Updated: August 18, 2020 — Coronavirus (COVID-19) is not something you could have ever conceived of considering when you began happily planning your wedding….so first and foremost, let’s all take a deep breath. Our world is struggling right now, and you’re not alone in your fears + uncertainties. Unfortunately, the coronavirus is larger than life. Sad to say, it’s bigger than your wedding. During what should be a wonderfully exciting time for you wedding planning, we’re all together facing this pandemic. With that, we want you to know we’re with you! You’re certainly not alone; and we’re here to support you through these unprecedented times.
To be clear, we’re not here to give you medical advice. We’re not qualified to do that and neither are most of the people in your social media feeds. There is a lot of misinformation being passed around online, so our advice is to:
- Seek out information from medical experts – those who employ accepted scientific methods and analyses and publish their findings in reputable medical journals.
- Get critical information from those whose mission it is to protect and inform the public – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) being the two most prominent organizations for such info.
- Verify new information from other sources – to counter the misinformation the WHO has created a COVID-19 myth buster page.
- Get familiar with State/City/County rules + regulations for where you’re getting married – at this point there are no federal social distancing guidelines, they expired on April 30, 2020, the authority for imposing such guidelines is now in the hands of the governors. So, this means you need to do some serious research, this is where a good wedding planner could be invaluable, as they’ve likely been tracking this quite closely because their business is directly impacted by the same rules and regulations you need to consider. This goes double if you’re getting married in another country, be sure to check that country’s guidelines for events + travel right now.
Many governments across the globe have taken measures to prevent mass gatherings of people (NOTE: unfortunately for the US the CDC has not updated this page since March 15th, 2020) and restrictions have been placed on restaurants and bars, so it’s a certainty that many couples planning near term nuptials are being forced to make alternate plans. That’s where we come in, we’re here to lend support and advice to help you figure out how to move forward with your big day once you’ve digested the most recent official news, restrictions and recommendations regarding coronavirus.
Planning for Fall + Winter 2020
According to the CDC‘s most recent social distancing guidelines released on March 15, 2020, group gatherings should be restricted to less than 50 persons. However, the federal social distancing guidelines that proposed no more than 10 persons expired on April 30, 2020 and were not renewed because that decision is now being made by governors. So, if you’re planning your wedding for this fall or winter, it’s critical for you to be 100% on top of the laws, guidelines + recommendations for your state; and in many cases city and county, for the location in which your wedding is scheduled to take place.
With social distancing measures imperative until the foreseeable future (or until a vaccine), many couples are questioning what to do with their fall/winter 2020 weddings. These weddings are slated for beyond the eight-week guidance provided by the CDC’s bulletin about limiting group gatherings, but that doesn’t mean that it’s business as usual by any means. Unless you’re willing to downsize your wedding while implementing strict social distancing rules that comply with both state and local regulations to protect you, your families, friends and those who each of them know with compromised health, postponing your wedding is recommended.
While the current health crisis continues to unfold, it’s also likely that guests will have some degree of discomfort regarding travel and group gatherings well into winter of 2020. Keeping the discomfort of your guests, your ideal event vibe and the general integrity of the wedding you’ve envisioned for you + your partner is vital.
Accepting that you now have to postpone or cancel your wedding is an incredibly emotional reality. We empathize with you. Take solace in the fact that millions of couples across the globe are struggling with these same realities! Above all else, your health + the health of your closest families and friends are most important.
Let’s set you up with a plan to postpone your wedding in an effective way.
1. Review the Fine Print of Your Contracts
Before having many difficult conversations, begin by reading the fine print of all of your wedding contracts. Some may be short + clear, while others may be long and a bit confusing. Become somewhat of an expert on your contracts to prepare for the calls you’ll begin making.
After reviewing the fine print of your agreements, you + your partner will have a better understanding of your options to inform your decision of whether to postpone or cancel. We’d strongly encourage you to postpone your wedding instead of completely cancelling it, in addition to missing out on such a special day electing to cancel could present a new financial burden.
Important – Be sure to check your venue contract for a reschedule clause – most venues are making special exceptions to their normal fees since this is a national emergency.
2. Talk to Your Wedding Vendors
Once you have a comprehensive understanding of your vendor contracts, it’s time to reach out to your wedding professionals. Before you begin calling, it’s important to understand that most of your vendors are truly on your side and just as disappointed as you about your need to reschedule. Many wedding vendors are small businesses that are having this same conversation with several other couples at the same time, so the coronavirus is presenting quite a challenge to their businesses. We feel for all of the talented wedding professionals out there as they rush to rebook all of their existing weddings.
