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Wedding Planning Tips From a COVID Bride

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

We know that wedding planning can come with a lot of research, which can be time consuming.

Bride to Be Spotify podcast with wedding tips, sponsored by Joy Photo and Video

That’s why we’re proud sponsors of the podcast, Bride to Be, available on Spotify.

The next time you’re on a long commute or need some background noise during chores, multi-task by hitting PLAY to hear wedding planning advice and insider tips from pros in the wedding industry.

Today, we’d like to share the transcript of the podcast interview with a newlywed from Texas: Morgan Phillips. Her story is interesting because she got married TWICE due to the COVID-19 pandemic!

Morgan shares the importance of setting realistic expectations, how to stay organized, and some of the more difficult lessons learned the hard way. (This includes getting scammed by a wedding videographer from another company---which is what ultimately led her to work with Joy!)

From what surprised her about a first look, to challenging the role of wedding favors, enjoy these wedding planning tips from a COVID bride.

Bride to Be Podcast Transcript: An Interview with Bride - Morgan Phillips

Here is the podcast which first aired in December 2021 with wedding planning tips from a COVID bride. (Please note that we’ve made minor adjustments to make it easier to read.) If you prefer, you can listen to the episode here.

Host- Jazmin: Hey everyone, welcome back. Today we're so excited because we have our first bride that we have interviewed on the podcast! Her name is Morgan. Hey Morgan, how are you?

Morgan: Hi, Jazmin. I am doing great. Thank you so much for inviting me to talk to everybody!

Host: We're so excited to hear your story. I think everybody's gonna love it. If you don't mind just kind of introducing yourself. Where are you from? How long have you been married?

Morgan: My name is Morgan Phillips (previously Morgan Billings), but I have been married to my husband Stephen for about a year and a half. Next May will be two years. We got married in Texas. We got married in Keller, at the Bowden, and we are currently living in DFW.

Host: Nice, okay. Do you guys have any kids yet or no?

Morgan: We do not. We have dogs. Two dogs.

Host: Yes, those count! Dog babies for sure. Well, fun. Okay, so you have made in the heat of the summer. I am really excited to talk to you about all of that.

Morgan: Yes, well, that was actually a huge part of what led us to picking our venue. I wanted to get married in the summer, but it is Texas, and I didn't want to make myself or everyone else miserable so we need to pick somewhere indoors. With Texas weather you truly never know what you're going to get, so I was like “If it's raining, we’ll be good.” We picked the venue that we picked so that we could have an indoor wedding at chapel on their campus. It has beautiful windows everywhere. (You still felt like you were outside but everyone had air conditioning). So that was a big plus for me.

Host: Oh my gosh, you have to have air conditioning in the summer of Texas---or anywhere really. So how long did you plan your wedding for?

Morgan: Stephen actually proposed to me on my birthday in September 2019. I was like “Well you've really outdone yourself, how are you gonna ever top this?!” That was awesome. Then we planned to be married in May of 2020 but in March of 2020, COVID hit Texas. So that delayed all of our plans. By that time that it had been rampant in Texas (where people in businesses and everybody was starting to kind of shut things down). At the time we postponed, for what we thought was going to be a few weeks to a few months, it was all basically already planned. And that was about 70 days out. So from when we got engaged in September to that point in March, it was about six months.

Host: Okay, gotcha. And then remind me what month you got married in? What month were you supposed to get married in and what month did you actually get married in?

Morgan: We ended up keeping our original date: May 29, 2020. But it was just Stephen and I and our families. So we still got married on that day. Our venue was so great because they let us have the chapel. And our photographer came for no charge, so that was all amazing. So that is technically still our wedding date. And then we were able to have the big wedding that we had planned on our first anniversary in May---just a couple months ago.

Host: Oh, that is so smart. That is awesome! Okay, so then what was one thing that you loved and would do again? And one thing that you would change? Let's do the loved and then the change.

Morgan: Obviously, I would not have wished being a COVID Bride having to plan and re-plan, on absolutely anybody. It was so crazy. So stressful. So many breakdowns; it was wild. But I loved the fact that I got to kind of have two weddings in two completely different ways. I would not change any of how it turned out.

