COVID-19 and Your 2020 Wedding
This was it. It was supposed to be your year, your month, your day. No one could have expected this pandemic, and as the days went on and the restrictions got tighter and tighter. I’m sure your gaze continually went to your calendar. With every day that passes you wonder, “Is it time that we officially look at postponing our wedding?”.
Well one thing I can tell you is that you aren’t alone. 2020 was already set to be a busy year for weddings. Many couples are in the same or similar situations, you have a lot of questions, and the one thing I can tell you I don’t have all the answers. What I thought I would do is attempt to tell you what I know and maybe offer a little advice.
My first piece of advice would be to read your contracts with your vendors. Understand what the cancellation, postponement and change of service clauses in your contracts are. This can give you a basic understanding of what to expect your vendors to be saying and can help avoid surprises. Don’t be surprised if this exact pandemic situation isn’t spelled out in the contracts either. We are in uncharted waters for everyone involved, but there should be a basic cancellation or postponement clause in almost any contract.
I’m far from a lawyer, so take my breakdown with a grain of salt, and of course consult a professional if needed. Most wedding vendors are going to do everything they can to work with you through these times, that being said, what happens if your vendor is unable to accommodate your new plans for your wedding if the need arises? This is where knowing your contract is key. Most contracts are going to refer to COVID-19 as an “Act of God” or “Force Majeure”. Also, be aware that changing the date, or venue of your wedding can in itself be voiding the contract with your other vendors, depending on the contract's language. In that case, you may be forfeiting any retainers paid to those vendors. Again this is all subject to your contract, and every contract is different. Chances are that by now your vendors have all put in place a system or process for handling COVID-19 related postponements and cancellations.
Before you make any decisions, have your plan. Your first course of action after checking your contracts should be to look at what your deadline is to make your decision. Is there a date that you need to decide before you forfeit retainers? Is there a rush to make your decision or are you able to hold off and see how things progress? If you have made the decision to postpone, I would also recommend contacting all of your vendors before you pick your new date to have a basic understanding of their policies and fees.
If you have decided to postpone, do you know if you are looking at a later 2020 date, or are you thinking of 2021? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. I won’t name specific vendors, but I can loosely reference what some other vendors are doing, so you can have an idea about what to expect.
If you reschedule to 2021, you might be able to find a Saturday that works for all of your vendors. Where things can get tricky though, is that some vendors (myself included) have a clause that states if you postpone more than a determined amount of time (4 months in my case), your new wedding date is subject to the new pricing for that year. Most wedding vendors have annual price increases, so if you add that to the cost of your wedding, you could be looking at substantial extra expenses. Some vendors will also have a fee if you postpone your wedding and set your new date on a “peak date”. That usually being a Saturday in the summer or fall.
If you reschedule for 2020, you will probably be looking at a wedding that isn’t on a “peak day”. You will probably be looking at Thursday, Friday or Sunday availability for most vendors and venues. I know of some venues that are expanding their availability into multiple days a week to accommodate the extra weddings in the latter part of the wedding season. This should keep most of your expenses the same, or even possibly save you some money. Friday and Sunday weddings can have their advantages too, but that’s a subject for another day.
You may need to make changes to your day as well. You can look at an elopement, with a larger celebration in the future. There is also the emergence of “Micro-Weddings”. This is a wedding that isn’t as small as a typical elopement, typically consisting of no more than 50 people. Pop-up weddings also offer a great alternative for smaller weddings. Many vendors, including my good friend Brittiny from Weddings By Brittiny offer these throughout the year.
One other alternative to tackling all of this on your own is looking to hiring help. There are some wedding planners that are creating services and packages to help couples specifically with postponements and rescheduling of their weddings due to COVID-19.
On a final note, I would ask that when reaching out to your vendors, please be understanding. We are all doing our level best to figure this all out together :)