Planning your Social Distance Dream Oregon Wedding During COVID

Hello Smooch Family!

As our venue emerges from hibernation, and our staff returns to work, Abernethy Center is embracing a new normal.  The pandemic has made us all acutely aware of life’s inherent uncertainty and as a result, has brought into focus what truly matters to us.  It’s an urgent reminder and invitation to live life fully with purpose and connection.  According to expert opinions, COVID is going to be around for quite a while, and discovering how to move forward in our lives while remaining healthy is the new focus.  As we step into this new normal and launch into our wedding season we are moved and inspired by our staff and our client’s resiliency in the face of adversity. We have witnessed great acts of fortitude and we’ve challenged ourselves to stretch beyond what any of us thought we were capable of.  At the forefront of our success has been “Compromise”. We have discovered it to be one of the most essential factors in moving forward during this pandemic, and it comes in handy in marriage too!


The Best Things About Weddings are NOT  Changing

Weddings are moving forward with a whole new appreciation for the opportunity to celebrate and be together.  Think of the truly iconic moments associated with weddings; the couple locking eyes for the first time at the altar, the kiss when it’s finally official, newlyweds swept up in their own little world for the first dance–the common thread present in all these special moments is the visible bond between the couple and palpable feeling of a wholehearted, lifetime promise. From weddings with 300 guests to 25 person FacebookLive events.  It is this essence of love that draws people to weddings and that isn’t going anywhere!  Weddings may look and flow differently from what we’re all used to, but the essence will remain the same.

“Instead of focusing on the circumstances that you cannot change – focus strongly and powerfully on what you can change.” The key to success is to focus our mind on things we desire not what we fear.”

Wayne Dyer

Creativity & Compromise are Key

Mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing are here to stay.  The Abernethy Team has enacted a stringent set of safety policies based on CDC and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) recommendations and we will continue to monitor new guidance.  The health and safety of our team and our clients has always been a priority, and we have enhanced our practices to extend that commitment even further to keep everyone as safe as possible.  Having hosted thousands of weddings over almost two decades, we’ve seen a lot and we’re confident in our ability to adapt.

Right now our highest commitment is working with each couple to create a uniquely beautiful wedding celebration inside the current guidelines.  Weddings in the era of COVID are all about creativity, flexibility and acceptance. Abernethy Center is lucky to have extra flexibility as a venue with restaurant classification and large indoor-outdoor property.  Our large capacity means we can host bigger parties while still maintaining social distance guidelines.  Some couples hosting weddings this year have moved their ceremonies from the (indoor) Chapel to the (outdoor) Garden in order to make masks optional. We’re all learning to navigate COVID life together and have found partnership to be the best approach.

Now, more than ever, couples have to consider what is really important and what they’re willing to be flexible with. Prioritizing the must-haves will help make it clear where you need to compromise. The three things couples are paying more attention to during COVID are maintaining safety, reducing their guest list, and accommodating out of town guests who might not be able to travel.  Exercising your “thinking outside the box” muscles and focusing on what you can do versus what you can’t is what will ultimately guide you into your sweet spot and make planning fun instead of fearful or disappointing.

What’s Ahead for the 2020 Wedding Season?

One of the biggest concerns our couples have expressed throughout COVID has been having to limit their guest count due to restrictions on gathering size. The number of people Abernethy can host varies from one event to the next since it’s determined by the number of associated parties on your guest list and the square footage available at your site. Right now our weddings range from 25 to 200 guests. Most couples who are going ahead with 2020 weddings have embraced the times and condensing their guest list to around 100 people with associated parties at each table.  These smaller weddings make the budget go further so couples can really enhance each guest’s experience with more extravagant meal choices, decor, mood lighting, and entertainment!  Fundamentally weddings are getting more intimate and personalized.

Our first wedding of the season was a 25 person live-streamed ceremony in the chapel.  While hundreds looked on digitally, the couple exchanged vows with only their most devoted loved ones in the room.  It might seem like the chapel would feel empty, but it didn’t. On the contrary, the loving energy of those 25 people fully focused on the couple as they said their vows filled the space. Everyone felt hopeful, we all laughed and cried–even the staff.  This totally different kind of wedding was extraordinarily special, and we get to welcome the couple back next year for the big fat Abernethy wedding they’ve been planning. 



The following week we hosted a 200 person cultural wedding in Abigail’s Garden with a similarly peaceful and intimate vibe. The couple opted to have 25 of their family and close friends gather at the gazebo for their ceremony while the remaining guests sat in the reception tent watching from their tables. It was beautiful!  The ceremony was live-streamed so friends and family in the reception area or at home could see the vows up-close.  Creativity, flexibility, and prioritizing what’s important have been the steady themes with this year’s couples.

Yes, You Can Start Planning Your Wedding Now!

We know some of you are recently engaged and just starting to plan the big day, Congratulations! We’re here for you. We’re hearing from a lot of couples that they aren’t sure where to begin planning a wedding during COVID.  It might feel overwhelming or you might worry it isn’t the right time to plan a wedding. Your concerns are totally valid.  There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, but what is certain is COVID is going to be around for a while. Being in action, setting goals and creating moments to look forward to are a healthy part of living fully. So how do you best move forward with planning your wedding amidst the ever changing landscape of COVID? Here’s what our experts in the field recommend:

Choose a full-service venue that not only offers the event space, but also catering, equipment, and staff; this means you have far fewer moving parts to worry about. You and your fiance can turn over all the major elements of your wedding day to a single trusted source, and focus on each other and your guests.

Pay attention to the details when selecting your venue. What options do they offer that relate directly to COVID concerns? Do they have large spaces that will accommodate guests being spread out that support safe social distancing? Will they allow you to postpone without penalties should the need arise?

Get Creative and Have Fun! Embracing this new normal means being creative and why not have fun in the process? Laughter and joy are the best medicine and have dramatic health benefits as well. Masks have become part of our new normal so why not own it! Have personalized masks made for your wedding to support health and safety and make for a great favor!

The Power of Love Endures!

While the landscape for weddings may be changing, the view is still the same today as it has been for thousands of years; Two people in love surrounded by their friends and family to witness and celebrate their commitment to one another.  If anything this pandemic has shown us the power of love, the strength of our families and friends, and an unstoppable human spirit that won’t give up. We continue to discover new ways to express our commitment to one another and appreciation for the term, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”.  As we all forge ahead in this new normal we focus on what we can do, not what we can’t, and we embrace what matters most.

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love,  No not just for some but for everyone” 

Jackie DeShannon

Love always,


Madison & Sara