**Information correct as at time of writing March, 18, 2021
As the unprecedented global pandemic COVID-19 brings the world to a halt, the uncertainty of this ever-changing situation has my heart absolutely breaking for the many couples left wondering how it may affect their upcoming Wedding. Even more so, the crippling effect that it could have upon my peers and colleagues who make up this incredible industry that we have here in Australia!
For the first time in Australian history a level four travel ban has been put in place. Three days ago, the Australian Government issued a ban against all non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people. This morning, that number has dropped to 100 (for indoor gatherings). Some predict the ban could last for as long as ten months.
I don’t think there is one single industry that won’t be affected by the fallout from the Coronavirus, but one industry set to take a massive hit is the Wedding Industry. For weeks now, there has been abuzz online from couples and vendors alike, unsure what the future holds for weddings and events – with many couples having to consider postponing their wedding date.
This can be a very sensitive topic to approach as I know how much time, effort and money goes in to planning a wedding. Not only that, I’m sure you’ve been dreaming up this perfect day and exactly what it will look like for months, perhaps even years! You’ve finally locked in your A-List of amazing vendors (which is a task in itself with many venues and vendors being booked more than 18 months in advance), your guest list have all booked their accomodation and are ready to party with you, and all of a sudden you are left with the devastating decision to reschedule. It’s absolutely not the ideal scenario, but these are unprecedented times, so we all need to come together and work through this situation with compassion, kindness, and understanding.
Before you make any decision, go back and read through your contracts with your vendors so you have an idea on where you stand should you be required to make a decision. Keep in mind, that these are uncharted waters and it’s highly unlikely that there will be a clear clause among your contract in regards to cancellations due to a pandemic. This is where you really need to keep the communication lines open with your venues, and vendors and work out what is the best step for both parties moving forward.
The next couple of months are going to be financially burdensome on most, if not all households. I totally understand couples seeking a refund if they are forced to cancel their date, but I also understand from a vendors point of view that we have specific clauses in our contracts to protect us in these situations where it is completely out of our hands. There is no one-size-fits-all answer here, it will completely depend on each individual business, and the contract that you have signed, as to what the outcome will be in this situation. Again, open communication between parties is key here. Have an open and honest conversation about your concerns and anxieties, and come up with a game plan together!
If you are forced to reschedule your wedding day, most vendors will work with you to reschedule to a mutually agreed upon date in the future, and transfer all monies paid/owing over to the new date without incurring any fees. We are here to help, and we want to make this situation as stress-free as possible for our couples! But it will pay to be flexible and to be considerate of constraints as your Wedding Vendors will already have limitations in their calendar due to other bookings already secured for later in the year!
For more information on consumer and business rights around Coronavirus, head to the Fair Trading NSW government website.
This sentiment is being echoed throughout the events industry at the moment with the hashtag #postponedontcancel. As you are aware, many of your vendors are small business owners – perhaps you are even one yourself. And whilst the Australian Government has come up with an economic stimulus package for the average Australian household, many sole traders and people of the creative arts industry will not qualify for any financial relief – so I urge you to help protect peoples livelihoods, and where you can, support the amazing vendors that you have hand-picked to be a part of your special day, by seeking to postpone or reschedule your event.
It’s understandable that this could be an emotional time for you, and we don’t make the best decisions when we’re making them at a time of emotional distress. Before making any hasty decisions, just take a moment to weigh up your options. Stay up to date with the latest health advice and local government announcements. As the situation unfolds, things are changing by the day, even sometimes by the hour. There is no certainty when things will let up, or when things will slowly start going back to normal – so I would leave it a few weeks to see how things pan out before solidifying any plans. If you are feeling pressured to make a decision, again (and I can not stress this point enough, as you will hear it echo a bit throughout this post!) speak openly and honestly with your vendors. The unpredictability of this situation makes it a tricky one to navigate. And chances are, your vendors are also feeling the same overwhelming concern that you are feeling – with the very real possibility that some of us could be out of work for many months ahead.
