There is perhaps no greater test of a couple’s staying power than a government-mandated stay-at-home order. So when the country hunkered down last spring, the quarantine breakup jokes hit Twitter on cue. But it turns out that extreme togetherness can also accelerate a love story. According to diamond purveyor Forevermark, engagement ring sales spiked 20 to 30 percent in 2020. Dana Gordon, founder of Chicago jewelry company Dana Rebecca Designs, says she’s seen a major uptick in her bridal business since May: “People were like, ‘We just spent nine straight weeks together and didn’t kill each other. She must be the one.’ ”

But once you’ve put a ring on it, the true test awaits: How do you plan your big day in a way that feels special but also safe? The good news is that the wedding industry, like most others, has adjusted to the new normal. “You can still throw an amazing wedding in the COVID era,” says Anthony Navarro, creative director at West Town–based Liven It Up Events, which now offers a “microwedding” service for those looking to throw a more intimate affair. “The two things we’re always looking at are how do we take the larger vision someone had and scale it down because of restrictions, and how do we do it in a safe way so that the couple and also the family and friends stay healthy during the celebration?” Or, as Irving Park event planner Rachel De Marte puts it: “You don’t want to be the wedding where everyone gets COVID.”

So read on for tips on planning your pandemic-era celebration, from safely feeding your guests to perfecting your makeup for onscreen viewing. Plus, we’ve got wisdom from brides who’ve been there, who had to scratch their original plans. Whether they ended up with a nearly 200-person YouTube celebration or intimate sunrise vows on the beach, they all say that rethinking the ceremony reconnected them to its ultimate purpose: sharing the beginning of their new lives with the people they love.

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