Love in the Time of Coronavirus: How COVID-19 Affects Your Wedding Day
As concerns about COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, spread across the globe, Minnesotans are being encouraged to stay at home and avoid crowded places and maintain distance from others. While it's far from the biggest COVID-related concern, this pandemic affects couples with upcoming nuptials. Minnesota Bride asked local wedding experts how they're responding, whether you should postpone your wedding and how to stay safe.
How are you working with your couples to make this decision about whether or not to postpone their weddings?
“Since planners are at the ‘helm’ of most of the communication, I have been the first stop for most of my couples. We are really starting and focusing on the first eight weeks that the CDC has mandated no events over 50 guests. We have now been able to postpone several events and are working on moving the other dates. My first step is to find out what time the clients would ideally like to move their date to, and then I am checking with all vendors. Vendors have been amazing! Everyone is moving dates quickly, without extra fees. So far it has been pretty easy to match dates with the couples and vendors.”—Sarah Trotter, owner and event planner, Lasting Impressions Weddings
“[These are] such unprecedented times for couples and businesses and our hearts go out to everyone. In these moments of quickly changing circumstances, it’s important to take it day by day using up-to-date facts. Our contingency is prioritizing May weddings over the next couple of weeks, rescheduling to an open 2020 date. Next month we will assess June impact based on where we are at—hopefully it will not be needed. We are taking it date by date in order. Keeping communication lines open with couples is so important, and talking with vendors as well. We are all in this together.”—Julie Gacek, Redeemed Farm
“Couples are stressed in general when it comes to planning a wedding but that’s what we are here for. People are scared, confused, and unsure of how to move forward during these trying times. We encourage our couples to reach out and allow us to help them in this decision, or if they just need to talk things through. We have been guiding our couples in March 2020 and early April 2020 to first take a deep breath and rest assured that we are there for them. The first step in making this decision is by reaching out to their venue. We are working with venues to make sure this experience is as smooth as possible. Ultimately, the decision is up to the couple and we are supporting them no matter what that decision may be.”—Seth Brittain, A’BriTin Catering & Hospitality
“So far one of my couples (getting married next weekend) decided to pull the plug on their wedding altogether and instead just get married the two of them with their officiant and parents. They said postponing the reception party to later wasn’t something they felt like they wanted. For my other couples, we are moving forward with planning as scheduled and should they choose to move their date, then all details will at least be set and they can take a breather before their new wedding date!”—Lexi Skoog, ALEXIA Weddings & Events
“This is such a personal decision. I believe that they need to decide based on their family situation. We are more than happy to talk through it with them to determine the best option for them.”—Kelly Grundhauser, Kelly Birch Photography
“I have been reaching out to my couples individually to touch base on how they are feeling about their wedding. Anyone falling within the eight-week timeframe, we are postponing a bit later in the year. Anyone outside of that range is being asked to reassess in April to give us a bit of time to focus on the weddings coming up a bit closer. All clients for 2020 have been sent an email just letting them know that we are here for them and keeping a close eye on the situation at hand.”—Laine Palm, Laine Palm Designs
Should couples postpone for the time being? Or should they reschedule and pick a new date?
“Reschedule and pick a new date. Keep in mind that there are tons of couples doing the same thing, so if you are wanting to get a new date, I would suggest at least holding a few options so that you have some dates.”—Sarah Trotter, Lasting Impressions Weddings
“We are encouraging couples to not cancel, but reschedule. If you are not sure where to start, reach out to us. We want to be your sounding board and even though we can’t make that final decision for you, we hope we can take some of the stress off your shoulders.”—Seth Brittain, A’BriTin Catering & Hospitality
“I think it’s really up to them. With the understanding that many guests may opt out of coming, if they want to move forward with their date and all vendors and important people they want there are on board, then that’s their call. It’s a tough choice, especially once you’ve put so much time, energy and money into something you’ve been planning—many of them want to still celebrate with those who can make it! And others prefer to postpone and wait until all loved ones can attend and celebrate together.”—Lexi Skoog, ALEXIA Weddings & Events
“Depending on when the expected original wedding date was, we have had couples postpone, some discussing elopements and some are still waiting to 'see what happens'”—Kelly Grundhauser, Kelly Birch Photography
“We are highly encouraging to reschedule/postpone while we have more options from venues. The longer we wait, the fewer dates that will be available within the 2020 year. This also allows vendors to readjust and change the date on contracts so we make sure we still have our stellar vendor team.”—Laine Palm, Laine Palm Designs
How are you supporting your clients if they choose to reschedule or postpone?
