As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic, tens of thousands of couples marrying this spring and their many respective vendors have scrambled in the last month to find alternative dates and solutions ahead. Official health organizations like the CDC have issued guidance on taking preventative measures against the coronavirus, related to protecting your health and traveling. In an effort to further contain the virus, the federal government has issued a guidance limiting group gatherings,, resulting in the mass postponement of events to later, safer dates leading past the fall.
If you’re currently wedding planning or you’re attending a wedding this year, you might be asking yourself questions about how the coronavirus pandemic could potentially impact nuptial-related events. Below, we’ve addressed primary concerns couples are now facing with the mounting conversations about coronavirus as they plan their weddings ahead.
What do I do now about my wedding (both destination and domestic)?
If you have a planner, talk to them regularly as new information is constantly available from authorities, including the CDC, the WHO and local governments, all of which continue to monitor the spread of coronavirus. Your top priority should be the safety of you and your guests.
“In an abundance of caution, we took the initiative to contact all couples, venues and vendors on behalf of each client to explore backup dates, place holds and establish deadlines for making decisions,” says New York-based event planner Amy Shey Jacobs of Chandelier Events. “The goal is to mitigate the financial damage and give our clients well-thought-out strategies for rescheduling their event date. It is a giant game of chess.”
Couples planning weddings in the U.S. are now facing immense challenges, especially with spring events across all 50 states. Keep yourselves informed by health organizations and government mandates. It’s important to prioritize that first. “It’s a moment to be careful and listen to the authorities,” says Giovana Duailibe, founder and CEO of Belief Wedding Creators, an international community for wedding planners. “The situation is real, and we need to be open to changes, and to offer [utmost] customer service to clients.”
In addition, certain countries and respective corporations have enforced travel restrictions and bans. Entire countries are on lockdown and the U.S. has banned travel from Europe as of March 13. In reverse, travel precautions are in place in heavily impacted areas like New York City, Seattle and beyond. In total, follow your local government’s guidelines as they’re ever-evolving.
I’m stressed. How should I approach my vendors?
Your vendors are likely in the same state as you. Be assured that alternative solutions and options are possible, just as long as you are willing to be flexible. “There’s quite a bit of confusion and stress happening amongst our couples,” says wedding planner Stefanie Cove. “Monitor the ongoing situation for the best way to move forward.”
The healthiest possible way to approach the situation is to calmly broach the topic with your vendors with solutions in mind. “Contact your venue and vendors to see when you have a backup date that works,” Jacobs advises. “And [check to see if there’s] a deadline for when you need to decide by.”
Now is the time to be extra vigilant about paperwork. “Get this all in writing and calendar when you need to make decisions,” the founder of Chandelier Events continues. “Put down deposits if needed to hold backup dates that can be applied to current events or postponed events.”
For couples who are directly impacted (whether they had weddings or site visits abroad), Duailibe similarly provides a practical set of tips for how to proceed with destination weddings.
- Pay close attention to ongoing changes as some regions and countries are on complete lockdown.
- To keep your meeting schedule on time, switch to online meetings. You don’t need to stay behind on your planning timeline.
- Instead of [outright] cancelling your wedding, talk to your vendors and postpone the date. Wedding professionals have been super flexible to match their agenda with clients’ new dates. Deciding to postpone and keep the same vendors’ team that you already chose will save you a lot of money and time.
- What the government is doing now is for prevention. [If you still want a destination wedding], you will eventually have amazing vendors full of energy to give you their best.
- If you have already sent invitations or save-the-dates to your guests, make sure to communicate with them clearly, explaining the situation. You can also send them a note card or designate someone to call the guests.
What Do I Do If My Backup Date Isn’t Available?
As more couples continue to postpone weddings, the best next step is to select a date with your chosen venue, even if it’s an unexpected day of the week. Many planners have suggested couples be open to alternative dates.
Mondays are especially recommended as the majority of vendors will be available on that particular day of the week over, say, a Saturday. Plus, it’s right off the tail of a weekend so your guests will be able to partake in welcome festivities leading up to the nuptials without having to take additional time off.
Overall: considering weekdays allows for more flexibility with your chosen original pro team, as they can help fully execute your planned wedding vision–even if the first date didn’t pan out as planned. Your guests will likely be more flexible too. Understanding the many challenges that have accompanied spring 2020 weddings, most will be relieved to have something to look forward to this year regardless of the day of the week.
Finally, some couples are opting to marry in a small civil ceremony, just themselves, in this time of social distancing, and opting for a larger celebration down the line. In 2019, The Knot introduced a trending concept known as sequel weddings, where a couple hosts multiple weddings. Flexibility with the types of weddings your hosting will make it easier for all involved as well. For more details there, we outline examples and more details here.
How do I communicate with my guests?
If you’ve postponed your wedding or will likely postpone (even without a new date locked in), sending a change-the-date to your loved ones is proper etiquette considering it’s a stressful time for many. Let your family members and friends know that they are still cared for by communicating this scheduling adjustment to all. Ensure that everyone has been accounted for, whether it’s via text, a phone convo or email. (After all, you don’t want someone to show up to your April wedding when it’s been postponed!)
Be as gracious as possible to your loved ones as they might also be grappling with feelings of fear or disappointment. If it becomes overwhelming, ask a friend or a wedding pro to help funnel communication during this time.
