to virtual Zoom setups for family and friends. Haven Rooftop is perfect for intimate weddings for up to 50 guests, which can be hosted year-round in an exclusive VIP lounge as well as the hotel’s outdoor North and South Cabana.
El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel, sits high, nestled in the lush Santa Barbara Hills. Recently restored to its glory days of the 1920s, the historic hotel’s pristine gardens, panoramic views of the Pacific and spacious bungalows create a perfect setting for nuptials, all while following social-distancing protocols. From the wisteria-filled Arbor and Lily Pond to the sunlit ballroom with outdoor patio, guests can choose from a variety of locations across the property for a safe, intimate ceremony.