What to Know If You’re Planning a Wedding During the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Step one: Keep calm!
There’s a lot to think about when planning your big day—no matter where your wedding date falls on the calendar. But if it happens to be in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, you might be wondering what you should do—if anything—to prepare and plan for the potential that your wedding may be affected.
Right now, whether you’re planning a wedding at home or abroad, there are countless moving parts surrounding COVID-19—and since this situation is fluid, what it means for your wedding, specifically, really depends on your wedding date, guest count, location, and extent of travel involved.
However, at this point, it’s safe to say that any wedding in 2020 will look differently, whether it’s allowed to happen on a smaller scale right now or as you’d dreamed later on. “The truth is that the coronavirus has disrupted the wedding industry,”
Your day will come, and trust us when we say it will be the most amazing thing. When we can all come together and celebrate, there will be nothing else like
To help you prepare for what you should do—and help if you do, sadly, have to change plans—we spoke with experts across the industry, including travel consultants and wedding planners, to give you a closer look at how COVID-19 is affecting wedding planning right now, and how to prep for the coming months. Their overall advice? Be prepared, follow the news closely, and maintain an open conversation with your vendors and guests. “Also, if you can, book a planner so they can help you navigate this crazy industry and offer up options,”.
“Whenever there is a problem, there is always a solution to the problem.”
And, no matter your situation, it’s important to keep your eye on the end goal. “As always, take care of yourself. Honestly, it’s OK to cry. It’s OK to be angry or to feel a wide range of emotions,”.
Below, what you need to know about coronavirus and wedding planning:
While many of the planners we spoke to have recommended postponing until 2021, it’s ultimately up to the couple—and their venue—to decide the best plan for moving forward.
So, whether you’re postponing, considering a postponement, or moving on with a wedding this year, check out what experts advise below.
What to Do If You’re Considering a Postponement?
When considering the right time to officially make the call, Experts admits that there are a lot of variables to keep in mind. “Every situation is different, but generally speaking, to allow for a process with far less stress, we are recommending that the decision be made approximately three to five months out”.
While that timing may be ideal, it also may not be possible for you depending on the flexibility of your vendors.
In order to make the decision that is best for you, your wedding, and the safety of all of your guests, consider taking the below steps.
- Consult With Your Team: First, Experts encourages couples to speak with your entire creative team in the same swoop—your wedding planner, the venue, catering team, musicians, video and photography team, basically anyone involved in the day. “Get a pulse on a potential back-up plan and have alternate dates in place sooner in case regulations or your outlook shifts,” Expert says. “The goal is to have all of your loved ones safely attend your big day so everyone can celebrate you. Try to think about changing a date as just that—picking up your wedding and simply moving it to a date that feels good for everyone involved so everyone can safely celebrate.”
- Recognize Your Priorities: “When we postpone a wedding, we are first and foremost determining if the venue and hotels can accommodate the new date, and after that, we’re reaching out to all vendors simultaneously to see if they can do the same,” Expert says. “Chances are slim that your entire plan and team will be able to be carried over without any changes, and you’ll have to consider any extra fees that may be associated when determining whether to postpone later in 2020 or move to 2021, but in general you’re aiming for the least amount of changes and financial impact as possible.”
- Determine Non-Negotiatables: Speak with your partner and consider what your non-negotiables are, and how they will influence your ultimate decision. For example, are you willing to scale back from a ballroom wedding with 250 guests to a backyard wedding with 20 guests? Are you okay with not being able to hug your guests or dance close to them? Is it imperative that any elderly people attend your wedding, such as your grandmother?4.Consider Your Guests: “Where your guests are traveling from is definitely a huge factor,” Expert says. “Just like the availability of your venue, if your guests have made travel plans, you need to think about how much time they’ll need to make adjustments.” If your guests are primarily local, Expert says you can likely make your final decision closer to three months out but says it’s important to keep in mind that invitations should really be sent at three months to allow for an RSVP deadline of eight weeks before the wedding date. “We always recommend eight weeks to allow for seamless production (availability of décor, the printing of day-of materials, sourcing of welcome gifts, et cetera),” Expert says.
