Do I need to cancel my wedding because of Coronavirus?
The impact on weddings because of COVID19 is happening day by day , this blog post has been shared across countless platforms by various businesses. So thank you. I have decided rather than produce a new blog post it would be more prudent to update this with the latest information. Therefore this blog post is relevant as the 20th March. Can I also ask you, couples getting married, to support your wedding suppliers during this time #SupportTheWeddingIndustry
For many couples marrying this year I imagine this is a question you are asking yourself, do I have to cancel my wedding because of the coronavirus?. For many of you I imagine you have spent months and possibly years planning your wedding, so the thought of cancelling is dream crushing. I know that some of our planner members and suppliers are helping clients with the logistics of canceling or postponing. There is such uncertainty right now around coronavirus that it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. The purpose of this blog post is to give you food for thought and practical advice regarding your weddings in 2020.
Latest Update – 20th March 2020
To begin with let’s have a little perspective, as of the 20th March there were 3,269 positive cases in the UK and 144 deaths to date. This is in a population of 67,530,172 people. Last winter around 1.7k people died from seasonal flu. Now COVID19 is not the same as flu and the numbers are rapidly increasing, so who knows what our final deceased number will be. f.y.i I first wrote this article on the 9th March there had been just 273 cases and 2 deaths.
Getting married in the UK?
If you are planning a spring wedding in the UK between now and say May then there are some major changes you need to make. here are some additional safety measures I feel you should put in place for the reassurance of you and your guests.
1. If you have a CofE wedding you will have seen they are putting a limit on weddings to the legal 5 people (priest, 2 x witnesses, bride and groom). This is until further notice. So how does this impact your wedding and what can you do?
- Continue with the legal ceremony so you become husband and wife.
- Ask a videographer to set up a static camera before leaving the building to at least capture a close up of the ceremony itself before you share with friends and family
- You could set up a live feed to show the ceremony to friends and family
- Carry on with the reception (more on this shortly)
- Postpone the reception to a later date and arrange either a blessing at the church for this time OR book a celebrant to conduct a non legal ceremony instead (which because already legally married is ok). You could even play the legal ceremony on a screen
- Postpone the whole wedding until a later date
N.B Church of Wales have postponed all weddings until after the 31st July
2. If you have a civil ceremony planned then please do speak with your registrars and venue. To date Boris Johnson is advising against social gatherings and recommending social distancing. But has not banned weddings, yet. So it really is a case by case basis. Some venues are choosing to close and will offer you a replacement date. Some are remaining open but will have extra safety measures in place.
- If you decide to proceed (assuming Boris Johnson does not lockdown the country) then I would strongly advise you contact any guests that are especially vulnerable (respiratory illnesses, elderly) and suggest they do not attend the wedding
- Check your numbers as I expect they will be much lower than the original RSVP
- If space allows have less people on each row and only have people seated every other row. To increase the distance between everyone.
- Have hand sanitiser available when guests enter
- As hard as it sounds, suggest no hugs and kissing!
3. If you have decided to *proceed with your wedding reception, and weddings haven’t been banned. I would like to suggest you ask the venue the following, or just be aware of the following
- Ask what safety measures they have in place
- Don’t attend any face to face meetings with the venue, ensure it is by zoom instead
- Ask that there is plenty of soap in the washrooms, with paper hand towels. This doesn’t beat washing hands but should be viewed as additional to washing hands.
- Ask if there is enough hand sanitisers in various locations and ideally on each table as well
- Advise of any reduction in numbers and ask the financial implications. For example international guests are unlikely to attend
- Can you reduce the number of guests on each table? (ROUND TABLES – 8 guests – 5ft table, 9-10 guests 5ft 5″, 10-12 guests on a 6ft table). I would suggest dramatically reducing the numbers on each table.
- Do not have baskets of rolls on the tables
- Avoid sharing platters and buffets. Considering cancelling the evening party and finish after the meal. I feel safety measures will be ignored by guests once they have been drinking and dancing.
