UPDATED: March 27, 2020
CDC is recommending postponing events of 50 or more attendees for the next 8 weeks and gatherings of 10+ through at least 3/31. Click here to learn more.
The White House has issued nationwide guidelines which call on Americans to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. Learn more here.
22 states have announced Public Health Orders requiring residents to stay home unless going to the grocery store or seeking medical treatment. Read more.
The situation surrounding Coronavirus is changing rapidly, but we are updating this post as we are able to share the best info and advice to help couples who are currently facing the tough decision to postpone their weddings or continue on as planned. Feel free to shoot us a message on Facebook chat if we can be of any help! Visit our Coronavirus and Wedding Planning Page for more helpful info.
How the Coronavirus is affecting weddings around the United States
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard about the current
public health crisis pandemic called the Coronavirus (COVID-19). You’ve probably heard that there are preventative measures you can take to protect your health as well as advisories around traveling, however, the effects of this outbreak may disrupt many aspects of our daily lives.
This includes wedding planning. If you’re currently engaged and getting married this year, you may want to consider how these disturbances could affect your big day. Below we’ve outlined a few things you should keep in mind or look out for in terms of the ways the coronavirus could impact your wedding day.
What is the coronavirus?
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is part of a large family of viruses that are transmitted between animals and people. According to the World Health Organization, common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. More severe cases include pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.
The virus appears to have originated from an outbreak in Wuhan, China and has since been reported in several other regions and countries, now including Italy, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and more.
How the coronavirus is impacting the wedding industry
So how can an illness affect so many things and industries around the world? Because of the fast-spreading nature of this illness, quarantines have been issued in several countries in an effort to slow the spread. As a result, many factories and businesses have closed down, specifically ones in China, which is where 80% of Western wedding dresses are produced. The effects have now spread to many areas of the US and we are starting to see shutdowns/lockdowns in major cities and even statewide.
If you’re getting married this year in 2020
If your wedding is within the next 1-3 months, there is a large possibility that your plans could be majorly impacted. Now that the virus is spreading rapidly through the US, you will want to take proper precautions to ensure the safety of yourselves and your guests. This might include making the hard decision to postpone. As of March 15th, it’s recommended by the CDC that events over 50 people should not move forward. This is just a recommendation, not a government order, so some are still moving forward as planned but should do so with caution and safety in mind.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when weighing up the options and making your decisions:
How much of your guest list is going to have to travel to attend your wedding? The travel industry is being majorly impacted, with many flights getting grounded and canceled. This could prevent some of your out-of-town guests from attending your celebration.
Are there elderly or immunocompromised loved ones on your guest list who should consider staying at home? These folks are the most susceptible to having serious issues if they come in contact with the virus and should take care to protect themselves.
Is your guest list over 10+? The White House has discouraged social gatherings of 10 or more as of March 17th until April 1 to try to flatten the curve. As of March 27, 2020 the CDC has updated their number to match the White House’s recommendation. In addition, 22 states currently have stay-at-home orders for non-essential workers.
If any of these are a major concern for your plans, you should likely postpone your event for the safety of everyone involved.
Obviously this is a heartbreaking decision to have to make, and one we totally empathize with.
Crafting a COVID-19 Contingency Plan for Your Wedding
For anyone that is supposed to be getting married during this uncertain time, it’s probably time to come up with some contingency plans for your wedding. Consider all your options before you completely cancel. Your personal back-up plans may depend on the severity of Coronavirus as things progress, as well as the area in which your event is taking place.
Plan A: The ideal would be to go ahead as planned. If your wedding guest list is intimate, ie– under 50, then you could potentially move forward with your plans. (If your wedding is within the 8 week period, expiring in early May, you should begin preparing for plan B or C.)
Plan B: Ask guests to let you know if they will be unable to attend. Adjust the numbers and hours needed for vendors. Or cut your guest list down to below 50 and have just the immediate family members who are healthy join you.
Plan B-1: Have a micro wedding ceremony where the two of you get married, and reschedule the bigger reception/party for another time.
Plan B-2: Elope! Plan an elopement for your original date (if you’re able to secure a marriage license) and move the celebration to a later date.
Plan C: Postpone everything until you are able to move forward with the wedding you’ve envisioned and planned for.
What is your worst-case scenario? Do you want to get married no matter what?
