Real Talk: Now That COVID Restrictions Are Lifted, Everyone Is RSVPing “Yes!”

“In a typical year, when you invite people to a wedding, you lose about 15 to 20 percent. This is not a typical year,” says planner Allie Beik about prepping for her October wedding. “People are ready to party.”

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Philly wedding planner Allie Beik of Polka Dot Events and hubby-to-be Tim Davis are prepping for their Big Day this October. Photos courtesy of the couple

In February, we chatted with Philly wedding planner Allie Beik of Polka Dot Events about her own Big Day as she preps for the October 30th celebration amid COVID-19. Back then, the local event world was still limited, and she and fiancé Tim Davis were approaching their 150-person sustainably driven soiree with cautious optimism. They were (and still are) prepared with a Plan B, and had handled a number of key elements, such as booking the venue (Globe Dye Works).

Today, they’re tackling a different set of tasks as the world has reopened. There have been some unforeseen challenges (like the growing size of the guest list), but more than anything, Beik is enthused to plan in-person again. “It’s exciting to be getting out of COVID in terms of actual feeling like you’re planning a wedding,” she says. Below, an update from Beik — including a few sage words of her advice.

This story is part of Philadelphia Wedding’s ongoing Real Talk series, in which real Philly couples share their unique approaches to wedding planning and marriage. If you have a unique story or experience worth sharing, we’d love to hear about it.

Philly wedding planner

The couple with dog Leo

If you have any problems in the beginning, they are going to be ongoing. Take care of those as soon as possible. For us, it’s been the guest list. In a typical year, when you invite people to a wedding, you lose about 15 to 20 percent. This is not a typical year. When I was making my list I didn’t realize that because I hadn’t started seeing the trend yet with my clients, but it is absolutely true that this year you’re getting close to 100 percent of people coming — calendars are clear. People are ready to party and they want to travel. We sent about 180 save-the-dates expecting 150. But everyone is coming to this wedding.

At first I was beating myself up about it: I felt that I did this wrong, and I should have known better. Then my friend who got married a few years ago said: “Allie, nobody can do this perfectly — even a planner. Something is always going to go wrong, and COVID made things very different.”

We are trying to build more time in the day for those we hold dearest. Instead of a typical wedding-party photo-shoot, we’re going to Attic Brewing Co. on the way to the wedding. We’ll sit at the tables drinking beers, and once in a while find a spot for a photo. We’re also sitting with our closest friends for the reception. Dinner will be served first, followed by dancing, rather than an up-and-down-style affair. I can spend time with friends at our table then greet others later.

I’d like to ask that all of our guests be vaccinated. I’d feel safer for the vendors and everybody in attendance. But I’m not putting that on invitations, and it’s not on the website right now. My biggest concern is the variants of COVID — God forbid there are more closures in the fall. But it would be nice to know that all of our guests are vaccinated, so even if regulations remain the same, they should be safe.

Philly wedding planner

Even though COVID event guidelines have eased, each vendor is taking a different approach. Birchtree, my caterer, is not yet doing contracts with a regular cocktail hour and is waiting to see how events go this summer before re-introducing them — the team doesn’t want to offer something it can’t provide. Right now we have a seated cocktail hour, but if things are totally “normal,” Birchtree will shift our contract.

I couldn’t go to our tasting because I was working, so Tim, my dad and our moms went. It was exciting for our parents because that was one of the first wedding things they’ve gotten to do. Because I’m a planner, I feel like our moms have been left out of the process a bit and haven’t gotten to be as involved. I feel bad about that. I also might bring our moms to my hair and makeup trials. [Beik is working with Jackie DeCicco of Collab Hair Studio and Daneene Jensen & Associates.]

We keep asking our parents what matters most to them. Staged family photos are important to our moms, so we are doing them at Globe after the brewery. My parents also want a valet. There’s a small parking lot at Globe but if it fills up, people will have to park on the street, and my mom isn’t sure everyone will feel comfortable walking late at night. We’re currently getting quotes.

Transportation is always difficult. For us, we don’t know who is going to drive, or stay at the hotel and need buses. Half of our guests are local, and because we haven’t sent out invitations yet (they are in progress with Polk Paper), we don’t know everyone’s needs. I was speaking with a transportation company for a different wedding back in May, and they said people should ask on their website or invitations whether guests will need a shuttle. Because what ends up happening is if you don’t get that number you’re either buying too little or too much, and people could be left stranded or you could be wasting money. [The couple recently booked Krapf Group.]

As for the budget, one of the things I’ve discovered is that it’s important for couples to discuss how it’s going to work. We set our budget early on, but we never chatted about who’s going to pay for what and how. If you’re splitting it or your parents are helping, figure out what everyone is handling. And I was prepared for this, but rentals will always cost more than you think.

This story has been edited for clarity and length. 

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