Wedding Planning in 2021: A Primer

Newlyweds cutting wedding cake
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In 2021, planning a wedding can be a daunting task, with questions about size, scope and safety coming before the fun stuff like food and entertainment. Dan’s Papers asked East End wedding planning experts how they make couples’ special day memorable in these new times.

Talk about the services you offer.

Kate Wiggins, Sales Director, The Vineyards at Aquebogue: The Vineyards at Aquebogue is a full-service private event and wedding venue owned by Lessing’s Hospitality Group. We are nestled on the North Fork, amongst vineyards and farmland, making our venue the perfect place for an elegant, rustic wedding or event. We pride ourselves on our use of local product in our farm-to-table station, as well as Briermere Farms for our local pie station. We host weddings, showers, luncheons, corporate events and more.

Deborah Minarik, Deborah Minarik Events, Ltd.: My company offers all aspects of wedding planning services. We work with our couples right out of the gate and help with all aspects of planning (picking and negotiating pricing with venues, photographers, florists, entertainment, etc.). Sometimes we step in after the venue has been selected and they just need help with picking vendors (partial planning) and sometimes we are there as day-of coordinators which means we are there for the full day, helping to coordinate all vendors and making sure that everything happens as it is written in their timeline. All wedding vendors have been chosen and booked by the couple and we step in the month of the wedding to firm up their timeline, their ceremony line-ups, etc. We also offer décor advice and help with all packages.

Charlotte Cote, Director of Marketing, East Wind Long Island: Selecting a wedding venue can be daunting for any couple and it’s the biggest decision between “yes” and “I do.” East Wind Long Island offers a full range of services to make your wedding day, the day of your dreams. Set on 26 lush acres of Long Island’s North Fork, our more than 50,000-square-feet of indoor and outdoor banquet space is the largest in Suffolk County and ideal for your big day with a choice of venues to accommodate any size affair with the intimacy you deserve. The Inn is home to 50 grand rooms and suites, award-winning catering facility, our tranquil 10,000-square-fee spa and salon offering bridal hair and makeup, bachelorette parties or a calming pre-wedding massage and North Fork Bridal Shoppe. With the grandeur of the Northampton and Southampton Ballrooms and Veranda in the Inn, the elegance of the Estate and charm of an English garden at the Cottage, all with indoor and outdoor ceremony space, our wedding professionals will help you find the perfect venue that meets your sense of style, privacy (one wedding at a time) and budget, so all you have to worry about is saying “I Do.”

How have your procedures and processes changed during the pandemic?

The Vineyards: We are dedicated to a high level of service for our couples. Since we began hosting micro weddings last September we have been dedicated to maintaining our same level of Lessing’s service while strictly abiding by the ever-changing NYS rules and guidelines. Our procedures all revolve around safety first. Our processes have remained the same but with restrictions. We feel that if we make our couples and guests feel as normal as possible while celebrating within the guidelines they will still have a great time and that has certainly been the case for us. We still receive five-star reviews and many couples speak to the fact that we made them feel very comfortable throughout the process albeit during a pandemic.

How have your procedures and processes changed during the pandemic?

Deborah Minarik: We have taken on a lot more work during the pandemic. We have helped our couples in any way that we could such as rescheduling venue dates and trying to coordinate the new date with all of their booked vendors so that they lost as little money as possible. We did all of this without ever up-charging because we felt it was the right thing to do. Some couples changed their wedding date four times and still won’t be married until the end of this year or early 2022.

How have your procedures and processes changed during the pandemic? 

East Wind: Following all CDC guidelines that includes social distancing, masks are required, splash guards providing safety shields for all buffet service, sanitizers are at every location throughout Inn and all other venues, double gloves are required for all servers. In addition, all East Wind employees are COVID tested biweekly, tables/chairs are set within social distance, all food and drink are served in cocktail hour, we do not allow our employees to touch napkins or plates unless being cleared.

What advice can you give to clients who might not know where to start when it comes to planning?

The Vineyards: Call Kate or Russ at The Vineyards and start planning your spectacular event today!

Deborah Minarik: I always tell overwhelmed couples to not look at the big picture in the beginning because there are many moving pieces that will fall into place in time. Concentrate on one thing at a time with the venue selection obviously being the first important decision that they make. Once that is booked, everything else is easy because they will now know what colors match the décor of the venue, where the transportation needs to travel to, what style flowers work at that location, etc. I also tell them to try and just listen to themselves on what they want and not the army of unsolicited advice that they may be getting from friends. Working with your family is one thing, but sometimes there are too many chefs in the kitchen and it gets overwhelming for them.

East Wind: One thing at a time. Once you have a date or time of year in mind, book the venue first, then begin the planning process. Keep organized, NEVER panic and enjoy it! This is a special time in your life, and it will all workout to be the perfect day!

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