This option has actually been becoming quite a popular option over the past couple of years, with a trend toward weekday wedding dates. Obviously, Saturday is wildly popular when it comes to locking in a date – because, duh, weekend! But it’s very likely that you are going to be limited with calendar dates to reschedule your wedding date to a Saturday later on in 2020 – especially considering September-December is the busiest season for a lot of vendors, often booking out years in advance. So it’s worth considering if a weekday would work for you.
Consider, say, Thursday for instance? You may be thinking “Why the hell would I book my wedding on a Thursday?” – and I get it, it does seem like a random day to have a Wedding. But if you’re wanting to retain ALL of your awesome wedding vendors that you have hand-picked to help bring your most perfect day to life, I can guarantee that by choosing a Thursday date you will have a lot more flexibility and far less headaches with planning your rescheduled wedding! Have the wedding on Thursday, take the Friday off and make a long weekend out of it – helloooo Recovery Session!
If you absolutely must go ahead with your Wedding in the upcoming weeks (first of all, I implore you to keep up to date with the government issued advice regarding gatherings, and consider that the advised number of people could drop even lower), consider revising your guest list. Bear in mind that there will already be a drop in guests as people opt not to attend due to their personal stance on self-isolation, social distancing, and also the guests that may be immunocompromised or at risk.
You may not be able to have your 150 people guest list that you originally had planned, but at least it gives you a moment to sit down and consider who exactly you actually want to be there, standing in your corner and celebrating with you!
If you are going ahead with your wedding over the coming weeks, please talk to your vendors to ensure they are still comfortable given the current circumstances, and please keep up to date with all the latest health advice for your state or region. Again, have an open and honest conversation about how you and your vendors will work together to ensure everyones health and safety is being met and what preventative measures and precautions are being put in place by all parties to reduce the spread while the virus is still active among the community.
Perhaps you had planned a Destination Wedding in Italy with all of your closest friends and fam. Perhaps you were planning a 250 guest list at the most sought after venue in town. It’s likely that travel bans and government bans on event numbers have now restricted your initial plans.
It’s no secret that I am a massive advocate for Elopements – there’s just such a buzzing, beautiful energy that envelopes the whole day when a couple chooses to strip things right back and focus on the day just being about the two of them – I truly, honestly think that it’s the most meaningful way to get married when you give yourself permission to make the day entirely about YOU as a couple. I totally recommend having a chat to your Photographer and/or Videographer about eloping somewhere local with just the two of you. You can read your vows to each other on the mountaintop of your favourite hike, on the beach where you had your first date, or on the terrace of the place you first met. Make it intimate, and meaningful. This allows you to stick to your date, and adhering to any social gathering bans, and you can have a party at a later date with all of your favourite people! Perhaps you could play your wedding video for your guests or have a slideshow of your private nuptials up on a big screen for everyone to enjoy. I guarantee there will still be tears! And you still get to celebrate with everyone! It’s a win/win.
At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter if you get married in two days, in two months, or in two years – all that really matters is you, the couple. Choosing each other, every day, for the rest of your lives. Whether theres 500 people there witnessing, or no one at all. Take this time to truly reflect upon what is important to the two of you.
When all is said and done, when the table runners are gone, and the fancy rose-adorned arbor has been taken away, when your hair and makeup have been removed – all you have are your memories. Memories of the moment you said “I-do”. How you felt in that very moment that you committed yourselves to one another, vowed to do life hand-in-hand, and promised to grow with each other and stand by one another through all of lifes up and downs.
If there’s anything that these pressing times of recent weeks and months have taught us, it’s that life is precious. Without all the noise of the outside world, all we have is each other, and isn’t that such a simple, beautiful thing to remember?
These are extraordinary times. And we are all riding the same wave. We are all overwhelmed, and even perhaps a little fearful of the uncertainty of what the future holds, and when things will ever get back to normal. But we are all in this together.
Please talk to your vendors. And vendors, please talk to your clients. We all want the same outcome, and that is ensuring that you have the most amazing wedding experience that you remember for a lifetime! And we will only get there when we work together with compassion and an open heart and mind.
Stay safe out there, fam!
Much love to you all!