To postpone your wedding, begin by reaching out to your reception venue to nail down a date, then reach out to each of your other vendors. In this climate, vendors are going to be flexible to an extent. Most venues and vendors are willing to move a date without financial penalty, but need lead time. They want to work with their couples + make something positive come from this situation. Hopefully your wedding vendors can help provide additional guidance on next steps, too.
When talking about postponing your wedding, be open to dates that you may have scrapped in the past. Friday + Sunday weddings will be just as wonderful as a Saturday in spring! Fingers crossed, all vendors line up for your new wedding date. But, even if you need to do some rebuilding around your new date, it will be worth the switch for your health + happiness. Remember all the hard work that you guys did already and don’t cancel your dream! Just change your date. This will save you time and money in the end.
3. Inform Your Wedding Guests
Whether you’re postponing your wedding or canceling it, you need to inform your guests who’ve probably already received an invitation at this point (we rounded up our fave Date Change cards for you). It’s important to make a decision, stick with it and clearly communicate it to your guests.
Begin by updating your wedding website. Use your page as a hub of information for your guests to reference. Provide any + all information to them regarding your plan. Even consider creating an FAQ for your website that addresses questions around refunds on hotel blocks, your new wedding date, etc. Additionally, set up some calls to connect with each guest and provide an update. This is a great job for immediate family members to assist with. You can also tackle your guest list updates via email or text.
Postponing your wedding could, of course, mean not as many of your guests can attend on the new date. Accepting this, and many other ‘tweaks’ to your wedding vision is something to be mindful of. You can only control so much! If you’re thinking of your guests’ health and the health of your marriage, you’re doing everything right! Your wedding guests will understand that much.
4. Check in With Your Partner
This sucks! Plain + simple – it’s devastating. Months of planning + excitement, and it all feels like a wash. Accept those feelings; and check in with your partner from time-to-time as you navigate through this together. Keep connecting with each other in your own little ways. Make dinner, have wine, play games; and celebrate a little every day! Your original wedding date will always be signifiant – so honor that in a way that feels authentic to you both.
For those of you with fall and winter 2020 weddings (and beyond), we encourage patience. Monitor the situation + proceed cautiously, with comprehensive contingency plans. New information comes out every day, and in our current state, we just don’t know what the next week or two holds.
Check in with your partner and consider the state, county and city-wide mass gathering ordinances; along with the regulations outlined by your specific wedding venue. Think about what your wedding would look like if you went ahead with a smaller guest count, the absence to a dance floor, plated meal instead of buffet, etc. With that said, many couples are working through #covidweddingplanning obstacles and getting hitched anyway!
5. Don’t Delay
Unfortunately you don’t have much time to act if you have a wedding in the near future. You need to get comfortable with the fact that you need to reschedule and begin acting, otherwise other couples will get all of the best days and you’ll lose flexibility when planning your new day.
6. Embrace Elopement
If you’ve entertained the idea of eloping, this could be a perfect time to embrace the popular wedding-style! Some couples are opting to elope in the midst of this pandemic, and it’s clearly a low-stress, low-health risk wedding alternative. The good news there is, we can provide an almost infinite amount of elopement inspiration + planning tips to get you moving in that direction! Then once everything is back to normal, throw a large party for all your friends and family and share your elopement photos and/or video during the party – for those opting this direction, we highly recommend booking a videographer to capture your elopement so you can share with all your family + friends.
Photography: Dillon Phommasa
Sarah + her fiancé Byron, in Laguna Beach, California, were kind enough to share their REAL wedding story about how COVID-19 altered their plans in a major way…plus how things are looking from their lens…we loved their attitude about their day and thought it could help those of you in the same boat…
Byron and I were faced with an extremely tough decision. We’ve made the final call to postpone our wedding that was scheduled 14 days from now.
This was NOT easy. There were tears, a lot of hugs, endlessly questioning ourselves, fact checks, phone calls, emails, more tears, more hugs, and maybe a few tequila shots. We weighed every option from every angle. “Do we just have a lower guest count and have everyone make the decision on their own? Do we postpone it and make everyone change their travel plans, re-request work off, and get new accommodations? Do we just wait it out for the next two weeks? Are we overreacting?”
When you look at a list of every single person you love, the decision is clearer. Not easy, just clear. Right now we all have the shared responsibility to take care of each other. And although I feel safe and know that I’m young and healthy and could fight the virus, it’s not about me. I haven’t stopped working, which means I’m in close contact with people all day. I haven’t stopped supporting local businesses and restaurants. And I haven’t overstocked my pantry in fear.
Our decision was never based off of fear, quite the opposite actually. We love our friends and family so deeply that we couldn’t be responsible for putting 100+ people in a room and putting people in a position where they have to choose between their health or celebrating our marriage. So we made the decision for everyone, in hopes that instead of spreading more fear, we can spread relief. And plus, what’s the point of a wedding if the people you love can’t be there?
