Over the past year, the existence of COVID-19 has disrupted our daily lives on numerous levels. Perhaps one of the most noticeable impacts was our ability to have social gatherings and events. Many engaged couples in 2020 were either forced to reschedule their wedding plans, opting to move to one or two years away, or scale down their event to a fraction of its original size.

Wedding professionals worked around the clock to accommodate all the changes so their couples could still get the day of their dreams, even if that dream was a little deferred. What I personally observed from this industry and its clients was the resolve of the human spirit and its ingenuity. No one would be defeated and instead got creative. Mini-monies and micro-weddings happened from parks to backyards while venues constructed tented areas to stay outside as much as possible. We learned what was really important and that celebration, even small ones, was sometimes the best therapy to make us all a little stronger.

With the new year brings hope for even better days but also some new challenges as well. Here are some thoughts and tips to consider when planning your wedding ceremony this year.

1. Don’t wait to book your officiant

One of the biggest challenges of 2021 for wedding planning will be the volume. When 2020 weddings postponed, they took many of the prime dates for this year. That means if you are recently engaged, when you begin planning, you may find many of your desired dates are already taken.

As officiants, many of us have our share of “sequel” weddings this year. We married our couple legally on their original date last year, but their full-scale wedding and reception is this year, so we will perform another ceremony for that event. Even if you’re not getting married till 2022, I highly recommend you book your officiant and all other professionals as early as possible.

2. Your friend as the officiant is not your only option

While booking your wedding professionals might be challenging, don’t get discouraged. I always say there is someone out there for every couple, to suit every personality and every budget and that includes your officiant.

Your ceremony should be, in my opinion, one of the most meaningful and personal parts of your day. While there has been a rise on couples using a friend or family member as an officiant, I caution against this. You might be concerned that hiring a stranger to officiate means that your ceremony won’t feel personal. But professional wedding officiants, who excel at their business, do so because they