Article originally posted on The Knot.com
One significant consequence of the coronavirus pandemic has been the mass postponement of spring, and now summer 2020 weddings, as couples are currently in search of future dates. Updated group gathering guidelines from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the federal government have prompted both couples and vendors to reschedule their upcoming nuptials in the months ahead. As one planner has said, “It is a giant game of chess."
As the situation continues to evolve in the U.S., most couples are now concerned about summer weddings and beyond. “I feel for couples: this is supposed to be the happiest time,” says Jung Lee, founder and event architect of Fête Events New York. “With that said, people more than ever need to see hope, celebration and togetherness in a place where they feel safe.”
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The most important advice for all couples who’ve set 2020 wedding dates is to be informed and proactive with next steps. “You must plan and move forward,” Lee advises. “Set a date [if it applies to you] and tell your guest list. Everyone will understand and it’ll help them better prepare.” Many pros are currently encouraging couples who still want to marry in 2020 to consider Monday weddings. The reasons for this are straightforward: the majority of your chosen vendors will be available on a Monday over, say, a Saturday. The day also falls right off the tail of a weekend, so your guests will have the flexibility of enjoying the welcome dinner and other festivities prior to the nuptials.
We spoke to multiple planners about prioritizing your checklist now, based on your original wedding date. As you navigate this tricky time, let this advice guide you to making a decision that works best for you and your loved ones.
In this article:
Original March/April Dates, What to DoThe Move: Postpone
Most couples with spring 2020 weddings have undergone the process of rescheduling their weddings or have since secured a new date. “We’ve told them to postpone as the situation with the virus changes rapidly, and the length of time [for social distancing] keeps getting extended,” says event planner JoAnn Gregoli. “We are encouraging these couples to move their weddings to the fall or spring of 2021.”
Even then, planners are offering backup-backup dates due to the nature of COVID-19. “I’ve secured two to four backups options for my couples,” says Lee.
After postponing or making that decision, you must notify your guests with a change-the-date alert. "You'll need to communicate a change in date and location to all your guests, which should be clear and thoughtful,” says the Mavinhouse Events team. “If you are downsizing or postponing, say it in a respectful way and thank them for the efforts they've made already to be a part of your celebration. Include as much information about cancellations for flights and contact info for accommodations.”
Going digital, the planners say, is “the most effective way to” pass along any relevant information.
Finally, here’s how to address vendors at this time. We encourage couples to exercise flexibility and patience as many small businesses have been impacted by the health crisis, as well. "Couples with wedding insurance should closely review their policies for verbiage that includes Act of God, Force Majeure, or Other unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances beyond the two parties control,” says the Mavinhouse team. “All contracts are different and may include variations of the above verbiage, but looking closely for those types of words. It’ll help you see if changes to your wedding plans as a result of the coronavirus would be covered by your insurance policy.”
With insurance, the planners have tangible items for you to follow. “We recommend, should you have to utilize your wedding insurance in some capacity, to gather all of your vendor contracts, make a list of the deposits you’ve already made, as well as a list of the remaining money you have outstanding to vendors,” they advise. “The more information you have to provide your insurance agent, the easier the process will be for you."
Original May Dates, What to DoThe Move: Postpone
If you haven’t already, postpone your May wedding too. Most couples have already shifted their weddings through May as the pandemic continues to spread. “The few weddings moving forward at the end of May also now have a backup date for this fall,” says Lee.
"Just like everyone else, venues and vendors are navigating a fluid and unprecedented situation right now. Your venue and your vendors will always want to put their clients first, while maintaining the integrity of their business,” the planners at Mavinhouse Events explain. “If your wedding is before the end of May, you should reach out to your venue and vendor team to discuss your options. Ask about their specific cancellation and postponement policies, alternate dates that are available, and any policies in regards to switching your date to a different season.”
Fall is the preeminent wedding season, far from the case a decade ago when summer weddings ruled. “Remember, fall dates may still be available, but they are considered peak season for venues and vendors. Be sure to ask if you’ll have to pay any sort of premium to switch your date to a peak season time,” the Mavinhouse team notes. This also means you’ll have to be flexible about specific openings if you want to marry in 2020, including possible weekday and holiday wedding postponement options.
Finally, follow the steps in the March/April monthly breakdown above for both contracts, insurance policies and vendor relations.
