Well, this is a blog post I never thought I’d need to write, but I can’t not talk about it. It’s affecting everyone right now. And it’s sending a heart-breaking ripple (or perhaps a flood would be more accurate!) across the wedding world, with last weekend’s announcement not helping much to make things clearer. It, of course, being the Covid-19 pandemic. Sigh. As tempting as it could be to just pretend it’s not happening, sadly it is, and we are all finding our way through. Here are some of my thoughts, and a few helpful links, on navigating Coronavirus and your wedding.
This is such a difficult time for so many and, while some may be rightly worrying about the health of their loved ones or their livelihoods and how to get food on their plate, those planning their wedding will be feeling an added sense of worry and upset. Weddings play an important role in many people’s lives. They bring together families and friends in celebrations of love. And they place markers in couples’ stories for new chapters to begin.
If you are in the midst of planning your wedding, Coronavirus will very much be a pressing issue for you. Thankfully, there are some amazing resources out there right now. So, I’ve rounded up a few of the best articles and posts I’ve come across, to guide you (all relevant when posting this on May 8th 2020, but things might change as the situation develops).
The Emotional Roller-Coaster
Planning your wedding can be an up and down ride at the best of times. Throw a global emergency like Covid-19 into the mix and wedding planning gains a new level of stress and anxiety. Depending on where you are in your planning stages, you may have already invested a lot in the day (even if not financially, then emotionally). To suddenly face so much uncertainty might mean you’re feeling many mixed and confusing emotions, with thoughts of ‘what now?’.
Unfortunately, I can’t give you any definitive answers. But I feel it’s my role as a wedding planner to help guide you in the right direction, so you can feel supported.
In this article for The Telegraph, about how the Coronavirus pandemic is affecting all weddings – even royal – with first-hand stories from real brides, I talk about the emotional impact the current crisis is having on wedding planning: I know how devastated Princess Beatrice must be – coronavirus ruined our wedding, too
This post on Love My Dress, by photographer Hannah Larkin (who I had the pleasure of working with last year), has some great advice on self-care during this time: Managing uncertainty and supporting each other
And here is another Love My Dress post with a few words of support for brides and suppliers alike: Kindness & Compassion
WHAT TO DO NEXT
Having worked in the wedding industry for 10 years now, I can tell you, the majority of wedding suppliers and venues will be going out of their way right now to help couples find solutions and postpone their weddings. No supplier is out to fleece you or profit from a difficult situation, but do bear in mind they are running a business, a heart-led business they have poured their everything into (despite what the UK press may otherwise portray). As with most things, there may be exceptions to the rule but these will be the minority, so, please… show compassion and patience, and be prepared to be flexible, they will be doing the same.
If you have wedding insurance, do check your policy to see what is covered. Here is a helpful article by Which, discussing wedding insurance and Coronavirus (Covid-19): What does coronavirus mean for your wedding insurance.
Talk to your venue to discuss possible alternative dates. Keep in mind, venues have a lot of overheads and staff to consider, and often have bookings well in advance. This means many 2021 dates might already be booked (even some 2022), so you may need to be flexible. Many venues are offering mid-week and out of season options to help. Try to be understanding when you contact them and be prepared to consider a weekday or month outside of your preference.
Love My Dress have released an incredibly insightful post, focusing on Venues’ perspectives. It’s well worth a read to understand how this crisis is impacting the wedding industry: Postponing weddings from a venue perspective
Your Legal Ceremony
As soon as possible, after confirming your new date, get in contact with your local council (where you had to Give Notice). For civil ceremonies, check the availability of your registrar. If they aren’t available on your new date, my advice is to arrange the legal part whenever is possible and book an independent celebrant or Humanist to conduct a ceremony on the day.
I’m a celebrant myself (as well as a Wedding Planner). I love the flexibility a celebrant-led ceremony gives a couple, and everything is so much more personal. If you’d like to know more, do take a look at my website, Andri Benson Ceremonies
Couples who choose a religious ceremony often do so because it’s important to them (whether religiously or sentimentally). Though I would really encourage you to keep an open mind about celebrant-led ceremonies, get in touch with your contact at the religious building first. They might be able to make your new date work, or have other options available. I know many venues are now looking into how they can safely hold intimate weddings for the legal ceremony.
