As restrictions ease, couples are putting their wedding plans back in motion. We spoke with local experts about what new trends are emerging.
Nothing stops love. That’s the heartwarming message local wedding vendors are offering as quarantine restrictions have relaxed and couples are moving forward with wedding plans—which may look a little different but which, they promise, will be just as special.
“I smiled every time, during our quarantine, as I scrolled through Instagram or Facebook as there were couples getting engaged right in the middle of a global pandemic,” offers Camilla Matthews, co-owner of Making It Matthews, a full-scale wedding planning company in Belleview. “It reminded me that life renews and nothing can stop love.”
Brides and grooms who had weddings scheduled this spring had to be flexible, and local vendors quickly adapted. No one had a playbook for what to do during a pandemic.
“We call it the COVID shuffle,” Jamie Green says with a laugh. As the director of Mojo’s Catering, she encouraged her team to look at the “pause” as “an opportunity to think outside the box,” and says knowing “everything happens for a reason” and looking at the situation lightheartedly helped them get through the shutdown.
“We came out stronger and more radiant and ready to protect the community,” she affirms. “We came up with a couple of solutions and they seem to be working. We’ve got to make them understand the magic is still there.”
The beautiful, elaborate tablescapes Mojo’s Catering is known for were slightly scaled back in size—though just as lovely—for small family weddings, and Green says that with several socially distanced stations rather than one long buffet line, they were able to do “exactly what the bride envisioned and had worked on for a year, in her planning, Pinterest stories and storyboard.”
Since large gatherings were not possible, many involved with Spring 2020 weddings had to get creative and, now, local wedding planners, caterers, florists and photographers say they enjoyed the chance to help couples celebrate their special day in meaningful ways.
“We have added so many personal touches,” Matthews reveals. “Special toasts, dances, first looks with dad, and the list goes on.”
Photographer Meagan Gumpert of Maven Photo + Film says she and co-owner Dave Miller photographed some intimate and beautiful quarantine weddings that might not have looked exactly like the bride’s Pinterest board but were undoubtedly even more meaningful. They saw destination weddings become backyard weddings and big church weddings become small family ceremonies.
Gumpert and Miller, a newlywed himself, pour their hearts into their work, because photos are “what you get to keep and share with people who aren’t there,” Gumpert says, explaining that they reworked their wedding packages to accommodate the smaller gatherings—no one needed six hours of photography, for instance.
“It’s been fun,” she enthuses. “We had more time to take portraits.”
And, she adds, many couples expanded to videography, which wasn’t part of their original plan, so they could share their special day with family and friends who were no longer able to attend the wedding. Many plan to show the video of their ceremony at a rescheduled, post-pandemic reception, which some couples are planning for this fall. And, Matthews predicts, weddings which have been postponed from spring to fall are on track to come back bigger than ever.
“It gave them more planning time to think about what was truly important about the day. I feel this down time made them eager to have social interaction, therefore the receptions seem to have grown in size, but adding fun interactive items like photo booths, games during cocktail hour, fire pits and s’mores stations.”
Mary Beth Weaver, owner of Floral Architecture and Design, is also seeing a trend toward bigger and better “we-survived-COVID” wedding celebrations.
“I have several brides that had to reschedule because of coronavirus,” she acknowledges. “I am finding they are going big with their florals.”
Couples currently planning their celebration also have a new venue choice for consideration, Protea, on a picturesque horse farm on scenic County Road 475. It is the only hand-hewn beam barn in Florida open for weddings and events.
“There is just not another venue like it,” says owner Courtney Roberts, explaining that the barn is modern yet historic, offering the style of rustic elegance many brides envision for their special day. This unique structure was originally built in Canada in the 1800s and was relocated to Ocala in 2019 and then painstakingly rebuilt. As construction finished this spring, the venue was scheduled to host its first wedding on April 25th—the nuptials of owners Courtney Roberts and Joe Pickerell. Since far-away family members wouldn’t be able to travel, they decided to cancel their wedding. They intended to reschedule, Roberts says, but haven’t had a chance because they are helping so many other couples plan their special day.
“We have been too busy focusing on everyone else’s weddings,” Roberts admits, adding that bookings are nearly full for this fall and early 2021. Such is the labor of love for those in the business of making brides’ dreams come true.
The Vows section in Ocala Style highlights local couples on their most special of days. Photographers and couples are invited to submit images and text by email to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Ocala Style Bridal Show 2020
Brides-to-be looking to create their fantasy wedding can find plenty of tips and engage with vendors at the Ocala Style Bridal Show, set for 2-6pm Saturday, July 18th, at Paddock Mall, 3100 SW College Road, Ocala.
The event will offer opportunities to visit with a wide variety of local businesses, a fashion show, dancing demonstrations, a DJ, food tastings and a photo booth. A VIP section will feature a champagne bar, Ocala Style gift bag for each VIP and exclusive giveaways.
Sponsors include Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club and Nirvana Medical Spa.
The event is free to attend. The cost for the VIP section is $20 and tickets may be purchased at www.ocalastyle.com/bridal
Prospective vendors can learn more by calling (352) 732-0073 or by emailing email@example.com.
Ocala Style Magazine has signed on as the exclusive media sponsor of a special wedding giveaway conceived by Making It Matthews Wedding Planning Services in partnership with many top local wedding vendors.
As a celebration of love and the resilience of the many local couples who got engaged during the pandemic or were planning a wedding that was impacted by the shutdown, the group has committed to providing a dream wedding for one Marion County couple by working together in the spirit of collaboration.
“The most amazing part of this giveaway is that every single one of these vendors has been financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis as well, but did not hesitate to enthusiastically join on to the project,” explains Camilla Matthews of Making It Matthews. “When I first thought about doing this, the idea was how could we create a custom wedding for this bride and groom using everything Making It Matthews has to offer? And now it has blossomed into something even bigger through the generosity of so many amazing partners.”
“We loved this idea, so we put our heads and expertise together to create a dream ‘Barn Wedding’ for one special couple,” explains Ocala Style Publisher Jennifer Murty. “We are so heartened to have so many incredible vendors that so willingly joined on and are as excited as we are to make this a reality for one lucky couple.”
The package includes the following, provided free of charge:
- Ceremony and reception in the historic barn venue and on the picturesque grounds of the beautiful new Protea Weddings & Events.
- Catering supplied by Mojo’s Catering.
- Photography and videography package by Dave Miller and Meagan Gumpert of Maven Photo + Film.
- Event floral design and bridal party flowers by Mary Beth Weaver of Floral Architecture.
- Live music by Olivia Ortiz and Left on Broadway
- DJ services by Brandon and Breanna Shaw of Shaw Sound Entertainment.
The wedding will be chronicled in a feature article in an upcoming issue of Ocala Style, on our website and through our social media channels.
After completing an entry at the bridal show, finalists will be narrowed down by Ocala Style staff and posted on our website so the public may vote on the winning couple.
A message from Making It Matthews
We bring your vision to life! Making It Matthews will handle the legwork so your wedding day, as well as the days leading up to it, are stress free. We will manage the complete event design, timeline and execution. We will coordinate with the vendors and attend all meetings to ensure no detail goes overlooked. On your wedding day, our team will be present to assist you. From beginning to end, we will be working to ensure everything runs smoothly for you and your guests so you can relax and enjoy your special day. We want you to cherish this special moment and the wonderful journey as you begin a new chapter in your lives!
Entrants must live in Marion County to be considered. You must purchase a VIP ticket and attend the Ocala Style Bridal Show on July 18th to enter. Visit www.ocalastyle.com/bridal for rules and details.