• Danielle Burris

How to Plan During the Unpredictable

Navigating this season with innovation, flexibility, and purpose.


It's no secret that 2020 has just been really crappy. Like, really super sucky. Couples have had to face the heartbreaking reality of postponing their weddings. Festivals, conventions, proms, graduations, baby showers, and birthday parties have been cancelled or postponed. We are collectively feeling the heaviness, loss, and disappointment of not being able to celebrate, in-person.

My heart goes out to all of you that have been excitedly planning your once-in-a-lifetime milestone celebrations, only to have COVID-19 completely crash your party. This really sucks, I see your pain, I honor your loss, and I am here for you.


It may be difficult to find the silver-lining in all of this. I totally get that. But it is necessary to re-evaluate our events and make a decision with how we plan to move forward. After you've finished dealing with the initial denial, anger, bargaining, and depression phases of this grief, I'll be here to help you accept this new reality and execute an in-person event even when a pandemic is on the guest list.


Here's the tea: Wedding Planners have never been more essential.

professional worrier, proactive anticipator, and crisis-manager of all sorts


I've been in the trenches of this pandemic. I've watched friends, family, colleagues, and clients get hit with this COVID-quicksand of constant cancellations and postponements. My heart carries the weight of emotional and financial loss, for my loved ones, our vendor teams, and for myself.


So, if you are planning a wedding, and you want someone to support you and have your back every-step-of-the-way, invest in an event planner.


So, how do we gather in the midst of a global pandemic?

How do we cautiously gather and celebrate in-person, without a vaccine, herd immunity, or FDA approved treatments?


As we anxiously wait to find out timelines and specific guidelines for our local event industry, I will be innovating, anticipating, and preparing for what the future of gatherings might look like.


This also lends to the formal introduction of MICRO-WEDDING PACKAGES by Hoosier Homestead Event Coordination + Design!


Reimagining the Wedding Celebration you Planned

we have a unique opportunity to rethink the standard wedding format and dig into the purpose


Reexamine Wedding Priorities, Format, + Flow

Figure out what your celebration non-negotiables are and what you can live w ithout out. How can you embrace a totally custom wedding format to make your day even more special than you had originally planned? Was there something you were planning that didn’t 100% represent you and your partner? Now is the time to throw it out!

  • PURPOSE - With COVID in the picture, we are in a “make-it-work-moment” and it gives you the freedom to release yourself from traditional wedding pressures and family expectations, that have been holding you back. We have a unique opportunity to dig deeper and strip the celebration back down to the core of its purpose.

  • FORMAT - Can you skip the reception? YES! Can you skip dancing? YES! Can you start your celebration with a champagne welcome toast pre-ceremony? YES!

You have the freedom to change up the format, invite only the core group of people that matter most, and highlight the wedding day components that are most important to you.


Reimagine the Guest List

If you are planning a wedding in 2020 or 2021, it is likely that your guest list will significantly drop due to imposed gathering restrictions or guest attendance concerns. Determining the original wedding guest-list is often one of the most stressful areas of wedding planning for couples. How can you now reduce the guest list, you painstakingly created?

  • Did you invite 40 of your parent’s friends because you felt like you had to?

  • Did you invite people you hadn’t seen or talked to in years, because they invited you to yours?

  • Did you invite handful of random +1 guests to accommodate your solo friends and family?

Take a quick sigh, knowing that you can immediately take those formerly mandatory invitees off of your core invite list.


Silver lining perspective: How can you restructure your in-person (and virtual) guest list in a way that honors your relationship and your event’s purpose. After the initial sting is gone, reimagining the guest list might be one area that feels like a perk. With less guest tables to plan for, you can reallocate floral design dollars to put towards the statement floral ceremony arch of your dreams. You might decide to now prioritize the photographer or videographer that you wanted to hire, but didn’t.


How Do We Handle Social Distancing?

how do we practice 6-ft physical distancing at an event?

How can we get creative and design a wedding floor plan that enhances the guest experience while accommodating physical distancing. We can no longer pack 10 random guests together at a dinner table. I love the idea of primarily using smaller tables, grouped by immediate family / friend pods.

Cabaret-style seating means a room filled with small round tables, typically each with four or fewer chairs, all open to a stage — either at one end, or in the center, of the room. This is to give each seated person maximum access to view the stage and to absorb the show.


Food + Beverage Service a return to a service-centric catering industry

There are so many ways to get creative when it comes to food and beverage presentation and service. Traditional buffets, family-style meal service, self-serve food stations, and grazing tables are out for now. This gives us an opportunity to lean into plated meals (i.e., family-style options, but plated for you), small-plate, chef-attended stations, and pre-packed grab and go appetizer and dessert boxes that have been custom branded for the event.

Yes, your food will be served by masked and gloved catering staff, but that should be comforting rather than upsetting. Overall, we need to minimize guest touch-points while also designing a thoughtful environment that allows for guest to comfortably maintain physical distance .

  • Meal Service: plated meals and small-plate, chef-attended stations are in. Guest won’t touch trays or communal serving utensils.

  • Bar Service: Waiters tray passing drinks and taking drink orders over standing in bar lines?

  • Appetizer & Dessert Service: passed apps might be pre-plated and handed to guests in branded to-go style boxes and containers?

  • Physical Space: How do we add more physical space at any staffed food service stations?

  • Additional Staffing: How much additional staff will be needed to meet these requirements?

  • Food & Beverage Minimums: will F&B minimums and catering guarantees need to be reduced if guest capacities are reduced?


Wrapping It Up (with gloves and a mask)

Since the pandemic hit, I have been in the emotional trenches with my clients, venues, and vendor teams as we have had to postpone or cancel one-event-after-the-next. The 2020 we thought we were having abruptly changed, and now we are living in a new world, with a new set of gathering rules.


I hope this helped you to understand what all goes into celebrating one of the most memorable days of your (or a loved one's) life, while also enduring a global pandemic.






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