Now that it’s crystal clear that hosting a big wedding at this time is just not possible due to the spread of COVID-19, we’re sharing the experiences of real couples navigating the re-scheduling, cancellation, and civil and commemorative wedding processes in an attempt to help others make informed decisions and to spread our support to all during this time.
Laura Belair postponed her September Amalfi Coast wedding because of the spread of COVID-19. Here, she’s sharing how she and her husband, Henry McNamara, made the final call and moved ahead with a micro-wedding on their original date.
Laura and Henry were in the midst of planning their September 2020 wedding in Ravello when the pandemic ravaged Italy. They kept in close contact with their Italy-based wedding planner to assess the next steps. Between COVID-19 guidelines and international travel restrictions, the couple decided to postpone their Italian wedding to May 2021.
Throughout quarantine, Laura and Henry deliberated about whether or not they should have a smaller ceremony. They had already devoted so much time and energy to their now-postponed wedding in Italy. “We kept asking ourselves,” Laura says, ‘”Do we really want to plan another wedding from scratch?”‘
But as their original wedding date loomed closer, Laura and Henry realized they wanted to celebrate—even if they couldn’t be in Italy. In mid-July, they committed to a micro-wedding on their original wedding date.
Several of their close family members are immunocompromised, so safety was of the utmost importance. The best venue would be convenient for every one of the few guests invited, and there could be no better place than Laura’s parents’ Tudor home in Bay Head on the Jersey Shore. Henry’s grandmother actually lived in a house nearby. Before they ever met, Laura and Henry would spend their summers growing up in this area.
Laura and her mother, Bayne Belair, divvied up the wedding planning. Laura covered the logistics, while her mother handed the creative. A friend connected Bayne with Amanda Savory of Amanda Savory Events and Julie Guinta of Little Sister Creative to coordinate the day and arrange the decor and florals.
While deciding upon the aesthetic of the day, Laura knew she wanted to distinguish the micro-wedding from the Italy wedding. “Since our wedding in Italy will be a more traditional and formal affair, we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to have this moment twice and to take a more bohemian, casual approach to this more intimate event,” she explains. Laura’s father Scott Belair is one of the co-founders of Urban Outfitters, Inc., which also encapsulates Free People and Anthropologie. “We decided this approach meant incorporating the vibe of those brands to our beach wedding in everything from clothing and design to food and drink,” Laura adds.
Laura’s mother and Julie Guinta collaborated together to perfect this carefree style that resembled the end of summer. Julie visited the Bay Head house and drew inspiration from Laura’s family’s boho decor. Julie derived the entire event’s color palette from a painting in the living room. She then visited URBN brands’ websites and chose vases from Urban Outfitters, rugs from Anthropologie, and hanging baskets from Terrain.
Laura’s original wedding dress was a beautiful dramatic formal Danielle Frankel gown. It was perfect for gliding down an Italian church aisle, but not necessarily ideal for the Jersey Shore micro-wedding. Laura’s love for Danielle Frankel designs was too big to choose anything else. Fortunately, the Danielle Frankel Studio launched a micro-wedding capsule collection. Laura was able to choose a dress that matched her new shoreside wedding venue.
For the rehearsal dinner, Laura wore the same choker her mother wore on her wedding day. On the wedding day, she wore her mother’s classic diamond studs and a bracelet made out of her late grandmother’s brooch. In the spirit of “something borrowed” and “something old,” Laura’s wedding band is her mother’s original wedding band.
Jessica Walker of J. Walker Salon did Laura’s makeup. Even without a trial run because of COVID-19 restrictions, Jessica perfectly captured the natural beauty look Laura wanted.
The groom’s sister works for The RealReal and helped artfully curate his wedding outfit. A suit would be too formal for this intimate event, so they aspired for a more nautical and bohemian look. He wore Brunello Cucinelli pants and jacket, an Orlebar Brown shirt, and Loro Piana shoes.
Laura’s maid of honor was her best friend, and Henry’s best man was his brother. Both chose their outfits with the only style parameters being easy, beachy, and casual. Each achieved this effortless aesthetic and ended up going barefoot for the ceremony.
On September 6th, 2020 Laura and Henry married in a special and intimate ceremony in front of their 30 guests. Their online officiant was Laura’s father’s closest friend and college roommate. He married them virtually!
Because the Italian wedding will be bigger and more traditional, the couple chose to write their vows for this ceremony. “Exchanging those vows was the most meaningful part of the day for me,” Laura says. Throughout the ceremony, the lead singer of the Get Down Committee band sang and played guitar for guests.
The reception that followed maintained social distance standards while still being a convivial party. “We were still able to have a band, great food, dancing, and drinks!” Laura says. COVID-19 restrictions prevented them from hosting a sit-down dinner, but guests were on their feet all evening long anyway with live music from the Get Down Committee.
The couple worked with Jackie Burke, the owner of Burke’s Market in Bay Head, to select a casual yet elevated summer dining menu with sushi, lobster rolls, crab cakes, Kobe beef sliders, and grilled cheese. Outside of the house, guests walked up to the parked Hoffman’s Ice Cream truck.
Laura’s brother and his fiancée surprised the couple with the cake—a beach-inspired coastal confection from Elisa’s Pastry Shop. Julie from Little Sister Creative adorned the cake and table with flowers.
Interspersed with the URBN-inspired decor, there were also Italian-themed motifs like the custom-made Limoncello bottles from the Two Paper Dolls Design House and “Ciao” beach bag favors. These details were all a nod to the postponed Italy wedding.
While reflecting on her wedding day, Laura is overwhelmed with gratitude. Not only did they plan a wedding in such a short amount of time, but they were also able to celebrate in-person with their closest families and friends. “I am so happy we were still able to get married and did so in a place that we both feel so tied to,” Laura adds.