These last 4 days have been a whirlwind for the world as the number of cases for COVID-19 continues to climb and social gatherings hit a halt. The events industry has been affected greatly and for many brides and grooms, the idea of postponing their wedding is becoming very real. As couples are confused, stressed and anxious, I’ve decided to create this blog post to help you take a few steps forward if you are finding yourself in this tricky situation. I would like to make it very clear and disclaim that I am not a scientist, doctor or lawyer. Every wedding is going to have different circumstances and it’s important that you evaluate your situation with your venue and vendors and ultimately make the decision yourselves on what is best. This is an unprecedented circumstance and I assure you that your vendors are working very hard and diligently to provide you with the best solutions. Please note SJ Soirée Inc. is not responsible for any decisions you make upon reading this blog post. With that said, these are the steps I would personally take to navigate through this difficult time:
IF YOUR WEDDING IS DURING SPRING 2020 AND ARE THINKING OF POSTPONEMENT:
1) Remain Calm
Yes, it’s likely that this is easier said than done. However, it’s still important to remain calm and think with a clear head to make the best decision for yourselves. As a planner who wants only the best for my clients, I can only imagine the frustration and anxiety you may be feeling at this moment. Just remember there is light at the end of the tunnel and that we are all going to get through this. No matter the outcome, you will marry the love of your life and it will be a beautiful day!
2) Understand Your Government’s Protocol in Your Province or Territory
Visit the Government of Canada’s website here: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html for updates, travel advice, prevention and more. For the greater good of the community, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings has been encouraged by Canada’s government.
3) Call Your Planner or Contact Your Venue
If you have a planner, call them to create an action plan or plan B with your venue. If you do not have a planner, call your venue directly. Is your venue canceling events? If so, what dates are they providing for you to reschedule? Are the deposits you’ve already paid going to be transferred to your new date? If your venue is not canceling events, understand what measures they are putting in place regarding cleanliness and sanitizing. It would also be important to understand what the consequence is of not meeting your minimum guest count. Given that there have been travel bans put in place by various countries, it’s highly unlikely that your out-of-town guests will be able to attend. Moreover, if your guests are elderly or have underlying health issues, it is encouraged that they stay home given the information we know about COVID-19 and who is most vulnerable to it. Having a new date is really going to dictate how you proceed. Ask your venue about their remaining availability for 2020. In this case, you may have to be open to getting married in a new season or a new day of the week such as Friday or Sunday (if you are able to from a religious standpoint). Please trust me when I say every season of the year is beautiful. Please also trust me when I say any day of the week is great because you are celebrating you with your family and friends and that’s what matters most. They are going to be there for you no matter the season and no matter the day. If you know you are going to postpone but need time to think about that new date, simply request your venue to hold your deposit until you have decided.
4) Check Your Contracts & Call Your Vendors
Reread your contracts and understand your vendors’ policies and procedures on cancelation and postponement options. If you do need to postpone, work with your vendors and not against them on what their availability looks like for the remainder of the year. This will of course revolve around your venue’s availability. You will have to work simultaneously in securing a new date with your venue all while trying to understand if your vendors such as your photographer, florist and entertainment are available for that day also. Remember, stay calm. There may be a possibility where you will need to cancel a vendor completely because they are simply not available for the rescheduled date where the majority of your other vendors are. Generally, deposits are not refundable, however there could be some flexibility given we’ve never been in this situation before. However, please note if your wedding is this upcoming weekend or in the next couple of weeks, materials and resources are ordered well in-advance to pull off that beautiful floral ceiling installation or custom design work has already been created for that unique stage. If you have wedding insurance, it’s best to get in contact with your insurance company as soon as possible.
5) Secure Your Postponement Date
Take a breather. You’ve made it this far. You’ve put the health and safety of your family, friends and community first and have decided to celebrate further down the road with everyone when this all settles down. Be sure to update your vendors on your new date if you haven’t already.
6) Inform Your Guests
If you have a wedding website, it is best to update it with this new information. If you do not, you should look into creating one as email communication can get confusing especially if you send out multiple emails. You may also not have all of your guests’ email addresses (a tip for those of you who have summer weddings and have not sent out invitations yet: think about asking your guests for their email addresses and phone numbers on the RSVP card in the event you need to postpone). You can also contact your stationer and create a card with the postponement information and send this out. I would strongly suggest you also call your guests in the event your guests are not looking at your website or their emails. If you need to send something out urgently, you can easily create a message on Canva or Paperless Post to send out!