You can always go ahead with a small ceremony with only immediate family. Cut the cake and have a reception with family and friends at another time.
What you can do to make the most of this unfortunate situation, should you decide to go ahead as planned:
Start communicating with your guests NOW. Find out who is at risk for potentially being unable to attend due to travel or health reasons. If you use Joy as your wedding website provider, you can easily share updates through their platform with all of your guests. Alternatively, services such as WedTexts are great for blasting out updates to your loved ones.
Livestream your event. Share a live video of your ceremony with the loved ones who are unable to attend in person. Have someone set up a Facebook Live or Instagram Live to capture the event. Or check out resources like Married Live Stream to have someone take care of the techy part for you.
Set up a Sanitation Station. Have hand sanitizer on hand and ample antibacterial soap for guests to use to wash their hands.
Keep safe distance. Encourage guests to adopt a “hygenic hello.” Keep hugging, kissing, and handshaking to a minimum. Keep social distancing in mind.
Discuss food service options with your caterer. Serving a buffet meal could potentially put more people at risk. Ask your caterer about alternatives under these unfortunate circumstances.
Overall, it’s important to focus on solutions and alternatives. Consider what is truly non-negotiable when it comes to your wedding plans. Rescheduling can feel like a giant game of chess, so don’t make any rash decisions.
FAQs About the Coronavirus and Weddings
The biggest questions we’ve received have been pretty much the same. In essence, what should we do about our wedding in light of Coronavirus concerns?
What happens if I need to reschedule or postpone my wedding?
Most venues and vendors are being flexible with couples by allowing them to postpone or reschedule without penalty. They aren’t necessarily obligated or required to, so be gracious with them if they are accommodating to you. Under the circumstances, they want to do right by their couples and their businesses.
Will my wedding insurance cover postponing my wedding?
If you have a pre-existing insurance policy that you purchased prior to the news of COVID-19, you might be eligible for claims. You will need to check the details of your policies. Most event insurance policies will only cover if you are forced to cancel or postpone your wedding (ie because the venue closes or you or immediate family are ill.) If your venue is the one to make the call to close down or cancel, then you should be covered. If the government puts a true ban on public events in place, you would likely be covered. Only policies purchased in advance of the knowledge of any serious potential issue would be honored, so purchasing a policy now would not cover you.
Should I cancel my wedding or honeymoon because of Coronavirus?
It depends. According to Honeyfund CEO Sara Margulis, her advice is to keep the wedding, reschedule the honeymoon.
In essence, you should make the choice that feels right to you. If your guests are mostly local, you may not have as much of a cause for concern. As some guests may be unable to make it, you could potentially downsize some of the packages you purchased for your wedding to reduce some of your costs.
If a large portion of your guest list is unable to make it, consider having more of an elopement or micro wedding ceremony on your original date and throw a party or reception at a later time.
I’m getting married soon and want to proceed with those who are able to make it. How can we keep ourselves and our guests as safe as possible?
Are you within your RSVP deadline? Still have a few months to go? Either way, check in with those who may have to travel from out of town to see if they are still planning to attend. Be in contact with your guests via your wedding website or a service such as WedTexts to share relevant updates.
For the wedding itself, you may want to discuss safety concerns with your venue, caterer, etc. Generally speaking, you’ll want to do what is best to keep you and your guests safe.
Ask those who have been in contact with anyone who may have had the virus to stay home. This is especially important in regards to anyone spending time with elderly or immuno-compromised folks.
If you plan to move forward with wedding plans as scheduled, set up a Livestream via Facebook Live or Instagram Live at the ceremony for those that are unable to make it.
We’re thinking of postponing our wedding. What steps should we take?
You’ll want to start by reviewing your contracts for details on what happens to deposits in the case of a delay or cancellation. In particular, look for force majeure, rescheduling, or cancellation clauses in your contracts. If you decide you want to move forward with postponing, you’ll want to contact your venue first to find out what other dates they have available. Then, begin communicating down the line with the other high-priority vendors about their availability for future dates.
Should you decide to move forward with postponing your wedding, be sure to communicate with your guests. Update your wedding website accordingly and consider purchasing a package via WedTexts to shoot direct updates.
What will happen with our vendors if we need to reschedule?
Each business will handle these types of situations differently, so be prepared to potentially lose your initial deposits if you do decide to reschedule and your vendors don’t all have the same availability for your new date. This is why Wedding Insurance may be a good idea, no matter what time of year or region you are marrying in.
