Updated: Apr 21, 2020
How do you plan and manage a wedding during the Coronavirus? Some key steps including revisiting your priorities, pulling together some backup plans, assessing your overall timeline, and stepping up communication with your vendors and guests will go a long ways to getting through this.
My heart goes to brides and grooms everywhere that are re-planning, or planning, a wedding during a pandemic. Under ordinary circumstances planning a wedding on top of work, school, and the rest of your social life, is challenging, stressful, and filled with many emotions! Did I mention expectations from friends, family, and wedding vendors? Add in the Coronavirus and planning a wedding during quiet times looks like child’s play! This post is in light of the following announcements from New York State, the CDC, and the Federal Government.
Case Study of Re-scheduling Weddings During Coronavirus
I recently had to let my early April wedding couple know that my floral wholesaler was shutting down operation until further notice. This was due to Governor Cuomo pausing non-essential businesses, which included their wedding venue being closed as well by the Governor. I had a backup plan in place to provide something to the couple if they kept their date in April with an intimate ceremony, but they ultimately chose to rebook for the end of July. Their wedding venue had the new date open, I had the date open, and at that moment I was feeling good about life resuming by end of July, although somewhat cautiously. These are difficult situations to manage – your wedding is a couple weeks away, the world as we know it is changing daily, and governors are reducing the size of gatherings in addition to other shutdowns; therefore plans for a single wedding can be changing with only a moments notice! That’s a lot to process when you’ve put your heart and soul into the wedding of your dreams, and you are less than 2 weeks from the big day. The uncertainty of this couple’s approaching date rippled through their personal plans, their bridal party, their families/friends, and their vendors. It was a lot to rejuggle after everything was in place!
When July rolls around, I know that I can pull from my flower farm and other flower farmers to give this couple something close to their original plan if my floral wholesaler hasn’t opened by July. But I also confirmed with my greenhouse that my seedlings are on track for my summer 2020 order so the July flowers will be in full bloom! It’s a plan, but I also realize change is the new normal for a while, and if I must change plans again for my couples, I’ll do my best to support them.
How are Wedding Vendors Responding to the Coronavirus?
The wedding vendors I know feel for this whole situation, and at the end of the day, they want to do their best to insure you still have the services you desire. They are living under the same unpredictability that soon-to-be married couples are. As the world shifts under your feet with venues closing temporarily, guests canceling, empty floral warehouses, and more, wedding vendors are doing their best to respond to changing dates and needs. As a whole, they have a heart and desire to ensure your day is special, and they will use their compassion to find a balance between your needs and staying in business. They will work with you to the best of their ability to rebook and make the most of this current unchartered territory we all find ourselves in. They stand to lose a lot of money or quite possibly their livelihood, and at the same time they do not want to lose satisfied customers. Couples and wedding vendors alike have a lot invested in the success of all weddings!
4 Steps for Managing a Wedding During a Pandemic (Coronavirus)
Here is a game plan to get from the chaos of today to a refreshed plan forward. As you have discussions with guests, your bridal party, and vendors, you may have to cycle through this list a couple times to get to your new path forward.
1. Revisit your Wedding Day Priorities
You had some key criteria as to what was important to you when you started planning your wedding. It’s time to dust off that list, and revisit it so you can reprioritize. Did you procure a venue or a band that were deal breakers if you didn’t get them? Is that still true? Does your original wedding date have personal meaning that you are not willing to forego? Do you see an impending military departure that is critical to plan around? Whatever that list is, review it, and update it. Additional considerations to include and prioritize as you make decisions for your wedding are:
Health and wellness of you and your guests: For example, some guests could be carriers of the virus, and yet others may have a compromised immune system. Are you willing to take risks in this area, or how do you mitigate some of the risks?
Are some people traveling to the US to attend the wedding. The CDC has banned travel from some countries into the US, and this could impact your guest list.
Is your wedding in a state or NY county that has a higher rate of infection than others? Is it worth considering a new location to avoid some of the more infectious areas?