“We are being as flexible and acting as quickly as possible to assist our couples in getting a new date selected and easing their stress however we can. We are working with the rest of our industry partners to honor any deposits or payments that couples have already made and not creating any further financial burdens for them during this time. Everyone in the Minnesota wedding industry has been so gracious with this.”—Lindsay Kunz and Kimberly Seymour, Pink Peony Events
“I am sure we will run into issues when we are already booked for certain dates, but luckily at Lasting Impressions, we do have multiple planners and can help facilitate multiple weddings on a date. That has been a big help right now.”—Sarah Trotter, Lasting Impressions Weddings
“We do recognize that it’s a lot of planning to take care of, and we recommend that they start by contacting their venue and work with their team to reschedule the dates. Once they have rescheduled with their venue, the next step is to contact us. We will guide them the rest of the way through.”—Seth Brittain, A’BriTin Catering & Hospitality
“I’m working closely with them to help re-organize timelines, work with vendors, and set-up new meeting times with their venue. I also offer to just be a listening ear for them to process their sadness and frustration; it’s such a horrible time for many couples who have been planning the day of their dreams for so long! It’s heartbreaking in a lot of ways. And we as planners and vendors get it and are with them.”—Lexi Skoog, ALEXIA Weddings & Events
“We have offered to work with their other vendors to collaborate on getting a new date that will work with the most vendors they’ve already hired to avoid the loss of deposits. We are maintaining as much flexibility as we can while being empathetic to this once-in-a-lifetime situation that no one could have predicted.”—Kelly Grundhauser, Kelly Birch Photography
“We are supporting them 100 percent by making sure we are available for their date, and also making sure all of their vendors are available. We are handling the addendum contracts and providing regular advice on how to reach out to clients and the items we need to take care of in order to move forward with the date change.”—Laine Palm, Laine Palm Designs
"We've set up a 'Pod' of incredible local like-minded and similar styled wedding photographers, to help one another in case our clients need to re-schedule to a new date that is already booked. It is peace of mind knowing that our clients won't have to go through the whole process of trying to find a new photographer for their wedding day, because we have already vetted the photographers ahead of time, and have them ready and prepared to help if needed."—Kelly Barry-Miller, owner of Amore Lux Studios
If couples choose to cancel and instead elope or head to the courthouse, what kinds of penalties do they face with contracts?
“At this point we are highly recommending people try to reschedule instead of cancel. We are standing by the cancellation details listed out in our catering agreements. One thing that sets us apart from other caterers is that we do not penalize our customers if they want to reschedule within the same calendar year. We want you to get married and we want to be a part of your big day.”—Seth Brittain, A’BriTin Catering & Hospitality
“For my couple that pulled the plug completely on their wedding, I gave them a full refund, even though they didn’t ask for it. This whole situation is so out of anyone’s control, and the amount of money they are losing and the sadness they’re having to deal with is much more than my fee. So if I can make it even a little bit better, that’s how I chose to do it.”—Lexi Skoog, ALEXIA Weddings & Events
“I cannot speak for all vendors, but generally what I am seeing is that they may lose their deposits, but they will not be contracted to pay additional fees, etc.”—Sarah Trotter, Lasting Impressions Weddings
“We have waived our rescheduling fees for all affected by COVID-19 and are offering to transfer all monies to a future date within one year of their original date. We want to be a part of their day no matter if it is big or small. Monies will be transferrable but non-refundable.”—Kelly Grundhauser, Kelly Birch Photography
What advice would you give couples faced with this decision?
