COVID-19 (coronavirus) has impacted 2020 and its events monumentally. Pro sports leagues have canceled their seasons indefinitely, NCAA Winter and Spring athletes saw their seasons abruptly end with no March Madness or conference championships, and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will be postponed until 2021. While these events have a significant national and global impact, perhaps the most personally significant events to be derailed by COVID-19 and recommended social distancing restrictions are mitzvahs, graduation ceremonies, quinceañeras, birthdays, and of course, weddings.
How are couples to celebrate their nuptials with 200 of their closest friends and family members when non-essential travel is discouraged, restaurants are closed, and people cannot gather in groups of more than ten? The impact is unfathomable for those who have been saving, planning, booking, and reserving wedding-related vendors and venues for a year or more. (In case you were planning on continuing, know that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that couples cancel weddings in the U.S. until May 15, 2020—and by cancel, yes, that can mean postponing until after the mid-May date.)
While much is still unknown about COVID-19 and how long social distancing restrictions will remain in place, we want to offer couples some reassurance and suggestions for how to reschedule their wedding in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Talk to Your Reception Venue
Health experts cannot tell us if we can expect containment of COVID-19 this Summer or Fall, and government leaders are not able to advise when social distancing restrictions will be lifted. Talk to your reception venue first and ask what they are offering their clients. Likely any contract you signed with them included a force majeure, a stipulation that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance prevents both parties from fulfilling their contractual obligation. Such events may include war, a strike, riot, crime, plague, or act of God, such as a hurricane, flood, or earthquake. This condition means that you should be able to recover your deposit without financial loss if you decide to reschedule for six or twelve months from now, and your original venue is no longer available. Ideally, however, the vendor will be able to work with you to reschedule for a mutually agreeable date.
Consider All Factors Related to Timing
Without a clear understanding of when society will resume its regular routines, it may not yet be possible to choose a short-term rescheduled date. If your dream was for a summer wedding, you might need to consider summer 2021. If the idea of living one more year without taking your man’s name is unbearable, then you may need to re-envision your dream of a summer wedding as a Fall or Winter wedding. Just know, however, that changing seasons will inevitably change some of your wedding choices, such as flowers (if you had chosen in-season florals), you and your bridesmaid’s dresses, and your color palette. If you have already invested in dresses and stationery, you will need to plan accordingly to make the necessary adjustments.
Talk to Your Stationer
Friends and family members who placed your summer wedding date on their calendar last year are likely wondering about your plans. If they intended to travel for your nuptials, they might have travel-related concerns. Put their minds at ease by sending Save the NEW Date or Change the Date cards when all the details have been finalized with your ceremony and reception venues. Your stationer will work with you to ensure the language and explanation you include in your announcements is comforting and tasteful and still creates a sense of excitement for your big (rescheduled) event).
Bring Your Destination Wedding Home
If you were planning an international destination wedding, consider rescheduling for a domestic venue. It may not be as exotic as you had hoped. Still, with even more uncertainty surrounding international travel, and with popular travel destinations such as Europe experiencing severe numbers of COVID-19 cases, you may be able to reschedule your wedding more quickly if you work with a U.S.-based venue.
Final Advice: Remember What Truly Matters
As of the time of publishing, 16,524 people, including 400 Americans, have lost their lives due to coronavirus. No bride ever wants anything to come between her and her dream wedding. Still, ultimately, the most important thing is for you, your fiancé, and your loved ones to stay healthy until the coronavirus pandemic is a devastating part of our collective history. For more updates about COVID-19, refer to the CDC.