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The Coronavirus cancels your wedding. Now what?

What if the coronavirus cancels my wedding? What will you do? Let’s take a little glimpse at a sweet bride and her future groom’s predicament and how they handled this so smoothly!

Hi everyone! I wanted to take a few minutes because it was on my heart to share a little about some things that I’ve recently come across in the community due to the COVID-19/Coronavirus outbreak. I live in a big small town in central Indiana and we are home to a very wonderful university here. The university is not only home to thousands of students looking to better themselves with education but also hosts many public events. Many of those events are weddings. As you can imagine or have seen, many universities all across the nation are sending students home and providing e-learning options to reduce the interaction between people to curve the spread and risk of infection. In Indiana we’ve had a fairly low rate but with schools closing and new sanctions by our state government, it’s important that we calmly and holistically view what your options are.

I have a couple that will be celebrating their wedding in 2 weeks from this past Saturday. With the e-learning options that the university is now mandating, they’ve also reduced the amount of individuals gathering together to 50 or less and have cancelled the weddings that are scheduled through March and April. My bride reached out to inform me that their entire payment for catering and venue rental were refunded 100% and they were informed that they had to find a new venue. As many of you may know, planning a wedding can be a very difficult thing. Finding a venue that matches the aesthetic, price point, and service that you’re wanting can take weeks or months with many back and forth emails, visits, and contracts. In order to best serve my clients, I reached out to two local venues for my bride, who is a full time registered nurse as well. Knowing that her schedule is busy, I wanted to reduce any stress incurred by her original venue cancelling and by pitching in however I can. I was able to speak with both venue owners who were very understanding and had her same date available for rental. I also phoned a local caterer to help begin quotes for her wedding.

I passed all this information back to my client and within 3 days, everything has been rebooked and set within the budget she and her fiance had already.

Thank goodness! So what should you do if you have a venue or vendor cancel your wedding or wedding services. We’re going to look at a few options.

As COVID-19 becomes more and more widespread, your first choice is to consider staying the course for your wedding or begin rescheduling it. Whether or not someone is choosing to cancel it or if you’re in the clear, we should be proactive and in our choices. We should not react in fear because with the appropriate actions, many of us can avoid even coming in contact with the virus. Wash your hands, avoid large crowds unnecessarily, and if you think you need to wear a mask, then by all means do it.

6 Steps to Reschedule Your Wedding if Coronavirus cancels your wedding.

  1. If the coronavirus cancels your wedding, review your contract that you signed and agreed to. Some venues perform services for clients in advance of the wedding and may not be able to refund the entire sum of the deposit or payments. Weddings are not something that are easily configured and executed and if work has been done, reviewing the contract and understanding why you may or may not receive a full refund is important. Most likely (again refer to your contract) if your venue cancels, you’re probably receiving all of your money back.

  2. If your venue has cancelled and you’ve been refunded your money, you’re now going to have to reach out to new venues. Your first stop on alternative venues should be with your current vendors. Many vendors have been in business and worked at multiple locations. They may have recommendations that fit your aesthetics, budget, and service needs. My client wanted an elegant, inviting ballroom space that could host, at max, 180 guests. (Upon writing this, I’ve just learned that the CDC has recommended for the nation that gatherings over 50 people be cancelled and rescheduled. Currently, in Indiana, there are no sanctions in effect that dictate whether or not we would have to cancel weddings under 250 people.) Once you receive your recommendations, check out their websites, look through wedding galleries, and use social media–specifically Instagram to find the venue and see what it looks like through the lens of photographers and guests. Contact the venue and inquire about the date and ALSO their plan of action in case of further restrictions from the government.

  3. Book the new venue and inform your vendors immediately. You don’t want a vendor showing up to the wrong location on your wedding day. If you’re having them travel, there may be travel fees added due to the distance to the destination and those will have to be paid as well. If it’s within the same county, usually those won’t apply.

  4. Email, message, and call your wedding guests! If you have an excel file of those you’ve invited or some other organizational document including RSVPs, reach out to those who are planning on attending to let them know the new location of your wedding. Be sure to include an address and special instructions for parking if necessary.

