A Wedding Planner Turned Bride’s Journey Part 1: Getting Engaged During COVID

When one of our very own got engaged this year, it was such a happy thing. Because well, 2020 has been a rough one.

As we celebrated and excitedly started talking about the engagement and eventually the wedding, an idea sparked!

Why not share this journey as she goes through it?

You obviously hear a lot from me about planning your wedding from the planner’s perspective. But, why not hear about it from a bride’s perspective?

And not just any bride, but a bride who is also a wedding planner.

She’s got way more knowledge and experience than the average bride.

But she’s never been a bride before. She’s never planned HER wedding before. And she’s never planned HER wedding during COVID.

And I can tell you from personal experience that it’s different being on the other side.

Not to mention COVID just makes everything different.

So, I’d like to introduce you to Stephanie.

She’s been a part of Mango Muse Events and Passport to Joy for many years now. Since practically the beginning of it all.

Photobooth photo with Passport to Joy wedding planners and photographers having a little fun
(Here we are having some photobooth fun at a wedding in the early days of Mango Muse Events, about 10 years ago! Stephanie is on the far right.)

I like to call Stephanie our ninja.

She’s behind the scenes quietly working her magic to make sure everyone is taken care of and everything comes together.

Wedding planner working behind the scenes at a beautiful wedding in Yosemite by destination wedding planner Mango Muse Events creator of Passport to Joy online wedding planners
(Stephanie behind the scenes at a wedding in 2019. Photo credit: Mary Meck Weddings)

But, now she’s engaged!

So, this is Stephanie’s story. A wedding planner turned bride’s journey that will hopefully help you navigate planning your wedding during these strange times.


Allow me to introduce myself! Hello, my name is Stephanie!

I’m a newly(-ish) engaged bride living in San Francisco with my now fiancé, Kirk, and our pets, Diggy and Teddy.

A poodle and turtle, important pets during COVID part of a wedding planner turned bride's journey during COVID

Kirk and I will be planning our own wedding, and Jamie asked if I would share our wedding planning journey here on the Passport to Joy blog. So here I am!

I hope you’ll enjoy following along as Kirk and I experience the highs and lows of planning our wedding together.

Who knows what adventures will be in store when it comes to planning a wedding during a pandemic?

What could possibly go wrong?! (Insert nervous laughter here.)

But hopefully by coming along with us, you’ll glean some helpful wedding planning tips based on our experiences or learn from our mistakes made along the way.

Fingers crossed that there won’t be too many of those!

So, let’s start at the beginning of our journey… and getting engaged during COVID.


Couple taking at photo at Crater Lake celebrating an anniversary

Kirk and I had just celebrated our four year anniversary in March, when coronavirus hit the US and we started sheltering together in our small one bedroom apartment.

Over the years of our relationship, we’d talked a lot about getting married. And about our plans for the future.

But that all seemed to grind to a halt with the pandemic… along with everything else in the world.

With COVID wreaking havoc on the country, not to mention the social and political unrest roiling the nation and the wildfires burning across California, our future engagement was shoved somewhere to the side, supplanted by all things 2020.

At least in my mind.

That’s why when Kirk got down on one knee next to our kitchen table during a cozy date night at home, I was completely surprised and caught off guard.

But after spending almost six months quite literally nonstop together, I knew we were ready for a lifetime. Of course, my answer was yes!


Newly engaged couple, Stephanie and Kirk talk about their wedding planning journey on Passport to Joy online wedding planning course for couples

Although I wish I could say that it’s been all sunshine and rainbows since our engagement in September, the pandemic has been ever present and impossible to ignore.

We’ve struggled with the staggering numbers in the news everyday, as well as with the physical distance and isolation that also keeps us safe.

We would have loved to share the news of our engagement in person with our family and friends. But outside of one socially distanced picnic, we’ve had to settle for video chats and text messages.

Everyone talks about missing the way things were before.

And I have to say that you feel it even more so when all you want to do is celebrate a happy occasion.

It’s so easy to be overwhelmed these days. But, we’re thankful that we’ve had each other through it all.

Our engagement has been one really nice way to celebrate the happiness we’ve experienced during an otherwise bleak year.

*PRO TIP: These are hard times, remember you have each other! And your engagement is a happy thing to focus on.


Couple holding hands at their engagement in the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco Passport to Joy online wedding planning course for couples
(Photo credit Kate Webber)

This is probably the question that we’ve encountered the most since announcing our engagement. Starting within a day of Kirk’s proposal!

But pretty early on, we decided to try and bask in our engagement for a while before rolling up our sleeves to plan our wedding. 

Something I heard again and again while working with Jamie at Mango Muse Events is her advice to couples to enjoy the moments leading up to their big day. And I’ve taken it to heart, especially now.

Getting engaged during COVID comes with so much uncertainty.

Back in the fall, we struggled with the unknowns of the coronavirus and the looming election. The hope of a vaccine felt remote at the time.

We didn’t want the added stress of playing a guessing game to pin down wedding details.

We were simply trying to get through the next few months!

But, I could see why other couples might choose to start planning straightaway. It’s a way to make things feel more real or to have something concrete to look forward to.

But we decided what was best for us was to wait until the new year before looking at potential venues and dates.

And making that decision early on has been really good for us.

We’ve appreciated not having to stress, at least for now, about the trajectory of the virus and how it will affect our wedding. (Which by the way, I’ve seen first hand as a planner. And, wow, it’s stressful!)

It’s also been fun just spending time getting used to calling each other fiancé and fiancée!

*PRO TIP: There is no right or wrong time to start planning, do what is best for you!

Of course, we’ve talked generally about our hopes for our wedding day. What we think is realistic given the pandemic and emerging vaccine timelines.

One thing we know for sure is that we want to get married in 2021. We want to start a family soon!

It’s also really important to us to have our parents physically present.

They’re spread across three different states. So, our wedding will need to take place when it’s safe for them to travel.

We’ll likely have a small wedding because it’ll be the safest option for our families. It also gives us the most flexibility with choosing a date on a weekday, if a weekend is not available.

And while we’re okay delaying our planning or compromising on the size of our wedding, I would prefer not to compromise on being able to (safely) hug our families at our wedding and laugh together over a shared meal.

So for now, we’re chatting over the possibilities and waiting for things to become more clear.


I guess you’ll have to read next month’s post to find out! I’m looking forward to updating you then with the next installment of our wedding planning adventures.

Big thanks to Jamie for letting me share Kirk’s and my engagement story on the blog and to you for reading this far!

Stay tuned for the next installment in Stephanie and Kirk’s wedding planning journey! Till then, if you have any questions, please let us know in a comment below.

And if you’ve gotten engaged during COVID, don’t forget we can help you through your wedding planning journey. You can learn more about becoming a Passport to Joy member here.

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