New Nuptials

Flexibility remains key to planning in 2021


Flexibility helped JENNIFER ROSE home in on her artistic flair and turn a floral company into a wedding planning and event design firm. 

Flexibility helped Rose’s Salt Harbor Designs navigate the treacherous waters of 2020, and flexibility is what Rose says will continue to steer everyone through the unknowns of 2021. 

Salt Harbor Designs began in Rose’s garage and has grown into a full-service wedding and event design company. 

A “collaborative combination of meticulous planners, designers, green thumbs, graphic gurus, organizers, and storytellers,” Rose and her team create custom events that tell the stories of her clients. 

“There is something about working as a team to build an entire event from scratch, to create a unique environment every weekend that is custom to the client and their story – it just never gets old,” Rose says. 

Rose and her team faced challenges in 2020 they never could have anticipated because of the coronavirus pandemic, even for event planners who are used to being flexible at the best of times. 

“It has been a year like no other. Event planning requires lots of flexibility under normal circumstances, but this past year definitely required more adaptability than we knew we had,” she says. “For many clients, we had two to three different event dates. For some clients, we had two to three venue changes, multiple vendor substitutions, and between three and ten different floorplans.” 

Government mandates and legal issues changed headcounts, venues, and floorplans and introduced new protocols of temperature checks, masks, and sanitizer into Rose’s arsenal of event tools. 

Changes in couples’ travel plans and shifts to outdoor settings also helped draw some weddings to the area. 

“We ended up booking many small, last-minute events as couples from other states and even countries moved their events to Wilmington where our weather could accommodate outdoor events into November and December,” Rose says. “We worked with one wedding planner from Canada to recreate in Wilmington a wedding planned for a vineyard there. We were hired about a month out to plan a tented wedding in Greenville, North Carolina, that moved from the Virgin Islands.” 

Salt Harbor Designs proved they were up to any of the challenges 2020 presented, but Rose admits, she is ready to return to the pre-pandemic days of event planning. 

“I will be honest, though, I am really looking forward to the return of one date, one location, and one floorplan per client and a year or more of planning time!” she says. “It is going to feel like a walk in the park compared to the events of the past year.” 

Rose does emphasize the need to stay flexible in event planning at the best of times, but certainly in the unknown territory that 2021 brings ahead. 

“I think in any business, you have to change and adapt with the needs of the client and industry as a whole. Typically, those changes are not nearly as drastic and immediate as they were in 2020, but I think, ultimately, it is what all business owners are constantly doing,” Rose says. “We change our business model to fit the client, and in our current environment, that just means we need to be as flexible as possible.” 

Looking ahead, Rose sees many of the trends that 2020 endorsed, such as intimate events with outdoor venues, continuing to remain the norm. 

“The smaller weddings feel incredibly special and intimate. These weddings become more about the people and less about the party. They can really enhance the atmosphere and experience in a way that makes their guests feel as special as they are,” Rose says. 

As far as tips for planning a wedding in 2021, Rose stresses that couples stay flexible. 

“We are all hoping by fall that things will be different, but for spring clients especially, we cannot predict what we will be permitted to do,” she says, “so last-minute changes should be expected, and flexibility is a must.” 

Jennifer Rose, owner of Salt Harbor Designs, shares what she sees ahead for couples planning a wedding this year. 

Wedding Trends for 2021:

  • Outdoor tented receptions 
  • Smaller, more intimate weddings 
  • Weekday weddings. With limited weekend dates available, a Thursday or Friday wedding is a way to spend the weekend celebrating with guests by planning other activities such as beach day, barbecue in the park, brunch, etc. 

Tips for Planning:

  • Think about what is most important: “If a huge event or headcount is very important, they might want to consider a 2022 date to be on the safe side,” Rose says. 
  • Book venues with outdoor options to have one or more back up plans in place in case mandated indoor assembly numbers remain low.

To view more of photographer Aris Harding’s work, go to

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Categories: Features