As you’ll no doubt know (please, tell us you already know), New Zealand is now in Alert Level 4, meaning we’ll all be staying put for the next two-and-a-bit weeks, if not longer. An unsettling thought on many different levels, but a very wise and necessary one too. We must keep ourselves safe.
With everything that’s happening, weddings have been given a big back seat. Stories of postponements and eleventh-hour cancellations have flooded our inbox, as more and more couples and wedding vendors are being affected by COVID-19. On top of the devastating effect on the wedding industry as a whole, people are worried about family, health, safety, jobs, livelihoods, future plans, the economy…she’s a scary time all round.
BUT, it’s not all bad. In fact, we think a lot of good is coming – bubbling away inside houses, apartments, Airbnbs and flats. New approaches to how to work, how we live and what we value. New appreciations for family, technology and the power of a home-cooked meal. While we wait for the world to return to what it was, we can also look forward to the change we never saw coming.
With ‘uncertain’ as the unofficial buzzword of 2020, we’re not going to pretend we have all the answers – because we don’t. No one does. But what we can offer you is a bit of direction and support to help you navigate this new normal as best you can. We’ve taken your most commonly asked questions (along with ones we’ve pondered ourselves), to many of our helpful vendors. We’ve compiled their thoughts into a guide to help you and your partner (and your mother in law who really wants to know if the sleeveless dress she bought will still be ok for your new wedding date) work out where to go from here.
We just got engaged. What next?
Firstly, congratulations! Nothing quite like love in a time of global crisis. Also, your timing is actually quite good. Depending on your situation, this could be a great time to start planning – look into dress styles, venue options, colour palettes, wedding vendors, New Zealand honeymoon spots and Spotify playlists for the 1am bus trip home…there’s so much you can do digitally, so you may as well get started.
If you’re wanting to make it official sooner rather than later, consider a smaller, more intimate wedding. Or, put it online! Alice from Flock Events was engaged and married within two months and due to visa restrictions, many of her family and friends were unable to be there. So, what did she do? “We live streamed it so my Nana could watch from home, and friends were commenting as it happened. I still love seeing the live video and watching the comments come in as a live commentary. It's a really special part of our wedding day.”
If you’ve already set a date for later in the year but are yet to book vendors, we suggest reaching out to a few now. Chat about your situation and see if you can pencil them in. Some vendors may offer a reduced deposit payment or be happy to get out the pencil, as long as you know it could be overwritten if someone else wants to officially lock them in. Everything depends on your vendors, they all operate differently with their own payment options, flexibility and availability terms – so it pays to get in touch and talk it through.
While our fingers, toes and laptop charger cords are tightly crossed, we think the best approach is to assume this won’t be over for at least a few months. Even if the alert level is dropped – there may still be restrictions on what we can and can’t do, like large indoor gathering restrictions and travel bans. Speaking of travel, don’t forget your international and cross-country pals, as people may struggle to travel for sometime yet. Whether it’s because of travel restrictions or financial stress, just make sure to approach your guests and their circumstances with compassion and understanding.
And through all of the uncertainty…be excited! You’re in love, you’re engaged and you will get married. Even if you’re not able to lock in a date right now – there are so many other amazing things you can do to kick off the planning process.
Our wedding is in the next three to nine months…do we postpone, cancel or go ahead?
If it’s out of postponing or cancelling – we’re always going to suggest you postpone. While it may feel like throwing in the towel is the easiest option – don’t do anything rash until you’ve really thought it through. Chances are you’ve put a lot of thought, effort and care into planning the day, so why throw it all away? When restrictions are eventually lifted, you’ll be able to enjoy the incredible day you imagined. Sure, there may be a change or two, but what better way to celebrate getting to the other side of this than with a big smooch, a few teary speeches and a friends and family filled dance floor? Postponing also means you’re less likely to lose deposits, which could be in the thousands.
If you’re postponing to later in the year (or early 2021) we suggest you have a contingency plan in place. In fact, you should always have a contingency plan…but we do accept that this current hiccup was a little harder to predict than a rush of bad weather. Chat to your vendors about worst case scenarios so you’re all on the same page. It never hurts to be as financially and emotionally prepared as possible.
