As if planning a wedding wasn’t stressful enough, the universe goes and throws a global pandemic at you. The event industry has been absolutely flipped upside down, but the show must go on. Event professionals are used to adjusting, and thinking on their feet. Yes, this is a much larger situation then anyone has ever encountered before, but this is what we know.
Postpone Don’t Cancel.
If your original wedding date falls within the recommended or mandated timeframes you will need to either cancel or postpone. Canceling may seem like a quick way to make the stress go away, but it is not usually the best option.
Here is why you shouldn’t cancel:
People want to see you get married. Weddings are special and bring people together. Family members who haven’t seen each other in a while now have a reason to visit.
You have put SO MANY HOURS into making your vision a reality. You have dreamt about this day, planned for months or years, and I’m sure you have already purchased your dress/tuxedo, booked all of your vendors, and possibly have already done your trials and engagement photos.
Cancellations are expensive. Most wedding insurance policies don’t cover pandemic interruptions. Some of your vendors may waive second or third payments, but the retainers and payments that are associated with earned fees will be lost. This can very quickly add up to thousands of dollars. Depending on how close to the wedding date you are, the vendor may require 100% of payment.
You are supporting (or harming) a small business. The wedding industry is made up of mostly small businesses. Weddings are a hyper-local industry and the vendors are limited on how many events they can take. There are only so many weekends in a year. The vendors limit the number of weekends they book because they can’t stretch themselves too thin or they run the risk of burnout. They want to deliver the very best every time. When you cancel the wedding, you are directly taking away money that they were relying on. They do not have the opportunity to make that money up as most couples book months or years out.
If You Postpone This is What You Need to Know:
Hire a wedding planner: Moving an entire wedding is no easy feat. There are several things to consider and lots of moving parts. Having an experienced professional help you to navigate this will be most beneficial. Event Planners are also a neutral sounding board. This is an emotional and stressful situation. Having someone who is not emotionally, or financially tied will help keep the focus on finding the most direct and least damaging path.
Reach out to your insurance company: Find out what they will and will not cover. This will help you narrow down some of the tough decisions you will most likely need to make.
Read your agreements: Many vendors don’t have clear terms outlined. If it is not stated clearly in their agreement you may have some negotiating room. However, if their cancellation and postponement agreements are clear remember that this is their policy. You agreed to this when everything was fine and there wasn’t a pandemic insight. The agreements are put into place to protect both you and the vendor during situations when things don’t go as planned. With that said, this is a unique situation. Many vendors are waiving certain fees and making adjustments outside of their agreements. Some vendors may need to hold to their payment schedules to continue their operation and take care of their families. There is a balance between the business decisions being made and the human aspect of this.
Check Available Dates with your venue and vendors: Reach out to your venue and get some available dates. Before you commit to a new date check with your vendor team. Try and move the entire team. If you need to drop a vendor you will most likely lose the retainer and any earned fees. You will then need to pay a replacement vendor. It can add up quickly. The best way to move is to move everyone with you. If there is not an available date that works with everyone, consider the date that has the least amount of change.
Be Flexible: If you had booked a Saturday wedding over a year ago, realize that other couples also booked their dates far out. You may need to reschedule to a Friday or a Sunday. We have also seen a rise in weekday weddings. Weekday weddings can also be ready great. High society weddings used to be on weekdays as a showing of status. Maybe we can bring that trend back.
Discuss Scope of Work Changes: Make sure that you discuss with your vendors a scope of work change. Find out if they have any minimums that need to be met. If you decide to drastically reduce your guest count, or many guests can’t make it to the new date, are you still held liable for the original contracted amount? If you decide to change your design or menu, discuss what that looks like in terms of additional mockups, design plans, and tastings.
Plan for Additional Costs: Vendors are doing their best to work with couples changing their plans due to coronavirus, however, it is not always possible to do that at the same cost. When you are moving a wedding, you are taking up two dates on the vendor’s calendar. The original date and the new date. Although many vendors are being flexible, they are taking a loss by not being able to book a new client. Also, please keep in mind that the original quote was to get you from point A to B in a certain amount of time. If point B is now months away, or possibly an entire year, that is additional time that needs to be accounted for. If you have changed venues, or new vendors need be to sourced, now we are looking at a full or partial scope of work change. There may be rescheduling fees to help cover these additional expenses.
Consult with your VIPs: Once you have figured out a few possible dates that work for you, your venue, and your vendors, talk to your VIPs. This may mean you need to speak with your families, the wedding party, people who are traveling, etc. Discuss the changes in budget and also find out what dates are better for your group.
Move Quickly: Once you have done your due diligence and decided on a date, book it. Make it official with the venue and all of your vendors as quickly as possible. This again is where it is helpful to be working with a wedding planner. The vendors are also dealing with multiple postponements and can’t hold dates. Your ideal date may also line up with another couple ideal date and that vendor will no longer be available. Your wedding planner can call in a few favors, work twice as fast, and also be able to talk with other planners to see if their couples who are holding a date but may be willing to release it.
Inform Your Guests:
Let Them Know ASAP: Whether it’s weeks or months before your big day, the more notice you give your family and friends, the more likely they’ll be able to join you to celebrate. As soon as you know that you are moving your date call or email all of your guests and let them know. This will put an immediate stop on their travel plans and will put them on notice that a new date is coming. If you have a website don’t forget to update the information there too. If you don’t have a wedding website, this might be a good time to set one up.
Send Out an Official Change of Date: Your wedding is a formal event. Even though you have had to make some quick changes, you should still send out an official ‘Change of Date’ notice. This can be in the same style as your Save The Date, but it should match the mood and formality of the event. If your budget allows and/or your new date is several months away, you may consider sending out a complete invitation suite with all of the new information.
Contact your Insurance Company again: Let your insurance company know that you have updated your wedding date, add on any additional coverage, and make sure that you are thorough. It will be best to speak to an insurance professional.
Review the procedures needed for the legal aspect of your marriage: If you have already pulled your marriage license it may expire before your new date. Check with your officiant and review your state policies on how to proceed with making your marriage legal on your new date.
Once all of this is done check back with your event planner and ensure that there was nothing missed. This is not an ideal situation but try and make the best out of it. Realize that once your new wedding date is here your friends and family will be even more excited to celebrate with you.
As always, I would love to chat.
Photo: J&D Photo
Flowers: The Flower Guy Bron
Venue: Dover Hall
HMUA: Nicole Laughlin