It is no secret the world is upside down right now. With the COVID-19 changing our everyday lives, and moving faster than we can keep up with, priorities are shifting. The powers at hand are doing everything they can to prevent this virus from spreading at a rate that would be detrimental to our world. While most of us are very understanding and are following each rule placed by the CDC and our governments, it does not take away the stress if you are planning ANY type of event within the near future.
As an event specialist, and as a 2020 Bride myself, my own emotions are a bit all over the place. If you are anything like me, you find comfort in planning as much in advanced as possible. With our current climate this is practically impossible.
I know, I haven't said ANYTHING comforting yet. Here is the bottom line, the rules and restrictions placed upon us are necessary. I am not one to watch the news, or keep up with the latest topics on the regular, but this situation undeniably affects EVERYONE.
So after thinking about what my next steps are for my clients, my myself and Jesus, and for my business I have decided to just take it day by day.
So.... You can find many resources ( and I am sure they will continue to grow as time passes) on how to handle postponing your event., What I am going to provide in this small blog is a document I created for myself and I am calling the BRIDAL BACKUP.
What are the steps that I recommend taking? They are different depending on when your event is. These steps focus on if your event is within the next 8 WEEKS. If you have a wedding planner get them involved in your process ASAP.
1. Talk to your partner
I would hope that many would see this as step one. Maybe some of you put being angry and sad first and THAT IS OKAY! Who could blame you. Here is the thing though, we have to pick up our shit and get to work figuring out our next steps. So, talk to your partner, how do you both feel about the options: Postponing, Adjusting the guest count ( which could be different depending on timing or maybe even not allowed depending on timing ), or...and I don't even want to say it but cancel. Here is the thing, I am not a believer in cancelling I am a believer in postponing. That is just me. While maybe in other situations this would be tough to do, being that our WHOLE WORLD is in the same boat vendors will do whatever they can to help you. One, because anyone who works in the wedding industry cares about their clients ( the mass majority at least) and two, at the end of the day we are EXCITED to have your business for whatever date you choose.. Whether now or later.
2. Make the Decision
Once you have talked with your partner make the choice and stick to it. Nothing makes planning harder than indecisiveness. Having a final choice about what route you will take will make the conversations ahead of you much easier. DO NOT SECOND GUESS yourself. Hey if by the OG date of your wedding things have changed and the world is a little brighter but you have already changed your date...Do not talk yourself into going backwards. Think of the positive things about the changed date ( longer to save money, less stress because planing was spread out, maybe a honeymoon is an option now due to having more time ) It is tough right? We do not know what is going to happen in the next however many months. So make the choice on what your next step is and stick to it. Again, we are all in the same boat so if the world is still chaotic by the time your potential NEW date comes around..well..we have bigger problems.
3. Call your VENUE FIRST-Set the new date
If you have decided to postpone ( which I am hoping is everyone's solution) get in touch with your venue FIRST! This will be one of the toughest things to change. BE OPEN MINDED! Maybe you have a longer timeline, maybe its a Friday or Sunday option your presented with..Work with them to find the best solution. Please keep in mind that this is NONE of your vendors fault, and we ALL want to be your teammates in this situation.
4. Reach out to your guests
Your wedding will be on your wedding guests minds as soon as they realize when your date falls. If you have a WEDDING WEBSITE UPDATE that immediately. Even if the message is just " We are currently making the plans to postpone our wedding, please be patient as we ....". Update this site like a live feed and encourage your guests to check it. This is very important if the majority of your guests are TRAVELING. If your guests have hotel bookings and need to change those arrangements. The earlier you can let your guests know the better their chances are at making the adjustments to their travel plans and schedule. If you do not let your guests know the less chance they will be able to make the adjustments in time.
5. Call your Vendors: What are your options
Alright now start the process of reaching out to your vendors. My suggestion is to email and to follow up with a phone call. Keep in mind that vendors are going to become more and more overwhelmed with how to re-schedule and plan all events postponed in conjunction with events already planned for later dates. Take a deep breath and remind yourslef that they are part of your team in this process.
Ask them the hard questions:
1. Are you available these potential new dates?
2. If so ( YAY!) can you draw up a new contract with the updated information?
3. What are my new due dates for payments?
4. If NOT, what is the refund policy ( honestly, I am offering a full refund to my brides for 2020 if needed).
5. Can you provide me with a written cancelled contract ( I know this sounds crazy but I always say get everything in writing)
6. Ask if they have any recommendations of other professionals that may have availability.
6. Adjust your financial commitment due dates and scheduling
After speaking to your vendors, and getting an idea of who you will be working moving forward and what new vendors you need to obtain, re-evaluate your position with both your financial commitment due dates and your scheduling. The good thing is, that postponing SHOULD ease some of the timeline pressure of payments due. This does not take into account for any circumstances that the COVID-19 put on job statuses, but in general more time can help with the money saved for the new date.
7. BREATHE! Pick up where you left off
Okay, so..we have a new date, our vendors lined up, and we can pick up where we left off. Now, these steps do not cover all the small details but this will get you to a point where you will feel like the big things are covered.
Alright, one of the things I am coming across is what about if...So here are a few that I have heard already and I will commit to updating these as I get more questions.
What if..I already sent my save the date?: Well the first thing I will ask you is if you have sent your invites. Guests will already be aware ( because you made them ) that your date is changing. So keep in mind that they are already prepared for your invite to not match your save the date.
If you have sometime before your sending your invites, but want to let your guests know that you have already changed the date...Re-create your save the date with the new date and send it digitally! Create a group on Facebook! Send an email or text with the updated " We've Changed the Date" message!
What if.. I already ordered my invites and they have the old date? Mhmm for me, again, guests are going to understand that the date has changed so you can do a few things. If you have the time call/ contact your vendor for your prints. See if they would give you a new set or a discount for re-prints. However, most of us do not have the luxury both financially and or based on timeline (STILL DOESN'T HURT TO ASK). So my suggestion is still send them! Add a small note in each invite explaining your NEW date and your understanding if their schedule will not be able to accommodate this change. I see nothing wrong with putting in a separate card into the envelope that compliments yours invitation. AGAIN if you have a wedding website make sure the accurate information is there so you can reference your guests to that.
What if...I already ordered items with our date on it? Favors/ personalized elements/ Programs exc?: Out of everything I see this as the least of anyones concerns that day. I would say if you ordered adorable tags with your wedding date and that has changed? Still use them, no one is going to ask why, question, or judge you for it. Do not waste your time and energy on discarding items that are already paid for. Again this is my opinion. However, as mentioned above, if you are really worried about it reach out to the company you ordered from and see if they would be willing to create you a new set or give you a discount on a second order.
What if..One of my vendors cannot accommodate my new date?: UGH this is the worst BUT again keep in mind imagine if roles were reversed. So if one of your vendors cannot accommodate your new date do not panic. I would hope ( because anyone I have worked with would) that they would fully refund you and give you suggestions others in their industry. If they do not have any recommendations for you reach out to other event planners, organizations, and resources for their suggestions. We are all willing to help and give suggestions out to couples whether your a client of our own or not.
As I am asked more questions I will post my suggestions here!!
While we work our way through this very uncertain time it is important to appreciate everything we do still have. Remember, an wedding or an event can always be postponed to better times. What you cannot get back is time with your loved ones. So, as long as you and your partner commit to showing up for whatever date you have to change to...Then you've beat this.
Photo Cred: The Focused Soul Photography
Here are some other links for suggestions if your big day is going to be changed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic: