How is everyone doing? All over the world people are being impacted by COVID-19, and all over the world, people are having to put their lives on hold to deal with it. Count us among the stressed out folks still resisting the urge to panic-buy.
For those of us that have planned, or are planning weddings, this is an extremely difficult time. There's been a lot of money spent and invested in anticipation of a huge, glorious party on a beautiful summer evening, and now—well, all of that is in question.
Will our vendors still be operating? Will our venue be open? Is it even safe to have the grandparents at the wedding? Is it safe to have a big gathering at all?
These are uncertain times. If you recall, when reviewing your vendors' contracts, there was likely a force majeure clause. These clauses, in English the so-called "Act of God' clauses, are almost never used. But we may witness the invocation of this contractual point over the next few months—effectively dissolving contracts with variable levels of financial implication.
They're not perfect, but these are our tips and suggestions for salvaging as much as you can from the plans of your wedding if you are unable to move forward with your plans.
Mourn your wedding, and feel your feelings
So many of us have lost jobs, been laid off, or been forced to work from home in recent weeks. We can't see our friends, or our family, especially if they are immunocompromised. If we are immunocompromised, we're advised to stay indoors at all times, and social distance from even our most loved ones. Then, on top of all of this incredible stress, to make the decision to cancel or drastically alter the wedding we've been looking forward to for months—it's devastating.
If you indeed must move to cancel your nuptials, the first thing to do is mourn. Yes, everyone around the work is dealing with different tragedies, and yes, people are succumbing to COVID-19, but suffering is relative. And it is OK to be crushed by the evaporation of your wedding plans. Embrace your feelings and be kind to yourself.
Review your contracts
Once you're feeling okay, dig out your vendor contracts. Find out what it will cost to cancel your contracts. Draw up a spreadsheet and do the calculation: where it is possible (and necessary) to cancel, will you save more money by cancelling or by altering the contract to suit a smaller gathering?
Review the force majeure clause and if it applies to you, consider invoking the clause to dissolve the contract. Discuss with your vendor ahead of time if you'll be able to recoup costs.
Recoup finances where you can
Even if you don't need to cancel your wedding outright, maybe you need to cut your guest list by 75% and need to adjust your catering contract accordingly. The first thing to remember is that your vendors are going through similar things that you are. Their businesses are extremely unstable right now, and they are probably awake at night with stress. So where you can, don't cancel contracts completely, just alter them. Instead of catering for 100, ask your vendor to cater for 20. This way, you're able to recoup some of your investment, and you are still able to support the business of someone you trust and respected enough to hire.
Or if, for example, your photographer does not want to refund you for a cancellation, ask to rebook with the same investment for a different service. If you choose to elope, move their service to capture that small ceremony, or request a family photoshoot instead. Again, you wind up with a product you want, and the photographer doesn't lose money.
As a small reminder: if you are freaking out right now, that probably means everyone else is too. Your vendors are receiving a massive volume of emails and calls, all panicking about the same thing. Being kind, being patient, and being respectful if your vendor declines to refund you (with contractual backing, of course) may be challenging but is necessary. Don't stress about the things you can't change. Mourn them and move on.
Try to reschedule
If your wedding was still months away, try rescheduling for next year. It's not ideal, but it may take you out of the danger zone and will save you from needing to rebuild your nuptials from the ground up. Companies and vendors will want bookings to ensure that once this is over, they're able to get off the ground quickly. This way, you won't lose money, and you'll still get to have your first choice wedding. This may even present an opportunity to save more, so you can spring for that ice block sculpture you've always dreamed of.
If all else fails, consider eloping
If rescheduling is not an option, and you've recouped all of the finances you can, consider eloping. Booking through a service like Young, Hip & Married in British Columbia will still allow you to practice social distance (your officiant will stand more than 6 feet away) but you'll still be able to tie the knot! Order a dress online if you don't have yours already, call up two close friends to be your witnesses (from a safe distance), and find the most beautiful garden in your city. The ceremony will only take 15 minutes and you'll be married. Love in the time of quarantine, you know—it is what you make of it.
Stay safe, be kind, and look out for each other. We're thinking of all of our lovely brides and wishing you health and safety in the coming months.
We will all get through this together.