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Hi there! Welcome to the Always Yours Events Blog, a journal filled with wedding inspiration, professional advice, travels, fashion, and style. Stay a while and say hello!

Hi, I'm keri.

Planning a Wedding During Covid-19? Calm Proactivity is Your Secret Weapon

Mar 14, 2020

Disclaimer: I am not a virologist, doctor, expert in infectious diseases or a lawyer, nor do I claim to be an expert in COVID-19. All information below is opinion based on experience, and all information about COVID-19 has been taken from the CDC’s website. To learn about Coronavirus please visit: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.Wedding plans must be evaluated case by case with your own wedding vendors, and decisions about wedding plans are to be made by the couple themselves. It is imperative to review your options with your venue and vendors and make decisions specifically based on your circumstances with their expert advice. Despite the information shared below, you have to make decisions that are best for you and your wedding specifically. Always Yours Events, LLC shall not be held responsible for any changes made in wedding plans after reading this post.

Before we even dive into this post, just close your eyes and breathe. This is not a doomsday post. I want to emphasize that as much as we should take COVID-19 seriously, we also need to approach next steps calmly as we determine how it will affect weddings. This is my virtual hug to you — everything will be okay and everything is figureoutable. And my biggest takeaway today? Calm proactivity is your secret weapon. Today I am going to speak to you directly and methodically, but also with so much support, empathy and love behind my words.

Couples reading this post, please know that I empathize with your anxiety, frustration, feelings of loss of control and fear at this time. As a planner who is very invested in my couples’ weddings, I am here for you and am walking through these emotions with you. In my 10 years+ in this industry I have experience changing the course of wedding plans during natural disasters and sudden deaths, and the lessons I learned during those extremely difficult times have helped to prepare me for the climate we are currently finding ourselves in with Coronavirus.

As a disclaimer, this post is long and jam-packed. I wanted to address as much as possible to aid as many couples as I can. I have organized this post by four common questions circulating. I know this is a long comprehensive post, but I truly approached this post with a mission to help answer your questions fully and in a comprehensive way that gives you a better understanding of your next steps. Let’s dive in and hopefully by the end of the post have you feeling more in control.

For the first question below, each section has been written based on your wedding date. To prevent overwhelm, do not feel the need to read every single answer, simply skip to the section that pertains to you and your wedding date.

UPDATE: If you are in the USA, please check the status of your State and mandates in regards to COVID-19. At this time, Massachusetts (where I am from) is prohibiting gatherings of 25 or more guests until April 7th, which means any weddings happening between now and April 7th in MA must be postponed. At this time the CDC is going a bit further and recommending postponement of events for the next 8 weeks (until May 10th).

SHOULD I CANCEL OR POSTPONE MY WEDDING BECAUSE OF CORONAVIRUS?

This is the #1 question I am getting. Even as I write this, the news is updating and regulations are changing by the minute, so bear in mind that I may have to update this post in the upcoming weeks to keep up with the fast paced changing climate in the US.

The simple and albeit frustrating answer is this: it varies case by case. Right now if your wedding is happening in the Summer, Fall or Winter of 2020 (and beyond), postponing is not currently necessary at this time (March 15, 2020), and you are continuing on as usual with your plans! For those getting married in the next 8 weeks in the Spring of 2020, it is a good idea to consider postponing (NOT canceling) your wedding — not only because of the virus, but for your sanity. For all couples who currently do not need to postpone, you can still keep yourself prepared moving forward. Here is my recommendation of methodical and calm next steps based on your wedding date:

I: Couples getting married in the next 8 weeks from 3/15:

1. If you have a wedding planner, reach out to her or him and set up a Course of Action phone call. If you do not have a planner, reach out to your venue coordinator. If you are hosting a tented wedding and do not have a venue coordinator, reach out to your catering director and tent provider representative.

2. Together as a team, learn if your state or city is mandating postponement of gatherings of a certain size and what date this mandate is lifted (ie: MA is currently prohibiting events of 25+ guests until April 7th, so weddings must be postponed for March and early April). Discuss and determine if postponing your wedding is the best next step for you and your wedding. If so, continue onwards to the next step.

3. {Breathe}.

