Picking out colours and decor, choosing your flowers and taste testing the menu – these are all things folks look forward to when it comes to planning a wedding and they’re predictable things that you’ll have to consider.  Planning around what to do if your wedding happens during a coronavirus pandemic, however, is a whole other story.  With the exponential worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic, many couples are being thrown into last minute changes regarding their wedding plans and are learning how to deal with wedding planning and COVID-19.

Can you imagine spending 12 to 18 months planning your wedding only to have a microscopic virus make you have to completely reconsider everything with only a week or two to spare?  That’s a reality for many right now.

At the beginning of March, certain governors in the United States started mandating cancellations for large gatherings; this was when the wedding community started to worry.  You know what scene in Jurassic Park where Jeff Goldblum sees the water rippling in the glass?  Well that’s basically been engaged folks and wedding vendors for the last little while.  We know something is coming – but nobody really knows what.

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While we’ve heard rumblings here and there about how COVID-19 was going to impact large social gatherings, since around March 12th – at least in Ontario – things seems to have escalated.  My theory is that school being cancelled for 2 additional weeks shifted peoples perspectives and a lot of folks went into pure panic mode.  These folks include brides and grooms.

Will all events be mandated to be cancelled by the government?

Will this all blow over as quickly as it began?

Will it continue for weeks?

Are we in this for months?

….. and where in the sweet hell can I get some toilet paper ’round here?

Truth is, at the time of writing this article, we don’t know what’s going to happen and I don’t know if we ever will.  We just have to take it day by day, make sure we’re getting accurate information from reliable sources like the CDC and the WHO and turn to our wedding industry professionals for guidance.

If you have a wedding coming up in the next few months and you’re concerned about how COVID-19 will impact your wedding, you absolutely need to know a few things if you want to make it through the situation as smoothly as possible.

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New for Everyone

This situation is new for everyone; not only you but the entire freaking wedding industry.  Very few people know what to do; those that were in business 17 years ago with SARS don’t have a large presence in the industry to share advice.  (Let’s face it, the wedding industry is generally a “quick in, quick out” industry – we’re “old” having been at this 12 years now!).  There’s no manual for “how to be a wedding vendor during a pandemic” so just as this is new for all the couples facing this, it’s new for the vendors too.

The Money, Honey

The economy is tanking and people are worried about making ends meet for various reasons; whether they are being sent home from work as “non-essential” staff, their workplace is temporarily closing, they have to take time off to watch their kids now that school is closed or because they themselves are in quarantine.  It’s a time when people are worried about every single penny – couples, business owners and everyone in between.  People are scared about and money is a good vector to carry that fear; we can use it to justify attitudes, decisions and behaviours – but in this time of uncertainly, please remember that everyone is just trying to pay their bills and keep a roof over their heads, including all the small businesses a couple is working with.

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Flexible Solutions

When a couple enters into a contract with a vendor, they are booking them for a certain service on a certain day.  They can’t normally change the day without fees incurred since from the moment the couple booked, the business had been turning away other couples.  This is why deposits are non-refundable; to hold that date and to have something to compensate for turning away others.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the vast majority of wedding vendors are being very flexible.  Lets face it – none of us expect you to have a COVID-19 wedding theme!  Most are offering couples the option to reschedule and are providing all available dates for rescheduling to the client – with no additional incurred fees.  This is typically offered when a client is forced to cancel their wedding due to the venue shutting down or a government mandate being issues to ban large gatherings.  This is not typically offered for clients who are scheduled to wed a few months from now who are trying to plan in advance; this is a last minute plan to help people get out of sticky situations.  This appears to be the industry standard approach for how the majority of vendors are approaching this situation.  Of course there are always outliers to consider and individual situations, but as a general statement – the above holds true.

Tick Tock, Talking Clock

Talk to your vendors as soon as possible; get a conversation going and be open.  Don’t wait until the last minute to address concerns.  There’s always more possibility to work a problem through if you address is earlier.

In the last 24 hours there have been dozens of Toronto couples reschedule their weddings to new dates; this means that if you wait to talk to your vendors, there will be fewer and fewer new dates for you to choose from.

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No Space for Shaming

A little grace goes a long way during times like this.  We’re all freaking out right now, we’re all nervous and we’re all hoarding toilet paper (honestly I still don’t understand that….anyhoo….) but this is not a time to put vendors on blast because you disagree with their decision or because you expect money refunded.  Unfortunately I’ve already seen some wedding vendors get publicly bullied by couples who didn’t like their available dates or weren’t happy with other accommodation methods offered to them.

Now, I”m not getting into the drama of it all – there’s enough wedding industry drama before the Coronavirus decided to crash the weddings but let me say this: Nobody is happy with what’s going on right now and we’re all doing our best.  Flexibility is needed from both sides and if we all communicate professionally and with empathy and understanding, we can find solutions.  The minute conversations turn to blaming and shaming and public call-outs, nothing productive will ever happen again.  A little bit of virus goes a long way – but kiddo for kindness too.  The only thing that should be spread right now is kindness and grace.

Check Up from the Neck Up

Whether you’re getting stressed or scared or completely infuriated about what’s going on right now, ground yourself by reflecting on why you’re even in this situation in the first place.  You’ve got a special somebody that you want to spend the rest of your life with.  You’re planning a wedding – a big part to celebrate – but what it’s celebrating is your marriage and you can have a marriage without having a wedding.  COVID-19 may be taking a lot of things away from people right now, but don’t let it take away your focus on what’s important: spending the rest of your life with the person you love the most.