Wedding planners are more than just event planners. We're designers, problem-solvers, coordinators, budgeteers, part-time therapists, and friends to the couples and families who are entrusting us to help them with their events. Since we're on friendly terms now, here are some tips and tricks to the trade of navigating wedding planning!
There are a lot of new event questions popping up surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic. Should we postpone? Should we lower our guest count? Should we elope and celebrate later? In reality, there is no one correct answer. As much as I would love to be able to tell you there is, this just isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. The important thing to remember is, Love isn’t cancelled. We will be able to celebrate you and your love in some way, and there are many different solutions. Love is love and it only gets stronger!
I highly recommend reading through the advice from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The quicker we react, the quicker we can contain the pandemic and work on solutions.
The factors you should be focusing on for your event are: the size and duration of your event (Is it a 3 day event with a guest count exceeding 100-200?), demographics of the participants (Do you have any guests that would be at a higher risk such as they’re pregnant or immune deficient? Do you have guests traveling from out-of country?), complexity of your event (Apart from guests, how many Event staff Members/Vendors do you have? ) and type of on-site services and activities (How will food be handled? Were you planning on a Family Style Dinner?)
Not all weddings need to be postponed. Currently, the wedding couples I am encouraging to think it over are all Spring 2021 Weddings. Weddings later in the 2021 Wedding Season, at this time, there is no reason to postpone. It is just something we will need to keep our eyes open for and keep updated on the requirements/restrictions for hosting an event. This is just referencing the information on which events are needing to be altered based on Government Mandates to ensure a safe event for you and your guests. Ultimately you and your partner should make your decision together and know what is best for you and your loved ones. When making this decision, I would really take into consideration, is your wedding date at risk? Do we have enough information yet on whether it will affect events in the late summer months and beyond? There is a realistic probablility all events, even later than September will be regulated on size, whether masks will be mandatory, number of sanitizing stations per guest count, and other safety measures minimizing exposure. The mandates are always changing. We are constantly researching to expand our knowledge of the event size recommendations/requirements, and will stay as up-to-date as we can.
The very first thing you’ll want to do, should you and your partner decide to postpone your wedding/event, is to contact your vendors and check on their availability. The 1st vendors to connect with: the wedding venue, and wedding planner. They will happily help you find a date that works for them and offer advice on how they handle the process. Once you have a confirmed new date, you’ll want to connect with your other vendors to update them. Though I do recommend reaching out to the venue 1st to make sure they have your new desired date available, I highly recommend reaching out to your other contracted vendors quickly following. A lot of events are being moved into the late Summer and early Fall 2021 months and even into 2022. Dates, if they weren’t booked before, are filling up quickly. Keep in mind that some (if not all) your vendors are small businesses and probably dealing with an influx of calls and emails just like yours, so try to be patient. You are definitely a priority to them, and they will be in contact as soon as they can be.
In the meantime, you’ll want to look over the vendor contracts to review their policies on postponements or cancellations. In all honesty, this situation never occurred to many of the wedding vendors, so there may not be anything referencing a situation like this. It’s a new hurdle for many of vendors and clients alike. Together we will work through this, and all of the vendors should do their very best within their capabilities to accommodate your event.
If you chose to get wedding insurance, which I always recommend securing, review your policy to see if it covers cancellations or postponements. In most cases, you’ll find it does not, unless you specifically added it to your policy. But it doesn’t hurt to check, since every insurance company is different.
It is important, once you have your new date in place, to inform your wedding guests so they can update their plans accordingly. Please keep in mind, with your new date, their RSVP may change. Everyone’s schedules are a bit willy-nilly right now, and it’s important to be understanding of that fact. Luckily, your vendors only need the final guest count numbers in the last few weeks leading up to your new wedding date. (Every vendor has a different requirement for when the final guest count is due, so reference your vendor contracts, but it typically ranges from 1 month-10 days before your event.) There are a lot of cute ways to inform guests of your new date, including something as simple as an email, but one of my favorites is mailing a “postponement notice”, which is similar to a Save-the-Date. It’s just a Save-the-New-Date.
There is definitely stress involved for the guests as well as for yourself and your vendors while postponing or cancelling an event, but there are little ways you can help to make it a painless as possible.
Seriously though, this is a really rough situation. Don’t feel like it’s ridiculous to grieve for your wedding day. You will likely feel disappointed or upset, and that’s ok. There are bigger things happening all over the world, but it does not mean your feelings are not valid. It’s important to talk through your feelings. Chat about it with your partner, a close friend or family member. It’s an important step to recognize your feelings and start the coping process. It will allow you to fully enjoy your wedding day when it arrives. Also, celebrate your old wedding date! It will still hold emotional significance. Enjoy a nice dinner together... pop some champagne. You deserve it!
Tara Ybarra, Co-Owner and Event Planner for Ybarra Events, has been in the Wedding Industry for over 20 years. From Photographer, to Wedding Cake Artist, to Florist, to Officiant, and now Wedding Planner, her accumilated experience, paired with her College Courses in Event Planning, have given her the experience she has today. Blogging gives her an opportunity to share that knowledge with her readers.
Ybarra Events is located in California’s spectacular Napa Valley. Ybarra Events are the pièce de résistance of wedding planners. Run by the dynamic duo of Tara and James Ybarra, they help couples organize, design, and plan their nuptials at some of the most fabulous and luxurious wedding venues in Napa, Sonoma, San Francisco, and Beyond. Chat with them today to start planning the wine-country wedding of your dreams.