Every December at APW we like to wrap up the year by rounding up some of the most delightful weddings we and our vendors had seen all year, in all the shapes and sizes they come in. And, well, it really goes without saying that weddings came in ALL stripes this year (Hi, January 2020 vs. April 2020). And for most of the year, weddings looked different than they ever had before.
And you know what, that is fine. We’ve spent years reminding you that your wedding isn’t timeless, no matter how much you try. Your wedding will always look like it took place in a particular moment of time, and that’s a beautiful thing, because so much of marriage is tracking time together. So, TL;DR: there is nothing wrong with a wedding that looked like it happened in a pandemic, when IT HAPPENED IN A PANDEMIC. And that will be part of the story you tell when you’re old and grey. “During the great COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020, we got married. Our love was so big that we made it work.”
But beyond that, we really deeply love and respect how much effort this community put in to keeping all of the people at your wedding safe and comfortable. As longtime APW photographer Justin McCallum said about APW couples:
The folx who use A Practical Wedding as a resource are always the most concerned about keeping us vendors safe, comfortable, and supporting small businesses right now. The community and readership fostered by APW is truly one of respect and inclusivity, which is the only thing getting us through this clusterf**k of a year.
But looking through these photos and reading their stories, I was also struck by how the important things have not changed at all—this is still a round-up of badass couples undeniably in love, being unabashedly themselves in epic fashion. (Like literally. I am in awe of the wedding looks these couples pulled off during a year when most of us haven’t changed out of sweatpants.)
So without further ado, let’s get into it. Here are some of the most amazing weddings of 2020 brought to you by some of our favorite APW wedding vendors:
Manny and Mursal really trusted in their own vision for their wedding despite their families not being the most supportive of their nontraditional plans. They were in it for the experience and really were themselves the whole time. They even chose to have their wedding dinner be take-out burgers and fries from a classic Boston spot. The couple was super late to their own ceremony, but it was (according to Manny) because Mursal was doing her hair. He says this entire fiasco was “very them” and in fact could not have been more them if they had tried to plan it that was. The fact that we had to run and gun the entire wedding was so true to the character of these two humans, and I was honored to be along for the ride with them.
We were sitting in the parking lot for the hike to the location when me and my partner got a text from the couple, Manny and Mursal, that they were running an hour late to their own elopement… with LESS THAN AN HOUR left until sunset. Of course, we panicked. And then, we IMPROVISED (while panicking). The couple shared their current location with us on iPhone and my partner started driving in their direction while I scoured Google Maps for any alternative between here and them. We ultimately found and rerouted to a lighthouse, where we illegally parked next to the coast guard station (and prayed they’d be understanding of the situation). Manny and Mursal arrived six minutes before sunset. They were married right as the sun passed the horizon, and they ate burgers and fries on the rocks to celebrate. Their friends showed up 30-minutes later and were confused where the wedding was going to be happening “when it was so dark outside.” Manny asked if they could read the vows again, this time with their guests alongside them. With the sun long-gone, we all got back in the cars and rallied into a dirt parking lot. Everyone turned on their car lights and iPhone lights in the direction of the couple and there, on the side of the road, Manny and Mursal had what they have come to call their “real wedding” surrounded by their friends. Then, they had a third “wedding ceremony” at their house because apparently some of their family members never showed up at all after the location change and they insisted that it happen again.
Nothing went as planned. But, in the end, it was perfect.
After months of being cooped up in our Brooklyn apartment in the early days of the pandemic, Allison and Paul were some of the first people I’d seen since the winter. What an absolute joy to celebrate their Zoom rooftop ceremony together and to finally jump back into work with such an intimate and perfect event. Even though they had no guests attending in person, they had their pup as the flower girl, a first dance, a mini-hora, flowers (by Three Notch Florals) and cake! If mini-monies are always this amazing, sign me up for more!
