Here at The Simply Elegant Group, we’ve noticed a similar chain when it comes to questions and concerns that are voiced by our clients when discussing COVID-19 during the wedding planning process. The uneasiness is all too understandable, especially during such a precious time when certain emotions, especially anxiety, are already heightened. We have branches in Chicago, Minnesota, Milwaukee, Denver, Austin, Dallas, Houston, and Boston, so we’ve become accustomed to the ever changing policies.
This is why, today, we want to put some of those fears to rest (as much as humanly possible, that is) by equipping you with the information you need to know. However, as always, you should do your own research regarding the laws in your wedding’s state. There were three main categories of questions that arose– guest count, the postponement process, taking the proper precautions, as well as other various questions.
Q: If you keep your wedding date for this fall or winter, would your guest count go down? In turn, what does that mean for your contracts, such as catering, when you’ve already made payments for a set amount of people, but now only a significantly smaller amount can attend?
This all depends on the number of guests who are traveling out-of-state or out-of-country, the number of guests who are most at-risk for COVID (i.e. the elderly, those with respiratory issues, etc.), and those who would feel comfortable attending a wedding. We’ve been recommending those who are unsure whether they want to continue planning for fall/winter 2020 to survey their guests or their immediate family and bridal party to see who would feel comfortable or would attend if they were to have a wedding that size or the size allowed by the state.
As far as vendors, most vendors/venues are extremely understanding about guest counts/minimums and allowing guest counts to drop without penalty. They are asking for a more estimated and accurate count around the 1-month-out mark instead of the normal 2 weeks/10 days to schedule their team, make orders, adjust the final total, etc. Vendors are just ready to work and are excited to be a part of weddings no matter the size!
Q: Will most guests not be able to nor want to travel from out-of-state/country?
Flights are continuing to increase, and the cost to travel is at its lowest right now, so if your guests are comfortable with traveling, this would be the best time to do so. Just make sure to have them book as soon as they can as the limited number of flights means they’re booking up fast. For flights overseas, there are many US-based airlines with plans to resume international flights as early as this summer, some even this month. Of course, there are restrictions regarding flight paths and destinations that are available, as well as capacity, but that information is easily researchable. Ask those guests needing to fly directly if they would feel more comfortable traveling if you were to have the wedding during the fall/winter 2020.
Q: Would your wedding day be complete without all of these guests? Who do you want there more than anything? Do you want to compromise your guest count?
These are questions you need to ask yourself if you would like to continue the planning process for fall/winter 2020 with the possibility of not being allowed to have your full guest count at your wedding. A lot of states are now allowing weddings under 250-300 right now, so there is a lot of hope for fall/winter 2020 weddings happening as normal. However, if you are in a state that is not at that point or they have limited guest counts, these are things you may want to think about.
Taking the Proper Precautions
It’s no secret that there will need to be certain sanitary precautions taken during the wedding, even if back to having over 50 guests, like using masks, distancing, sanitizer stations, etc. But now what will this mean regarding vendor policies? Will the venue no longer be able to accommodate your guest count since they’ll need to practice social distancing?
At this point, we are unsure about masks for guests, though they’re highly recommended no matter the location. With that said, it will also depend on the state you live in and where the state is in regards to getting back to normal. For example, in Chicago, masks are required for any count indoors, whereas Minnesota is allowing weddings for 250 or less.
As far as indoor venues and social distancing, this will again vary by state. Many states are only allowing a certain percentage of occupancy, such as Texas, where venues are limited to a 25% occupancy.
What we do know is that vendors are all going to be required to wear masks, sanitizing stations will be required throughout the venue, and vendors are going to go above and beyond to be safe while making sure guests feel safe, as well as having a minimum amount of staff to provide quality service. Hair and makeup staff are going to fully clean their brushes in between each person, so schedules should be adjusted accordingly.
Q: What will this look like as far as getting vendor availability and discussing with your loved ones?
Once you decide you want to postpone, you should discuss any specifics on when you want to postpone to: time of year, specific months, days of the week they are open to. The more flexible you can be, the more dates will be available for you to choose from. If you have to have it on a Friday or Saturday, these dates are going to fill up faster than Sundays or weekdays. The more specific you are, the faster you should move with the postponement process to ensure you get a date that they would like.
Once this is decided, you (or your planner) should reach out to the venue to get a list of available dates they have. Again, these dates could go fast, so if only a limited number of dates are available, we would recommend reaching out to your vendors right away. It’s also important to ask your venues about their availability, postponement policies, and if there are any fees to transfer to any of the listed dates.
Then, once you have heard back from everyone and can see what dates everyone is available for, make sure to confirm with your immediate family/bridal party that this would work for them as well.
