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.
Lauren Barnett and Blake Megdal first met at a huge Hollywood Hills party in 2018, so when they began planning their 2020 wedding, it only made sense that their nuptials be a large celebration as well.
The couple chose August 8th, 2020 for their wedding at the Montage Laguna Beach. By mid-March, however, they held onto their Save The Date cards and officially postponed the wedding in May. The new date is scheduled for the summer of 2021. “We knew that if we kept our original date,” Lauren says, “it would put a lot of pressure on our friends and family to travel, and we didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable about their safety and health in any way.”
But shortly after postponing their wedding, the couple also realized that they wanted to honor their original date with a micro-wedding at Blake’s family’s home in Beverly Hills. They set their sights on an intimate outdoor celebration. “We both realized that even amidst all this chaos due to the pandemic, the most important thing to remind ourselves is that we already found each other,” Lauren explains. “So anything on top of that is just icing on the wedding cake!”
The planning process was seamless. “Sarah and Jodi at JOWY Productions made it a dream,” Lauren says. “They contacted all the vendors, sent over sample look books to hone-in on what we were envisioning for this smaller ceremony. They even set up a couple of trips to Blake’s parents’ house with all the vendors so we could do site visits and production meetings together and visualize the day.”
While wedding planning was remarkably easy, settling on a wedding dress was slightly more challenging. At first, Lauren thought she should wear a casual white dress to complement the backyard milieu. Shops were closed because of COVID, so Lauren knew her shopping would have to be completely virtual. A disappointing Google search for low-key dresses yielded underwhelming results. “Everything felt too casual for such special day,” Lauren sighs.
She realized that it was best to pick a formal full-length dress after all and ordered an ethereal Oscar de la Renta gown. “I thought to myself–who knows what the future will hold and what the world will look like a year from now and if we’ll even be able to have a big wedding a year from now…” She considered how Blake would wear his Giorgio Armani tuxedo and that maybe their casual micro-wedding should be the black-tie wedding they had planned after all. “Who knows? I may even get to wear this incredible dress twice! How many brides get to do that?!”
While the wedding guests were all COVID-tested before the wedding, the couple did not feel comfortable with potentially exposing them to a hair and makeup team the day of the wedding. Out of an abundance of safety, Lauren was her very own makeup artist and hair stylist. Her cousin Morgan assisted her with blush touch-ups and eyeshadow.
On a normal day, Blake’s parents’ backyard blooms with Blake’s mother’s carefully cultivated rose garden. But on Lauren and Blake’s wedding day, the backyard was even more magical. Butterfly Floral erected a flower arch and added a duplicate arch to create a floral Chuppah of roses, peonies, and orchids. Rose petals strewn the space, while candles lined the aisle.
Both sets of parents stood under the chuppah alongside the couple. The rabbi spoke about the bride and groom and their love, and the couple exchanged their vows. Lauren and Blake were so moved by the ceremony, they both were brought to tears. “It felt as if time stopped, and we were the only two people in the world,” Lauren remembers. Then, everyone cheered, “Mazel Tov!” while Blake stomped on the glass. The newlyweds danced through the West Coast Music string quarter recessional, right past their friends and family and into the house.
The newlyweds didn’t intend to walk past their guests and into the kitchen, but as soon as they saw the appetizers, they couldn’t turn back. “The chef continued passing us one appetizer after the next, and we were enjoying the food so much, that we completely forgot that we should probably go out to see everyone outside!” Lauren admits. After savoring every bite and second of this short private moment, the bride and groom joined the party outside.
They greeted their guests as a married couple and sat down at the long table underneath the chandelier-adorned oak tree for a dinner catered by Spago Beverly Hills, Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant.
“Flowers and more candlelight surrounded us,” Lauren reminisces. “Everything glowed.” Blake agrees, “I remember feeling profoundly lucky, blessed, and hopeful for our future.” The couple’s nearest and dearest delivered loving speeches before the party transitioned from dinner to dancing. After the couple’s first dance, father-daughter dance, and mother-son dance, the newlyweds cut their cake by Susie Cakes.
“We are so thankful we had this small ceremony,” Lauren says. “There will always be a chance to celebrate with our friends and family in the future, but this intimate, dreamlike wedding was only possible because it was so small, and we were able to truly connect with each other and each one of our guests. Even more importantly, we truly relished each moment, took our time, and soaked it all in.”
After the wedding, Lauren woke up in the middle of the night and turned to Blake, asking, “Did that all really happen—or was it a dream?” “I assured her that it was very real and incredibly magical,” Blake says. “The fact that Lauren—in a semi-conscious state—thought she had dreamed it all up made me so happy because it showed that we truly did have the wedding of our dreams.”