Safety and flexibility are key.
Meet Yifat Oren, a celebrated events producer at the helm of Oren Co, one of the world's leading luxury experience firms. With over 20 years of experience and offices in Los Angeles and New York, Oren and her team are renowned for making the impossible possible by creating personalized, truly unforgettable events for discerning clients. Oren, who has produced high-profile events for celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway, and more, is regularly featured on every go-to wedding planner's list, so it's safe to say she's the ultimate expert on nuptial celebrations.
We spoke with the luxury events tastemaker to hear her tips on wedding planning in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
How has the wedding industry adapted to COVID?
"Now that we've been living with the pandemic for over a year, the wedding industry had no choice but to adapt to and follow local laws, guidelines, and CDC recommendations to ensure safety and reduce the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID.
"The good news is that people are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's a bright one."
What are the first steps to planning a wedding in these uncertain times?
"First thing, think about the size of your guest list. This literally should come before anything—this now takes precedence. This number will help you figure out if you are going to have it indoors or outdoors, which will help you figure out a date/season.
"You're almost there, now all you need are flowers, food, drinks, entertainment, a photographer—just a few minor steps to go."
What are your most important tips for planning a safe wedding?
"I think you need to first establish what your vision looks like—i.e., where it takes place, number of guests—and from there you can either adapt to the current circumstances or postpone your wedding.
"A few more crucial tips:
- "Make sure that your guest number is safe. One of the weddings that I planned at the height of the pandemic was originally planned for 250 guests and was brought down to 20.
- "Give guests safety parameters and verify that they've been vaccinated, or ask them to get tested within 48 hours before the wedding.
- "Make sure that all of the staff on-site, including the caterers and wedding planners, are vaccinated or regularly tested."
What are a few of your favorite COVID wedding ideas that you've come across?
"Hand sanitizers that actually smell good and are packaged in beautiful little bottles or pouches; they can be placed anywhere from the reception to the bar and should be available everywhere. A few of my favorite sanitizing brands include AMASS, Lather, and Clark's Botanicals.
"As time is our most precious commodity, in lieu of the six-hour wedding and reception for 200, a weekend in a bucolic destination, gathering safely, celebrating, and spending time with your nearest and dearest, may just be the nuptial COVID silver lining we all should have secretly wished for."
What are your views on planning a destination wedding—is it still possible, or do you advise against it?
"This is a tricky question, as things are changing all of the time. International travel is still largely unknown, and this is why it's important to choose a destination that people can travel to safely.
"For example, currently, many countries in Europe are in lockdown and so that isn't too realistic. However, the Maldives offers a comprehensive program to accommodate weddings safely even though it's quite far."
Some brides are contemplating postponing their weddings to 2022 or 2023—what are your thoughts on this?
"It really depends on what your preferences and wedding aspirations are. Some couples happily adapt to a different kind of wedding, as they want to get married and get on with their lives and start a family. Others can't imagine not having their dream wedding and figure if they've already postponed one year, then they might as well wait another year to have their dream party."
What are the most crucial areas that couples should invest in for their wedding?
"The most important area to invest in during COVID-19 is, of course, safety. Make sure that there are rapid coronavirus tests available for staff, insist that all staff wear masks at all times and that hand sanitizers are placed everywhere.
"Once the safety element is checked off, music can either make or break the event—make sure to get the right entertainment.
"With that said, I believe that it's all a balancing act. For example, it doesn't make sense to not have enough food and too much alcohol, or overdo it with the flowers."
Final tips for brides-to-be?
"We're navigating a new era of unprecedented times, and we're all learning as we go. This implies that the couple needs to communicate clearly and kindly what is needed for everyone's safety so that there's no confusion or backlash.
"The most important piece of advice is do everything you can to be prepared and organized, as well as hire the right professionals and trust them to do their job."
Photo: Alicia Swedenborg
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