Navigating Wedding planning – Pandemic issue 

·        Feeling guilty about planning Fun?

·        Deposit Blues

·        Communicating with Vendors

·        Big Hint – Event insurance

+ other helpful hints and tid-bits Plus industry professionals “quotes”

Here at the end of March many brides for April, May and even further out have been put in a position of planning alternate endings for their Happy Day.  I have been on several industry calls and have been inundated with so much “do this” and “do that” advice I thought I would share some helpful and hopefully realistic hints to try and help you turn wedding blues into wedding bliss.

A little background for perspective.  I started in the wedding industry as a worker in a bridal shop at the age of 15.  I worked selling, beading and fitting dresses.  I also then learned how to DJ and do Balloon Décor from a sister company.  All while I was young and impressionable – bridezilla wasn’t even a term back then!  Many years and many experiences later I now own an operate a rental, décor and entertainment company in the Chicago Suburbs.  My focus has not always been 100% on brides but our business certainly sees it’s fair share and every year I spend time helping a few select clients from start to finish.  Most of our clients are between 3k and 20k and I find these brides are far from the category of Bridezilla.  One of my favorite brides said to me – “I really don’t want to plan all this *x!~*– I just want to get married and spend time with my family eat, drink and call it a day”.  My goal for her is to make it all happen without her needing to step in. 

So how can ANY of what’s going on be easy and fun right now?  It can!  It’s a great time to spend a day, minute, week even pouring over something that brings you joy and happiness.  Allow yourself to be happy about something.  Planning your special day and dreaming of a future that includes your family and friends can be an excellent escape.  Many of the people in our circle that focus on self-care have been encouraging, finding something to look forward to and focusing on that to avoid feeling helpless.  So snuggle up with your fiancé and spend a day deep diving into the difference between violet and lavender and enjoy!

In the event your special day has been or may be disrupted, you may be in a frenzy.  Take time to refocus and ground yourself in the basics of what’s most important for you.  Is it still having a ceremony that day?  Officiants are doing online and live stream ceremonies for anxious couples.  What’s your reality check for what’s truly important – is it the party or the partner?  If you are living together and you have survived the quarantine, then it’s probably a great 1st step to a life of happiness.  So choose wat it is you want to do.  Maybe now you get married by video and have a great honeymoon fund for when it’s all done.  Thanks for the presents everyone – virtual weddings here we come!

Here is one example, a couple in New York got married in the middle of the street by their close friend officiating from a 4th floor window.  They had to decide to push on with what was important since the licensing office was closing indefinitely or wait.  They made it in time to get their license by 4 pm on the day it was closing and then grabbed their wedding gear and were married that very night.  Choosing to focus on each other brought them happiness even with a greatly rushed time line. 

Many of our couples that feel it may just not be the right time for a party (post pandemic lock down) are deciding on something similar.   Some have that have already opted for a live stream ceremony and have pushed their reception to June or later.   Our photographer and videographer friends have been getting very creative in how to offer their services to couples getting married on the fly.  One of them has already streamed an outdoor ceremony using a drone so the family could watch from the comfort of home!  Now that’s creativity.

The deposit blues.  This is the biggest subject I have been seeing questions about and many, many concerns over.  The prevailing situation seems to be most vendors are offering to reschedule to a mutually agreeable date.  Reducing deposits and making payment plans. There are exceptions to that rule of course but it seems overall the industry is trying to work with the situation as best possible.  I have seen facilities that are banquet halls offer to cater outside the hall for brides who cannot get a date rescheduled.  It’s a work around that some people may not have considered but it’s a win if the hall can keep from losing out on the deposit, the bride can re-apply it and they can make a date work sooner rather than later.   

We have rented several tents to brides who are moving it home where they feel they can have more control.  Or to couples who just want to have a reception later but are still getting married on the original date.    

But what if your photographer and your DJ are not available but won’t give back the deposit.  Consider asking for a gift certificate that is transferrable to another date time or even party.  If you are getting married, you can maybe use your photographer in the future for an anniversary shoot or even baby pictures.  After all, “first comes love, then come marriage…”  If your DJ is unavailable, perhaps he has a friend he can recommend and even swap gig dates with down the line.  If he can’t help you out but you could get a gift certificate for the deposit amount could you re-use his services or donate to a school for a tax write off?  Maybe use for a fundraiser.  Anything to feel as if that lost money can be of value is better than a complete loss.  

Please remember - for vendors this is very much a time of crisis for many of them.  Sad to say, some of them may not survive the next couple of difficult months.  However, everyone is a human, and this has really brought out the human in all of us.  Also, a small word of advice, just because you are not getting the immediate answers you want (“oh yes, a full refund is coming your way”), having a knee-jerk reaction and threatening to call the BBB, reporting them to Google or giving them a bad review really doesn’t help to come to a resolution.  Some vendors may not think out of the box or may be in a situation they cannot refund right now but would be happy to do so as soon as a little income stream starts again. Most realize your stress level is high (as is theirs) and if you can just have a sincere conversation with them it will usually work out even if a little creativity is needed. 