4. Next step is to ask your venue/tent provider and caterer for all available dates throughout 2020 of which you can move your wedding date, and what the policies are for those venues in transferring your wedding dates. Consider Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and even better if you can consider Thursdays and Mondays too! Try to focus on Fall and Winter dates to be safe.

5. Pick your most viable date options and send to your vendor team (or have your planner send to your vendor team) the dates and together determine the majority of vendors available for the new date. For any vendors who you need to replace because they are not available for the new date, learn from your current vendors what their policies are about cancellation and kindly ask them for recommendations for those vendors similar to them that they would suggest you book proceeding forward.

6. Swiftly change your date with all key vendors who will be on-site (planner, venue/tent, caterer, photographer, videographer, floral designer, rental company, entertainment and transport).

7. Update your guests on the change and consider an email announcement update or a mailed announcement from your stationer to inform your guests. I highly recommend asking your guests to stay up-to-date via your wedding website, if they aren’t already.

**Pro-Tip: In the very rare instance that you must move your wedding venue, here is a tip. To prevent further stress as you try to choose a new venue, consider selecting a venue that is not a public space (ie: museums, parks, etc) such as a venue that is only open for special events (in New England think places like Wychmere Beach Club or the Greenery, in Charleston, SC think Lowndes Grove or Gadsden House, etc) OR a private estate with a tent. These venues face less chance of closure due to the public accessing daily and potentially spreading the virus. This tip is not meant to make you change your current venue, this tip is truly meant for those couples who are in the unusual circumstance that they must change their venue.

Your Pep Talk: {Breathe}. Please understand my reason for recommending potential postponement is not meant to invoke panic. Your wedding is one of the most important milestones in your life — some stress surrounding a wedding is one thing… debilitating stress is another. My recommendation to potentially postpone is more from a place of trying to maintain your sanity and calmness, as well as keeping you feeling undeniably happy on this monumental day you have been planning for quite some time. I refuse to let COVID-19 taint this day. And can you do me a favor? Release yourself of the worry of the time of year and the day of the week your new wedding date will be. If you go from a Spring wedding to a Winter wedding, do not worry — it’s going to be STUNNING. I give you permission to throw tradition out the window. Embrace a weekday wedding if you must! Embrace a wedding in a new location! Embrace a few new vendors who are ready to serve you wholeheartedly! I release you from the “rules” and pressure of etiquette right now as you navigate a postponement. Your wedding will be incredible because it’s your story as a couple proceeding onwards after a dark hour in our world. How about this, I promise I will follow up with a post on how to make your postponed wedding even more gorgeous than your original wedding date in the next two weeks, okay? I’m here for you.

II: Couples getting married in 9-16 weeks from 3/15:

It is a bit too early to postpone your wedding at this time, but a Plan B is a good idea. Right now each state is experiencing different levels of spread and only time will tell. In 8 weeks your area could be on the rebound. That said, your secret weapon at this time is proactivity. I understand it might feel difficult being in this holding pattern, and so below is the methodical plan I recommend for you.

1. If you have a wedding planner, reach out to her or him and set up a Plan B Game Plan. If you do not have a planner, reach out to your venue coordinator. If you are hosting a tented wedding and do not have a venue coordinator, reach out to your catering director and tent provider representative.

2. To create this Plan B Game Plan, speak with your planner (if you have one), venue coordinator/tent provider and caterer about next steps. Discuss months and dates that are viable options for you to postpone if the need should arise. I am not saying you need to postpone at this time. You are cautiously proceeding with Plan A as of right now — this is all proactivity at work to keep you at the ready with a Plan B.

3. Discuss new viable dates with your fiancé and family and determine if postponing is actually necessary at this time. Consider dates in the late Summer, Fall and Winter months. Questions to ask yourself include: do we have a high percentage of older guests at 60+ years old attending the wedding, are most of our guests traveling to our wedding and facing travel bans or worry over traveling, etc. If you have overwhelming “yes” responses to these questions, then you can consider postponement more seriously. Refer to Section #1 if postponement is needed.

4. Finalize your Plan B Game Plan by selecting 2-3 potential new dates with your key vendors. Choose a day every week (ie: every Tuesday moving forward) to reassess the state of the venue and region where you will be getting married. Keep yourself educated by accessing the CDC’s website (specifically the areas about updates and events), and review Johns Hopkins COVID-19 website as it has a great virtual map to show you the areas experiencing the most effects of this virus to help guide you each week.

