How to plan a wedding during the coronavirus outbreak…
My sister’s long awaited wedding is coming up fast. We have all been planning for this special event for years and are a little anxious about what is going to happen. I know she’s stressing about the whole thing possibly being canceled knowing that since this is an act of God, she will loose any deposits made. So, what do we do?
Let me assure you, your wedding vendors want your wedding to happen. The wedding and event industry is being hit hard with city, county, state and federal enforced shut downs. Those smaller events are the lifeline that the industry needs to allow the vendors to be paid and buy groceries for their families. As long as it is safe to do so, they want your event to happen.
If you are willing to postpone your wedding, or of you are forced to, then contact your vendors and ask if they will let you switch dates. I have a whole section in my wedding photography contract that provides details with how to switch dates without a penalty and in this case, I am happy to wave those penalties for my brides until March 31st of 2021, just in case. It will hurt my business. But it will hurt more to have a full cancelation. I’m sure many other vendors will agree with me.
On the phone with my sister she said, “I’m still getting married!”. If you aren’t willing to postpone the wedding, here are my suggestions on how to get married in these uncertain times…
With everything up in the air and out of our control it’s hard to know what will happen in the coming weeks and months. I watch a lot of survival shows and I’ve learned that the most important thing in times like these, where everything seems chaotic and out of your control, is to figure out what you can control. I know the world isn’t ending and we aren’t stuck on a deserted island, but we are living in a world where we no longer have control of social interactions. The government has mostly taken over this part of our human existence, at least for now. So how can our lives go on?
I asked myself two questions:
I’ll say this, weddings are a celebration about a couple making a lifetime commitment. They aren’t about decorations or dancing. They aren’t about gourmet meals or photography (it hurts to say this because I know how valuable photos are, but it is still true).
I assured my sister that even if the venue cancels the event, even if the government cancels the event, we will still have a wedding for her. The most important thing for her is that the commitment is made. She said they’d just run to the courthouse and get it done if they have to. The reality is that that may not be an option.
In fact, the courthouse is already shut down in Orange County so she actually can’t currently get a marriage license.
What can you control? You can create a backup plan so your stress is controlled. You can make sure your marriage can still be legal and you can still have a wedding.
Here’s what you can do:
Make a secondary plan. If your venue cancels your event, where can you have your wedding? Could you reschedule your reception with your venue for next year? Can you host a smaller wedding at someone’s house or at a park? Or can you get all your vendors to reschedule and talk with them about what it would look like should you have to reschedule again?
Check the laws of your state. If the court shuts down, how do you get married? You’ll need to check the laws in your state, but if you can find someone to get ordained on the internet now and pick up your marriage license immediately, then you have a legal backup plan and a way to tie the knot even if the government shuts its doors to marriages. Remember, most marriage licenses are only valid for 90 days.
Let your guests know what the plan is. Let your guests know that the event will still go on but if they are feeling sick or being asked to quarantine that you will post photos online for them to see. Or let them know that you will be postponing or canceling all together. Keep the lines of communication open by inviting them to follow your wedding information on a wedding website. Wedding websites are easy to make and free. Ask for their email addresses too so can email everyone with new information.
Have a plan for your guests to see you tie the knot. If you are doing a small wedding (less than 10 people) before the actual event with all your guests, then have a way for them to be part of the real celebration. Cell phones are great for occasions like these were you need a simple solution for sharing a video. Set up a cell phone to video your ceremony and share the video online so guests can see this amazing piece of your life.
This is also great once you are allowed to have your larger event. It will allow your guests to be part of your day virtually should they choose to not attend the event. You can also do a group zoom call where they can login and watch the live event digitally.
Be okay with not having the perfect wedding you dreamed of or waiting until it can happen.
For my sister’s wedding I explained to her that if she already has her marriage license and a friend who is ordained (she has 3), once limits on small gatherings are lifted and we can have up to 25 people together again, even if it’s just the immediate family, she can still get married. My mom and I may need to FaceTime in if they shut down all travel to California since we live 900 miles away. But she can still get married.
Her reception can get postponed, and she can still have it in the future if need be. Life may look different, but it will go on and we will plan events again in the future. They may be limited to a certain number, but they will happen.
As for the honeymoon… My sister and her fiancé were planning a trip to Italy. Clearly, that won’t be possible at this time. Even in a couple months, I would say that it is still not wise to go to Italy or other places where a large scale outbreak has happened. In a year, I’m sure it will be fine. A lot of couples wait until their 1 year anniversary to go on their honeymoon. My sister was not happy with this idea even though she knows it may need to happen. However, she doesn’t want to just go back to work on Monday. After all the stress of planning a wedding, not to mention having to have multiple backup plans for the wedding, she wants a honeymoon.
My suggestion was to travel within 600 miles from her home or within whatever restrictions the city, county, state have. (I assume that if we can have an event with 25 people that we will also not be homebound). Find a place that just the two of them can be together. It doesn’t have to be perfect or be a big adventure. It’s about the two of them finding time to be together so they can start their marriage from a place of peace and not stress.
The most important thing to remember is that a wedding is about a marriage. A honeymoon is about relaxing with your new spouse. Location, decorations, food and even guests are all special luxuries that we may need to learn to live without. Weddings and marriages will still go on. Your wedding can still happen, it will just look different and you need to be okay with that.
There is no need to stress about the things you can’t control. What you can control is your backup plan.
The only things you need for a wedding are :
The next things would be a cell phone for a video and possibly even a professional photographer, but even that would be a luxury at this point. Photos can be taken with a cell phone if need be. A photographer can capture you and your fiancé/spouse together later. It won’t be the same as the actual event, but these are special times and it’s ok to do things a special way.
Life will go on. Your wedding can still happen, you just need a plan.