What to Do If You’re Waiting to Decide
In order to make a decision when the time comes, go ahead and have a serious discussion with your team to decide the best plan of action moving forward. It doesn’t hurt to know what your options may be if the current regulations are extended to include your wedding date—so speak to your planner, if you have one, and if not, call your venue to see what your options might be. “The best thing you can do is create a roadmap of options so that once more info comes in, you can make quick and informed decisions,” adds Expert.
- Talk to Your Venue: “If you’ve booked a popular wedding venue that does many weddings a year, you might not be able to get in any sooner than a year out if you wait too long to decide—unless of course, you choose another day of the week,” says Expert. “With that said, some venues won’t even discuss postponement with you too far in advance because they have to allow spring 2020 weddings to postpone first.” Moral of the story? Talk to your venue and be transparent about what your concerns are so that you have a support system and can be ready to make the leap when the time is right.
- Speak With Your Vendors:“Sometimes it’s best to get it out of your system and think of the worst scenarios so you can prepare and come up with a game plan,” says Expert. “Ask vendors about solutions should you need to postpone your event if you and/or your partner get diagnosed with COVID-19.” If you’ve already signed contracts with wedding vendors (we hope you did!), it’s smart to go ahead and have a sit-down discussion with your wedding vendors, such as your photographer. “Sit down and revisit their contract to what might happen if they need to cancel or postpone their wedding,” advises Expert. “You should have a transparent and honest conversation about your anxieties with all of the vendors on the topic of sanitization and what vendors are doing to keep themselves and their wedding party/guests safe.”
- Keep Everyone in the Loop: To avoid having to constantly field questions from family members and wedding guests, Expert suggests proactively adding a blurb to your wedding website acknowledging the coronavirus, and letting guests know you will keep them in the loop should any plans change.
- Be Considerate of Your Guests:To that point, Expert emphasizes how important it is to account for your guests’ health, time, and finances at this time. “Really be considerate of your guests, and try to give yourself a deadline to make a decision that allows for their comfort and peace of mind,” Expert “Just as on the day of the wedding, you want them to feel taken care of, so giving them extra time to make adjustments or cancellations to their travel will be greatly appreciated.”
What to Do If You’ve Decided to Postpone
Whether you’re forced to postpone or decide to out of precaution, it’s important to remember that you do have options, and your team—and family, friends, and us!—will be there to guide you through the process of postponing your event. “As planners, we want this to happen for you. You deserve to celebrate,” says Expert. “Let’s just shift the date to make that happen.”
To help you navigate that process, see our complete step-by-step guide to postponing a wedding here. Want the short version? Get started with the below.
- Hire a Planner:“If you don’t have a planner, enlist the help of an expert with some one-on-one consulting,” Expert “Many planners offer this on an a-la-carte basis. Some will offer it out of the goodness of their hearts.”
- Review Your Contracts:While Expert says to start with this step as a couple—to understand your options and investment—she doesn’t mean to lead with paperwork when discussing with vendors. “Don’t lead with them when it comes to negotiating a postponement or cancelation with your venue and vendors,” Expert “Vendors are far more likely to work with you on a postponement than a cancelation. Start the conversation softly and avoid obtuse language.”
- Decide on a New Date:This step involves two layers—speaking with your immediate family and VIP guests and your vendors. “Work your way down from the most expensive vendor to the least in search of your new date,” Expert “I recommend focusing on a season, versus a day or month, in order to garner the best results.” Also, before confirming the new date, Expert recommends having 80 to 100 percent of your vendors confirmed. Why? “If you are able to get all but your hair and makeup artist on board, it is probably best to lose that $500 deposit and reserve the date that you want the most,” Expert says.