Once a date is chosen to postpone to, confirm with your venue that they still have this available. Things can change within days when basically fitting two years of weddings into one.
Once the venue confirm
s, ask them for an addendum to the contract, and then reach out to all of your vendors to officially transfer their services to your new date. You can request addendums from all of your vendors or save the emails where it confirms their services. Do not forget your room blocks, and transfer your rooms to the new wedding weekend.
Keep track to make sure that your venue and all of your vendors have been transferred and confirmed to the new date. Know your new schedules for payments and due dates.
More questions to ask your venue/vendors to help make your decision to postpone or not:
What is your postponement policy to go from 2020 to 2021?
For venue: Are our same timings/rooms at the venue available for those dates (if the venue has multiple weddings a day)?
To a vendor: If I pick a date that you are not available for, what would happen if I cancel your services? Would I lose a deposit? Any additional fees?
If a vendor goes out of business, what happens to my deposit?
What happens if I need to postpone for a second or third time just in case there is either another wave or this continues longer than expected?
What does the payment schedule look like when postponing (for each vendor)?
If moving from a Saturday to a Thursday OR if moving from May to November, for example, would pricing of services change? At the venue: Would rental fees change?
What is the latest date you need to know my decision to postpone or not?
Room block: Is there a change in price for the same rooms for the new wedding weekend?
Also ask if the hotel will be contacting each guest that has already booked a room or if you could have the list of those that have already booked a room so you can contact them directly to let them know their room has been canceled and that they’ll need to re-book for your new wedding weekend.
Q: What about announcing the changes, updating your wedding website, and notifying your guests?
Update your wedding website that the date has been changed. Some websites can send out a virtual change-the-date email, so see if this can be an option. A lot of couples are posting a Change-the-Date announcement on social media to get the news out right away. You can also do a Change-the-Date Card to create, order, and then send out via mail. Keep in mind the printing/stamps cost if this is allotted in your budget.
Other Questions, Concerns, and Information
Q: What does an intimate ceremony look like right now? How would you go about planning this?
If you are looking to have an intimate ceremony, it is important to know where you would like this to happen first. If it is at a public place, you will need to see the legal maximum number of people you can have there, or if it is outside, if a permit is required.
Once a location and date has been chosen, then you should invite those you want to be there, and set up a way to stream your ceremony online if you would like others to be able to see your ceremony from home so they are still a part of it.
Q: How can you get a marriage license?
With a quick Google search of “how to obtain a marriage license in [your county]”, you can find the information from your county’s official government website with all of the information you need to know about getting a license.
Be mindful of the ending of the URL. Only visit the website that ends in “.gov” because there are many scam sites that are out to charge you hundreds more dollars than it would actually cost you.
If you are looking to have a wedding still and would rather have it with a lowered guest count versus postponement, please keep in mind the following:
This count does include your vendors, so before you make the official decision, ask your vendors how many people at maximum they need there in order to make sure your day runs perfectly. Then, based on your vendors’ answers, you will then know how many guests you can invite to your wedding.
Vendors that would need to be at your venue and included in the count: Venue Team, Catering/Bartending Team, Planner/Assistant, Photo, Video, Music, Hair and Makeup, and Officiant.
Things to note:
Hair and Makeup: If you would like this done the day-of, you can hire for however many girls you would like that, again, would fit the maximum number of people in a room.
Photographer/Videographer: They can take photos prior to the ceremony– getting ready, photos of the ceremony, photos of you both, and with whomever you would like after– either at the same location or other locations nearby. They are able to stay 6ft away, so their services are easily able to be there for this.
Transportation: Some vehicle companies are still able to transport whomever you need to the day-of. Be sure to ask capacity details and make sure everyone feels comfortable.
Planner: They can be there the day-of but don’t have to be. Ask your planner to assist you with planning the timeline of your day if you would like assistance with creating the perfect day and ensuring all vendors are on the same page!
If recently engaged, some questions and things to consider:
Keep in mind that 2020 weddings and those also wanting to get married in 2021 are booking their weddings, so booking quickly is advised.
When booking your venue/vendors, ask about their policies for postponements and how they have been handling these for their clients. We would also recommend looking at reviews to see how their clients are feeling after going through this process.
When signing contracts, make sure that there is a section in each contract of their cancellation and postponement policies.
While it’s important to remember to research specific questions regarding your state as each one’s regulations, laws, and trends will vary, it’s even more important to remember not to stress too much. We’re positive that no matter when or where your wedding is, it will still be one of the most memorable days of your life that you’ll cherish for years to come. That’s our promise to you at The Simply Elegant Group.
Have additional postponement questions or want even more beautiful wedding inspiration? Follow us & connect on Instagram here: @simplyelegantxo xoxo