With the CDC’s recommendation to cancel gatherings of 50 or more people and a growing number of cities on total lockdown, it’s clear that the wedding industry is about to change in a significant way. First and foremost, if you are in the position of having postpone your wedding plans, I want you to know that I am so sorry. You’ve invested so much into your wedding day, both financially and emotionally, and I understand how devastating this situation is for you. We’re all in this together, and you are not alone in how you’re feeling right now!
To help navigate these uncertain times, I’ve compiled a few tips for wedding planning during the coronavirus pandemic. Please keep in mind that laws and recommendations are changing daily, and that I am not a lawyer or a doctor. When in doubt, consult with either or both of those resources!
Consult (or hire) a wedding planner.
Wedding planners are the real MVPs during an event such as a pandemic. They’re experts at managing crises and handling complicated logistics, like changing your wedding date.
Review your vendor contracts and talk to your vendor team.
It goes without saying that this is an unprecedented event, and we’re all trying to navigate it as best we can. Typically retainers are nonrefundable, but what we’re seeing right now is that many vendors are applying the retainer to a new date without any additional charge.
The best thing you can do is to have open conversations with your vendors, so that everyone is on the same page. Let them know how much you value them, and try to understand that this situation impacts their livelihood and ability to pay their employees. The goal should be to keep your existing vendor team intact if at all possible, but on a new date – this will likely be the path forward with the least financial impact.
Discuss payment schedules with your vendors. In most cases, you should plan on keeping your existing payment schedule intact. This is a great way to support small business and help them to weather this storm, if you’re able. Another option may be to pay a percentage on the planned due date, and the remainder one month prior to the new date.
Consider all alternatives.
Depending on the current regulations in your area, you may be able to move forward with your wedding plans – with significant changes. Eloping may be an option, or consider a “micro wedding” with fewer than 10 VIPs in attendance. In some states, DC included, couples can even officiate their own weddings! These alternatives may allow you to keep your original wedding date, if that day is highly significant to you, while holding the reception later.
Embrace your backup plan.
I know how devastating it is to have to change plans, especially with your wedding just a few weeks away. However, you’ll likely feel a huge wave of relief once your backup plan is in place! Remember, your marriage has always been the most important thing. Once it is safe, we WILL celebrate your love for each other!
Notify your guests.
Once you’ve chosen a new date, the first order of business is to inform your guests! Some stationers (such as JesMarried) are graciously offering free customizable “change the date” templates so that you can announce your new plans beautifully.
A mailed announcement is preferred, however email works as well in a crunch, or even phone calls. A social media post shouldn’t be the only way you’re notifying guests, as it’s highly unlikely that everyone will see it! If you reserved a room block, be sure to notify the hotel and make changes as necessary. Don’t forget to update your wedding website, too!
Celebrate your original date!
I’ll say it again – weddings are lovely, but the most important thing is the love you two share. Even though it’s not what you’d planned, find ways to celebrate your original date once it arrives! Order takeout from your favorite local restaurant, open a bottle of wine, and dance in the kitchen to your first dance song. It’s the perfect opportunity to practice without an audience!
Advice for Late 2020 & 2021 Couples
While we hope that this situation passes quickly, the reality is that the events industry could feel the effects of coronavirus for years to come. If your planned wedding date is still six months or further away, I encourage you to continue planning and lock in your favorite vendors ASAP! With so many spring 2020 couples forced to postpone, it’s likely that 2021 dates will fill even faster than usual.
When booking, be sure to ask each vendor about their pandemic policy moving forward. Personally, I’ve updated my retainer policy to allow retainers to be applied to a new date free of charge in the event that a wedding needs to be rescheduled. Be sure to review cancellation policies in detail, and consider purchasing travel insurance for your honeymoon or destination wedding plans. I expect we’ll all need to approach events and travel with more flexibility than we have in the past!
I hope these tips have helped you feel prepared and confident with whatever coronavirus throws at us! If there’s anything I can help you with, don’t hesitate to contact me. By a stroke of luck the fall of 2020 is fairly open for me at the moment, so if you’re in need of a wedding photographer, let’s chat!