Coronavirus or also known as COVID-19 seems to be the thing that is dominating all the conversations lately and rightfully so. It is impacting our lives as we know it in almost every way possible. As a wedding photographer I am seeing a massive impact on the wedding industry and how it is impacting couples getting married and wedding vendors alike. With all these daily news updates, social media constantly updating and rumours spreading I have put together the top 10 things to know while planning your wedding during Coronavirus. I wanted to put together something for couples to be able to reference and have as a place to go for how to handle this situation I could have never imagined we would ever be in.
But before we dive into what you should do while planning your wedding during this Coronavirus outbreak, the process of rescheduling your wedding and what you can do I wanted to say you are NOT alone in this! We are all going through this together, vendors, family, friends, thousands of other couples and we will get through this together. Your relationship and love for each other is not cancelled, the support you have felt for from your family and friends while planning your wedding is still there, your relationship with your vendors is still very much there. I can promise to all my couples that I am 150% here for you through all of this! Through thick and thin we will get through this together, this is just merely an obstacle in the way of getting to your dream day.
Here are the top 10 things you need to know while planning your wedding during Coronavirus.
1. Safety is #1 during COVID-19
Your safety is your number one priority during this COVID-19 outbreak. Staying inside, washing your hands and practicing social distancing is really important during this time. You want to remain healthy so that you do not have to worry about falling ill prior to your upcoming wedding. For information on how to stay safe and further prevent the spread of Coronavirus make sure to check out the Canadian Government’s website here. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has some great resources and information on their website as well as a myth busters page on the WHO website that tackles current myths and their truth.
2. Understanding When You Should Cancel You Wedding / Elopement
This will really depend on when your wedding is taking place. I have put together a timeline for the upcoming months on what you can do based on what month your wedding is taking place in:
If your wedding is in April – May:
- Reach out to your venue to get an understanding on their stance (are they ready to start rescheduling or is your wedding currently still on as of right now), their refund policy and dates they have available for you to reschedule to.
- Once they have provided you with some dates narrow it down to 3-4 dates that work for you and your families. Then reach out to your vendors and share this information with them to choose a date they are all available for.
June – July Weddings:
- I know you’re scared – your wedding is feeling like it is coming up so soon. My biggest suggestion to you is begin to make a reschedule plan, but don’t put it into action yet. So much can change between now and June / July. For June couples hold on until early to mid May and look at the situation at hand then as it may look totally different than it does today. July couples begin to look at rescheduling come end of May to early June.
- Get available dates from your venue for rescheduling right away though. Ask if they are open to allowing you to hold a secondary date for the time being until you are required to make a decision about your original date.
August – December Weddings:
- Hold tight! I know this is so much easier said than done, but so much is going to change between now and then. It is so scary to feel like you are stuck in limbo with the unknown if your wedding is going to be taking place or not, but I have a feeling the end of summer we will be able to see the resume of weddings.
- Venues are being overwhelmed with couples that have their dates booked between now and July reaching out and asking about rescheduling. As we get into Spring and based on how the situation is looking this would be a good time to reach out to your venue to get your potential reschedule date options and begin the process then. I am very optimistic that come end of summer / fall we will be able to hold full sized weddings again!
3. Start Planning For An Alternative Date
A. Take A Deep Breath & Grab Your Partners Hand (But Only After You’ve Washed Them!)
First thing’s first – take a deep breath, grab your partners hand and say we got this! Your wedding is first and foremost about the two of you getting married and spending your life together. Don’t be disheartened. All of this will pass. At this stage don’t look back, but look forward and embrace the new situation. Your wedding may look different, at a different time, might be at a different venue, may be a different size than you had planned, but it will all be okay! Your vendors are all here for you. Your happiness is our number one priority and we are here to help you!
Find ways to make this even better, more about the two of you, add something into the wedding with the extra time you now have that you wanted to and maybe you couldn’t get the vendor you wanted or didn’t have the budget to originally add. I know this is a scary and super frustrating time and you are 100% allowed to feel this way! We are all going to get through this together and your wedding day is going to be the best day ever!
B. Beginning To Plan Your Alternative Date:
- Do not cancel your original wedding date too soon. Given how fluid the situation is, I am suggesting not making any significant changes until 45-60 days to your date. This timeframe is becoming the industry standard as it gives you the best chance to make the right decision with the information you have available. I would truly hate to reschedule your wedding too early in advance only to find out that we would have been able to move forward with your original date.
- Reach out to your venue for all of their currently available dates. Ask them if they have a rebooking policy and if they are going to cancel your date when will they let you know by and how you can proceed with re-booking a new date. Once you have the venues available dates begin reaching out to your vendors.
- When looking at alternative dates be open to looking at weekdays, Fridays and Sundays or even in off-season dates instead of peak dates as you will more likely be able to move all your plans over smoothly this way.
C. Reaching Out To Your Vendors:
- Reach out to all your vendors with the alternative dates provided from the venue and start to find a date that works for everyone for you to make as your alternative date.
- Start with the vendors that there is only one of and they don’t have possibly as much flexability as others (ie. Your photographer there is likely only one of, unless you are going with a larger company).
- Ask your vendors whether there is a cut-off date for certain costs such as your florist or caterer needs to place their final order by a certain date. This way you can get a better understanding on when the latest you can make a decision. All vendors are being extremely flexible, but there may be a deadline beyond which certain costs have to be incurred if the event does not go forward as planned.