There is a special benefit to having an intimate legal ceremony on, or near, your original date, and a big party at another time… you get to celebrate twice!
It’s a good idea to make contact with all your suppliers and discuss any concerns you’re having around Coronavirus and your wedding, as well as asking if postponement is an option and when they would need to know your decision. Once you have an alternative date option with your venue, you can then discuss things further with your suppliers. Make sure you talk to your key suppliers first, e.g. your caterer and photographer. You could even use something like a Doodle poll to work out who is available when.
Some suppliers may have to charge a postponement fee to cover additional costs (such as time, an increase in product prices – e.g. flowers or food, and additional staff etc.). Remember, most suppliers will not be trying to make additional profit out of Covid-19 and your wedding – they will simply be trying to help you without making a big (potentially devastating) loss themselves.
You and Your Wedding have put together a helpful article on what to ask if you need to postpone: Coronvairus – 20 Questions to ask your wedding venue and suppliers
If your wedding design was very tied to a particular season, you may need to look at tweaking things. Areas like the menu and flower choices may not fit the new time of year, but changing them won’t take away from the overall day. And nothing can change the fact it’s still your wedding day. You’ll be celebrating with even more love and appreciation from, and for, those around you at your wedding, after Covid-19.
A Little Note For Couples Planning An Autumn/Winter 2020 Wedding
Following this week’s announcement, it looks like the government is considering how they can facilitate intimate weddings from June – this is expected to be around 5, the couple, their witness and the registrar. They also spoke of opening up areas of the hospitality industry from July but many expect this will involve a cap on numbers. You can see the full report here: Government recovery strategy (page 31 talks of weddings)
Take some time before making any decisions. The situation is very uncertain and there are no guarantees, but there is hope things might settle by the end of Summer and weddings may be able to take place. This means you should be okay to keep planning as normal, but with reasonable caution – if guest numbers are limited do you still want to go ahead with your wedding plans or would you rather postpone? It may help you to start thinking of plan B and start the conversation with your venue and suppliers. Keep updated on official news and be kind to yourself – your opinion and feelings might change on a daily basis.
This post from the Love My Dress and Occasion Queens gives a very balanced view of the situation from all sides – venues, suppliers and couples: Sharing perspectives on wedding postponements
The UKAWP has written this post, with advice on postponing your wedding due to Covid-19, which helps put suppliers’ perspectives across. It’s a worthwhile read if you’d like to get a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes: Postponing your wedding due to coronavirus
Coco Wedding Venues have written an in-depth post, with really useful advice. They’re also keeping it regularly updated which helps lessen confusion around the guidance: Will coronavirus affect my wedding planning?
Mark Your Date
Finally, when your original wedding date comes around, please do something to mark it. You’ve been preparing for that date (dreaming of what it will be like) and it’s part of your love story. Here are some ideas for ways to celebrate:
Glamour Magazine: How to celebrate your wedding in lockdown
I hope this post has pointed you towards some useful advice. During this confusing and difficult time, I’m also offering help to couples aside from my full planning service. If you need help organising your wedding postponement due to Coronavirus (someone to take care of conversations with your venue and suppliers, and confirm your new date) and/or a design session to discuss any changes needed – please do get in touch.
I still have some dates available for 2021 weddings, if you’re interested in my full planning services. It’s likely to be a busy year next year so now is a great time to get started on your 21/22 wedding plans.
Love is Love
Last, but most importantly, remember why you’re wanting to get married in the first place. And what your wedding is all about. When this is over, we are all going to want to celebrate with our friends and family even more than before. Your wedding day will come, and it will be amazing – even if it doesn’t quite look like you originally planned.
Love is love. It knows no boundaries or limitations. It doesn’t pause for anything. And it will continue to surround you as a couple, for now and always.