I don't need to tell you that the coronavirus pandemic has uprooted just about everyone's 2020 plans. Couples and small event businesses alike are having to make some difficult decisions as wedding season forges ahead with no weddings in sight. If you were planning a 2020 wedding that is now being threatened by COVID-19, I wanted to put together a few actionable steps for you to take to prepare for what's ahead.
Please Note: if you are planning a fall or winter wedding, I don't believe it's time to panic yet. Vendors are pushing back on rescheduling fall weddings in order to make sure they can first reschedule their spring and summer couples. Still, these steps are designed to allow couples to think ahead while we wait to see what will happen over the summer.
1) Check in with your venue as soon as possible to know what your options are. With so many spring, and now summer, weddings being rescheduled, a lot of vendors are totally booked up, working triple-header weekends in August, September, and October, which are already busy months. A lot of brides are starting to look into 2021 for new wedding dates. Knowing what your venue can offer as far as dates go is the first step.
2) Once you have some back up dates, reach out to your vendors as soon as possible with all the options. (I've found a great way to see which vendors can or cannot accommodate a new date is using a Doodle Poll. This way you can see everyone's answers side-by-side. But sending out a mass email will work great, too.) Considering Friday and Sunday options is one of the biggest ways you can help your vendors, who are likely already booking up premium 2021 Saturdays.
Please Note: It's likely that some of your vendors will need to charge a transfer fee when moving your date into 2021. Ask about their policies while you work on your backup plan so you know exactly what to expect. These fees are necessary to protect small businesses. Though all of us want to be as accommodating as possible, small businesses are losing thousands of dollars by rebooking clients paying 2019 prices for premium 2021 dates.
3) Examine which wedding details, if any, you need to alter. This might include:
Sending Out New Save-the-Dates
Many graphic designers and stationery artists are offering free or sale-priced templates and materials for engaged couples affected by COVID-19. If you've already hired a stationery artist, check in with them to see what they are offering. Otherwise, ask your other vendors or check on Instagram for other options.
Examining Your Guest List
Because we don't know exactly how laws will restrict the number of people at an event in the future (and because it may vary state to state), it might be a good time to examine your guest list. Moving forward, some decisions will be easier to make by simply knowing whether or not you are comfortable with reducing your guest count.
Examining Your Vendors
This is also a great time to look at your vendor list. If you happen to be cutting down your guest list, it may be making room in your budget to hire someone you didn't originally plan on, like a videographer. Photographers and videographers are being utilized now more than ever before due to important loved ones not being able to attend the event.
Perhaps the most important thing to do during this time is re-reading your vendor contracts. Get a sense for how you are covered in the event of rescheduling or canceling your event. If you have any questions, reach out to your vendors to ask about their policies.
What I'd really like for you to know is - it is okay to grieve. For many people, weddings don't just mean marriage. They mean planning for the future. They mean becoming more established, buying houses, having kids, changing careers, moving states. Weddings are often the jumping off point for a new life together, and having to postpone that just isn't fair.
As wedding vendors are stepping into the shoes of their clients, I'd kindly ask that couples do the same for us. Small businesses are doing everything in their power to keep their businesses running while also trying to do right by their clients. And remember, none of us have done this before.
We will get through this together, and be stronger because of it. If you are in need of any resources, please don't hesitate to contact me, or any of your wedding vendors for more information.
Stay safe, and take care of yourself.