2. Consider Backup Plans for your Wedding in Light of Coronavirus
This is the time to get creative with your path forward for planning or re-planning your wedding. Think outside of the box, and don’t let current wedding conventions hold you back from doing what is right for you. Here are a handful of options you can evaluate against the priorities you established in Step 1.
Postpone ceremony and reception to a later date
Hold the ceremony with a small group and reschedule reception for a later date
Livestream the ceremony for those that have compromised immune systems
Have an intimate elopement, then redo the ceremony at your party in not too distant future
Going ahead as usual with the big reception if and when the goverment restrictions let up - be sure to discuss with venue, caterer, and other vendors how to minimize chance of sharing the virus.
Look at "Less is More" Options – maybe you want to move the whole extravaganza to your backyard in the fall with hots/ hamburgers or food trucks.
Safe, healthy time with family and friends is the most important consideration in all of this, however you accomplish that.
3. Consider your timeline
If your wedding is in the April to May timeframe, possibly June, there is immediate pressure to make decisions regarding your ceremony and reception. These are the most difficult situations to find yourselves in with the excitement of the big day nearing and seeing all your efforts come together, all to be derailed by a pandemic. Where can you hold an intimate ceremony if the venue can’t handle it? My heart goes out to you. Take a deep breath, and count your blessings to add perspective to your whole life in general.
If you are just beginning your wedding planning, keep in mind that the wedding vendor community will be supporting more weddings this fall in a shorter timeframe than usual due to postponements. The farther out you can push your wedding, the more likely you are to get a date and vendors of your choice. This has always been true, however, now you are competing against not just newly engaged couples but couples that are being displaced by the coronavirus.
Does delaying your wedding allow you a bit more wiggle room in the budget, or does it create a hardship? It’s a real question that should be considered.
4. Communicate with your Vendors and Guests
Start conversations with your wedding vendors ASAP with consideration for your priorities and preferred backup plans. Don’t wait on this - the sooner you begin working with them, and sooner they can answer your questions and help you out. They know the calls are coming, so be proactive and get started. The sooner you call the more options you will have for rescheduling or crafting a different approach to your wedding. Your ceremony and reception venues are priority phone calls, followed by other vendors that are deal breakers for you. And where some vendors fall through, ask your other trusted vendors for recommendations. I know which photographers I admire from many perspectives and will recommend in a heart beat to make your day special.
This is a good time to review your contracts and have discussions with your vendors regarding fees for postponing/cancellations and booking new dates. Can they waive some of those if you move to a Sunday or weekday wedding? Will they forego fees altogether because, again, they want satisfied customers and they do have a heart. What is the drop-dead date when venues and caterers need a final decision from you?
Inquire what safety precautions they will be taking for your wedding.
Above all else, stay flexible with your priorities, dates, and wish list. This is a constantly changing environment, and there will be a lot of give and take between wedding couples and vendors to accommodate the challenges of rescheduling many, many weddings in a short timeframe.
While many of your guests realize by virtue of common sense that things can go in either direction with your wedding date, let them know via your website, USPS, or other means that you are cautiously watching CDC recommendation, and that things may change! You may postpone all or part of your big day or leave things the same. They'll appreciate being kept in the loop so they can change their plans as you change yours, as well as that you are concerned for their well being. Looking for some great wording on how to communicate with them with uncertainty around every corner? Check out great options here.
I personally believe that future couples will look at new traditions current brides start now, and new trends will be born. I’m excited to see what some of them will be. Of greatest importance, stay safe no matter what path you take for your wedding.
Best wishes for a beautiful wedding, filled with moments and memories with family and friends as you start your new life together!
Leave us a comment and tell us what is the most pressing challenge your dealing with while you look at rescheduling. Is it making the decision, is it losing one of your top pick vendors? What is it? We're intersted in knowing.
Would you like to connect with us? Request a free, no-obligation consultation here!