That is not a title I ever thought I'd be writing. We have to be real though, and recognize that this pandemic is affecting EVERYONE. So with that said, let me just dig in.
LET’S START WITH THIS SUCKS.
I’ve said it to every one of my spring couples over the past two weeks. I know that each of you are going through some major stress and anxiety because of what this is doing to those weddings that were to be held in March and April. We have to recognize that your life plans have been profoundly changed by this virus and that can be devastating.
Take a moment for yourselves. You need to sit with this and acknowledge how hard it is and how it affects you - emotionally, physically and financially. Yes, you need to come up with a game plan, but to do that you need to know what is most important to you. You can’t do that until you’ve taken a moment to step back and evaluate.
BEGIN BY GATHERING INFORMATION
The State of Texas has an executive order that bans any events with more than 10 attendees. (This includes anyone in the room, so that means the officiant and the photographer too.) This executive order expires on April 3rd. The CDC recommends no events with more than 50 attendees until May 15th. Different cities and counties in Texas have other restrictions and expiration dates. To find what affects your wedding location, check with the city and county officials for their most current restrictions.
If your wedding is between now and May 15th, which is the longest recommendation as of today (March 21st) you need to ask yourself:
- Do you want to encourage people to gather during this time and possibly risk anyone’s health, including your own?
- Will your guests attend if you hold your wedding during this time?
- Do you want to have a smaller event to stay within these guidelines?
- Would you rather postpone everything to when you can invite everyone to be there?
- Do you want a small ceremony now and a party later? (this is an option some venues have offered)
Most of our couples in March and April have already begun rescheduling, and that’s what we advise at this time because of the CDC guideline.
START REVIEWING YOUR CONTRACTS AND TALKING TO YOUR TEAM
The wedding industry is made up of AMAZING people who their first thoughts in all of this have been about their couples and their well-being. We are an industry of heart and quite often, we take care of our clients before we think of our own well-being. Unfortunately, this virus puts us all in jeopardy, not just physically, but also financially. Typically, industry vendors have one or two weddings cancel each year. When this happens, industry vendors tend to end up waiving fees for changes, postponements and rescheduling as they can, depending on the circumstances. Sometimes vendors are able to give a refund should they rebook the date, despite what their contracts say. With almost two months of weddings in a prime season rescheduling or cancelling at this time, we all have many, many weddings rescheduling or cancelling.
For example, a local baker just posted about how she has 56 weddings being postponed. Due to the sheer volume, venues and vendors are seeking solutions for both you and their business to survive this change of events. This is why they are offering to reschedule. For them to consider refunds means choosing between supporting their clients through such a difficult time and being able to pay their employees and themselves. It’s not easy.
To start the conversation with your venues and vendors, first review your contracts. Look for three things:
- a reschedule policy
- a cancellation policy
- a force majeure clause
Some contracts have them and some don’t, hopefully yours do! These should explain how the different situations are normally handled. If you are in a ban (such as the state requiring no events over 10 attendees), the force majeure clause applies. If there is not a ban (your date is after the ban expires that applies to your area) the reschedule or cancellation clause applies. Note: I am NOT a lawyer. I recommend contacting a lawyer to review these items should you question your venue or vendor interpretations as to which applies clause applies or if you have questions regarding any of the contract terms or offers you receive.
After reading these, reach out to your venue first.
Ask them what your options are and how they are handling this. Again, your venue probably wants to make this as easy for you as they can but be patient as they also are figuring out how to navigate this situation as well. Questions to ask them and your vendors are:
- Are you able to reschedule my wedding to a later date?
- What dates are available?
- Will you apply all or a portion of my payments to the new date?
- Are there any additional fees for rescheduling?
- Are there any time restrictions for any date we should choose?
- What would happen if we had to reschedule again due to another unforeseen event? (Yes, it’s a scary question, but you need to know.)
Be patient with yourselves and your vendors. The process takes a lot of time simply due to the number of vendors involved and the delay most of them have right now. Know that you’re going to be angry, sad and irritated at everything. We get it! Ask guests to give you a moment while you figure this out (I know they are asking).
KEEPING YOUR DATE
If you’ve decided to stick with your original date (assuming you are not banned by your local officials as I don’t want you doing anything illegal), start by confirming this with your venue and vendors. Make sure they are still on board and can continue to provide the services you’ve secured. If a vendor feels they cannot attend due to the safety of their health, work with them on your options. Hopefully they can help by contracting in another vendor in their place, but if they can’t, you need to know immediately in case you need to find a last-minute replacement.
Begin communicating your decision to your guests as soon as you can. Update your wedding website with a message letting guests know the plans are still on. Share on social media that it’s still happening. Ask guests to let you know if they are unable to attend and you should contact them to verify their responses they mailed in as they may have changed their minds.
Talk to your caterer about any flexibility with your final guest count deadline or any minimums they have. Prepare yourself that you’ll probably have a smaller guest count than planned and you may be paying for food for guests that may not be there.
Some ideas for wedding day during this time:
- Ask your caterer and venue about handwashing stations and other options to help prevent spread at your event.
- You may want to consider changing to a plated meal instead of a buffet (less exposure to more people for your food).
- Add hand sanitizer around the venue (if you can get it) or consider ordering individual hand sanitizers as a favor!
- You might want to consider having a cute sign or asking your officiant to make announcement encouraging guests to limit contact, instead of hugs and kisses, perhaps a foot tap?
- If you have loved ones that cannot join you, consider adding a livestream option (email us if you need vendors for this in the DFW area). This way they can join you for the safety of their home.
MAKING A DATE CHANGE
If after reviewing all the information, you want to reschedule your wedding, you’ll need to work with your venue and vendors on date availability. Be prepared as they may not have many Saturdays (if any) available this year and you may be moving to a new day of the week. You may also not find a date that works for everyone on your team. At that point, you may need to choose the date that works for the majority and work with the team member who can’t be with you on sourcing a replacement or how else they can help you.
In the meantime, communicate with your guests that the date is changing. Many, many stationers in the industry have created free graphics to announce a Change of Date. CW Designs, one of our vendor partners, has created a site to download these directly here. Post these on social media, email or text them to your guests. You can also update your wedding website with the news, so guests know to change their travel plans.
Once you have your new date, you’ll need to complete new contracts or contract addendums with your venue and vendors to get it all locked in. CAREFULLY review these. You want to make sure you understand everything, like what happens with all your payments, any due dates for outstanding payments, any additional fees and any new deadlines like when your guest count or floral order is due.
After you have your team locked in for your date, you’ll need to communicate the new date to your guests. Again, update your website and email or text them with the new details. Reach out to your stationer, whether a custom designer or somewhere online like Minted.com, as they may be able to work with you on a discounted reprint of your invitations to send to guests, including a new response card so you can see who can attend on the new date. You are not required to send a paper invitation of course, but it might be worth it depending on how far out your new date is.
We are working these same steps with all of our current clients. If you do not have a planner and just need someone to talk to about all of this, we are offering complimentary calls to be there for you. Click here to schedule a time to chat with us by phone. If you are looking for a planner to help you through the rest of your planning process (including all of the above), contact us here.
For resources on Covid-19 and restrictions in place, we recommend these links:
Be safe everyone and know that you are in our hearts and minds as we all move through this together.