A long time ago one of my managers said to get things in writing as it keeps emotions out of issues.  So as a secondary piece of advice when emotions run high, if you are having trouble communicating it may be best to keep your correspondence via emails so if needed, you can show it to an outside party like a credit card company or other third party working on your behalf.  Maybe type it out, take a big breath, then review it before you hit send.  It’s easier to edit a letter than end up with a foot in the mouth.

Overcoming quarantine – communication – reach out it’s like a breath of fresh air.  I got a call today from a friend and it made me think.  Hey, I like to talk, and I am missing connecting with the many people who are usually calling me.  I like what I do, and I love to hear about brides and client’s dreams.  Maybe now is a great time to schedule a day to call all your wedding vendors and be sure the lines of communication are still up and running.  They hopefully have begun to reach out to you, but if your wedding is “on the cusp” maybe they are waiting for direction from you.  They could be nervous that another person is calling to cancel.  Instead, maybe call and ask them what they recommend “just in case”. 

In the event this goes longer than we like, it can be a step in the right direction.  Start a Plan B in case you must scale down your event size to accommodate social distancing.  Speaking from my experience it’s a lot easier to plan for 100 and drop to 50 than it is to plan for 50 and try to “grow” to 100.   Also, it’s important to remember that many in-demand services are seeing a spill over as they re-schedule clients.  Be the client that they want to help!  I’d rather have 6 names penciled in and be watching out for their best interest…than no names on a full weekend and trying to squeeze them in. 

Don’t forget to talk to your guests. It’s super easy to connect today via many social media platforms. Consider having an informal call on FB Live or Zoom to let them know what your plans are.  You’d be amazed at how many great ideas there are out there that come from “Aunt Eunice”.  I never knew how smart those 86-year-olds could be…. HMMM…they have lived through a few wars – maybe they know a thing or two. Pre-internet and all. Recently we even saw many invitation companies putting out “postponed” cards. 

MY BIG HINT – Buy event insurance.  It’s usually Sub-$500.00 and it will cover A lot of unforeseen situations.  DEPENDING ON THE POLICY… I am not an insurance expert, but I wouldn’t risk it with weather, so why risk it now. Will it cover if your guests can’t come because they are sick? Probably not.  If you, or an integral member of the wedding party does get sick, then YES. A tornado takes out your tent, then YES.  It rains and you don’t’ want to get wet, NO.  It can be extended to cover costs associated with rescheduling, transportation and hotels blocks etc. However, be sure to talk to the person selling it about your specific concerns and take the time to read ALL the Fine Print.  Insurance companies love their fine print.

Remember to read your policy and get your items of concern addressed and confirmed in writing from the agent.  In case they are confused or do not know what they are talking about, you will have proof you asked. This pandemic is NOT an Act of God and from everything I have read, it will not fall into that coverage area.  This is however a situation where certain governments have prevented people from leaving their houses for groups of 10 or more.  So, there is a clause that will cover situations like that.

Generally, it does cover things such as a no show of a photographer because they fall ill, catering company gets everyone sick or dress rips. All sorts of things you never thought could happen but can.  It’s worth it for peace of mind.  I am again – NOT an agent and I DO NOT have background other than experience and reading.  But I advise all of my couples to get event insurance and have done so before this current situation raised it’s contagious head.  I have a list of agents I recommend; however most coordinators should know someone they trust.

”What can I do?  I am just too wrapped up in things falling apart!”  Make a list. Make some calls and make time for you.  There is no celebration if you don’t take care of yourself.  Be safe -  Be well  -  Be a Beautiful Bride (or groom) and know that this too shall pass.

For more tips and tricks or just questions feel free to reach out to me: Stacie@funtimeservices.com or click here to schedule a one-on-one time to set up a call https://bookme.name/staciechase.  We are happy to help you with whatever your plan A, B, or C might be.  Here are some hints from wedding Pro if you are facing rescheduling https://www.theknot.com/content/postpone-wedding-guidelines

https://www.theknot.com/content/wedding-insurance-101

From industry professionals - When asked their thoughts on the situation:

A favorite Caterer – This is going it pass IT is temporary and you have to take a deep breath and remember that it’s about communities right now not individuals.

A favorite DJ – I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay strong and enjoy the days, even though it may seem like a disaster to have to stay home is it worth even 1 of your family member health to take the risk.  I have seen over 12k in losses because my calendar was too full to reschedule but it’s worth every cent if I kept from one person suffering.

A favorite Photographer – I wish I could photograph more people and less empty streets right now but I am looking forward to the days where I can see the smiles light up the room like never before.  Sunnier days ahead.

A favorite Us – We are here for you.  Big or small we can help you create memories.  Think of us as your support staff to help navigate the bumps and curves that life has thrown at us right now.  It’s not about the days – it’s the years that matter.  Let’s all get through these couple weeks so there are many many years of memories to look back on.