With all the never-ending changes of this year, it’s been heartwarming to see how last minute DIY wedding plans create wedding moments that are so much more meaningful and magical in their own humble ways. When the opportunity for Sam’s parents to stay at Cavallo Point Lodge, Keely and Sam decided to switch their minimony plans from a backyard ceremony at Keely’s parent’s home in Oakland to Golden Gate Bridge views in Sausalito. As luck would have it, the air quality and smoke from California wildfires cleared in time for their sunset celebration. We chose the minimony location on the day of and despite the loosest of plans, everything came together better than we could ever imagine. I’ve always known the APW community to value human connection above all else when it comes to wedding celebrations and all the mini-monies and elopements I’ve photographed this pandemic year have confirmed that love can always be found in the simple things. I am so grateful to have this reminder during an otherwise pressure cooker of a year.
We loved the area they chose for their wedding day: Chinatown / 2 Bridges. The couple are really stylish but they have a casual fun vibe which made it so great to work with. After the shoot around the area they had a Jewish ceremony by the water and it was really special.
All of my clients are awesome, but this year, in particular, has brought so many folx my way who are down for anything and just really want to be married! Melanie and Diane eloped in the city they love (Philly) and wanted to commemorate a few of their favorite spots around the city. They had three friends join them so it was part photo-taking, and part city tour for their out of town guests. This is why I absolutely love the APW community! Every client that makes their way to me through this site is my total dream client. We tend to care about the same issues, value the same things, and most importantly, have fun together!
Where is your go-to spot to celebrate? Your place for date night or anniversaries? It always feels good to walk in and you instantly remember all those other happy moments. Wendy and Kemi made that spot their wedding venue- a local wine bar. Their original date had been moved due to COVID so they went with what they wanted most; a dinner party with a ceremony to start things off! No first dance, no cocktails hour; just everyone drinking incredible wine, talking, and enjoying themselves with no pressure to run off and do a first dance or wait for food to be served. Casual and intimate!
Cue the party horns, this couple found me via APW! What’s especially awesome about working with APW couples is that they’re so amazingly resilient and flexible and dedicated. I knew for a fact that I was working with a couple who cared deeply about two things: marrying each other and keeping their loved ones safe. The plans for Steph & Jacob’s wedding (which happened mid-March) changed a number of times until we were just down to the bare bones for now and a big celebratory party later.
Susan’s wedding looked amazing! They kept it safe and low key, eloped, and masked but still had an amazing time Showcased Cambridge beauty and bike system. Susan was so cool and laid back, very easygoing in spite of completing her PHD and planning her wedding during a pandemic! And I love how she really made our dress her own.
Aliyya and Rob had their ceremony in their backyard and Zoom called in their aunt and uncle and cousins.
Ashley and Ali eloped just the two of them, with their beloveds watching on zoom. It was a beautiful reminder that Queer love is resilient and hopeful, and it was an honor to be a part of their day. Nothing makes me happier than working with the APW community, who is committed to creating better, safer more just spaces in the wedding community.
As with all weddings in 2020, Serena and Jon had to reschedule many times. They decided that they wanted to be married this year and had their ceremony in front of about 30 friends and family in person and many more via zoom. They pushed their reception to next year when it will be safe to be around everyone in the same room. My couples are always happy and smiley on their wedding day. But Serena’s smile seemed to grow even bigger from the first look, through portraits, and she was grinning from ear to ear after their fathers wrapped them in a tallis at the end of the wedding ceremony. So much joy!
Katie and Wyatt (who just happens to be my little brother) opted to postpone their big, blow-out wedding for an intimate wedding of just their parents and siblings. Katie is a school teacher and Wyatt has been volunteering throughout the pandemic at Dodger Stadium for testing. It was the ONLY wedding I got to plan in 2020, but it truly reminded me why I stay in this industry. The most memorable “thing” about their wedding was that there were no things. It’s was simple, and all about the love of two people. No party, no dance floor, no dessert station, no photo booth, none of the extras that we have all come to know at weddings. 2020 was unlike any other year in history, and it made us prioritize. Due to the global pandemic, truly all that could be present was love. It’s the love that makes a wedding, not the things. Which in the end, love the most important “thing” on them all!