Original Early June Dates, What to DoThe Move: Postpone
With social distancing measures enacted through the end of April, many couples are now questioning what to do with their June weddings. In short, this month is on the cusp of the eight-week guidance provided by the CDC’s bulletin about limiting group gatherings. "I have advised our clients to consider postponements through the end of June, and at this point, they have all acted on it, moving their weddings and celebrations to October and beyond," says Amy Shey Jacobs of Chandelier Events in New York. "The internal thinking was also, 'Even if business was allowed to resume, would guests even be able to travel or feel comfortable gathering in large groups?' Overall, the sentiment was that June we will still be in some sort of crisis mode."
"While things are still fluid and ever-changing, we are advising our June clients to do what feels most comfortable for them,” says Mavinhouse. “[By] early-April, a client should make a decision on their June wedding. That is our first recommendation. At that time we may have more insight into what the next few months will look like for wedding celebrations and gathering sizes. Being prepared is the most important step.”
Do your homework first. “Today, a client getting married in June can go through their existing contracts to identify any important information on changing the date,” the Mavinhouse team recommends. “And reach out to your vendors about what your options may be."
Continue marking off your checklist items. Check with your respective attire companies (dress boutiques, tuxedo rentals and bespoke services) to see if they will still meet all deadlines for delivery or pickup. If you’re finalizing décor and more, we recommend withholding date stamps from favors and other insignia that could possibly be obsolete.
Original Late June Dates, What to DoThe Move: Postpone; If your wedding is the last weekend of June, make a decision in April.
While the pandemic continues to unfold, it's likely guests and other loved ones might have levels of discomfort regarding travel, group gatherings and more even by late June. "No one has a crystal ball, but based on our clientele, we moved all June events through June 20 to the fall," says Jacobs.
She adds, "Right now, the national ban on gatherings has been extended through April 30, 2020, with state-by-state gatherings and wedding bans in effect for 'the foreseeable future.' We have seen that venues are following suit with their governmental guidelines but many event venues and vendors have been allowing postponements with no penalty well into June. In fact, all of our events at Chandelier Events in June have currently been postponed to the fall in the New York and New Jersey areas."
Add financial volatility, paired with importing and exporting limitations, and Jacobs says something as simple as flowers remain a question mark. "Could they even be imported from abroad [by then]?" she speculates. "That was part of our thinking."
The sooner you move, the better odds you have with securing an ideal date this fall. "As you know, my advice has always been 'the early bird catches the worm,'" Jacobs says. "There are already so many taken dates for weddings in the fall months that were previously schedule. To ensure that a couple would get a good replacement date, we acted very early to work out those dates."
Again, we encourage couples to consider Monday weddings as most of your vendors are currently available on that particular day of the week and it falls right off a weekend.
Original July/August Dates, What to DoThe Move: Monitor in May; Postpone if you’re concerned
The best step a couple marrying this summer can take is to first reach out to the venue to see what’s next. Then, send a note to your vendors to ask which possible dates they have available. By the end of May, most couples marrying in July and August should make a decision.
Since it's peak summer season, most planners are holding off from rescheduling these events for now. "We are advising our July clients to do what feels most comfortable for them,” says the Mavinhouse team. “We are hopeful that given the significant amounts of social distancing and self-isolation that is currently taking place throughout the nation, this will make July events go off without a hitch.”
Some planners are moving quickly and have asked their clients to firm up a decision by the end of April. “Wait and see for both July and August,” Gregoli recommends. “I have asked my clients to make a decision by May 1.”
As you monitor the ongoing pandemic, there is something you can do to get ahead, like discussing options with your vendors. “For today though, it's important to try to remain calm and excited about your wedding plans while keeping an eye on the news and this ever-changing situation," says the Mavinhouse team.
Continue marking off your checklist items. As previously mentioned, withhold from including wedding dates on your décor if they have yet to be printed and it wouldn’t hurt to touch base with your attire companies as well.
Original September Dates and On, What to DoThe Move: Proceed and monitor
The most vigilant couples are now concerned about weddings past September. There is no need to panic at this time as planners are shifting spring weddings into this time frame. If you’ve secured a weekend fall date, then know that you’re in a good place. Continue marking off those checklist items, however, because this fall already appears to be an even busier season for vendors.
Gregoli suggests couples September and on should proceed as planned. Keep in mind that the situation could shift or evolve. Before you sign contracts, review them carefully and make sure you know exactly what is required if you need to reschedule or postpone down the line.
Regardless of your original wedding date, what every couple can do in this moment is reassure themselves that a wedding will happen. “Every person is unique with what they can handle emotionally,” Lee acknowledges. “But it’s important for couples to now go with the flow, because the world has changed. Your love and togetherness is not going to change. People have to stop saying ‘canceling.’ It is about making adjustments to your wedding day. You can’t cancel love.”
Crystal Vandegrift is a wedding photographer covering Virginia, D.C. NC and Maryland.
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