It was so special, getting married in an intimate and relaxed vibe. It was like a Friday morning at 11 o'clock and it was just our parents and our siblings. The pressure was off: like if somebody tripped and fell, messed up or anything like that, we just giggled through it. And then everybody went out to lunch. Then the whole rest of the evening, Stephen and I were like “What do we do?” So we went out to dinner at the place that we had our first date! (We just got married and couldn’t just sit at home.) That was so fun.

And then obviously, getting to have the big wedding that I had planned (after waiting a year and a half) was incredible. That was also so special because we had gotten all the nerves and jitters out of the way. By that point, it really was just about celebrating with our friends. And my brother and his wife weren't able to be there when we got married 2020, because they live in California, so it was the first time that my brother had gotten to be there to see us say our vows. And I wore my wedding dress for the first time. So there was obviously still a lot that was exciting about getting married on our first anniversary---that’s so weird to say. Both days were so special and I love them both, so it ended up being amazing.

Host: Aww that’s awesome. I still think that there should be like a “National Wear Your Wedding Dress Day.” We spend so much time for that wedding dress.

Morgan: I know, and then it’s like six hours. Yes, I agree.

Host: Oh, yeah, that would be really cool to celebrate it twice.

Morgan: Yes, it was awesome. It was so funny because our friends kept being like “Congratulations or Happy Anniversary….or what do we say?” And we were like, “Whatever--- we'll celebrate everything!”

Host: Maybe I'll tell everybody that gets married, for your first anniversary you get a redo of your wedding, no matter what.

Morgan: Yes, I am all about it! As long as it gets to be free.

[Here is the wedding video with all of the highlights from the big day, captured by Joy team members Kyle and Christian! Watch it below and then continue reading the transcript for more wedding planning tips from a COVID bride.]

Host: That's awesome. What is something that you might have changed?

Morgan: Well, I guess the financial aspect of it... aside from all of the COVID drama, that was probably the biggest stressor. Because weddings are such a production, and rightfully so because it's a huge event. It's a huge step that you're taking. It's a big milestone and you have every right to celebrate it how you want to celebrate it. But I especially felt, every time I got on Pinterest, I would see something that was beautifully done and extravagant and over the top. You kind of find yourself in a position of coveting those things that may not be realistic for yourself, your budget, or what you want. I know this isn’t anything I could change but if I would change it, I would like to change the expectation that it needs to be some big, massive over the top production. I felt like sometimes I would get swept away into planning this big event. When really, your marriage is about your marriage and not about your wedding. That was a very humbling part of having all of my plans like ripped out of my hands. That then became such a sweet moment on the day that we got married, when it really was stripped down, just us and our family in the chapel. And it was still the absolute best day. It just showed me that all of the extra fluff is just icing on top.

Host: Right. I totally agree with that. You can definitely feel like you have to keep up with the ‘Joneses’ in a sense when you're planning your wedding. It really should be more harmonious than that, but all of the social pressure you can get wrapped up into. Then all of a sudden you have this wedding wondering “Did I really need all of this? Maybe not.”

Morgan: For sure; 100%. Things can kind of snowball and get away from you a little bit. You know, “Do I need X-Y-? Like should I come in on a white horse? Wait, what?! What am I even doing?”

Host: “What about the carriage next? It’s all of the same, haha.” Oh man, so I was curious if you have had any issues or setbacks?

Morgan: Aside from the COVID-of-it-at all, having to reach out to all my vendors multiple times and be like “Hey, can we move it?...Hey, can we move it?” The biggest thing that happened, that we're still dealing with all this time after the fact, was that we actually got scammed by our original videography company. I was not really one of those girls who had my wedding planned before I was even engaged. I know those girls. I think that's great when you know what you want; go for it. But that was not me. I was never even the little girl that dreamed about my wedding. I had no idea what I wanted that day to look like whatsoever. So when it came to choosing my vendors, I was like, “Where do I even begin?”

I didn't hire a wedding planner. So it really was just like me on Google trying to find people that had good enough reviews that would give me a good enough product for what I felt comfortable spending. And I found (what turned out to be) ‘too good of a deal’ with a videography company. I booked them on the spot and they made me pay in full right there. There was no questionnaire---which as I continued to build my other vendors, I realized was a huge red flag. There was no getting to know you process, discussing expectations, or any of that. We booked it and then had no communication with them whatsoever. Until after COVID happened; I was reaching out to ask about moving our wedding date. I emailed them and they responded back to me right away and sent me over a new contract. Here's the updated dates, yada, yada...

