Not knowing where to start, I turned to traditional resources like Mindy Weiss‘ Wedding Book (my bridal bible!), but also Facebook COVID bride support groups—yes, they are real and helpful—@betchesbrides on Instagram and their awesome podcast, and other places on social media where thousands of newly engaged brides could find solace and laugh at this crazy, highly emotional journey.
I found spaces where brides would vent together about dance floors being banned, guest counts being cut (how do you politely uninvite someone to your wedding?), deposits being lost, etc. It felt nice to be part of a community where COVID brides turned to each other for advice, opinions and help in circumstances that seemed helpless.
With a squad in place, my fiancé and I started to visit venues, and it was clear that most wedding staff were struggling to roll with the punches during the pandemic. We visited several potential locations along the California coast until we found The One: The Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. The oceanfront grounds took my breath away, but most importantly, their wedding point person Amanda Wolters explained how they’d work with us to postpone or cancel/refund us if COVID got in the way of our wedding.
That was my biggest fear while planning: That another round of COVID would strike and we’d lose our deposits if we couldn’t legally hold a big event, a situation many brides faced in the last year. The resort’s policy—a rarity among the venues we checked out—helped get our minds around the idea of putting down a deposit and trusting that we were in good hands.