Well, firstly, if you are reading this then the chances are you should be excitedly arranging the final details of your imminent big day, but instead you are considering having to cancel or postpone your wedding because of the Coronavirus! Secondly, how awful is it to be in the final stages of planning a wedding in this current climate! There is no doubt that Coronavirus is turning everything on its head but in the world of weddings it is an even bigger minefield! Here are some top tips to help you navigate the “what you should do’s” from the “what can you do’s”!
Things You Need to Consider.
- When are you getting married? Is it in the next couple of months? I would suggest that if you are getting married between March and July then you need to be seriously looking at your options. Beyond that it is still worth considering what you can do to minimise the impact this virus is going to have on your wedding day, but more on that later.
- Do you have wedding insurance? Get offay with the small print! Speak to your insurers if you are thinking about moving your wedding date or if you are having suppliers cancel on you.
- Is postponement better than an outright cancellation? The chances are YES! In order to answer this question you will need to look through your contracts and see what payments you have made and what you can legally cancel. Although you need to protect your finances, do consider if you would wish to rebook any of your suppliers for your new wedding date in the future because they may not be willing to accept your new booking if you have been unreasonable and messed them around. Also consider if you are looking to rebook after cancelling your current suppliers, all new wedding insurance policies are currently on hold so parting with money until you are able to take out a new policy may be foolhardy. Also worth considering is that suppliers maybe changing their terms for new bookings so postponement may be better than cancellation. Read the small print!
- If you postpone and you are unable to get some of your key suppliers to work with your new date! This may make your mind up for you but equally do think about the wider implications of this, there are likely to be other venues/photographers/caterers who would be available, it is all about compromise at the moment and prioritising our health.
- Would you be happy to scale your wedding right back to just do the legal bit with the limited guest numbers that are now allowed (5 people) and then have the reception at a later date, once all this is over, as a big celebration? If you can’t wait to become a married couple then this could be an option for the moment. Check with your registrar because different regions have different policies on this at the moment.
What Should I Do First?
So the first thing is to draw up a list of all the wedding suppliers you have recruited to help you. I would recommend having a list on a spreadsheet where you can keep tabs on their contact details, how much money you have paid, what their cancellation terms are and when the final payment is due. This should then give you a clear overview of where the bulk of your finances are spent and therefore the priorities for you to hit in order when considering a postponement.
Why Should I Consider Postponing My Wedding?
I completely understand you have spent years saving for this special day and years and months planning it. You should be enjoying the run up to your big day and the exciting build-up. However, the reality is that so many brides and grooms are having sleepless nights and experiencing an inordinate amount of stress at the uncertainty of what to do about their wedding in light of the Coronavirus. As the government have only put a ban on events and gatherings for a couple of weeks, your wedding insurance is unlikely to kick in if your date is beyond April, so it is going to be up to you (or your wedding planner if you have one) to unpick all the arrangements you have made and in an ideal world work on postponing your bookings to preserve your finances. Here are some reasons you may consider postponing your best option right now:
Top Reasons for Considering a Postponement:
- Lots of guests or key family members who are unable to make your wedding day because of closed borders and no flights.
- Your venue has decided to shut for the foreseeable future.
- You are just too worried about the what if’s and the stress of the unknown over the coming months is no good for your sanity.
- You (or a close family member) has an underlying health complaint or is immunosuppressed, so if they caught COVID it would be very dangerous for them and simply attending the wedding is too much of a risk.
- Postponing is likely to be the best way to not forfeit any payments you have already made. There may well be cancellation charges imposed and to rebook for a whole new date in 2021 may incur a price increase so working collaboratively and sympathetically with your suppliers to postpone is likely to be the least costly option for you.
How Do I Postpone?
COMMUNICATE!! This is by far the biggest thing you can do at the moment. There is no precedent for this, no rule book, everyone (suppliers included), is simply trying to find the best solution which costs everyone the least and keeps cash flow running for the businesses so they are still able to operate and be there to actually deliver your wedding once this is all over.
Make sure you are being understanding and kind in your emails and phone calls. This is a highly stressful and emotional time for everyone, being rude and ungrateful will get you no where. Follow up any phone calls with a written email so you have some kind of paper trail.
Work with your biggest expenses first, venue, caterer, photographer and so on. Maybe set-up a group What’s app with them all so you can all communicate at the same time to find a convenient alternative date. Other useful tools could be a Doodle poll to check availabilities or Calendly online. Do be aware that this is an incredibly dynamic situation so dates are changing at high speed.
What you need to know about postponing your wedding right now.
It may not be as simple as picking another date and all your suppliers switching across with no extra fees. Be prepared for your venue to offer alternative dates which could be off peak dates or mid-week. Some suppliers are also asking that postponements happen before the end of this tax year to avoid extra charges. There is no general rule here, it is up to each supplier what they offer you, whether it is a free of charge postponement, an extra fee for switching the date, no postponement but a cancellation fee etc, you will need to be prepared to negotiate what is best for you. Be warned though, there are some horror stories about venues and suppliers charging for the date to be transferred and not returning any portion of refundable deposits. My advice is read your small print and be prepared to negotiate, you may not get 100% the result you ideally want, but bare in mind that it is likely the supplier will not be getting what they want either!
If you are booking new dates consider what impact this will have on your insurance. Some insurance companies are advising you to contact them BEFORE you change any plans or accept cancellations so they can advise you and help you. Also bare in mind you may not be able to transfer your current insurance policy to your new date and there are also stops on taking out brand new policies.
Depending on the amount of time between your new, postponed date and your previous wedding date, you may need to consider Giving notice again or having your Banns read at church again. Your registrar or Vicar will be able to advise you but they are obviously inundated at the moment. You may also need to Give Notice again if you change your venue.
What if I don’t Postpone Right Now, What are the Options?
So if your wedding is falling later in the Summer/early Autumn, then I think it would be wise to put in place some extra precautions, assuming we are over the worst of this by then. here are some things you may want to consider:
- Reducing your guest numbers. Ok, there may be a penalty for this with your venue and caterer but it could limit the exposure of your guests to any others carrying the virus. One alternative to help with this could be to set up a live streaming video of your vows/speeches etc for guests who aren’t attending to still be part of it and watch live.
- Put more space between your guests during the ceremony and the wedding breakfast. Space out your chairs more and put more distance between the tables.
- Put lots of hand sanitiser out for guests to use.
- Switch to disposable paper towels in any bathrooms /toilets and ensure there is plenty of soap.
- Ask any guests who have a temperature or a persistent dry cough not to attend.
- Ask any guests who have an underlying health condition or are in the ‘at risk’ category not to attend.
- Consider the amount of contact you will have with other guests, for example, reduce the amount of kisses and hugs you have with your guest. Also consider your food, maybe reduce the amount of finger food/sharing platters/ buffet food exposed to the elements such as bread rolls in baskets for sharing.
- Double check the COVID policy of any of your suppliers. This is particularly important with your caterers, ask them if they are checking the temperatures and health of their staff, if they are following strict hand washing procedures, if staff handling food are wearing gloves etc.
Some useful links:
I hope some of this gives you some ideas and shows you that there are options and some sensible steps you should put into place. if you would like some further guidance I am here to help so do get in touch.
Best of luck, stay well! Do let me know how you get on and what your outcome is.