5. Proceed with Plan A unless it becomes evident that Plan B is required. If Plan B is required, refer back to Section #1 in this post and follow.

Your Pep Talk: {Breathe}. Uncertainty is the worst, and please understand that I am recommending a Plan B Game Plan so that you may be confident and stress-free in your preparedness. At this time of which I am writing this post, you are proceeding with cautious optimism with your current plans. Proactivity is your best friend right now, and it’s something we as planners depend on! My effort here is to maintain your sanity and calmness, as well as keeping you feeling undeniably happy on this monumental day you have been planning for quite some time. I refuse to let COVID-19 taint this day. You’re forging forward right now as planned, but guess what? After working through this Plan B you are moving forward as the most prepared couple in the history of weddings, okay?! You’ve got this.

III: Couples getting married 17+ Weeks from 3/15 into 2021:

It is too early to postpone your wedding at this time, and right now the thought is that you won’t need to postpone at all. Try to focus on your next steps as usual, but keep yourself educated and up-to-date on changes happening with COVID-19 in the region where you are getting married. Review the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 website as it has a great virtual map to show you the areas experiencing the most effects of this virus to help keep you in the know. That said, your secret weapon at this time is proactivity.

1. If you have a wedding planner, reach out to her or him and set up a Plan B Game Plan to keep in your back pocket. If you do not have a planner, reach out to your venue coordinator. If you are hosting a tented wedding and do not have a venue coordinator, reach out to your catering director and tent provider representative.

2. To create this Plan B Game Plan, speak with your planner (if you have one), venue coordinator/tent provider and caterer about next steps. Discuss months and dates that are viable options for you to postpone if the need should arise. I am not saying you need to postpone at this time. You are proceeding with Plan A as of right now — this is all proactivity at work to keep you at the ready with a Plan B.

3. Choose a day every other week (ie: every other Tuesday moving forward) to reassess the state of the venue and region where you will be getting married. Keep yourself educated by accessing the CDC’s website (specifically the areas about updates and events), and review Johns Hopkins COVID-19 website as it has a great virtual map to show you the areas experiencing the most effects of this virus to help guide you each week.

4. Proceed with Plan A unless it becomes evident that Plan B is required. If Plan B is required, refer to Section #1 in this post and follow.

Your Pep Talk: {Breathe}. You’re in a good place. Nothing to see here. Please understand that I am recommending a Plan B Game Plan to keep in the back of your mind so that you may be confident and stress-free in your preparedness. At this time of which I am writing this post, you are proceeding with your current plans. Proactivity is your best friend right now, and it’s something we as planners depend on! My effort here is to maintain your sanity and calmness, as well as keeping you feeling undeniably happy on this monumental day you have been planning for quite some time. I refuse to let COVID-19 taint this day. You’re forging forward right now as planned, but guess what? After working through this Plan B you are moving forward as the most prepared couple in the history of weddings, okay?! Keep moving forward with your current plans, maintain your excitement and have that back pocket Plan B to pivot with if necessary. You’re getting married! Nothing’s going to stop you now!

IF WE HAVE TO POSTPONE OR UPDATE PLANS, HOW DO WE TELL GUESTS?:

In the event that you have to postpone your wedding or if you have to update guests on sanitary conditions, there are a few ways to do so.

If your wedding date is moving forward as planned or being postponed and your wedding invitations are already out, consider reaching out to your stationer for an announcement that works seamlessly with your design OR these beautiful digital download announcements from preferred stationer Ciarra Claire to send out to guests to inform them of staying safe during the event — more products are in the works from Ciarra including beautifully designed and inexpensive postponement announcements (stay tuned for those in the next few days). As an added layer of communication, go to your wedding website and create an “RSVP” section for all guests, and include an area for guests to provide their email address and phone number. Ask your guests on the announcement to head to your wedding website, click “RSVP” and provide their email address and phone number keep their eye on the wedding website for updates. This will allow you to remain in constant contact with your guests easily as you postpone and shift plans. On your wedding website, add in a section in the FAQs about the coronavirus, asking guests not to attend who are showing any symptoms of illness, and ask guests to maintain a high level of personal hygiene with regular hand washing. If you are hosting your wedding in the next 12 weeks even with postponement, ask guests who are 60+ years old or with compromised immune systems to be mindful of the risk of attending and that if they would like to virtually attend, arrangements can be made for someone attending the wedding to film the ceremony or Facetime during the ceremony and reception.