And then a month before our wedding, I reached back out to see what the two people that would be working my wedding wanted to eat at the reception. I got a bounce back email and I called I got a “this isn't a working number” message. And their website was gone. Poof, the company disappeared. Obviously at this point I started calling all of my friends asking them what to do. Then I’m Googling, and it turns out that the man who owned this company had a history of scamming people. He was actually barred from ever owning a wedding business in the state of Massachusetts for doing this exact same thing! He was in jail, which is why he could not come and shoot my wedding!

Host: Oh, my gosh. This is the most I've ever heard.

Morgan: Isn’t that nuts? I felt so stupid, and I was so mad at myself.

Host: You should not feel stupid about that. That is their job. That makes me so irritated. So can I ask how much they charged you? Did you get money back?

Morgan: We filed a fraudulent claim with the bank. And they were like: just send us the communication you had with them. (Obviously just trying to prove that there was something fishy and we weren’t just trying to get our money back.) So we did that and the bank gave us the money back. It was on my dad's credit card because my parents had very generously offered to pay for the videographer.

And then two weeks ago, they reached back out to my dad and said, “Actually, we don't feel like we have enough proof that you never got the service that you paid for.” Then the bank took the money back! He's taking it much better than I was. I was like, “Are you kidding me? I will call that bank. It’s so rude.” He said, “You found the right videographer and you love your wedding video so it's just small potatoes.”

It was $1,650 that they charged. It was for nine hours of footage, two videographers, a drone, your full raw footage of the event, a one-minute highlight reel---all of these things for that price. And so obviously when I saw that, “I was like, wow, this is a good deal. I'm going with these people. Boom, done.” I never thought about it again and didn't continue looking for vendors. And then whenever that all fell through and I was starting back at square one, I realized they did not go about this the right way. There was no communication with me. And I, being a person who had never planned a wedding before, and never booked a videographer before, didn't think anything different. I didn't realize that was fishy. Still dealing with that setback, I guess.

Host: That is horrible. I am so sorry! But now that you've been through it, what is something that you can tell brides to look for when they're booking any kind of vendor? Especially like a videographer or photographer? What would you say to that?

Morgan: What I experienced with all of my other vendors (besides the “original scammer videography people”) is that the vendors truly want to tailor their product to you as the bride. That was something that I saw with every single one of them. Whether it was the florist, or the cake bakery, or my photographer, there was a lot of back and forth. There were a lot of get-to-know-you questions. A lot of “Can you send me what you're referencing, like a cake or a bouquet that you like?” They really wanted to make sure that I was going to be happy. If whatever vendor you are looking at has not really tried to get to know you, the vibe of your wedding, or to figure out exactly what you want, then from my experience that would be a big red flag.

Host: Okay, gotcha. Yeah, because I didn't have a wedding planner for my wedding, either. We had a really small intimate wedding so I never even did any kind of vendors. We had a photographer already lined up so I would not know unless you told me that stuff! Oh my gosh. So then, what we always ask our guests: what are the top three tips that you have for brides?

Morgan: I would say first and foremost, your wedding is one day (or two in my case; I know that’s not the norm) but your marriage is forever. All of these are an added bonus: a beautiful dress, or your veil, or your shoes. They feel like they're so so important but it is just small stuff in the big scheme of your marriage to this person.

And if any of those things start to cloud or overpower the importance of getting married, to the person that you're marrying, if any of that starts to take precedent over the fact that you're getting married to them, I would say to try to scale it back and like re-center yourself on what is the actual most important part of that day. Because you know your koozies and your cocktail napkins are great, but that's not necessarily going to make you have a successful marriage. I would say that would be my number one tip for sure.

My number two tip would be to communicate as clearly as you can about your expectations to your vendors. And I found that pictures were so much more helpful (than just me describing things) because everybody says things a little different; or you may not be exactly able to put in words what you're thinking. Send any of them (hair, makeup, flowers, anybody) pictures as much as you can so that you can make sure you're both on the same page.

And then lastly, if you are planning your wedding on your own: stay organized. The way that I was able to keep track of all of the contracts, what I had spent, and the payment plans, was in a Google spreadsheet that my now-husband and parents have access to. Everybody was in there just making sure that we weren't duplicating payments or duplicating work. Everybody knew where we stood in terms of progress as we moved forward. And that was so so helpful.

