Wedding Planning in a Pandemic
Here at Something Pretty we know how much time and love you and your partner have put into planning your wedding day and understand that the global coronavirus outbreak is causing a great deal of uncertainty and stress. After reviewing the policies and recommendations of other wedding vendors around the country we have created an expansive list of tips that could help you during this time. I realize that you may need to postpone or adapt your wedding plans due to COVID-19, and I am here to help as you think about your upcoming wedding.
What does this mean for your wedding plans? The simplest answer is that it will mean something different for everyone. Deciding to postpone or change your wedding will be a different decision for each couple and their families.
First, I recommend staying informed during this time through trusted governmental organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO)and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC has official guidance for people planning and hosting events. The guidance from the CDC is changing frequently, so be sure to check their website and your local health department on a regular basis.
Regardless of where you are in the wedding planning process, the first step is to keep clear and frequent communication between you and your guests.
Ensure you have guests’ contact info: Make sure you have the current contact information for your guests.
Post updates to your wedding website and email guests: As public health recommendations regarding the coronavirus change each day, consider dedicating an entire page on your wedding website (or a section of the homepage) to updates regarding your wedding plans.
Some tips if you have a Minted Wedding Website: You can post an update on your website homepage and also send an email message to any guest in your address book.
Create a dedicated social media account or group chat: Some couples opt to create a private online group, like a Facebook group, or a private Instagram account, where guests can be kept up to date on your plans. If you have a wedding outside of the U.S., consider creating a WhatsAppgroup for your guests. WhatsApp is a very popular group messaging app outside of the U.S. and is particularly helpful for international travel, when your guests may not have normal access to cellular plans.
Send a postponement card: Once you have your wedding details, consider sending a postponement card to your guests, at least to folks who may not be seeing your updates by email or on your wedding website.
Suggested wording may include
If your wedding date has not changed: As we all adapt to an uncertain time with COVID-19 (coronavirus), we are monitoring the news carefully. We are prepared to take every precaution necessary to make our wedding safe for our guests, even if that means postponing it. Our wedding is happening as planned, and we look forward to celebrating with you all on [date]!
At this point, we've been advised that a [month] wedding should be safe. Please RSVP and book your accommodations as you normally would, but check first for a lenient cancellation policy, which most hotels and airlines are happy to provide in light of current events. That being said, the safety of our guests is our utmost priority. Please check our website and national and local public health websites regularly for updates. Please contact us directly with any questions – our contact information is below. Thank you for your love, patience, and concern.
If you have a new, postponed wedding date: As we all adapt to an uncertain time with COVID-19 (coronavirus), we are monitoring the news carefully and prepared to take every precaution necessary to make our wedding safe for our guests. We have decided, out of abundance of caution, to postpone our wedding until [date]. We cannot wait to celebrate with you! At this point, we've been advised that a [month] wedding should be safe. Please RSVP and book your accommodations as you normally would, but check first for a lenient cancellation policy, which most hotels and airlines are happy to provide in light of current events. That being said, the safety of our guests is our utmost priority. Please check our website and national and local public health websites regularly for updates. Please contact us directly with any questions – our contact information is below. Thank you for your love, patience, and concern. If you have postponed your wedding, but do not have a new date yet: As we all adapt to an uncertain time with COVID-19 (coronavirus), we are monitoring the news carefully and prepared to take every precaution necessary to make our wedding safe for our guests. We have decided, out of abundance of caution, to postpone our wedding. We are working to figure out our new date and will keep you informed as soon as we have our updated plan finalized. For those of you who booked hotel accommodations, [state your hotel’s change policy or direct guests to contact the hotel]. Many airlines are offering lenient ticket change policies, so we suggest you reach out to them directly. While we are very sorry to delay our celebration and cause changes to your plans, the safety of our guests is our utmost priority. We will post updates to our website and also send out updates via email. Please contact us directly with any questions – our contact information is below. Thank you for your love, patience, and concern.
