Wow, you guys. What a week. I'm going to echo what a lot of Wedding Pros are saying. I never would have thought I'd spend any portion of my career, or my life, needing to lead people through a pandemic or national crisis like I am now.
From being a mom, trying to explain to my girls who are too young to understand why we're not allowed to go to school or church or play with friends to being a Wedding Planner who has been trusted to guide families through the choices they encounter when planning their wedding, which now include conversations of postponement and cancellation.
This week I have spent hours having conversations either trying to give some sense of peace to couples that haven't been affected yet and helping lead couples that are. Fortunately, my next wedding is 10 weeks away, meaning as of this moment, CDC and State mandates haven't required postponement from any LRE couples, however we all know that there are minute to minute changes with the severity of the virus and actions & regulations our government leaders are putting into place to keep us all safe.
Here are the recommendations I'm giving to my couples:
May couples: It’s time regretfully time to make a decision. CDC & State mandates are effective currently through May 10th and will quite possibly be extended. For late May couples, I'd recommend having a decision locked & loaded, but don't pull the trigger quite yet. Review your contracts carefully and understand that implications of cancellation or postponement. June couples: have a decision in their back pocket about what they will do if mandates are loosened but still affect gatherings of their size. For example, if the state loosens the ban to 50 people. Will you cut your guest list or will you postpone? July-September couples: take a beat, but start wrapping your mind around the potential options, but don’t start losing sleep.
4th Q 2020 & 2021 couples: Your favorite wedding pros need your support more than ever. Most of us are small businesses & cancellations of this magnitude are Earth shattering to us. Book your contracts, pay your deposits, keep planning! & Please be patient in delays in responses. We are doing our best to field questions from panicked couples, other pros & trying to sort through our own personal & professional confusion about this uncharted territory. And for the love of GOD, when insurance companies begin allowing consumers to buy new policies again, PLEASE get event insurance. The reality is that most insurance companies have clauses that protect them from paying out in the event of a pandemic, however there are plenty of other wedding related financial disasters that can be prevented by insurance. & incredibly shameless plug, if you don't already, please work with a Wedding Planner. Even if it's not me. Our couples are not alone in this!
Now for some real talk on financial implications of cancellation & postponement:
Cancellation: Please don't. I mean, I am always always always team couple. It's why I do what I do. I love supporting you and being your guide and having your back. But the reality is that cancellations will devastate our industry. Cancellations will result in the loss of million of dollars across Chicago alone that go towards feeding families and paying rent. At the end of the day you gotta do what you gotta do, but if you cancel, please know that you are not entitled to and will probably not receive any refunds and quite possibly will still owe additional payment. The simple fact of the matter is that your payments have already been spent. They've paid my rent, my car payment, and daycare tuition. They've also paid for my email service and my client portal and my own business insurance that will too likely not protect me from losses from this catastrophe.
Postponements: Some of you will have to. I know that & I promise your Wedding Industry is hell bent on doing our best to accommodate you. This isn't anymore your fault than it is ours. We know that. But please understand that there is no right way for us to handle this situation & you need to just accept whatever means your vendors have decided is right for them in moving forward. If that means they are allowing rebookings only on certain days (Fridays & Sundays for example), only allowing rebookings in 2020 or in off months. If they are charging change of scope fees or reschedule fees or charging for the rate difference between when you booked and the rebooking. Our calendar availability is limited and our rates are calculated based on our expenses and our availability to take weddings and the fact of the matter is that accommodating you means the likely loss of business. Some will be lenient. Some will not. But we all are just trying to survive right now and the shoot-straight-with-me answer you have come to expect from me is that it was your choice to have a luxury experience & these contracts you've signed are business agreements. And just like you are not at fault for COVID-19, neither are we. And just as you would expect your employer to pay you to do over work, most of your vendors will expect you to as well and they are not wrong for that. As I tell my preschoolers, you do not have to like it, but you do have to respect it.
Any couple who is needing to postpone, I would recommend getting a list of available dates from their venue and sending out a Doodle poll to their entire vendor team to HOPEFULLY find a date that works for everyone. Once you do that, then ask what their policy is for the date change & adjust your budget accordingly.
Now some hope:
This whole thing sucks. Just absolutely sucks. We all feel it. We cry too. My Facebook groups are filled with questions & vents & meltdowns from YOUR wedding pros who are completely brokenhearted about this situation. And I am sorry. Sorry that you are experiencing this tragedy. Sorry that this day that is supposed to be so special has turned out to be anything but. However, just as with all tragedy, in time, with proper grieving, this will all be a distant memory... eventually. You will still get married, whether in the way you imagined or not. And years from now you will have had thousands of other experiences together both joyful & sorrowful. So goes the ebbs and flows of life. But just as light does not exist without darkness, joy does not exist without sorrow, so to be grateful for joy means being equally grateful for sorrow. But as the saying goes... this too shall pass.
Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner?