(Photo by Ivan and Louise)
As the last several weeks have gone by in quarantine, with more and more Spring and Summer 2020 weddings being postponed and cancelled. I’ve learned to take a new approach to what is going on around us when it comes to the wedding industry. We need to be talking about things.
I’m just as guilty as anyone else of avoiding the topic. When this all started, I spent the first month or so in a complete state of overwhelm. Overwhelm at what this was doing to my clients, at what this was doing to my business, and at just how much unknown there was around me.
But as I’ve been able to come to terms with all of those overwhelming factors, I’ve come out realizing that we are going to have to live with the unknown for a while. And that can be very scary for my clients who have upcoming 2020 weddings.
So, in an effort to do whatever I can to ease that stress and burden, I began STARTING conversations instead of waiting for them to come to me. And let me tell you, a weight of stress and worry has begun to lift. I feel more clear than ever that we can and will get through this together.
In an effort to continue the conversations, I want to help you to ease your stress and worry – by forming a Plan B.
I often tell a client who is planning outdoor weddings that we need a Plan B, in that case, a rain contingency plan. No one goes into a wedding hoping to use their Plan B (that’s why it’s Plan B, instead of Plan A), but if you don’t have one, that tends to be when you end up needing one the most.
A Plan B is a backup plan. It’s there so that if you run into a situation where you need to make a change, you know what it looks like. Therefore, you don’t have to scramble and stress to make adjustments last minute. You can go on with planning your dream day, knowing that you have Plan B in your back pocket. It’s a game-changer for peace-of-mind.
(Photo by Catherine Lea Photography)
FIRST, DECIDE WHERE YOUR PRIORITIES ARE –
Is it more important for you to have all of your people with you on your wedding day? Or more important to not wait and get married on the current date you have scheduled?
Your answer to this question alone will help guide you to your decision on what your Plan B should look like.
We don’t know what events will look like in the near future. I personally think it’s most likely that if we see any restrictions for fall events, those restrictions will revolve around event size. So, if it’s most important to you to keep your current guest count and have all of your people around you on your day – Choose a tentative Plan B date for sometime next year.
Maybe it’s important for you to stick with a similar time of year, or as close to the same weekend the following year as you can. Consider things going on and what your 2021 calendar has on it already. But I also suggest not getting too tied to any particular date – choose several, a certain day of the week, a season or a month so you have several possibilities.
Touch base with your vendor team to let them know where your heads are at. Make sure it’s clear that you are not making a change at this point in time, but instead just keeping them in the loop with where your priorities are and what that could mean for your wedding.
Let them know what dates you are considering as your Plan B, ask what their availability looks like for your potential dates.
Ask them to send you their postponement policies so you can be aware of how they are handling postponements, any additional fees you could incur, and anything else you need to be aware of.
Through talking to your vendor team, if you are able to narrow down your potential Plan B dates and end up with just one, go ahead and let them know what that is. You can also ask them if they would be willing to place a soft hold on your potential reschedule date. (A soft hold means they will take note of the date in their calendar and if they were to have someone reach out for that date, they will reach out to you before taking that other booking.)
Give yourself some space, while also giving yourself a deadline.
By putting together a Plan B, knowing where your vendors stand, notifying your immediate family and bridal party, and knowing vendor policies, this should not consume your thoughts! Give yourself space knowing that you have a plan and there’s nothing that needs to be decided right now. Time is the one thing that will end up making this whole thing better and you have that, so take advantage of it.
Consider when you might need to make a decision about executing Plan B. Do you want to decide that prior to sending out invitations? Do you want to give it as much time as possible? In that case, check-in with your vendors on when they would need to know (so they don’t order flowers, food, etc. and have to charge you). Then put a date in your calendar. Tell yourself that you’re not going to worry about thinking through this further until you get to that date.
Make a date night out of the decision. Order takeout dinner, pour a glass of wine, and sit down as a couple to weigh your options, check state policies, and make a decision.
*Tip 1: If you want to give the overall decision more time – go ahead and send out invitations. Just note somewhere on the invitation that guests should keep checking your wedding website for all of the latest information and updates you might need to make due to the pandemic.
*Tip 2: Don’t wait until the last possible second. You can always set an initial date of when you would like to make the decision, with a backup date of when it must be made. Waiting until the last possible moment will only cause you additional stress, and that’s what we are trying to avoid!
There’s nothing wrong with making your priority that you have the wedding date you’ve been planning for what feels like forever. Let’s look at adjusting what that may look like.
Here’s what to consider if you want to keep your wedding on your original date, and as close to what you currently have planned as possible. While considering what restrictions could be in place.
Go through your guest list and decide what that guest list will look like if you are told you can only have 50, 100, or 150 people there. Keep in mind that vendors that will be on-site when your guests are count toward that number too.
Consider not sending out save the dates, if you haven’t already. That will allow you to more easily fluctuate your guest count without having to go back to guests to let them know that you are no longer able to have them there. This will allow you to give things more time before you have to make a decision. And even then, note on your invitations that guests should frequently check your wedding website for updates that you might have to make due to the pandemic.
What does your wedding look like if you need to take measures of personal protection? It’s unknown what could be required in the future, so I suggest considering what you might be able to do if it’s necessary.
When planning guest seating, consider doing a variety of table sizes and assigning based on household. As long as your tables are at least 8-10′ apart, this will allow your dinner reception to be socially distanced.
Let your vendor team know where your head is at and that it’s a priority for you to still have your wedding day as close to what you’ve planned as possible.
Ask your vendors how many people from their team you need to plan to be present on your wedding day when all of your guests will be present. Ex. Your florist will most likely not be present when all of your guests are there, so you don’t need to count her/him and their team in your count. But your photographer and their assistant will be present when all guests are there so they should be counted.
Consider asking if there is any way to cut back on their team/number of people while still getting as close to the same level of service as possible. For example, perhaps your wedding planner always brings an assistant or two, so maybe he/she can only have their assistant present when guests are not there? Communication is key, and it doesn’t hurt to have the conversation if you are trying to keep the overall total under a certain number.
(Photo by Love the Renauds)
If you want the best of both worlds – by keeping your current wedding date but still having a big reception. Consider having a small and intimate ceremony on your currently planned wedding date, with a postponed reception in 2021.
This is a great solution for guests who may not feel comfortable traveling or going without masks and social distancing for quite a while to come.
Do I sound like a broken record yet? Communication is key to getting through this with the least amount of stress possible.
Reach out to your vendors – let them know where your head is at and to ask what a change of this variety would mean for your current contract with them.
For some vendors, like Catering, DJ/Band, etc. this may mean postponing your contract to your new reception date.
But for others, consider splitting things up if you can. For example, Photography – perhaps you don’t need the full length of time of your currently booked contract on either date (wedding or reception), so ask if it would be possible to have them there for the two events with short time frames. Consider, there could still be an additional charge of some kind because they are blocking off two dates in their calendar for you. But this could still a great way to maximize an already existing contract.
If you were originally planning to have your entire wedding (ceremony and reception) at one location, think about postponing that contract to the date of your postponed reception. This will allow you to maximize deposits and payments, and it is much easier to find a new (not expensive) location for a small intimate ceremony.
Some great alternative locations for a small ceremony are a family home or backyard, a local park, or your church.
If you’ve already sent out save the dates and/or invitations. Consider sending out a cute postponement card and explaining to them what you’re doing. No one is going to fault you for taking control of something so out of your control, they will just be excited that they are going to get to party with you later.
Why not take advantage of all the live streaming going on right now and live stream your wedding ceremony. This will allow those who can’t be present or don’t feel comfortable enough to travel to still feel like they are a part of your ceremony.
You can’t go wrong as long as you’re considering both the health, safety, and comfortability of your guests, and the priorities of you and your fiancee.
And keep in mind – the goal at the end of this is to have a husband or wife. So as long as you accomplish that – you’ve won!
(Photo by Love the Renauds)