What do I do about my registry?
In this time of social distancing, you may learn what items you need most in your household–and which products are better left off your registry. Given how the circumstances are ever-evolving, consider updating your registry… or better yet, starting it if you haven’t already. For example, your honeymoon plans might have changed, in which case, you’ll want to re-allocate those cash funds to something, perhaps, closer to home.
What about my bach party?
If your bachelor or bachelorette party is scheduled through June, we recommend taking all necessary precautions to communicate next steps, which will likely either involve postponing or finding alternative ways to celebrate your impending marriage. In reverse, if your friend’s bach party got canceled in light of the pandemic, there are ways to support them during this time.
We get it: you wanted to celebrate en masse with your besties by doing what you love most–whether that’s singing along to the Jonas Brothers in Vegas, hitting the club scene in Miami, or leading a meditation in Joshua Tree National Park. However, the safety of you and your best friends is priority. If your bachelorette was postponed, some hotels are offering flexible change dates. Airbnb has offered refunds related to COVID-19 cancellations too. Finally, consider an online hangout. Options include having a professional chef walk you and your besties through a tasting menu or throwing a digital dance party. There are plenty of ways to celebrate over the screen too.
Will my honeymoon be impacted?
The short answer is, again, possibly. Do your research prior to booking any trip, especially if it’s in a region impacted by coronavirus. Make sure to read up on U.S. travel advisories for specific regions. (As of now, the U.S. State Department has issued advisories for Italy, South Korea, China and Japan. All travel from Europe has been banned through mid-April.)
If you’ve already booked your honeymoon in a location with coronavirus or you are hesitant to travel overall, discuss alternative bookings and options with your travel agent or airlines. Several airlines like Delta have already alerted travelers about grace periods with flight changes, considering the global scale of the coronavirus.
What about refunds and travel insurance?
Whatever your situation, you should read up on your respective rights. Some airlines are already offering full refunds (especially those with layovers or direct flights to impacted countries). Others are allowing flight changes to a later date without added fees. Talk to your credit card companies too.
Travel insurance plans, however, differ, which means it’s up to the couple to research their options. Experts recommend couples explore the “Cancel for Any Reason” option with most insurance plans. Traditional travel insurance costs about 10 percent of the total trip value, whereas the CFAR plan can cost upwards of 50 percent of the total trip cost. “There are no special considerations for destination weddings and honeymoons with respect to the coronavirus,” says TravelInsurance.com co-founder Stan Sandberg. “Unfortunately, an outbreak of a virus/disease is not covered for reasons under [the majority of] travel insurance plans for trip cancellation purposes. For those who purchased a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) optional upgrade, however, some measure of trip cancellation protection may be available.”
Finally, destination weddings and events are usually not covered under travel insurance plans. “Travel insurance won’t cover the costs of the event,” Sanberg notes. “Event coverage is typically handled by different policies.”
What if I’m scheduled to travel abroad for another vacation?
Exercise your best judgment. The State Department has advised U.S. citizens to avoid international travel with a possibility that regional travel restrictions will also be enacted to contain the coronavirus. Do your research first as the situation is evolving daily.
Then, talk to your airline and travel agent. Keep in mind that the U.S. and other countries have enabled quarantine rules for those who have recently traveled to regions impacted by the coronavirus. If you’re returning from a hot zone, you will be quarantined for 14 days. As of March 13, travel from Europe has been banned, give or take extenuating circumstances. Airlines have also reduced its number of flights.
Will my wedding dress be impacted?
It depends. Many designers and boutiques source their fabrics (think, silk and other raw materials) from China. Due to quarantines in some regions, some shops and manufacturers have been at a standstill with production for weeks. It’s a case-by-case basis with some brands heavily impaired by coronavirus, while others aren’t impacted at all as their production resources are located in other countries unaffected by coronavirus.
The best possible route is to speak directly with your local retailer or the designer (depending on access). Each brand and shop should have honest conversations with their current clients, and even potential future clients, especially regarding fulfillment orders, production estimates and scheduling concerns.
However, use this time to study your ideal gown and set a budget. If your vision is very specific, research the boutiques in your area for when social distancing measures are lifted. That way, you can stop by these boutiques with your loved ones after and share the experience of seeing your ideal gown come to life.
What do I do if there’s a definite delay in my gown’s delivery and I need it very soon?
We recommend looking into possible alternatives. First, talk to your shop and/or the designer directly. If you’re concerned it won’t work out (or there’s a definite chance it won’t work out), we highly recommend looking at backup options. Talk to your salon about the backup options and possible alternatives they can provide given the circumstances.
Remember: These unusual circumstances will only impact a small group of brides who are either in the final fitting stages or have dealt with global delays in shipment.
Overall, we understand how this could be a stressful time for you and your partner, or if you’re a wedding guest or a loved one. However, it’s important to prioritize your health and keep a watchful eye on daily alerts.
What about my tux and/or other rentals?
If you didn’t go the route of a bespoke experience or you didn’t purchase your suit or tux, know that rental companies are providing solutions at this time. Most already have a process in place to help you navigate this tricky scenario, especially if you were originally scheduled to have a spring wedding. Talk it out directly with your team and see whether they will have inventory of tuxes and/or bridesmaid dresses for your new scheduled date.
Published March 4, 2020. Updated April 2, 2020.