I am writing this at my desk, safe in the bubble of self-quarantine — probably like many of you reading this. In the span of a week, I have watched couples struggle with wedding worries while wedding vendors experience a serious loss in business due to COVID-19.
As we wrap up the 2020 issue of Northwest Florida Weddings magazine and as I plan my own Northwest Florida wedding, I cannot help but ache for the pain and confusion that couples and companies are facing during this tumultuous time.
For those couples who have spring and summer weddings planned, you are likely facing some serious decisions about one of the biggest and best days of your life. I don’t have the solutions to the pandemic, but I do know of some ways to possibly ease your anxieties in regards to your wedding.
Above all, we should support our local businesses — which often includes our wedding venues and vendors — and we should pursue love, kindness and connection, even if for now, that means through computers, phones and the written word.
What We Know
Over the past two weeks, large festivals and events have been cancelled or postponed throughout the world. The number dropped drastically because of prohibitions on gatherings of 50 or more; in recent days, it has been advised that no more than 10 people gather for events.
In confined areas, it is also suggested that people stay 6 feet from one another. Travel from outside of the United States has been banned, and many are hesitant to travel within the country. Restaurants and bars have limited or no service. With all of this in mind, the odds are not in favor of weddings within the next six-to-eight weeks.
Postpone Don’t Cancel
While this is sad and unexpected, even more heartbreaking would be to completely cancel your wedding. Instead, we have ways to still conduct the ceremony or postpone your wedding to a later date. Consider a small ceremony on your actual wedding date (10 or fewer). This can be the couple, the officiant and a few close friends and family, or just have it be you as a couple and your officiant. Think of this as a way to treasure such an intimate moment.
If you go with this route, consider finding a way to livestream the ceremony so your guests can watch and still feel like they are a part of this moment with you. Keep your ceremony on the same date and talk with your vendors about having the reception later this year — that way you can still be married but celebrate at a later date. If it is vital to you that all of your friends and family witness your marriage in person, contact your venue and vendor right away to postpone your date.
Keep in mind, you might need to be flexible as many Saturdays are likely taken. Consider a Thursday, Friday or Sunday instead.
Whether your honeymoon is in the United States or overseas, your travel plans likely will be interrupted. Many airlines are very understanding of the circumstances in regards to rescheduling flights. Talk with your resort or rental about new honeymoon dates.
This might be the time to consider enlisting the help of a travel agent to help you sort through replanning your honeymoon or pursuing different honeymoon options. Remember, you don’t have to take your honeymoon right after your wedding, it might even become more enjoyable to wait a few months to truly relax and enjoy travel.
Ask for Help
This is the time to enlist the help of your planner, family, maid of honor, best man, etc. If you’re feeling stressed, ask if they can help you make calls, whether it’s to vendors, venues or guests. Where we may be unable to help in person, our phones and computers can work wonders.
Read through all of your contracts carefully to see what each vendor’s policy is on postponing and cancellations. Be aware that there could be fees included or additional costs. Regardless, communicate with your vendors as this is a very unique situation that none of us have encountered before. Be prepared to have some aspects fall through. Have an open mind in regards to availability of florals, foods, decor and more.
Inform Your Guests
Your guests care about you and they want to be included in your day, however the details of the day may change in the coming year. As soon as you have made your decision — whether it’s to go forward with the ceremony and have the reception at a later date or postpone festivities all together — let your guests know through phone calls, texts or an email chain. Then remember to send additional information once you decide on a new date.
Feel the Love
This is a hard time for us all, and it’s even more stressful because it involves your wedding. Here is what we should embrace above all: the power of love. Love has the ability to endure, to persevere and to grow even in the most compromising circumstances. No matter how or when you have your wedding, the day will be a beautiful celebration.