- Expect Extra Fees:Be prepared to pay extra fees or lose a portion of your investment. “As this pandemic continues to affect all aspects of our economy, venues and vendors will likely become more rigid in their policies,” Expert
- Move Quickly:It’s no secret that time is of the essence right now. “Be prepared to move quickly,” Expert “Other clients are your competition here as so many are in the same boat. This requires flexibility and optimism!”
What to Do If You’re Moving Forward With Your Date
Whether your wedding is set for later this year or you’re planning to host a more intimate affair at home in the meantime, it’s likely that it will look different as a result of COVID-19. “All considered, I am now telling all my clients that if you proceed with your 2020 wedding, you must be prepared to adjust your expectations,” explains Expert. “In other words, in addition to a reduced guest count, you will likely need to implement safety precautions such as thermometer scans, masks, sanitizing stations, and, possibly, waivers for guests to sign. Letting guests know that you are taking these precautions, on your wedding website, will give them some confidence. Even so, know that some just won’t attend.”
In addition to the above advice, we recommend taking the following measures when saying “I do” at this time.
- Follow Health Guidelines:If you have your date and venue set, pay attention to what the experts (health) are saying and heeding their advice, suggests Expert. “Pay close attention to what venues are allowed to do and how they can make sure their guests are safe,” he says. “Yes, it’s your wedding, the most important day in your life, but the last thing you want in your celebration is to make a lot of people sick.”
- Expect a Smaller Guest Count: It’s important to be aware of your guests’ travel plans, and understand if some guests choose not to attend the wedding or any pre-wedding event. “Guest counts may drop due to the fear of flying,” Expert “I would recommend that you lower some of your guest counts, as you may not get as many people as you thought in the first place.”
- Consider F&B Minimums: According to Experts, couples are having a more difficult time meeting their food and beverage minimum due to lower guest counts. “Couples have guests that are unable to obtain visas to travel, air flights canceled or domestic guests that are concerned about traveling,” Expert “If you’re booking a venue or catering for an upcoming wedding or event, make sure you understand their policies. “When can you cancel, what are the fees, and do you have options to make up any missing food and beverage minimums?” Expert says.
- Keep Guests Informed: For anyone who has already sent out invitations, Expert recommends sending guests a quick note and updating your website with any new information, or a simply a message that lets guests know you’re monitoring the situation. If you haven’t gone to print on invitations, and if you can, she recommends asking your stationer about the option of paying for rush printing so you can hold off on printing until the very last second. “Make sure you’re designing your invitations with a line item that requests your guests’ email addresses and make sure to direct them to a website for any updated information,” Expert “Being able to easily be in touch with your guests right now is key!” Another tip? “We’re also recommending modifying designs with less time-consuming print material methods—flat printing versus letterpress as an example—and doing online RSVPs, whenever possible, for ease and reliability,” Expert says.
- Design With What’s Available: The current climate may hinder your florist’s ability to deliver fresh flowers, depending on where they are sourced. “Our flowers are shipped primarily from portions of the world that are not currently experiencing the coronavirus outbreak, like Holland, Ecuador, and South America, but we do not know what the next few months will bring,” says Expert “
- Source Local Goods: When sourcing favors and items for welcome bags, consider working with what’s available to you—and supporting small businesses!“I would suggest looking for local wonderful favors that are produced here,” Expert
- Practice Extra Hygiene:“For now, we’re following the CDC guidelines of basic human hygiene, which means washing our hands and/or using hand sanitizer every time we shake hands, touch elevator buttons, open a door, jump on the train, etc. and avoiding touching our faces especially when we’re in public places,” says Expert. “We’re taking extra precaution to ask that staff members showing signs of illness stay home and to place hand sanitizers at entrances to buffets, food stations, and rooms,” Expert
- Consider a Virtual Wedding:For elderly guests or those who choose not to travel, Davis suggests considering a live stream of your wedding. “With today’s technology, it’s quite easy to set something up on social media accounts by going live,” he says. To help, some states have even made Zoom weddings legal. Check out our ultimate guide to throwing a virtual wedding below.