groom and bride wearing just married face masks
The Factory Events

In what has felt like both a lifetime and a blink, it’s almost been a year since the pandemic started to rear its head. Despite the difficult times, couples got engaged and navigated all of the hurdles of wedding planning in a pandemic. Now, engaged couples are gearing up for their 2021 weddings, albeit with some uncertainty. As a 2021 bride myself, I’m feeling the anxiety and pressure of not being able to predict what the future holds. However, what I do know is I’ve finally found my one-of-a-kind match, and regardless of what happens, we’ll always have one another and our love. Many 2020 couples have learned just that: your marriage is more important than your wedding. Even so, a wedding is a milestone and an experience many look forward to having. Here, 2020 newlyweds give their best advice to 2021 couples:

Don’t wait to say “I do”. 

“We didn't plan much: we got engaged and married all in two weeks. My parents were able to come to the engagement in Georgia on March 7, but by the time we got married on March 20, COVID-19 had become so prevalent that my family didn't feel safe to fly anymore. We had the ceremony at my in-law's house. My father-in-law is ordained, so he did the service, and my wife’s sister took pictures. My wife’s brother held my phone, so my family FaceTimed in to watch the ceremony. The hardest part was hanging up the phone so that we could eat and party. All-in-all, it was a great night. My advice for 2021 couples is don’t wait. If you love the person and you want to spend your life with them, you don't need a big wedding. COVID-19 has shown us that time is precious. Don't waste it not telling your loved ones that you love them. You can always have a big party when this is all over.” —Andy Giron, who married Alana Giron on March 20, 2020 

Remember who this is all about. 

“Weddings are for you and your partner. Period. The more personal and intimate a wedding is, the more organic and natural it will be. There’s no need to plan an elaborate wedding. All that matters is that you are surrounded by loved ones. No matter how big or small, invest in a photographer, forget your phone, and enjoy the moment. Have fun decorating; candles and flowers are always great for setting the mood. If you're committed to being with each other through this awkward global pandemic time, then congrats, you found your favorite person!” —Ben Gutkovitch, who married Mary Denise Jimenez, on December 12, 2020

Take planning day-by-day.

“No matter if it is five people or 500, all that matters is that you two show up. All of the other people do not matter. Truly, it is about two coming together on their very special day. Take all of the planning day-by-day, do not be afraid to ask for help, and if the little details do not work out, in the end, no one else even realizes that it was supposed to happen in the first place. Enjoy every second of that day! It goes by way too fast!” —Celeste Cook, who married Clinton Cook on October 24, 2020 

Remember: This is just the beginning. 

“Getting married in a pandemic is like a beautiful nightmare that allows you to wake up to a blissful new beginning: the marriage itself. The planning process is fun at first because it is exciting and new. It can then become super-tedious planning every detail, contacting vendors, being pulled in different directions by several people, and potentially losing your initial venue as we did. However, the realization hits that, ‘Hey, you know what? Things are going to happen — because hello pandemic! — and at the end of the day, marrying the person who was created for you is all that matters. So, take time to enjoy all the small moments that lead up to the big day, no matter how crazy it gets. When things seem like they may be falling apart just know it is really the beginning of an epic adventure just waiting to happen. Rely on your partner and delegate tasks to those that you trust. When your big day approaches, it will be filled with a flood of emotions that thankfully ends with an unmasked kiss, tons of photos, shiny new bands symbolizing your commitment to one another and a life partner. Being married and entering newlywed life is amazing.” —Shanice Lewis, who married her husband, Da’Shaun McIntyre, on December 5, 2020

It will be the most beautiful day, no matter what.

“The biggest piece of advice I can give — which took me a while to accept — is that it’s more about the marriage and not the wedding. I was so caught up in having my wedding be exactly what I had envisioned that I was refusing to bend when s*** hit the fan last March. Our wedding was supposed to be April 4, 2020. And up until March, I had pretty much everything perfectly planned out, so it was a tough pill for me to swallow when we had to make the tough decision to cancel our wedding three weeks before our big day. At first, I was in denial, and then I was just depressed and stressed about the whole thing. But while moving everything to September, I found calm in the storm. My fiancé and I grew closer to each other than ever before, and it truly built a stronger foundation for our marriage. We learned how to depend on each other and be a united front when making tough decisions. So long story short: your wedding may not be what you envisioned, and that’s OK! The most important thing is that you and your partner are declaring your love to each other and in front of loved ones (whether in person or via Zoom) that day. Nothing else matters in the grand scheme of things, and in your eyes, it will be the most beautiful day of your life.” —Alyssa Szaplaj, who married Dennis Szaplaj, on September 12, 2020

Be patient with the process.

“Just have patience in the process; a lot of things can change unexpectedly, so have a backup plan ready in place. If you have a large guest list, make a separate smaller guest list of close family and friends you know for sure you would want at your wedding, just in case you need to cut down the list. Above all, know that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to and don’t stress yourself. Remember: you and millions of other couples are going through the same process.” —Alexa, who married Frank on September 6, 2020

Create your own happiness.

“At the end of the day, all that matters is you get to marry your person. The day will never be perfect, and things will always go wrong. We really squeezed our wedding in before the pandemic fully started. We went straight from the stress of planning the wedding to quarantining together. It wasn't at all how we pictured our honeymoon or newlywed life, but we just held on tight, focused on the life ahead, and we created our own happiness.” —Elizabeth Bond, who married Kyle Soukup on February 22, 2020

Start planning early.

“Start planning early and keep in mind everything will not go your way, and that's ok. Save money by making your own decorations. Get bridesmaids and family to help: it's a lot of fun and makes great memories. Keep the wedding day guest list small and intimate. The day goes by so fast, and it will be a whirlwind of emotions, so by keeping it intimate, you will have more time to enjoy and soak it all in. Spend the money you saved on a smaller wedding on a grand honeymoon! That few days to a week alone with your new spouse will be so important to the both of you, so spend the money to make it a trip of a lifetime. Make sure you hire a photographer; it's worth the money and the pictures will capture your memories forever.” —Mikal, who married Tim on June 20, 2020

Don’t let hiccups ruin the day.

“2020 taught us that nothing is certain and life is short. My family wanted me to postpone my wedding, but in hindsight, I am so happy I didn't. Invest in wedding insurance and have a backup plan. Expect bad weather or even a pandemic, but don't let any of those things distract from the day and what it means. During all the planning, I reminded myself that no matter what happened or who was there, the day would be perfect because I was marrying the most amazing man. Sure I wanted all of the 200 people I invited to attend and everything to be flawless, but the only thing that mattered was that my groom was at the end of the aisle.” —Shay Pantano, who married Eric Price on January 11, 2020