BHS grad publishes guide on weddings amid COVID

Jensen grew up on Bainbridge and graduated high school in 1999

With COVID-19 rates down and vaccine allocation underway, many couples are wondering if this spring or summer will be an appropriate time to get married in a group setting.

This past year has been tough for those who have found that special someone, with many holding off to celebrate their special day or find other alternatives because of COVID limitations.

Lauren Jensen, who grew up on Bainbridge Island and graduated from BHS in 1999, recently published a book series consisting of two guides; Planning a Covid Wedding and Planning a Covid Elopement. According to a news release, the wedding guide helps couples plan using multiple charts and checklists, while the elopement guide helps couples decide to elope or have a micro-wedding.

Jensen’s family owned San Carlos restaurant and catering company for over 30 years on Madison Avenue, where her love for events began. Most recently, she managed weddings and corporate events at a luxury resort in Bend, OR. In 2019, she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at age 38 and is now living cancer-free.

After being furloughed amid the pandemic, it gave Jensen time to ponder what to do next. With her insider knowledge of weddings and events, along with her firsthand experience of getting married in 2017, she decided to write two guides to help couples during these troubled times.

“Being a wedding and event planner for the last four years has been a tremendous learning experience,” Jensen said. “I have gathered so much information over the years, I felt I needed to get out to the couples who are engaged. I decided to take the time to write everything down and include all the ways to navigate Covid during this pandemic.

“Love was the real inspiration, to make sure we still have love in a time of uncertainty. It’s all about the love in the air and knowing we will make it through this together as a family and a community as a whole.”

The two guides were Jensen’s first publications, following in the footsteps of her father.

“It is a very rewarding feeling to be published and have my words out there for anyone who needs them,” she said.

Jensen said her main goal was to reach a larger group of engaged couples across the country, not just locally.

“It is extremely difficult; not only does everything change on a dime, so do event restrictions,” she said. “There are reschedules, cancellations, overbookings, and not being able to keep some favorite vendors because of date changes. That doesn’t even cover the families who are trying to get together with traveling, large groups, masks and social distancing. It’s already an emotional ride to plan the big day, but COVID has made it nearly impossible.”

Although an ideal wedding is challenging at the moment, Jensen said couples can still have a memorable experience.

“Weddings in 2021 have become about the experience and the journey,” she said. “Having very personal moments and memories they can share with their closest people. When you have less people at a wedding there is more of a budget for amazing flowers or the best photographer/videographer.”

Some alternatives to a typical wedding during the pandemic, Jensen said, is to include live streaming, staying outside with social distancing for the ceremony, or have the couple elope now and save the reception until COVID rates are considered safe. She also mentioned attendees having their own personal plates for appetizers and desserts.

According to the elopement guide, “An elopement originated when a bride and groom escaped their families to get married in secrecy. This slowly evolved to the modern couple bringing only a few close friends or family members.”

“Right now, the difference between an elopement and a wedding comes down to the number of guests,” Jensen said. “It would be considered an elopement if they had 15-20 guests or less (it usually depends on the venue to draw the line). It comes down to the couple to decide what is attainable for their situation. If a couple is adventurous but laid back that’s probably the type of wedding they’ll have.”

Jensen anticipates that the wedding industry will still be recovering in 2021, citing that certain COVID guidelines will still be in place depending on where you live.

“Playing by the rules will be the safest bet everyone as a whole can make,” she said. “2022 will be a big year, if you haven’t already booked your date you could be looking into 2023 for venue availability.”

In terms of future publications, Jensen said she plans to rework the books and put out new editions once the pandemic is over. Copies of both guides are available locally at Bay Hay and Feed. Jensen is also talking with a few other places on the island where the guides might be offered. Folks can get signed copies of the books if they order through Jensen’s website InsiderBride.com. The books are also available on Amazon.

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