But a wedding isn’t why Byron and I are getting married. And although the wedding is moved just a few months later, we’ve waited too damn long. We’re ready to be married. So, on March 28th we’re heading to Morro bay, where we got engaged, and we’re sharing our vows, exchanging rings, and getting married barefoot in the sand. It might not be the original plan, but life never goes to plan.
You know, they say rain on your wedding day is good luck…so a pandemic must be even better luck, right? 😉
If you’re pivoting to an intimate wedding, follow our 13 planning steps for fool-proof success!
We’re all in this together, folks! Marisa, Owner + florist at Revel Petals shares some sound advice: It’s easy to feel disheartened and overwhelmed with everything so uncertain at the moment. But I keep coming back to this one thought: COVID-19 does not change what is most important. This virus cannot quarantine your love for one another, which is the heart of a wedding in the first place. If you must postpone your wedding, hold a small space for any grief you may feel, then move through it to that cup-overflowing place of your love. Weddings will happen now or later, but something more precious is present to be thankful for. Take this time to make memories: snuggle up and read a book (or five) together. Do that online couples fitness program you’ve never found time to do before. Make cookies. Write poems. Sleep in. Listen to birds chirping outside. Slow down and revel in each other. When you are old and gray, married for years and years, this could be one of the most memorable times in your life — the kind of story you tell your grandkids. Make a story of strength and love and endurance to tell them about. You won’t regret it.
Additional advice from industry professionals, and our in-depth COVID-19 FAQ:
“While checking with your vendors, also check with your family and VIP guests to ensure the new date works for them as well. The biggest industry advice currently is, postpone, don’t cancel. We will work together as an industry to make your wedding dreams come true. Know that if you do need to postpone, you are making the right decisions for the safety of yourself and your guests.” –HoneyFitz Events
“Know that what you are feeling is normal and give yourself the okay to feel that way. Then, get back up and put your plan B into place! Come up with 5 other dates you would consider postponing and reach out to all of your vendors and see which ones work for all. Set a deadline date of when you will make the decision to postpone and feel 100% confident that when that day comes, and you have to postpone, you are good to move forward with it. Then open up a bottle of champagne and cheers to a longer engagement!” –Erica Trombetti, Infinite Events
“As you are nearing your new date, discuss with your vendors additional safety protocols and sanitation procedures. Things like having extra hand sanitizers conveniently placed at the event, upgrading soap, serving a plated meal rather than buffet or family-style, ensuring ALL staff is vetted and free of known illness and the like will put you more at ease. –Nora Sheils, Bridal Bliss
“Keep an open mind! It’s okay if your rescheduled wedding looks totally different. Yes, you were hoping for a Saturday wedding in May, but now you’re looking at a Thursday wedding in November. While it’s okay to be disappointed, feel the feels…and then try and look at the bright side of things! For example: Your favorite vendors will most likely have availability, the off-peak day and date will be far less expensive, and fall weddings are some of the most beautiful we’ve seen. Plus, you’ll have plenty of time to rearrange all the details, your guests will have plenty of notice to reschedule their travel, and at the end of the day, you’ll STILL be married to your best friend. See? Silver linings abound.” –Jenna Miller, Creative Director, Here Comes the Guide
“It’s completely fine to postpone your wedding! It may not be exactly how you envisioned things turning out but you will still have a wonderful wedding. I’d recommend picking a new date as soon as you can, especially if you want it in the same calendar year. Consider picking a Friday or a Sunday, where vendors and venues have more availability. Work with your team, including your planner and the venue, to ensure a smooth transition by asking for available dates right off the bat. Remember, they are here to help! When postponing your wedding, consider a smaller destination or venue with only your nearest and dearest —this can help take some of the pressure off when planning for the future. As many weddings are being canceled, postponing yours will likely mean you have your pick of dates, hotel and restaurant reservations, inexpensive flights. Now is the time to take advantage of deals, added value opportunities, and minimal crowds.” —Elizabeth Payne, Social Events Sales Manager, MacArthur Place
If anyone has any additional questions, please leave a comment here or feel free to email us directly ([email protected]). We will get through this – hopefully this will just be one of the many stories you and your partner will be able to share with your grandkids one day…
We’ll continue to update this post as new information comes to us. Stay healthy + inspired! We plan to continue to share inspiring content daily as we find this is so very much needed in this crazy time.
Thanks also to the following contributors who shared their insights for this piece! Rosewood Weddings, Katie Rae (Registered Nurse & Wedding Event Planner), Revel Petals + Sarah Yates. Along with Anna Delores Photography for the top floral heart photo.