DO NOT PANIC. This blog is not meant to scare you. We strongly believe this situation will be much less stressful if we are proactive and educated.
Below is some information to take into consideration while planning your upcoming events, divided into sections based on “continuing forward with your event” or ”potentially postponing”. The current situation is fluid, and after much conversation and research, given that all of us in the wedding industry are still navigating these waters, this is what I can share with you at this time.
Continuing Forward with Your Event
While moving forward with your wedding planning, please note the following suggestions.
- Check on your wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses. Many of these are being made overseas, more so in China which has halted production. There are shipping delays from many parts of the world as well. We recommend calling the manufacturer of your dress and bridesmaids dresses (or the store you got it from) to ensure they will be here on time. Most places don’t foresee any issues but we’d rather be prepared with a backup plan if needed. Purchase any other wedding related items early or buy local if possible.
- Allow your guests to cancel. Your friends and family have a duty as members of society to limit transfer of disease. Communicate with your guests ahead of time that it is ok to not be physically present at your wedding if they feel at all ill. Those guests who are unable to attend can easily be Skype’d or FaceTimed in. Plan to re-confirm RSVPs a few days before the final count is due to vendors.
- Be prepared for a vendor to cancel. As much as we wish otherwise, wedding vendors are not superhuman and may also get sick therefore being unable to complete services. Familiarize yourself with your vendor contracts to know what happens in the instance of vendor illness.
- Keep your guests healthy. To prevent further contamination, we recommend potential alterations to wedding planning to limit the spread of disease. If you are thinking of serving your dinner family style, or self-serve buffet, consider a staffed buffet, where gloved staff will serve instead. Avoid grazing stations where guests pick up their food with their hands. Limit hugs, handholding and do not have a receiving line. Reduce the number of guests at each table and increase the size of the dance floor so guests aren’t on top of each other. Avoid slow songs. Consider hiring staff to hold doors and monitor restrooms. Supply hand sanitizer at the entrance and near the food and antibacterial soap in the restrooms at your venue.
- Make sure your vendors are maintaining healthy protocol. Reach out to all vendors and confirm they are taking the necessary protocol to stay safe and healthy. It’s top of mind for everyone and this will help you feel more at peace as well.
Postponing Your Wedding
If you are considering postponing your wedding, here as some items to consider;
- Read your contracts. Your venue and vendors have different cancellation policies that could weigh into your decision. We are actively contacting vendors that our couples have booked this spring and summer to find out their plans moving forward. Discuss with your vendors if they are open to rescheduling services for a future date. VIW is open to postponement and is happy to discuss this option with you. The “Force Majeure” clause in contracts can be vague, so make sure to get your vendors’ definitions. As a note, VIW is defining Force Majeure as it being literally impossible to continue with our services and/or it being literally impossible to have your intended wedding.
- Ex: If the majority of your guests are traveling and there is a travel ban
- Ex: If the majority of your guests are sick and cannot attend.
- Ex: If the government intervenes and says no social events can be held.
- At this time, these three items have not occurred therefore our Force Majeure is not in play for VIW.
- Do you have wedding insurance? If you have wedding insurance, look at your policy and what it covers. Most insurance cancellation policies cover rescheduling costs due to “sudden illness,” in the event that one of the “key members of a wedding party” is ill but the policy does not cover general threat of illness, a pandemic or a number of guests getting ill. General Liability insurance (which is likely the only thing you have), from my knowledge doesn’t cover coronavirus. If you do not have wedding insurance yet, while we cannot guarantee the insurance would cover the virus, we still recommend purchasing it for general coverage.
- Look at your guest list. Do you have a lot of elderly guests attending? These folks can be more impacted by disease and are recommended to cancel to prevent illness. Do you have a lot of guests that would be traveling from out of town? Specifically international travelers? International travel is already beginning to be restricted and perhaps regional travel will become more and more difficult as we have already seen with lockdowns in China and Italy. VIW recommends following the ever-evolving CDC travel guidelines and their zones to avoid traveling in and out of. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel.
Most of all, try to stay calm and keep yourself informed. We hope this information has been helpful. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions/concerns. We are closely monitoring the US Department of State for travel restrictions and adhering to guidelines set by World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control.
Thank you to Lauren Schaefer of Your Wedding by Lauren for helping to come up with a plan to share with our clients on this matter.