IF YOUR WEDDING IS DURING SUMMER 2020 OR THE REMAINDER OF THE YEAR:
1) Remain Calm & Be Proactive
As mentioned, it’s important to remain calm. Take a deep breath! We do not know how long COVID-19 is going to last. With that said, the last thing you want to do is postpone your wedding only to find out this pandemic only lasted a few weeks or a couple of months. Please move forward with your wedding plans, but be proactive and follow the next steps mentioned below.
2) Understand Your Government’s Protocol in Your State or Province
Visit the Government of Canada’s website here: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html for updates, travel advice, prevention and more. Don’t forget to also check the World Health Organization. For my summer weddings, I have advised my clients to choose a day of the week and reassess the situation on a week-by-week basis. What is the government insisting you do? Are social gatherings completely canceled? Have more travel bans been put in place? Have a few travel bans been lifted? Keep yourselves updated on the number of cases and the impact.
3) Call Your Planner or Contact Your Venue
If you have a planner, call them to create an action plan or plan B with your venue. If you do not have a planner, call your venue directly. This may seem like a lot of work given you are still proceeding with your original wedding date, but being proactive and understanding your venue’s availability for the remainder of the year will be helpful in the event you do need to postpone.
4) Check Your Contracts
Take this time to reread your contracts and understand your vendors’ policies and procedures on cancelation and postponement options in the event you may have to down the road.
5) Do Not Cancel or Postpone Yet
As mentioned in Step #1, we do not know how long COVID-19 is going to last. So the last thing you want to do is postpone your wedding only to find out that you could have carried out your wedding all along. Take it week by week and reassess the situation with updates from Canada’s government and WHO.
6) Inform Your Guests
It’s important to note that your wedding is likely not the only wedding some of your guests are going to attend. With that being said, your guests are likely getting cancelations or postponement updates from spring weddings that they were supposed to attend. This is probably creating some confusion as they’re unsure if the summer weddings they’re invited to are still a go. Nonetheless, going back to Step #6 under Spring 2020 weddings would still be important to do to keep your guests updated. If you haven’t sent your invitations out yet and are rethinking this, please proceed as business per usual. If you are in the midst of creating your invitations for your summer or fall wedding, think about adding in a small paragraph about keeping those vulnerable to join you from afar.
IF YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED IN 2021:
1) Remain Calm & Be Proactive
As mentioned, it’s important to remain calm. Take a deep breath! Definitely be thankful that your wedding isn’t until next year. However, this is your time to be proactive. While you are booking your vendors, it’s a good idea to ask important questions surrounding cancelation and postponement policies for situations that are beyond our control.
2) Put Your Planning on Hold
As I’m sure you are in the middle of planning your wedding next year, it may be a good idea to press pause as we all wait to understand the outcome of this pandemic. The vendors you are likely in touch with right now are most likely dealing with cancelations and postponements from their clients right now. So taking a break is totally okay!
IF YOU ARE PROCEEDING WITH YOUR SPRING 2020 WEDDING:
If you are proceeding with your Spring 2020 wedding, here are a few tips you can use to update your guests, ensure the health and safety of your guests and also include those guests who may not be able to attend:
1) Keep your guests informed via your wedding website. If you don’t have one, this would be the time to create one. The Knot offers this for free or if you feel you don’t have the time, you can contact Web Sharx to create one for you. I’ve partnered up with Web Sharx to provide couples who have a wedding scheduled between March to April 30th of 2020 with a free website who are in need of keeping their guests informed of their wedding plans.
2) Create hand sanitizing stations or other cleanliness practices throughout the venue.
3) Include hand sanitizers and other cleanliness products in your washroom/amenities kit.
4) Include phrases such as air kisses or air hugs on your stationery such as ceremony program cards or get creative and put these phrases on cocktail napkins or your venue’s digital screens.
5) If you have a cinematographer, set up a live stream or a FaceTime solution for guests who cannot attend.
6) Most importantly, please ask guests who have traveled to high risk areas or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive or is a presumptive case for COVID-19, to kindly stay home or attend via live stream or FaceTime.