4. I would also like you to think carefully about proceeding with a wedding March – May . I absolutely understand months and months of planning has gone into your wedding. I know you feel like your dreams have been shattered. BUT postponing your wedding doesn’t mean the end. It’s just a short delay in the rest of your live as a married couple. You may be willing to proceed, but what about the safety of guests and suppliers? And can you guarantee no one at the wedding is infected? At least open up the conversation with your venue and suppliers first. Those with a wedding planner can certainly help you.
Tip: If you have a wedding planner already for a full planning service, they will be handling all the above (exc. your guests) for you.
“I’ve agreed with one venue that we are putting in a requirement with caterers that we expect them to have extra measures in place to have a clear Covid:19 policy re regular hand washing / anti bac. Food hygiene gloves used at all times for food prep. All service staff to wear service gloves and to be thoroughly vetted about travel history . The venue will also have anti bac available in all washroom spaces and staff working at the venue will also be regularly vetted as to recent travel destinations and state of health . We want booked couples to know we have a clear policy and thought process in place and we are doing all we can to be responsible.” Melanie, Bellissimo Weddings
Postponing your wedding
When taking the above into consideration you may decide to postpone your wedding, I would urge you not to cancel, you have in essence planned your wedding already. It’s only the date that is changing. I would also like to say the health of you, your friends and family and suppliers is so important. There are some suppliers who in essence can’t keep their distance, will get close to you (photographer, children creche, hair and makeup, wedding planner). So how is it you can postpone your wedding?
- Firstly speak with your insurance company and ask them, if you postpone the wedding, is the new date still covered?
- Then speak with all your suppliers and venue to see if they are happy to postpone, and if so what dates are available. Please note many Autumn dates are going fast already. I am so proud of wedding suppliers and how understanding they have been, and how flexible. Please just pick up the phone and speak with them
- If you are having a civil ceremony, check the new date is available. And be aware it means giving notice for a second time.
- If marrying in church ask whether the reading of the banns need to be done again if changing your date
- Send little postponement cards to your guests and give them as much notice as you can
- If a supplier cannot make the new date. What are their cancellation terms? WIll they refund or is there a cancellation charge.
- The final thing I want to mention is to remember wedding businesses might request you stick to the original payment terms even if the date changes. This is because their business was expecting certain cash deposits at certain times. Being able to keep to original terms will help your suppliers immensely. #SupportTheWeddingIndustry
Tip: Read this article for some of your wedding insurance questions. But please, please speak with your wedding insurance company as well
“I have published on social media that should there be a government imposed quarantine or Travel bans to Cyprus, then we will without any charges postpone and move to another date. We have told couples that no fees will be added or any costs for processing this and all pre paid deposits will go forward with the file to their new date.” Sharron, Exclusive Yacht Weddings in Cyprus
International Destination Weddings
For couples planning a destination wedding I am sure you are incredibly worried right now. Many borders have been shut down and isolations / lock downs are in place in many countries. Therefore it is going to be unlikely you can get married abroad until June the earliest. But even this may not be possible. we literally have to assess week by week.
1. If you were due to have site visits , to view venues and meet suppliers you now need to cancel these trips. Request the venue conduct virtual tours and skype meetings so at least you can get a sense of the venue. This is something Michelle from Elegante by Michelle J is doing. This may mean you lose money already paid out for flights but under the circumstances this is unavoidable.
2. It is also worth remembering, weddings that were due to happen over the next few months are now being postponed until the Autumn and Spring 2021. Dates are going fast so whether you need to postpone, or if you are looking to book a wedding for next year, I strongly advise you select a date sooner rather than later. It might be you need to compromise to a midweek date
3. Speak to your insurance company if you do need to cancel your wedding. Ask whether you are covered for cancelling or postponing. This is very important
How does the coronavirus spread?
It spread when someone sneezes or coughs in close proximity to others and also when the virus lands on surfaces which people touch.
Please feel free to review the following links for latest advice on the virus as the articles are updated regularly.
Destination Wedding Planners can be found here
UK Wedding Planners can be found here
Article written by UKAWP owner Bernadette Chapman. If you are in the media and would like a quote on the coronavirus and the wedding industry please contact Bernadette on firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com