“The best advice I can give my couples at this time is to not let the current situation make them lose sight of why they’re planning in the first place. There is no doubt that these are challenging circumstances and the possibility of changing plans is extremely frustrating, sad and stressful. That said, the love and respect that they have for each other will not only prevail during this difficult time, but will set them up for a strong and healthy marriage in the years to come. We’ll help in any way we can to support them.”—Christie Altendorf, D’Amico Catering
“Do what feels right for you. If you don’t feel good about asking guests and loved ones to still come, then go with your gut and postpone or do something different. If you feel like you still want to honor your wedding day, then figure out how to do that in a way you will be happy with years down the road, while also keeping health and safety at the top of mind. There are ways to be creative, and while it may not be what you had originally dreamed of or envisioned, it’s still your day and it can still be so sweet, meaningful and important. We’re in it together!”—Lexi Skoog, ALEXIA Weddings & Events
“Work together on alternatives only if needed. Try to make the best of what might appear to be a not-so-good situation. Keep communication lines open with your vendors. Be measured on how much information or opinions you let in on social media, news, etc. Know that we are all working to find solutions that work for everyone.”—Julie Gacek, Redeemed Farm
“It’s a very personal decision and every situation is different. The world is really unknown right now and while it is my job to advise my couples, this is not something that we have ever experienced before. I think take it one day at a time and if you are planning a wedding for June, July or August, I would wait a few more weeks to see how all of this progresses. You can always postpone the wedding date, but we pray that the world will look different in even a few weeks!”—Sarah Trotter, Lasting Impressions Weddings
“The best advice we can give is, stay calm, don’t react out of fear but act in logic, and give it time. If your event isn’t within the next couple of months, hang tight until more information comes to the surface. If your event is in the next couple of months, start out by contacting your venue. And as always, reach out to us and we will be there to help guide you.”—Seth Brittain, A’BriTin Catering & Hospitality
“Ultimately, it is your wedding, and we want to support you in whatever feels right. [If you decide to cancel], there will be a loss of money on both sides of the coin, but we do have to honor our client's wishes. This is not an easy decision to make, but couples do make a lot of plans for things they want to accomplish after they've gotten married. For example: moving in together, buying a home, moving and even planning for a family. If these are goals you don't want to postpone, on top of getting married, then make sure the decision to cancel the wedding and elope feels right to you.”—Laine Palm, Laine Palm Designs
“As these days ahead remain uncertain, you need to determine what is best for your family. Do you want to do something super intimate and a big party later? Do you want a big day in the future? If so, I highly encourage rescheduling soon so you have the best chance at a date you want, as many couples are planning weddings for 2021 and now add those rescheduling for fall 2020 and 2021 dates. We are here for [our couples] as long as they keep us in the loop and we can make it work with our availability. We are giving priority to couples who are existing and needing to reschedule, for now.”—Kelly Grundhauser, Kelly Birch Photography
“Our number one tip to couples amidst the current COVID19 pandemic is to remember that no matter what happens, remain calm and keep in mind that even if you have to postpone, you will get married and you will be with your person no matter what! Remain flexible and trust in your vendors. As planners, this is what we are here for! We will do what's best for you and your wedding and will work endlessly to get you through this. You are not alone and you have a whole wedding army behind you!”—Lindsay Kunz and Kimberly Seymour, Pink Peony Events
"We also want to reassure wedding couples that they can still make beautiful memories even if you don't have the biggest and boldest wedding day of your dreams right now. Some of the most precious weddings we have photographed were not big giant galas, but sweet intimate and small gatherings. Whether it is a wedding with 300 people, or a wedding of 5, the most important thing is that you are surrounded by your closest loved ones, and that you stay bonded and connected as a couple. Take a deep breath...hold one another closer...find refuge in one another...and allow yourselves to bond in a greater way through this. We are all going to get through this, and come out stronger."—Kelly Barry-Miller, owner of Amore Lux Studios