If you are postponing your wedding and your invitations have not gone out yet, ask your stationer to shift all information including dates, times, venue, RSVP date, etc and add in the following verbiage:

  1. On the “Details” insert or “Reception” insert add in verbiage asking guests who have traveled to high risk areas, guests who are feeling ill or have been ill to refrain from attending for the greater good. If your wedding is being hosted in the next 12 weeks, consider asking guests who are 60+ years old or those guests with underlying health conditions to be mindful of the risk of attending.

  2. Make sure to have a wedding website if you do not have one (my favorite wedding website provider is Zola.com or WithJoy.com). On the “Details” insert or “Reception” insert add in verbiage asking guests to closely follow updates on the wedding website. Your wedding website is crucial now and the place where you can keep your guests updated regularly with ease.

  3. Add in a line on the RSVP card asking guests to provide their email address and phone number in the event of an emergency. This will help reduce the panic and question “how do I get in touch with everyone” in the event that you have to pivot quickly with plans. Again, proactivity is key at keeping stress at bay.

HOW DO I KEEP MY EVENT SAFE FOR MY GUESTS:

The CDC has advised event professionals on how to maintain a sanitary event. You can read all about it here but, here are your brief highlights:

  1. Ask all vendors to maintain the effort to keep all on the vendor team who are feeling ill or have traveled to high risk areas at home.

  2. Ask all vendors to wash hands regularly in warm soapy water and wear gloves when setting up and serving food.

  3. Put signage in restrooms reminding guests to wash their hands for 30 seconds in warm soapy water and dry thoroughly.

  4. Keep good social distance whenever possible. At this time “air kisses” are idyllic. Do not share glasses, utensils, napkins and straws. Feel free to put this at the bottom of ceremony programs and menu cards if you feel it necessary.

  5. Put hand sanitizer stations in bathrooms, by bars and entryways.

  6. In the event that any guest or vendor should become ill, have a separate quarantined space away from other guests and staff where they can go stocked with masks and hand sanitizer. Ask those guests or vendors to head home with a family member for further treatment and to prevent further exposure.

WILL I STILL HAVE A DREAM WEDDING IF I HAVE TO POSTPONE?

Yes. Yes, you will. Not even going to go any further than this. You will have your dream wedding no matter when or where. Your wedding will be incredible because it’s your story as a couple proceeding onwards after a dark hour in our world. As I mentioned earlier in this post, I promise I will follow up with a blog post on how to make your postponed wedding even more gorgeous than your original wedding date, okay? I’m here for you.

I AM SO STRESSED. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

I know this isn’t a question, but these two sentences have been in my inbox and Direct Messages more than anything else. So here is my honest answer:

Uncertainty is a part of life, and I am so sorry it’s becoming a part of your wedding plans. But here is what you need to do to help relieve your stress:

  1. Trust your wedding vendors. They are professionals, and it is ingrained in them to want the best for you and your wedding day. They will work day in and day out for you. They are here for you, and come hell or high water they will help you though this. You are not alone.

  2. Remember that above all else your wedding is meant to unite you and your fiancé. Even if your wedding looks a little different than you intended, the heart of it all remains the same. Keep your story as the focus and keep the wedding revolving around your story. Let me be entirely honest with you during this time — your wedding will not be magical because you had it on a particular date, or because the weather was perfect, or because you had the peonies you love or the bridesmaids dresses you like most. When you worry about how your wedding will look, know this: your wedding will be magical because the celebration tells your story and because during this dark time in the world your love is a light and brings the joy we all are desperately craving.

{Breathe.} I know this is a long post with so much information to unpack, and so I won’t make it too much longer with the final paragraph. So I will leave you with this:

Brides, grooms, parents and vendors: everything will all be okay. Let us remember to be calm, proactive and level-minded. Let us remember that through it all we have each other. And finally, let us remember that with whatever comes, COVID-19 cannot not snuff the light out on your love story and your wedding day.

With a heart filled with hope and optimism, I stand with you as you navigate and wish you all the best as you plan your dream wedding in 2020.

xo, Keri

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"It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together, and I knew it. It was like magic.” - Sleepless in Seattle