- Make sure to discuss with each vendor if there is any additional charges / fees when it comes to changing your date. Some vendors are waiving their rebooking fee if you book within 2020 and the winter / early spring of 2021, but are charging a re-booking fee if you choose to book during 2021 wedding season (May-October). Many people are trying their best to not have to charge you any more than you originally were contracted for, but please keep in mind all of your vendors are also small businesses that your money reflects them being able to put food on the table for their families, pay their rent or mortgage so have an honest conversation with them. Being honest with each other will be the best thing for this situation and understand if they have to charge you a bit more because you are also possibly booking a peak date.
- For any vendor that is unable for your new date when begin to work through with them on their cancellation policy and then begin searching for new vendors for that date. I will help all of my couples find new vendors that are available for their date and within their budget!
4. Consider Your Alternatives:
Are you reconsidering having a big wedding after all the stress you have gone through? Has COVID-19 made you feel that maybe all of this wedding planning doesn’t quite feel right anymore? Maybe you want to still get married on your original date (pending any government restrictions). This is YOUR wedding day and you can do whatever feels right + what YOU want to do! Ultimately, it comes down to your decision. Your friends and family will always support you no matter what. The world has turned upside down on us but your love is still here, your family and friends still love and support you, and your marriage will still happen!
Eloping: If you have considered eloping this would be the perfect time to do so! Eloping can mean whatever you would like it to whether it is just the two of you, a smaller group of just your family, you get to make the rules. Having an elopement could potentially allow you to move forward with your wedding date as planned (pending no government restrictions) and allows you to do so without risking the safety of your loved ones. Eloping does not mean that you cannot do something later on for your original guest list! You could use your deposit at your current venue to host a party even with a symbolic ceremony for all of your guests to partake in and celebrate! This is a great way to use deposits you have with both your venue and vendors as well as allowing your guest to get excited and look forward to a celebration.
Check out our best places to elope in Muskoka for some ideas!
Broadcasting Your Wedding Online For Your Guests: Couples are transitioning to broadcasting their ceremony online to their family and friends through using Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, or other means. This way everyone still gets to watch you get married from the safety of their own home while cheersing you over a glass of bubbly!
5. Be Understanding
The majority of your vendors are small businesses that are fully self-employed with weddings being their sole source of income, myself included, and can be very stressful when the 2020 wedding season has so many unknowns. This is a scary time for everyone, couples getting married, vendors, venues and so many more. Every vendor that I recommend and work closely with are being as flexible as possible to offer you the best customer service we can. Be open and honest with us and we promise we will do the same back! We are here to help you get through this and ensure you have the wedding of your dreams!
6. Update Your Wedding Guests:
Your guests probably have you on their mind! Keeping them up to date on what is going on is important. One of the best ways to easily reach out to everyone at the same time is through a wedding website! If you don’t already have one this would be a perfect time to make one so that all of your information on your wedding can be in one location that is easy for guests to check in on as things progress. Here are some great wedding website options: The Knot, Wix, Wedding Wire, Zola, and Joy.
Once you have confirmed and made the official change to a new date you can send out Change the Date Cards. Many vendors are offering free digital downloads of these Change the Date Cards that you can send out. Here are two local wedding stationers that are offering free digital downloads: Vertala Design Co. & Monarch Design Co.
7. Relax & Reconnect With Each Other
- Now it is time to take a break, relax, maybe grab some wine and have a date night in with great movies, cuddles and just enjoy your time together. Now that you have your alternative date planned, your vendors updated and your guests have been notified you have some time to relax. Sometimes the more we try to focus on things the harder it is going to get and the more stress it will add to the situation. If you have pushed your wedding out several months take a few weeks off and when you are ready to start dreaming up again – do it!
- Once you are ready to resume your planning go through your current wedding plan with your partner and your wedding planner if you have one and decide if there is anything you would want to change, add to your day, etc. You can change your theme, your décor, add maybe a food station, live music, a flower crown station – whatever feels right to you!
8. Communication Is Key To A Successful Wedding
With so much changing daily in our personal lives, with your vendors, venues and potential government restrictions communication with your vendor team, wedding party and guests is absolutely key. Working alongside all of your vendors to keep them updated will ensure for a flawless wedding day when it comes.
One of the best ways to ensure successful and fluid communication amongst all of your vendors is hiring a wedding planner. Wedding planners can be so helpful during this time as they can reach out to your vendors for you, work on your alternative date, help source new vendors, and brainstorm ideas of you need to change your theme, etc.
This is something I am also trying my best to help all of my couples out with as I have an event planning background and want to ensure everyone has as little stress during this process as possible! If you need any help at all please never hesitate to reach out of me!
9. Stay Positive & Look at the Bigger Picture
Get excited and only look forward! Do not look back at what could have been. I know how heartbreaking and upsetting this is. You have poured hours upon hours of your heart and soul into planning your wedding for your original date only to have an unexpected event change everything. But let’s find that silver lining together.
Get excited about your wedding day together, maybe some guests that were not originally able to come can now make it, maybe you have more budget to be able to add in something special, you can really spend some time planning for that dream honeymoon. There are so many good things to look forward to and the most important thing is that you get to marry the partner of your dreams, your best friend and that is not going to change no matter what. So grab your parnters hand and say this together – we are going to get married!
10. Stay Safe & Healthy
Like I said at the beginning of this post – staying safe and healthy is the most important part. The two of you need to be healthy in order to have this wedding! So let’s all stay home, read a book, find a new hobby, clean out a room you have been meaning to do for months and just relax and enjoy each others company.
Lastly, remember why you wanted to do this in the first place – you wanted to marry your partner, spend the rest of your lives together. This is the most important thing and that is still going to happen! We will get through this together – I promise! <3