Coronavirus and Wedding Planning - A match made in... ?
Updated: Sep 8, 2020
UPDATED: JUNE 28, 2020
OH MY GOD THE WORLD IS ENDING
(or maybe it isn't. Yeah, probably not.)
But it does feel that way sometimes, doesn't it? I know the sudden cancellation of all my work and social plans in March caught me off-guard -at least in how quickly we went from "hey, this virus thing is crazy huh? Funny meme about beer!" to "everyone stay inside, hoard toilet paper, Ahhhhhh!" (remember when toilet paper hoarding was the news?). Then it was "we beat it, yay!" followed by, "it's back, we never even beat it to begin with, duck and cover!"
In light of all that's happening, I wanted to address, both seriously, and with optimism, what COVID-19 might mean for upcoming wedding plans. Things feel a little uncertain, but it's OK to look forward with hope!
What do we need to anticipate?
For those of you with a wedding in the coming weeks, months, or even years, there are a few major things to think about:
1) Will everyone be able to attend?
Between travel, and the concern for particularly vulnerable people (parents? grandparents? older friends and relatives or those with preexisting conditions?), for the near future some guests may not be able to attend your full wedding. This may make it a no-go, because you won't get married without mom or uncle Marty there, but it also may mean a few other things. There ARE options for those who don't have travel restrictions making it a non-starter:
Having a smaller ceremony, on or before your scheduled wedding day, allowing those who are most important to be present for your actual marriage, without exposing them to a large group of potentially contagious people. You can add on a separate private ceremony in advance for only 5 or 10 people, or simply restrict the guests that you invite to the ceremony you've planned. You can still hold a larger reception, but changing up just the ceremony allows for a happy medium without losing out on all those wonderful touches you've been planning for months or years!
Live-streaming - The number of couples adding plans to live-stream their ceremony and/or reception has skyrocketed. Some people are adding videography all together, having not planned to have it originally and now seeing the value in having a video to share with those who can't make it from overseas, or due to health concerns!
Postponing - Lots of companies - myself included - are very open and understanding about the situation we're all in. Talk to your vendors about rescheduling. They may wave some fees (I myself am allowing date changes for no added costs at the moment). It's not a guarantee, but you won't know until you ask! No one wants to have to do this, but if you know you won't be able to enjoy your wedding day under the current restrictions, then make the call! If you haven't signed contracts with your vendors yet, ask them about rescheduling policies, and make sure you understand what will and won't be allowable in the future: How far in advance can you move your date? Can you select any date in the future or are you limited? Are there rescheduling costs? If so, how much and under what circumstances?
Elopement - if you don't already have a venue locked down, or a date planned, and this is something you've been considering anyway, maybe this is the sign to go with your gut! Elopements can be a beautiful way to celebrate your love intimately and personally. You can have a photographer and filmmaker capture the day, and share that with loved ones. And then you can still have a big party later if you want when things have calmed down and there's less stress or risk!
2) How do we keep everyone safe?
The CDC (and every facebook and instagram meme) has been telling us to wash our hands, and wear masks when possible. This is still the best advice we have right now. The vaccine, and the if and when of getting and effective one are still unknowns (you knew that already), so if you're planning for the future, consider making two potential guest lists. One for the ideal "everything's open and fine" world we hope to see soon, and one for the event that local restrictions are still in place - 50% capacity, 100 people, 25 people, whatever the case may be.
Talk to your venue, and keep in mind local guidelines for guest counts and occupancy. Remember that some of these guidelines comes with hefty fines, so many vendors will not be willing to participate if you break them.
Plan for holding events in large open spaces, ideally outdoors. If your heart is set on a church ceremony, consider keeping the actual ceremony really small, and then gathering with a larger group of friends in an outdoor location to celebrate. You could even repeat the vows, or have them filmed and then played back, or have them streamed directly from the church to a place where guests are gathering. If there's a will, there's a way!
On the same topic: offer a livestream for the loved ones you had to remove from the list entirely (this way you can even involve more people than you originally would have been able to afford to invite anyway!) I know I've hit that topic a few times, but the safest way to include lots of people is virtually, so it bears repeating!
3) Should I cancel? What happens if I do?
The "should I" part is becoming less and less of an option for those of you with large weddings in the immediate future. Whether you postpone or cancel, in places where limits on gatherings are in effect, is up to you and what you think is best for your circumstances. While many may have a strong opinion one way or another, only you know what is best for you and your circumstances, and keep in mind if you do hold your event, the same will be true for your guests. BUT this does bring me to something for which I'm a big advocate:
WEDDING / EVENT INSURANCE
Though obviously none of us foresaw this particular pandemic, getting insurance can be a massive relief if/when you have circumstances arise that force postponements or cancellations. You never want to have to choose between keeping your family safe, visiting a sick loved one, or ignoring a government-ordered quarantine and your wedding day. And you never want to have to lose all that money by choosing the (obviously more important) family/loved ones. If it's not too late, considering getting it for your wedding.
I'm not qualified to give you legal advice on insurance, and I won't recommend a specific company but there are many. For more thoughts and info, here's an article from the Knot on wedding insurance: Wedding Insurance 101 .
4) Can I still plan my wedding for next year?
Obviously, I'm not a soothsayer, but the answer is most likely: YES.
For some of you like myself, right now your job will be taking you out of the house less and you'll actually have MORE time to plan without the hours spent commuting or in meetings that could have been emails. The good news is, this will eventually end, and it's ok to be optimistic and find things to look forward to!
You can still look at venues and vendors and plan and dream and cook up all the great ideas you have. If you know you don't want to put down deposits now due to job or other uncertainties, that doesn't mean you can't still think ahead. Reach out to preferred vendors, speak to them about how you're feeling, express interest. Most people, especially in the current climate, will be happy to put you on first-refusal, meaning if they get another inquiry for your date they'll let you know before booking another couple. This is also the time to ask about retainers and costs of rescheduling. In many cases, you're not risking anything by reserving now, so it's okay to hope for the best!
What else are you thinking about? How can I help you plan? Call me, let me know! If you're feeling good and making plans, check out my timeline planning guide for tips on keeping your day running smoothly!
Keep your head up, I promise we will get through this together! Stay Happy, healthy and hopeful.