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In-person weddings are making a comeback: What to expect this summer

Get ready for a supersized wedding season this year!
/ Source: TODAY

Couples across the country told TODAY how heading to the altar during the pandemic meant altering their wedding plans. COVID-19 not only forced some couples to postpone or cancel their big days, but those forging ahead had to get creative. From a backyard “minimony” to a tailgate-style “micro wedding” and everything in between — including virtual weddings. And because we’ve all gotten so used to video conferencing, experts say the wedding industry is changing for good.

“A lot of invitations are starting to say ‘yes, no or attending virtually,’” Caroline Creidenberg, the CEO of Wedfuly, told TODAY. Her company handles livestreaming wedding events — everything from serving as a master of ceremonies, setting up multiple cameras and making sure the ceremony goes off without a glitch.

She said the pandemic has normalized weddings with a virtual component. Creidenberg used one example of a bride who wanted an “intimate” wedding with a groom who always wanted a “huge blowout.”

The couple settled on having just five people there on-site and 700 attending virtually.

“This was the perfect marriage, no pun intended, of their needs and wants,” she said.

There are some benefits to attending a wedding virtually, including the obvious money saved by not traveling. However, there is some virtual wedding etiquette guests should be aware of. For starters, make sure you are muted. Also, don’t attend the ceremony from the car — look presentable and treat it as though you’re attending the event in real life. And finally, keep your camera steady while you watch the ceremony — a shaky camera is distracting to other guests.

Couples who went with more virtual and scaled-down weddings have been spending more on engagement rings, experts said. Many couples also decided on more casual looks for the event; women often went with shorter dresses or less traditional looks and men opted for suits instead of a formal tux.

“I think it will be a shift going forward. It’s just permission to be able to wear what they want, wherever their wedding is taking place and whenever their wedding is taking place,” Beth Chapman, the owner of the White Dress by the Shore, told TODAY.

Experts also said to be prepared for bigger nuptial celebrations in the coming year. The centerpiece for 2021 weddings: vaccinations.

“The vaccine rollout is actually giving couples optimism to have bigger guest lists again,” Jeffra Trumpower, the senior creative director for WeddingWire, told TODAY. “We’re really going to see those weddings come back full swing starting around August.”

She added that experts are preparing for a double wedding season, with canceled events from last year being rescheduled and, of course, 2021 brides.

As the show must go on, there will still likely be some hints of COVID-19 safety protocols at ceremonies this year.

In March, a poll on wedding website The Knot found that 1 in 5 couples said they planned to require all guests to be vaccinated before attending their nuptials.

Beyond just getting in the door, guests should also prepare to see performers instead of a dance floor, boxed appetizers instead of passed hors d’oevres and plated meals instead of buffets.

For anyone planning a wedding this year, experts say you should be flexible. Consider a weekday wedding instead of a weekend and communicate with your vendors on safety protocols and cancellation fees.

They also suggested booking your location now, as some wedding dates are already filling up for 2022.

“What we’re hearing from not only couples but also guests is that they’re actually so excited to get back into those big environments with friends and family and be able to celebrate,” Trumpower said.

Many of the couples TODAY spoke with that already said “I do” said there was a silver lining to a smaller crowd and casual setting; some said the money saved will go toward a bigger celebration down the line or a down payment on a home.

Wednesday on TODAY while talking about this season’s wedding trends, the hosts also strongly hinted to Hoda Kotb they’d like to attend a certain wedding in the near future! Hoda and her longtime partner, Joel Schiffman, got engaged in 2019 and had planned to tie the knot in 2020, but like many other couples, had to postpone the event due to the ongoing pandemic.

Hoda chuckled as her friends and co-hosts tried to get her to commit to a new date.

“I know, OK, we’re going to pick our date soon,” she laughed. “All right.”