While we can’t see into the future (no matter how much we squint and hum) we think weddings between now and June should be reconsidered. For weddings that fall between July and November, you could take more of a wait and see vibe…just don’t wait and see for too long. Or, get creative on how to celebrate. “Consider cocktail style weddings for June – December,” says Alice from Flock Events. “Make guests feel more comfortable, and allow for more distance in between each person. That way, everyone is able to move more freely and choose the distance that they feel comfortable with.”
And, as always, think about the people. Accept that international guests might not be there, elderly relatives may not feel comfortable attending large gatherings, and some vendors may be struggling with the effects of the previous months. Proceed with caution, compassion and a whole lot of care.
We’ve already paid the deposit / entire amount. Will we get this back?
This depends on a few things.
1. The terms and conditions stipulated by the vendor in question
2. Whether you’re choosing to cancel or reschedule
3. Whether the vendor has incurred any preparation costs – flowers, ingredients, research etc.
If you’ve paid a deposit, chances are you signed or committed to Ts + Cs with the relevant vendor. Have a read through these to see what everyone’s obligations are. It may fall into a bit of a grey area (unsure if global pandemic was a go-to clause for many vendors) but in general, if you’re cancelling, deposits tend to be non-refundable, as the deposit was there to give vendors a degree of financial certainty to allow them to commit to events months and years in the future.
If you’re postponing and your vendor can’t commit to the new date, depending on their offering you could look at putting the deposit money towards something else – like hair and makeup for a hens do, or flowers for another event. If you’ve paid the full amount and are now having to cancel, bear in mind that your vendors may have already incurred costs for perishable goods and non-refundable items or services. The closer you are to your date, the more likely this situation becomes. If this is the case, you may not be able to receive a refund, however we always recommend speaking with your vendor to check where they’re at.
And at the other end of the scale, if you’re in a position to advance your vendor payments, award-winning photographer Jim of Pollard We Are suggests you could consider paying your vendors some of what’s owing now, rather than waiting until the due date which is typically a month prior to your wedding. It’s a really tough time for a lot of people in the wedding industry, so any additional support you can offer will ensure they can remain functional for the next little while.
We encourage you to be as patient, understanding and communicative as possible with your vendors. It’s an incredibly hard time for everyone right now and stress levels are sky-high for small business owners. This. Will. Pass. Be kind.
We’ve decided to postpone. What next?
Well done on making a call – we know it won’t have been easy.
Talk to your vendors. Make sure everyone’s on the same page with deposits, new dates and any other changes.
Talk to your guests. As soon as possible. Call them, email them – whatever you need to do.
Don’t stop planning. Use this time to think creatively, be inspired and reflect on why you’re getting married in the first place. It may be difficult to remember all the reasons right now (messy house, crying kids, loud chewing) but do your best to focus on the romantic bits.
Celebrate your original wedding day. Virtual celebrations with friends and family, romantic picnics in the lounge…the world (inside your home) is your oyster.
International guests. Factor these people into your contingency plan. If a vendor is going to be very affected by numbers (caterers, furniture hireage etc.) then let them know the full range, from lowest possible turnout to highest. Talk about costs, contingencies and cut-off dates.
Reassess your timeline. Has the date changed to a new season? Will you need to hire umbrellas? More heating? How will the change affect your day? We know, just when you thought you had it all under control…for further guidance on this, check out our digital list.
The date. With so many weddings being rescheduled, the date you want may not be available. Consider Thursdays, or Sundays! Vendors may be more affordable and availability is likely to be a lot higher. Nothing wrong with a mid-week knees up, people.
Consider a planner (if you don’t already have one). Situations like this are what they’re here for.
Above all else, use this time to stay healthy. Eat well, sleep lots and move your body…but also, if none of that happens, who really cares? Do not (and we repeat, DO NOT) feel guilty about how you use this time. Eat the whole packet of biscuits, have the big cry, talk to your loved ones and always reach out if you need a bit of help. We’re all in this together. We will get through it.
Stationery Image Credit: The Ess Letter
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