~3/25/20 Update ~COVID-19 ~ A Note to Affected Couples
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Frodo: "I wish none of this had happened."
Gandalf: "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
-- J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings
Why yes, if you haven't noticed already, I am an avid Tolkien lover, but this particular quote could never be more relevant than right now. I know the last thing anyone wants to read about is another COVID-19 or Corona Virus post, but I promise this will be a post of encouragement and hope rather than doom and gloom.
First and foremost the most recent information regarding events so we are all on the same page:
"Effective at 12:01 AM on March 19, 2020, all mass gatherings shall be limited to no more than ten (10) people. Gatherings subject to this Order include, but are not limited to, community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, conventions, fundraisers, parades, fairs, festivals, and any similar event or activity that brings together (10) or more persons in a single room or space at the same time in a venue such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, private club, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space."
I completely understand this Order makes it practically impossible for couples to host their weddings anytime soon, causing many to reschedule or cancel completely, but I also know it is absolutely essential for the well-being of our communities. It breaks my heart reading about all the effected industries and their families during this time. It breaks my heart even more knowing that couples, not just my couples, are having to make the choice to cancel or postpone the best day of their lives; a day they have been dreaming about and planning for months, if not years. It's not only about the amount of money these wonderful people have already spent or may lose entirely, but the emotional impact of such a catastrophic time.
Because this is such a stressful, worrisome, and unpredictable time, I've decided to offer some advice to all couples, to help get us all get through it as easily as possible. I've developed a rough timeline to help couples the next few months prepare:
Current date - May 1st: Couples who have their wedding/events scheduled during this time period need to be contacting their vendors as soon as possible. It is extremely unlikely that the Public Health Order will be lifted earlier than April 18th and there is the possibility it could be extended. It is our recommendation that couples make the decision to reschedule or cancel within the next week. Update: due to the current shelter in place restrictions placed in several counties, ALL events for April and early May need to be postponed. Contact your vendors immediately to get rescheduled.
May 2nd - July 1st: Couples who have their wedding/events scheduled during this time period should start preparing a backup plan on the off chance the Public Health Order is extended. These couples will need to begin making contact with their vendors and venue towards mid April to begin looking at alternative dates and times that work for everyone on the off chance that the Order is extended. This will also allow couples to notify travelling guests of possible changes within a time frame that allows them to make changes. While everyone should be prepared and be thinking of a backup plan, be courteous and aware that couples who's dates are before yours are frantically trying to reschedule, so please do not move your date unless you absolutely have to. Update: Couples with events dates of early to mid May need to postpone their event. Please contact your vendors immediately to get rescheduled. June couples need to begin contacting vendors about the possibility of postponement come mid April.
July 2nd - August 1st: Couples who have their wedding/events scheduled during this time period should start thinking of a backup plan. These couples will need to slowly begin making contact with their vendors and venue come mid June to begin looking at alternative dates and times that work for everyone on the off chance that the Order is extended further. *Note that your vendors will be working vigorously to help couples with earlier event dates to reschedule and may not respond as quickly or they may be less likely to commit to a new date right away. Begin notifying guests of any potential changes sometime in June so that they can make travel arrangement changes. Update: Couples with July/August Weddings will need to begin contacting vendors come late May. Please do not postpone or cancel your event unless your venue requires you to until at least Mid May to give earlier couples a chance and to keep your professionals from getting overwhelmed.
August 2nd - December 31st: Couples who have their wedding/events scheduled during the last two-ish quarters of the year should be able to continue planning as usual, however it is advised that you talk with your vendors and venue, as you're booking, about their rescheduling/cancellation policies should this continue and talk with them about making a Plan B within your contract. *Note that vendors may be handling the rescheduling of five months worth of events and may not be as responsive or as likely to book right away.
Regardless of when your event is taking place, here are some basic guidelines, tips and items to be aware of to help you and your vendors plan efficiently:
I have received several emails from couples who are scheduled later in the year about upcoming payments and I understand this is a touchy subject for everyone, as financial situations have become increasingly tight for who knows how long. Here is my current position: If you are being impacted to the point where you are having to choose between paying rent or bills and paying your vendor; pay your rent/bills. Now I'm not saying ghost them on payments either; talk with your vendor (before your scheduled due dates) and ask if a payment plan can be made to accommodate your current situation. Something to keep in mind, is that your vendors are relying on your payments to be made on time as well; working with you is their job and their source of income to pay their rent/bills, therefore if you are able to make your payments comfortably on time, please do.
When making your backup plan and working with your vendors/venue, pick one or two alternate dates that you would be able to switch to worse comes to worst. Now you can't expect them to hold these dates for you, but this can at least give you a head start as to when they are available. Those of us at Once in a Lifetime will be treating it as first come first served, the same way as when you booked with us; if someone else is interested in your date, you will have first pick to book it -- if you choose not to use it, it will be released to the other couple. This is the fairest way to ensure everyone has a say in rescheduling their events efficiently.
It's a sad reality, but there is the possibility that your vendors will be unable to accommodate the rescheduling of your event -- particularly the larger vendors such as Venues, Caterers and yes, even Photographers and Videographers. Since the Wedding industry is likely their only source of income, these vendors rely on booking out as many dates as possible each year. Should this be the case, I ask you to be understanding once more: Most vendors will more than likely keep your deposit, and while I completely understand that can add up should multiple vendors become unavailable and that it's money lost -- it's money lost to those vendors too. As I mentioned above, this is their livelihood; their way of paying their own bills and feeding their own families, so possibly losing dozens of clients over this virus puts an enormous strain on them, their family and their business. All I ask is that you work patiently and diligently with your vendors to come to a solution where both parties can get by. It's no ones fault and the only way to get through this whole mess is by working together.
If you are stressed and have no idea where to begin with rescheduling or let's be honest, recreating your event, hire a Planner. Planners are trained in knowing which venues and vendors can accommodate each particular client. Let them be the researcher, investigator and all around backbone of putting your event together; it's what we do when initially planning a wedding, it's no different when re-planning one. Feel free to ask them questions and put the stress on them to find solutions. If it means at the end of the day you get to have your dream wedding without ripping your hair out, it is absolutely worth it. We are willing to help current clients with certain details of their event, even if they haven't hired us in a Planner role. I think (I hope) that I speak for all industry professionals when I say, the goal is not to get paid; the goal is to give you the best services we can and assist with the most special day of your life, so that when you look back at your wedding years from now, you only remember it being amazing.
As awful of time as this is and will continue to be the next few months, I firmly believe that if we all work together, we will make it through this in a way that everyone comes out happy. While it's a very serious matter, I don't want anyone to worry or be afraid that their wedding or event will be ruined; instead I want everyone to stay positive and remember the reason for having a wedding: your fiance -- marrying your best friend and spending the rest of your lives together. At the end of the day, that is all that really matters. My bottom line: if we can get you down that aisle to say I do to the love of your life, regardless of what it might look like, we as your vendors have all achieved our ultimate goal (hopefully yours too!)
To my current clients, and any couples looking for advice or have questions, please feel free to reach out at anytime. I am here for you and I know we will get through this together.
Here's to hoping this whole thing blows over soon so we can all get back to some form of normal. I hope this post helps you with whatever you'll be facing in the coming months.
Peace, love, and good health to you all. Thank you for reading!
Until next time.
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