What can we do to mitigate the financial risk of booking wedding vendors if we have to cancel?
If you are currently planning for a wedding in late 2020 or beyond, it’s still a good idea to go ahead and book the essential vendors you’ll want to secure in advance. The big-ticket, high-priority items such as venue and photographer come to mind. You can wait on things like decor and catering until later, when you have an idea of the progression of the situation. Be sure to read all contracts carefully for cancellation clauses, refunds of deposits, etc.
I’m getting married in 2021. Should I continue planning my wedding?
Yes, you should absolutely continue to plan your wedding. With these new situations in mind, be sure to ask your vendors for details on their contingency plans in their contracts.
We’re just getting started planning. How should we proceed?
As you might have noticed, most large wedding expos/bazaars are being canceled, leaving couples with fewer resources to meet and connect with vendors. Take your time. Do some online research. Take advantage of virtual expos to get primed on where to start. We recommend checking out the Wedding Hacker Expo as a great place to start!
Are you planning a destination wedding? Risk assessments need to be made before you decide to cancel your event. The areas that are most affected currently include Italy, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and others. Assuming you’re getting married elsewhere, you still may face some travel delays, cancellations, or worse as things progress.
What you should do:
Keep an eye on the developing information about the outbreak and the countries it has spread to. Follow the official authorities on the subject, including the CDC and World Health Organization. The safety of you and your guests is of utmost importance, so take any official warnings seriously. If you haven’t booked anything yet, consider purchasing a trip insurance plan to protect your investment in case of cancellations. Even if you’ve already booked, you may still able to add travel insurance to your trip.
Another thing you may want to look into is Wedding Insurance. Policies vary in cost depending on the level of coverage you want or need, but are generally worth the peace of mind should any unfortunate events pop up.
Similarly to destination weddings, you should keep the same warnings in mind when deciding how to proceed with honeymoon planning. Things can change as the virus spreads, so keep an eye on official sources to stay informed. Currently, the U.S. State Department has issued advisories for Italy, Japan, South Korea, and China.
If you haven’t purchased your wedding dress yet, you may find your options limited. Due to a halt in production caused by quarantines, there could be a shorter supply of wedding dresses available this year. With 80% of wedding dresses being produced in China, retailers are already seeing massive delays in shipping schedules. This leaves shop owners feeling nervous to accept orders from brides without a guarantee of on-time delivery.
What you should do:
Start shopping as early as possible to give you the best chance of getting what you want. Be sure to ask all the important questions before placing an order, whether you’re shopping online or a local boutique. Clearly state your timeline and when you’ll need to receive your dress to allow for alterations. It’s best to allow at least 1 month for alterations before the big day. If there’s any chance of the dress not arriving in time, consider seeking options with a better guarantee.
If you have yet to buy a dress, consider shopping somewhere that you can buy off-the-rack. You could also consider shopping with retailers who have items already in stock in the US rather than custom produced overseas. For example, BHLDN and Azazie both carry inventory of their wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses in the US. Additionally, you could buy a secondhand wedding dress from another US-based bride via sites like StillWhite. This is a great option, especially if you’re looking for a designer dress for less.
Stay Updated about the Coronavirus + Events
We are working to stay updated on the best resources for couples so keep an eye on this post, as we will be updating it as we learn more.
The status of this situation is changing rapidly, and we cannot emphasize this enough. We highly recommend checking the official resources below:
- The CDC’s guide for event planners
- Your state government’s website. ie, ny.gov, tn.gov, etc
- The CDC’s travel site
Keep an eye on the CDC’s Risk Assessment Page for up-to-date information about the Coronavirus.
Lessons learned from the Coronavirus
If there’s one thing that can be learned, it’s the value of shopping locally, or at least domestically. Shopping local supports your local economy, and also gives you access to the items you want on the schedule you need them. To be on the safe side, shop local whenever possible.
Another important lesson to take away from this Coronavirus pandemic is to focus on what TRULY matters about your wedding day. Who are the crucial, non-negotiable attendees that you would consider postponing your wedding for?
What are the aspects of your big day that are truly essential for you? At the end of the day, does the decor and all the “extra” stuff actually matter?
A final note:
Stay safe. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and practice social distancing until otherwise instructed. Stay updated on the current status of things and take care.