Many couples are having to postpone or cancel their weddings to due Coronavirus.
Since March 12th The CDC has recommended that all mass gatherings, which includes weddings, should be postponed until the COVID-19 outbreak has subsided. For some states that means pushing weddings back to July, August or September. Although only 4% of couples are entirely cancelling their weddings, 64% of weddings are actively postponing due to the pandemic. Everyone rescheduling at the same time could mean some weddings have to be pushed back to 2021.
The $72+ billion dollar (yes billion) industry is taking a huge hit and the only way to survive is to have the entire industry work together as a whole. Wedding and events planner, Melissa Andre, says the complicated thing about rescheduling is that pandemics and epidemics are not typically included in force majeure clauses so postponing and cancellations are being done on a case by case basis. “Unfortunately, not even event insurance can protect from a pandemic or epidemic. Insurance contracts typically haven’t had pandemics or epidemics listed in their clauses to protect the event professional or the host. I do anticipate that contracts in the future will include protection from pandemics,” Andre said. “Insurance usually covers extreme weather like tornadoes. You’re also covered if you need to cancel due to injury or illness.” So how do soon to be married couples reschedule their weddings?
Contact Planners & Vendors
Contact vendors as soon as you can to reschedule your wedding party.
The first thing you need to do if you are planning on postponing your wedding is to immediately contact your wedding planner and/or vendors involved. The sooner you are able to do this, the sooner you will be able to reschedule your wedding with minimized costs. Your planner should negotiate new terms for you with your vendors. If you do not have a planner you will have to work with each vendor on a case by case basis. Andres suggests a minimum runway of 3 months of postponing to give time for all parties involved to properly plan and prepare. The next step is figuring out a new date that works with the venue, florist, catering, etc. Andre reminds brides that those who have canceled first will have first dibs on the next available dates so be patient and flexible with all parties. “Vendors will have multiple clients re-booking so there may be some overlap. If the vendor is not available for the new date, see if they have someone within their company or a freelancer they can hire before you find a new vendor,” suggests Andre.
Communicate With Your Guests
Communicate with your guests on your cancellation or postponement.
Even if you don’t have a new date for your wedding, the moment you decide to cancel or postpone your wedding notify your guests immediately by email, phone or text so they can cancel any travel or accommodations. Once you have figured out a new date notify your guests, but do expect a smaller guest list. “There may be guests who have been affected by the pandemic in irreparable ways so it will be common to expect a lot more “no shows” or declined RSVP’s as people will be more budget and health conscious for the months following the lift on the stay-at-home mandates. You should check on everyone and be sensitive and compassionate to each person’s individual circumstance before you invite them (again) to your wedding,” Andre says.
Something else to think about when it comes to the best interest of you and your guests is ensuring sanitation practices. Besides ensuring that your vendors have integrated safe sanitation practices, you may want to create your own surveillance or sanitation practices such as providing hand sanitizer for all of your guests, checking fevers or even spacing seating at tables.
Can You Get A Refund?
Getting a refund or minimizing costs depends on the contract language that was set with the vendors. … [+]
This will vary depending on the vendor and their polices. Many vendors have introduced more flexible policies since the outbreak. Keep in mind your deposit or retainers will typically be non-refundable. “The reason these are non-refundable is because the event space or vendor reserves that date to work with you instead of taking on another client to work with,” explained Andre.
She adds that wedding vendor contracts were not written with this type of crisis in mind, “So while some couples feel they should get their deposits back because the wedding can not take place on the original date, wedding vendors did do the work required to book the client to begin with and this can not be overlooked. While couples are potentially cancelling one event, wedding vendors are having dozens if not hundreds of events cancelled putting most of them in a very difficult position. Some vendors will not make it through this time.”
Andre advises couples to leave their deposits in the hands of their vendors as they work on rescheduling for a future date. Some vendors may be able to workout a partial refund while some vendors will issue a postponement fee. “At Melissa Andre Design Co. we haven’t billed anyone a fee to rebook at a later date, but I understand why some vendors need to do so. It’s simply not feasible for many businesses to be out of work for several months, continue to pay their overhead, and then also complete the wedding service without an additional fee. A Florist may have already ordered and paid for your blooms from the farm and those blooms may have already been grown. These costs have already been spent regardless of whether the wedding takes place or not so it’s likely that most florists will need to bill in addition for situations like these,” Andre explains. “A service based business like photography may be slightly more flexible since they tend to pay their photographers based on the number of projects they complete. Venues on the other hand have to maintain their venues whether or not events take place in them so often times venues may need to bill an additional postponement fee.”
If you find yourself in a tough situation with a vendor negotiating cancelling or postponing your wedding you may be able to use the theory of impossibility if you gt legal involved. “When there aren’t any force majeure or cancellation clauses that are favorable to your position, your non-performance of contract can be defended by the contract theory of impossibility. This is only a defense, but can help to minimize or relieve liability for contracts that are unable to be fulfilled due to COVID-19,” explains small business contract law attorney, Rachel Brenke.
Keep The Ceremony, Postpone The Party
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 25: A couple wearing protective masks take wedding photos in Central Park … [+]
If you are keen on getting married on your set date, you don’t have to cancel the actual wedding ceremony- just the party. Social distancing ceremonies have been become trendy since the pandemic has occurred. Pictures of ceremonies with less then ten people wearing masks and standing six feet apart have flooded the news. Andre has seen weddings that are taking place over Zoom with just a bride, groom, and officiant (standing 6 feet away) while others are having an intimate dinner with less than ten people whom they are already isolating with. County’s are now processing marriage licenses online and via mail, check your local county site for the most updated information.