Host: Oh yeah, I think that's a good idea. My husband would love the spreadsheet idea. So then what are three things brides should avoid?

Morgan: I've kind of already said this but the party favors (and stuff like that) is such a cute idea. If you have extra room in your budget, go for it; spend your money on what you want to spend it on. But I don't really feel like as a wedding guest I've ever cared that much about them--- and half the time I don't even think I've seen them, or remember they take it home with me. So that would be a super easy way to save your money.

Anything that would make you feel uncomfortable on your wedding day: whether it's your shoes, your undergarments, your hair, or your makeup, get rid of that. You need to feel the most like yourself so that you can just be confident and enjoy the day, rather than constantly worrying. Or dealing with blisters…no pair of shoes is so cute that it’s worth being miserable in for eight hours!

Host: No, and especially after, when you go on your honeymoon! Not worth it.

Morgan: Oh my gosh, yes. Then number three would be to not celebrate too much the night before or the morning of. At the rehearsal dinner, everybody is so excited to get together. And in my experience, my girlfriend's constantly coming up to me. “Can I get you more champagne?” Or “We're gonna do a toast and you need a glass of champagne!” and I'd be like “You guys, this is a marathon. I so appreciate you wanting to wait on me hand and foot. But I need to wake up and be fresh.” So I would just say to try to fight the urge to really go all out the night before, or the morning of, because you will have plenty of time to do it at your reception.

Host: Vendors have actually told us that that they talk to their brides about that as well. So that is a universal suggestion, people.

Okay, so those are all really great things. I think to top it off, kind of to end the episode. I was wondering if you can tell us about your best wedding experience that you had.

Morgan: We did a first look, which we originally did not think we were going to do before we had our COVID wedding. Back when we were just having the one wedding, we had not anticipated doing that. But we decided to just go for it at the anniversary wedding. Since we were already married by the time that the second wedding happened, and Stephen was going to be seeing me in my dress for the first time. We did it just to make the rest of the day go more efficiently and get pictures out of the way; all of those things. So we did it and I loved it!

Even though we had already been married for a year and he had never seen my dress, it was such a special moment. It felt just as special as I imagined it would have been if we had not already been married. This was the first time we got to see each other that day. It was just us and our photographers and videographers…but they they're pretty good at being wallpaper so we didn't really even realize that they were in there with us. So we got to hug and laugh and get some jitters out. And those are some of my favorite pictures and favorite video footage of that entire day.

I didn't even realize that our videographers were getting footage of some of the stuff that they were while that was happening. I didn't notice in the moment that Stephen had a microphone. But when we got sent our video back and there was audio of him. When he saw me for the first time, his voice was laid on top of that footage, it absolutely melted my heart. It was so unexpected.

[Here is the sneak peek wedding video from Joy Photo and Video with the first look in the spotlight! Learn more about our wedding videography services here. We still have availability for 2022 and are actively booking for 2023.]

Host: Awww, that is so sweet. I would have never thought about the audio. That is very unique. That is not something I have seen very often.

Morgan: Sometimes whenever you're really nervous, and then the moment is over….you kind of sit back and you're like “Wait, what just happened? Did I black out? I don't remember any of that.” So that's kind of how I felt like when he turned around. I was so happy that we did the first look and it's on video because now I have like actual footage of that moment. It's a concrete memory. It was my absolute favorite part.

Host: Oh, I love that. That is such a good memory to have. That is so sweet and special.

Well, thank you so much for coming on this show. I think you have some amazing tips. Definitely things to avoid---watch out for scammers! And if it looks sketchy or too good to be true, it probably is. I hope you can settle that and get at least something back! Thank you so much, Morgan. I wish you guys the best of luck in your marriage, and happiness all around.

Morgan: Thank you so much. Thanks for again.

Host: All right, guys. We will see you next week for another episode. Thank you so much for listening. Have a good day. Bye guys.

If you liked this podcast and hearing wedding planning tips from a COVID bride, catch up on the previous Bride to Be episodes on Spotify.

[Videos in the spotlight: Morgan and Stephen in Keller, Texas by Kyle and Christian.]

Choose Joy,

The Joy Team


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