Due to Covid-19, Elisabeth & Dashiell’s wedding and reception party scaled down to a more intimate elopement at the Portland federal courthouse. Then, due to protests outside the courthouse, they moved their elopement to a nearby Botanical Garden. Two days before the date, wild fires broke out in the surrounding area making the air quality too hazardous for an outdoor ceremony. With only 48 hours to go, the couple secured last minute permission to be married back at the courthouse building.
“Life is what happens when you’ve made other plans.” This is clearly the motto for 2020. The APW community has clearly been the life support for so many this year. I don’t know how any couple planning a wedding in 2020 could have survived without it.
As pure luck, Leah and Camille were able to get married in 2020 without having to alter any of their wedding plans. The couple were married in February, exactly one month before the city of San Francisco went into a mandatory pandemic shelter-in-place order. It was especially important as both the bride and groom had friends and family traveling from across the U.S. as well as overseas. Leah hails from La Crosse, Wisconsin, Camille from Aleppo, Syria, roughly 6,037 miles apart. But, love closed that gap! To honor Camille’s Catholic upbringing, the ceremony, which was held at the Presidio’s Chapel of Our Lady, was officiated by a Maronite priest who included traditional components including incense and crowns. While the ceremony was fairly traditional, when guests moved over to the The Commissary, also in the Presidio, they were greeted by DJ Ahmed, who specializes in blending contemporary American pop with Arabic, Afghan, Assyrian, Armenian, Persian, Indian, Turkish, and Spanish music. In lieu of a sit down dinner, the couple opted for a more cocktail style set up, guests could eat, drink, and dance at their leisure then satisfy their sweet tooth with a mix of bit sized treats. Not a moment went by during the entire evening when there wasn’t someone dancing!
Karlene and Uzziel knew they wanted a simple and intimate wedding, pandemic or not, so they decided to elope in October at a gorgeous park in North Jersey, not far from their home. It was such a pleasure photographing these two wonderful people and their families, who were all so ecstatic to see these two wed. After their ceremony under the pavilion, we took portraits in the rose garden. The entire time, I couldn’t get over the happiness I could see in their faces, I loved that they could just relax and enjoy that just-married feeling. Personally elopements have been such a silver lining after a year of cancellations and postponements due to Covid.
APW couples recognize that a wedding is a celebration not only for themselves, but also for their community. During the pandemic, it is even harder to assure that your community can gather and be safe, but Abby and Calder went above and beyond to make their loved ones (and vendors) able to get together for their microwedding. From slashing the in-person guest list from nearly 200 to just 13 and live-streaming it for the rest of their family, to setting very clear requirements for testing and quarantining weeks in advance, they made sure their friends and family were only going to spread love. Additionally, they emphasized social distancing and low-contact procedures with food delivered in individual, pre-packaged containers to well separated seating arrangements (cocktail hour on picnic blankets and tables in an expansive barn), plus required masks to be worn at almost all times. Abby and Calder are also planning a larger celebration in 2022 when they hope to invite their entire community to celebrate in person.
Melanie and Dirick had one of the raddest weddings! They were married on a lavender farm, Melanie wore a vibrant HOT PINK wedding dress, and there was accents of neon everywhere. The table settings were also white as the guests came colorful meant to be the paint on the canvas. Insert swoon bitmoji here! Creative, clever, fun, playful, gorgeous, down to earth, genuine, and sassy. And what could make it even better you ask? They ate PIZZA for dinner from a traveling wood burning oven. Please and thank you!
We’re so grateful to have been part of wedding planning for so many of you in this difficult year. We’re also SO grateful that we’re able to keep connecting amazing vendors with amazing humans getting married. Doing that keeps us, and so many small wedding businesses up and running, even with the wedding industry in near collapse. Check out our Vendor Directory for more amazing vendors like this. In gratitude for all of you.