Wedding planning during a pandemic is daunting.

Countless couples around the world have postponed, eloped and cut their guest lists by more than half.

Many have had small ceremonies and still walked away with their dream day.

According to brides.com predictions, unions won’t look the same from now on, with outdoor venues becoming the most desirable place to host, and vendors permanently changing their contracts to include “postponement terms” and global-scale emergencies.

In a time when the wedding industry is turned on its head, one thing is for certain — it is possible to design a safe, memorable wedding.

For Hillsboro newlyweds Debbie Brown and Al Procassini, their love was “easy from the start,” they said.

The lovebirds met on Valentine’s Day nine years ago after connecting on match.com.

“We met downtown Portland for a drink, and then a drink turned into dinner,” Procassini said. “The most fun thing we discovered is Deb’s daughter met my son for a New Year’s gathering. It is cool to realize that your kids have met before.”

On the Fourth of July, 2020, Procassini proposed to Brown at the Driftwood Inn in Cannon Beach — a special, romantic place for the couple.

“I proposed on the porch and ordered champagne for the other tables dining,” Procassini said. “It is our favorite spot to eat when we are in town, so it was a nice, personal way.”

To plan their COVID-concious special day, the couple knew they wanted to hold their ceremony and reception on the North Coast.

“Growing up, it has always been a special place for me,” Brown said. “It’s become a special place for Al too.”

When asked what to suggest other couples do to prepare for a wedding during unprecedented times, Debbie and Al didn’t hesitate: Think small and do your research.

“We found that our venue, The Stephanie Inn, had elopement packages. It was especially nice during COVID-19 because they plan everything,” Brown said. “This was perfect because we just wanted to get married with our kids in attendance, so it was a small group and we were able to pull it off.”

The Stephanie Inn provided an officiant, cake, rooms and a champagne toast, Brown said.

“The coordinator was very helpful and made sure we had everything so we didn’t have to worry,” she said.

The venue gave an outdoor or indoor option in case the weather turned, Brown said. Lucky for the newlyweds, the sun came out on their wedding day.

Because the guest list was short, many of the couple’s friends tuned in via video to witness the union.

“We also had hand sanitizer on us and all of us had separate guest rooms,” Procassini said. “We were fortunate that there were places to eat outdoors as well.”

If a couple wants to have a big wedding, postponing is a real and understandable option but the couple wanted to have a small wedding to begin with.

Thinking DIY to limit contact with vendors also helped secure the day.

“We also did a lot of things ourselves, like Debbie did her own nails,” Procassini said.

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