Destination weddings: How to plan your dream celebration in uncertain times

(BPT) - Something old, something new, masks for guests and hand sanitizer, too — weddings during COVID-19 look different than those in the past. However, love is leading the way as couples are making thoughtful adjustments to their ceremonies to reflect their personalities and commitment to each other while prioritizing health and safety.

"Expect the unexpected is a phrase wedding planners have shared with couples for decades, and the global pandemic is certainly having an impact on matrimony traditions," says Jonalee DeNoble, associate director of meetings and events at Destination Kohler. "Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way weddings are typically planned and performed, that doesn't mean you can't still have a dream wedding in a memorable location."

Jonalee offers expert insights for planning a wedding during the pandemic and the top wedding trends that smart brides and grooms are embracing:

Smaller groups provide intimacy enjoyed by all

Having hundreds of people gather for a wedding or reception simply isn't possible right now. Don't sweat the change and instead embrace the intimacy that only smaller celebrations can provide. This might be a few dozen of your closest friends and family or something as simple as the bride and groom and their parents. There is a beauty in smaller ceremonies that truly reflects the unconditional love a couple has for each other. When planning, remember group gathering restrictions vary by state and can change at any time, so be sure to plan accordingly and be conservative in your numbers.

Road trips rule for local destination weddings

Jetting to a tropical country or international destination for a wedding is not currently a great option, however, you can still enjoy a dream destination wedding in a picturesque setting when you explore options within driving distance. For example, Kohler, Wisconsin, is the premier wedding destination for people in the Midwest, with the new Straits Chapel at Destination Kohler that's an intimate location surrounded by the beauty and serenity of nature. The picturesque setting of Straits Chapel, complemented by its modern design and proximity to Whistling Straits golf course, will captivate guests looking to celebrate as well as seeking a place for tranquility.

Nature-based settings are stunning and spacious

Opting for celebrations in nature over urban settings helps guests feel more comfortable knowing there is ample space for safety and social distancing. For example, Straits Chapel is nestled in the woods on the edge of bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan, which provides stunning views with plenty of access to the outdoors. When planning a wedding, consider if you want an indoor or outdoor ceremony, and how the natural benefits of parks, gardens and other nature-based destinations can enhance your wedding aesthetically while also providing a safer setting for everyone who attends your special day.

Streaming ceremonies and celebrations online

So many people are working and attending school online, it's no surprise that the wedding ceremony has gone digital, too. Knowing celebrations will likely be smaller, this is a wonderful way to make people feel included even if they can't attend in person. Research platforms and streaming options, as many have pros and cons, and choose the best one for your needs. Then on the big day you can broadcast the ceremony and celebration to loved ones who want to watch as you say "I do" and share your first moments as a married couple.

Request contactless accommodations

For guests who are attending the ceremony in person and need a place to stay overnight, research the safest and most convenient options so they can choose which they are most comfortable with. Many hotels have upgraded cleaning routines and offer contactless accommodations for a safer experience. Guests at Destination Kohler might consider the new Lake and Pond cabins with upscale features in a beautiful location that is very secluded from other guests. Reach out and get the details on different options to make it easy for guests to feel comfortable with their stay.

"COVID-19 has forced us to go back to the drawing board and create unique and luxury experiences while keeping everyone safe,” says DeNoble. "With great thought and our proactive measures, you can have a dream wedding with memories to last a lifetime."

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