For the recently engaged:
Remain flexible and keep an open mind. Think about how your plans may need to evolve depending on what we learn about the coronavirus. Come up with two or three alternate scenarios for your wedding day.
Have a mini-celebration just for the two of you and make it fun! Take an engagement selfie snap and order a free personalized save the date for yourselves.
Take time to research wedding insurance. What does it cover and how much will it cost you? Does the policy cover external events, such as cancelations related to a global health crisis?
Consider adding a custom backer for your save the date or invitation, adding a note alerting guests that your plans may change and to check your wedding website for updates. Alternately, consider sharing the exciting news of your engagement with your family and friends by sending an engagement announcement.
Remember that destination weddings will present additional uncertainty. Guests may worry about traveling. Keep an eye on the CDC’s watch list of countries that are experiencing the worst outbreaks and that have international travel restrictions.
For couples ready to make reservations and deposits:
Pay close attention to cancellation policies in your contracts. Ask what cancellation policies apply to your event venue, hotel rooms (for your block’s room guarantee as well as individual guest cancellations), and even airlines, particularly in regards to the coronavirus. If certain hotels and airlines appear more lenient with their policy, consider including their information on your wedding website as recommended travel options. Most airlines and major hospitality chains have their coronavirus-specific cancellation policies featured on their homepage. Some contracts might have a “Force Majeure” (“act of God”) section that spells out under which unusual conditions you can cancel (or “terminate”) your contract. You can explicitly add the coronavirus to your contract as a reason that you can cancel. The contract should also clearly outline which expenses are refundable and whether there are any deadlines by which you need to cancel in order to get a full or partial refund.
Plan bridal showers and bachelorette parties with similar considerations. Make sure the host understands cancellation policies for the venue and any booked activities. Talk with your bridal party about any unease they might feel about flying somewhere and consider less exposed alternatives like reserving a fun vacation rental within driving distance.
Has your wedding dress already been made? Materials and fabrics that need to be shipped from abroad may take much longer to arrive than they normally would. Understand what timeline you’ll be working with if your dress is being custom made, and prepare yourself for the possibility of having a prefabricated gown tailored to your exact specifications. Some gown makers can expedite overseas shipping by using air freight (planes) instead of sea freight (boats). This can speed up delivery times by weeks, although air freight is much more expensive and expediting fees might apply.
As you work with your caterer, think about whether or not guests will be comfortable sharing food. Think about skipping a buffet or passed appetizers, and opt for individually served meals. Remember to take into account how individual meals may affect your budget and the type of food you want to offer.
For dessert, entertain the idea of having a small cake made for the cake cutting, and serve individual desserts alongside for your guests. Single-serve treats like cupcakes or donuts will allow guests to feel more at ease and in control of how they are being served.
Think about what you are planning for entertainment. Will guests feel comfortable being in close proximity to one another on a dance floor? Consider alternatives like a live band or soloist, a friendly trivia competition with questions about the newlyweds, or a professional performance emphasizing your cultural heritage, such as a dragon dance or hula.
For those whose wedding day is fast approaching:
Read the CDC’s latest recommendations for people hosting events and consult the local public health authority in the location of your event.
Think about your guests and how the coronavirus is known to affect the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions more severely. Will you be okay having your wedding if key elderly or immune-compromised guests can’t attend? Should you postpone or re-arrange dates if those guests need to be in attendance?
If dates can’t be changed or postponed, consider alternatives for attending the wedding. If you’ve hired a videographer, ask if they’d be willing to work with you to stream the ceremony. Guests could stream the ceremony at home and a more formal celebration can be held in the future. You could also help guests who can’t travel arrange a watch-party where favors and food similar to that at the wedding are delivered to the party host.
If you’re required to cancel shuttle buses that you’ve arranged, explore whether the company will provide a credit toward a rental or taxi service, or generate a discount code for ride-share applications.
Explore whether your wedding favors can be saved for a future date, or sent to guests later.
I hope that this advice and policies that I have gathered can be used as a resource for you in the midst of this stressful and difficult time.