COVID-19 Was Not Invited

There is hardly a person alive on this planet that hasn’t in some way been impacted by COVID-19. Beyond trying to keep ourselves and loved ones safe, reimagining work and school, and staying home way more than we ever imagined (or wanted), we’ve all felt the disappointment of cancelling events. From vacations and parties to funerals and weddings, COVID has proven to be the most unwelcome guest in our lives.

Getting engaged and planning a wedding is perhaps one of the most joyous times in someone’s life. If you are recently engaged, congratulations! You are likely now looking for the best wedding venues in Austin. If you had a wedding celebration on the books before the pandemic hit, you or your planned venue may have canceled your event. We are so sorry you’re back at square one. Even if your wedding plans are still on, you might be rethinking whether you need to pay for a large venue when your guest list is likely going to shrink.

With so much in the air, finding the best wedding venue in Austin isn’t easy. In fact, it’s downright stressful. How many people will be able to come? If you wait a while, will you be able to have a larger wedding? How long would you have to wait? What Austin venues have availability? 

Questions like these may be swirling in your head, but COVID doesn’t have to ruin everything. You can plan a beautiful, intimate wedding for your closest friends and family now instead of waiting for who knows how long. Here are a few tips on how to do it without all the stress.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Intimate Weddings and Events Keep Us Connected

Tip #1: Find the Best Wedding Venue in Austin for You

There are all kinds of wedding venues in Austin, some less conventional than others. One of the saddest aspects of COVID-19 is how many companies have had to shut down, including venues. One report found more than 400,000 businesses have either halted business or shut down completely. Finding a venue, therefore, isn’t as easy as it once was.

Defining “best” is subjective. When you’re looking for a venue, think about what matters most to you. Your venue will set the stage for your wedding, so you want to make sure it reflects you and your partner’s personalities and vision for your big day. While you may have to look a little harder these days, you should still be able to find places that you love.

With COVID-19, you will likely have to make adjustments to your original wedding idea; however, that doesn’t mean you have to give up on everything you wanted. If we’ve learned anything during this pandemic, it’s that being flexible is really the only thing you can do. For example, perhaps you were thinking of a venue that would accommodate hundreds of people, but now you need to think much smaller (which, on the bright side, has a cost benefit). Maybe you had envisioned a music hall, but now you want to choose somewhere with an indoor/outdoor set up. 

Work with the venue owner or manager to determine if you can add your own personal touches to the venue and if those come at a cost. Talk with them about the terms and conditions, including cancellation policies, what accommodations they cover, what your money covers, safety guidelines and acceptable guest numbers, allowable additions, and any other issues you feel are important. We recommend you narrow your list of possible venues down to least two so you have options if their open dates do not align with yours.

Tip #2: Start with a Date in Mind but Be Ready to Shift

Dates on a calendar these days seem more like a moving target. Virtually everything has to be classified as tentative because so much can change overnight. Choosing your wedding date may work beautifully on your and your partner’s calendar, but as you likely know, open venue dates can be hard to find. 

We suggest having a few possible wedding dates written down, ranked in order of “best case” to “would work.” When you’re talking with venues, see which ones have openings on your listed dates. If none do, ask them when they do have availability and see if you could manage with any of their open dates.

Keep in mind that you may be able to find a different time on the date you want if the venue is already booked. For instance, while you may have wanted an evening wedding, consider having a morning wedding instead on the same day if the venue offers it. For tips on how to pull off a morning wedding, check out this article on The Knot. Instead of a Saturday evening wedding, perhaps a Thursday or Friday evening wedding would work. 

Once you find an opening that you like, jump on it. The chances of that date and time being taken by another couple is high and the longer you wait to sign on the dotted line, the greater the risk you take for losing your venue and starting all over again with the search.

Tip #3: See If The Venue Offers a Wedding Package

Because there are limits to how many people can gather, many of the best wedding venues in Austin are offering micro wedding packages (also called mini weddings). These packages are designed to streamline your wedding planning, offering you an all-inclusive deal that includes the venue and parking, wedding coordination, bar and catering service, photography, tables and chairs, florals, DJ, and wedding cake. 

Talk with the venue to find out if you can customize any of the above, such as choosing your wedding cake style and flavor, the menu, and the types of flowers used in the arrangement. These venues may also offer a variety of fun, interactive activities for you and your guests, like a selfie station booth. 

Micro wedding packages are often cost-efficient and eliminate the stress of having to find individual vendors to provide all of the services listed above. When you consider that the average wedding cost in 2019 was $24,675, a micro wedding is a great deal. 

During a pandemic, finding vendors is only half of the challenge. Finding vendors who have availability on 

your wedding date is another beast. Venues that offer these types of package deals have already negotiated partnerships and dates with local vendors so you can be certain everything is covered on your wedding date. Should one of their vendors cancel, the venue should have a backup vendor they can bring in without much disruption.

Tip #4: Be Realistic with Your Guests

We’re all living through this pandemic together. Your guests understand that all events and plans could change on a dime. If you send only online wedding invitations, you may have an easier time keeping your guests updated through email or social media with any changes. If you prefer printed invitations, a social media event page where you can post updates is a good idea. Consider adding an asterisk next to the date and time and then at the bottom of printed invitations reference the asterisk with a “*Date and Time may change due to external events. Please reference [insert social media event page address] for updates.” You can use this terminology on online invitations as well. Either way, it gives your guests a heads up that things could change.

You should also include on either type of invitation what you expect from your guests. Specify if you want them to bring their own mask or if you will be providing one for them. Let them know if you will enforce mask use, social distancing, or other recommended protocols to keep everyone safe. 

About Vuka

Vuka began as a small yet mighty idea in a warehouse off of South 1st Street in Austin. With a belief that everyone deserves the space and resources to wake up to their fullest potential, we began designing shared workspaces, programs, and event spaces that inspire and spark change. In Zulu, Vuka means to wake up. It's a verb the symbolizes resurrection and understanding. When we live a life that is more awake, we can be more connected to ourselves and to our communities. We at Vuka are inspired to create space where people can do just that; we provide the space needed to be inspired, to be connected, and to create a better world for everyone. That mighty idea has expanded to two locations in Central Austin that creates, cultivates, and provides dynamically-designed spaces for the community at large. Vuka exists to create modern-day community hubs that foster connection and drive impact. The dynamic spaces offered are used for public and private events, shared workspace, and offices, as well as Vuka’s own leadership workshops and business accelerators, focused on community and global issues congruent with today's evolving landscape.