I wanted to put together a blog post to help couples navigate wedding planning during this crazy time. I know everyone is on edge, frustrated, scared, anxious… including me… but there are definitely some things that I think will help couples as they navigate this challenging time.
First of all, breathe. This isn’t the end of the world, even though it can certainly feel like it at times. Weddings, by nature, can be postponed + rescheduled! Sure, it might not be exactly what you envisioned or on the date you really wanted, but in the grand scheme of things, postponing + rescheduling is not catastrophic. At the end of the day, you WILL be married to your best friend and that’s what is really important! So take a deep breath, hug each other, cry out your frustrations, and then let’s get to work on a plan for your postponement.
If you’re starting to consider postponing and rescheduling your wedding, the first thing you should do is make a list of all of your vendors. Read through your contracts and figure out what your financial obligations are. Most vendors have non-refundable retainers, but it doesn’t hurt to reach out to them to get clarification on how they are handling this current situation. It is something no one was prepared for and every vendor will probably be handling it differently. Remember – there is no “right” or “wrong” way for a vendor to handle this situation. Some are in a position to offer relief to the clients, but others are not. Just remember that they are human and trying to keep their small business afloat. Treating each other with kindness and grace is so important.
Next step, prioritize your vendors and reach out to the most important ones first. Likely, this will be your vendors who can only work one wedding per day – like your venue, planner, photographer, videographer, and band/DJ – because their availability is more limited. Gather their individual availability and see if there is a date that works for the majority of these vendors. Other wedding vendors like florists, hair + makeup teams, decor, transportation, and catering companies can generally accommodate rescheduling more easily since they are able to work several weddings in one day with multiple teams.
PRO TIP: if you absolutely love your vendor team and want to keep it as intact as possible, consider a non-Saturday date! Personally, I LOVE Friday weddings because you get a whole weekend to celebrate and most wedding vendors will have WAY more availability and flexibility on non-Saturday dates. During this time, some vendors may even be offering incentives for booking a non-Saturday date, so that’s always something to consider as well. Keep in mind: we are basically trying to fit two years worth of weddings into one year, so being flexible and considering a non-Saturday dates is my best recommendation! And don’t worry… your guests WILL still attend a non-Saturday wedding! They are fairly common here in Charleston, actually.
Once you settle on a new date and/or venue, follow up with all of your wedding vendors to confirm the new date. If your wedding is still a few months away and outside of the current restriction window, consider asking your wedding vendors to “hold” the new date for you, if possible. I don’t suggest that couples make any rash decisions about postponing, especially if you still have plenty of time until your original wedding date. It’s wise to have a backup plan in place, but definitely don’t pull the trigger until you absolutely have to. You can help the wedding industry recover quicker by waiting this out and only postponing if absolutely necessary.
Most vendors will have you sign a new contract or date change addendum. If you choose a date that one of your vendors isn’t available, they will probably send you a cancellation contract and they will most likely keep the non-refundable retainer. This isn’t because they are being greedy or that they are a horrible person, trust me. This has been heartbreaking for every single vendor I know. But, the very nature of the non-refundable retainer, especially for vendors who can only work one wedding per day, is to reserve that date for you. They turn away other clients for that date because they can only take one couple on any given day. If you choose to reschedule on a date that your original wedding vendors are unavailable, the vendor is losing the balance of that contract – money they depend on to pay bills, put food on the table, and take care of their family. In the end, the client and vendor are basically splitting the loss. The client loses the retainer, but the vendor loses the balance they were depending on. Everyone is losing here. That’s why I highly encourage couples to look at non-Saturday dates during this time! It might not be ideal, but it will benefit the most people in the end by giving your amazing wedding team the ability to earn the balance of the contract. We WANT to work, trust me!
If you’re recently engaged and starting to plan your 2021 wedding, get started NOW!! Venues and dates are filling up fast with all of the spring 2020 couples who are having to reschedule due to coronavirus. As I mentioned before, we are basically trying to book two years worth of weddings into one year – so it’s important to stay flexible and consider non-Saturday dates for your celebration. If you have a favorite vendor that you absolutely must have on your wedding day, like a particular band or photographer, reach out to them before booking your venue and date to ensure that they are available. Most wedding vendors are happy to give our availability out to potential clients to ensure that we can work together!
I know that this is a scary and stressful time. It is for everyone, trust me. Your vendors are here to help, so just keep those lines of communication open and know that we are all doing the best that we can. We feel your anxiety, we feel your frustration, we feel your sadness. We are all in this together.