WHAT IS THE CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19) AND WHY SHOULD I BE WORRIED?
The first thing we need to do is understand what the Corona Virus (COVID-19) is. I am sure everyone has done some sort of research on the topic by now and has some sort of understanding of the current Pandemic. COVID-19 is a virus and like the flu, spreads from an infected carrier. That carrier may carry that virus for up to two weeks and be asymptomatic, passing it along to others unknowingly. Herein lies the problem, which makes it highly contagious for people of all ages. Although there has not been a high population of younger people contracting the virus, there is still information showing that it has infected infants all the way through the elderly population.
WHAT ARE THE CURRENT RESTRICTIONS
I have to admit, I never heard the word, “social distancing” prior to this Pandemic. The premise behind distancing is to flatten the curve and slow down/stop the spread of the virus and ultimately the rising death. Both the CDC and White House has enacted several recommendations and mandates related to the limiting of social gatherings. For the wedding industry, these measures have brought wedding-related businesses and professionals to a screeching halt. The big concern is the unknown. How long will the social gathering restriction be in place? Nobody knows the answer and wedding venues are being forced to shut down. Many are rescheduling their clients to a later date and some are getting a high number of cancellations. This places a tremendous financial strain on the wedding venues and all of the wedding professionals.
Should We Cancel or Postpone Our Wedding
This is an individual decision for each wedding couple and it should be after properly informing yourself about what your options are. This decision is mostly out of the hands of many wedding couples across the country. If your venue made the responsible decision to follow the directives, they will most likely close until the restrictions are lifted. The other issue is rescheduling your date. Without knowing how long this will last, how do wedding couples select a new wedding date. To further complicate things, will the rest of your wedding team be available on the new date you select.
The Financial Crisis
The next question a wedding couple may have is, will I lose money, how much, can I recover my deposits made to wedding professionals. My feeling is that most professionals, although they might want to do the right thing; will not be in a financial position to refund a deposit. Most will likely offer to cover your new wedding date if available and allow you to transfer your deposit. If they are already booked, that might become an issue. Most wedding professionals have force majeure language in their contract that protects them from having to refund deposits during any unforeseen difficult times. My recommendation is to communicate with your wedding vendors, maintain civility and respect for those you have to have these conversations with and try to take on these issues collectively.
I Still Want to Get Married, What Can I do?
There are a limited number of solutions to deal with this pandemic. One, you can limit the number of guests at your wedding to 10 or less. Your second option is to elope or plan a small intimate wedding. If you don’t want to lose yojur deposits, venue or wedding date, you could get married at your intended wedding venue with a 10 or less guest count. I would guess that venues would work with you regarding not having to pay for food for guests that can no longer attend. This is not the best solution, but it is a solution that you can do during these difficult times. The other solution to have elope or have an intimate wedding is also a good alternative.
WEDDING DAY ALTERNATIVES
From a wedding photographer perspective, you can hire a wedding officiant and select a nice location and invite a few close family members to keep the count under 10 and do a full photo session afterwards. I photograph a lot of these types of weddings at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A lot of these unions involve the wedding couple, officiant and myself only. Side note, wedding ceremonies, wedding photo sessions have to be photographed by a wedding photographer who holds a permit with the National Park to provide photography services. Couples also need to obtain a permit from the park as well. The permits are affordable and offer another alternative to a traditional wedding.
For new brides, I have had a few weddings over the year where the couple has rented out very nice wedding venues just for the purpose of obtaining photos. I would guess that venues would be willing and flexible to allow a wedding couple and photographer to do a session at their property. Additionally, they would probably allow you to have a small intimate wedding at their venue (minus the reception party) at their venue.
I agree wholeheartedly that this is not what any wedding couple wants or envisioned their wedding day to be. No one, including wedding professionals; wants this to happen. My statement to you is a generic one you may have already heard. We are experiencing unprecedented times, which calls for unprecedented response and solutions.
HOPES AND FINAL THOUGHTS
I try to approach this whole situation with as much thought and calmness as I can muster. It pains me to see my fellow wedding professionals stricken with fear and panic. To see wedding couples heart broken. Even worse, is the feeling that many are feeling. Hopelessness, which is all-consuming. A lot of this it outside of our control. The one thing we do control is how we treat one another. We control what we do for one another and how we conduct ourselves as individuals. Be kind, be safe and be respectful of one another.
If there is anything I can do to help, please reach out to me here. I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Thanks for listening and wish everyone good health and prosperity.