  5. Have the best day of your life! But perhaps consider asking everyone to refrain from hugs, kisses, and handshakes. I think we can all mutually agree that our health and our loved ones’ health is more important than a hearty handshake.

  6. If you were planning a honeymoon out of the country or if domestic travel becomes banned to prevent further spread, contact your airlines and hotel/resorts. If you booked through a third party such as CheapCaribbean, BookIt, Expedia, or any other party, go into your booking confirmation and reach out. Even if you booked the nonrefundable option, many agencies are offering travel credit or your money back. Some are even offering a higher percentage if choosing credit through the agency. My couple from the past weekend had a cruise planned to the Caribbean but have had to postpone their honeymoon until later and received a 125% refund for travel credit. This will allow them to book an extra excursion, upgrade a room, or go for longer. Consider waiting to rebook your travel until late April when conditions have changed in the states.

The biggest takeaway is…

You should be reviewing the contracts you agreed to and signed when booking your vendors and clients. Don’t worry that someone isn’t going to hold up their end of the bargain. Venues may not have a choice in the matter if they’re owned through institutions such as state universities. Stay calm and take a breath. We’re in this together! If you have to move your date, check with your vendors as well because some may be unavailable. As vendors, we always want to serve our clients. We are also people who want to pay our bills and losing a wedding because of a date change can really devastate us if the coronavirus cancels your wedding.

Communicate with us

because many times, there is a date that works for most everyone. If you must cancel because of a date change, review any contracts you have signed. I have a nonrefundable date retainer for my clients. If they were unable to book me due to a date change, I would do my best to find coverage that is comparable to my work and contract your wedding to them, but continue our agreement and communication–edit the photos, and deliver the photos. The only difference would be that you’d have another person photographing your wedding day. Ideally, I would hire someone who I have worked with in the past with a similar skill level and personality as mine.

The Unknowns (insert ominous music)

There are many quickly changing factors that may affect your wedding. The biggest thing is that there is a restriction on the amount of people gathered together in one space. If that is the case but you’d still like to host your wedding on the same date, first–let your caterer know that you’ll only be hosting the allowable amount of people. This should reduce your costs. Next, inform guests. You and your partner will need to decide who is most important. Understandably, it will be difficult to reduce a guest list. Pick your most important people and instead of emailing or Facebook messaging them–call them and let them know your decision. People will understand. As a caveat–a very 2020 option for your wedding day is to livestream it. Create a private wedding group on Facebook and invite those that cannot come to join. Once joined, create a live viewing party of your wedding. You can even designate two different people to utilize phones, computers, or even cameras connected to wireless laptops to stream. Be sure to have them near speakers so they can also stream your vows! It’s a very modern way to allow people to still take part.

Here’s a link with 4 different ways on how to livestream to Facebook and make it actually sound and look good!

Another option would be to host your ceremony at the venue location or to have a small and intimate gathering at a home for your wedding ceremony. Share vows, get married, drink champagne and celebrate with those that are most important. Speak with the venue and ask about a date change for an agreed upon time that works for you and your vendors and then invite all the guests out to partake in an epic reception and celebration once it is safe to gather again in large groups!

Whatever you’re planning on doing or whatever happens in the days ahead, stay calm and don’t let fear and anxiety take over just because the coronavirus cancels your wedding. The scariest thing about the happenings in the world today isn’t the sickness but the confusion and chaos that it brings with it. Remember, confusion and fear are our enemies here.

I hope that this is a somewhat helpful message during this time. If you need help, whether a client or not–do NOT hesitate to reach out! I’m happy to help you or recommend you to a new location that may fit your aesthetic if something happens.

So if the coronavirus cancels your wedding–read on–we can handle this together.

Read Part 2 of this bride’s journey!

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New Adventure Productions is owned by Nate Dale, a Lafayette, Indiana wedding and elopement photographer. We travel nation and worldwide to capture beautiful and intimate weddings and elopements while providing a guidance, love, help along the way. 
He is married to the love of his life, Felicia with their two doggies, Pika and Princess.