COVID-19 – YOUR WEDDING QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Brides and grooms, we are currently finding ourselves in unprecedented times and we’re sure COVID-19 has many of you feeling more than a little shook-up.
Gosh, we wish we had a crystal ball. There are so many factors when it comes to the current COVID-19 crisis and wedding planning. Your venue, your guests (their health and your own), social distancing, postponements and government guidelines. And this barely scratches the surface.
If you’re among the thousands of couples facing uncertainty with regards to your current wedding plans, we are just so sorry. Please know that while things feel uncertain for the moment, it will be okay.
We know all of the time, love, money, energy and effort that has been poured into your plans to date and while this is a fast-moving and ever-evolving situation, we are here to share with you what we know, and how you can plan to move forward.
Weddings, for the coming months at least, may look a little different. As of March 18, non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people have been banned in Australia, and we understand the immediate impact this is having on weddings planned for the coming months. We are wedding vendors ourselves. We are working with couples right now in the same position as you and we are doing all we can to ease the strain.
First and foremost, we suggest you continue to refer to health.gov.au for up-to-date information and changes with regards to government policy and announcements, travel bans and restrictions, and continue to check back here where we will update you and answer your questions as best we can.
9:30pm TUESDAY, MARCH 24
The National Cabinet have met this evening and agreed to extend restrictions for social gatherings.
As of midnight 25 March 2020, weddings can only proceed with the couple, the celebrant and (two) witnesses present. “That is no more than 5 people,” explains Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
These gatherings must still adhere to social distancing rules – only one person allowed per 4 square metres of floor space.
He agreed it was a “difficult decision” but ultimately had to be made.
Again, you can keep abreast of Government changes and updates by visiting health.gov.au.
6:00pm MONDAY, MARCH 23
It was mistakenly announced that weddings taking place in Victoria, would be shut down as part of stage 1 restrictions enacted earlier this morning.
Premier Daniel Andrews’ office now says that weddings can proceed, but will be subject to social distancing restrictions on indoor gatherings (only one person allowed 4 square metres of floor space).
However, he urged Victorians to do the right thing or “people will die”.
8.10am MONDAY, MARCH 23
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has this morning confirmed the next shut down measures across the state, with weddings being among those impacted. Commencing immediately and until at least April 18, Mr Andrews has announced that weddings (among other gatherings, of course) in the state of Victoria will not be taking place.
It is yet to be determined whether these restrictions impact registry office weddings or small-scale elopements, even if adhering to social distancing rules.
We will be updating this post as best we can, as soon as we have further clarification.
2.40PM FRIDAY,MARCH 20
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced further limits on indoor venues and non-essential social gatherings, restricting limits to one person per four square metres.
“If you have a meeting room or something like that, that is 100 square metres, you can have 25 people in that room,” Mr Morrison said.
This update has further implications on indoor wedding plans, meaning that not only does the entire room need to remain under 100 people (guests and staff included), but the distance rules must also be adhered to.
Venues will also need to know exactly how many patrons they can and do have in their space at any time.
The fines applicable for not adhering to these measure (in the state of Victoria) include up to $20,000 for individuals and up to $100,00 for body corporates. See more on that here: https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/state-of-emergency-declared-in-victoria-over-covid-19/)
It is understood that these new measures are effective immediately (impacting this weekend’s weddings), but we’ll stay on the case and update this post accordingly.
Here are some of the FAQs rolling in…
OUR WEDDING IS BOOKED FOR APRIL, MAY OR JUNE, WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
This is a tough one to answer, given that the landscape is changing constantly right now.
First and foremost it’s important to keep in mind the latest Government rulings when it comes to what are considered ‘non-essential’ gatherings. Currently in place you are only allowed 100 people at an indoor event and this number includes event staff/suppliers.
If you have a guest list of under 100 you might be ok in terms of numbers, however it’s wise to consider your individual guest circumstances and be understanding that those considered ‘vulnerable’ or within high risk categories, may choose to not attend. This could be the elderly, those that are susceptible to illness, pregnant, or those having arrived from overseas destinations.
First things first…
It’s important to touch base with your Tribe (wedding suppliers). First contact is your venue. Venues at this stage seem to be leading the charge with regards to short-term plans and will be able to guide you from an overarching prospective as to whether they can accomodate your booking any longer. From there, touch base with each of your other suppliers and talk openly with them about what their current action plans are and ask if there are any changes that are taking place. Now more than ever it’s important for you all to be on the same page, and keeping your Tribe in the loop with help ease your own worries.
Keep in mind…
All things considered, if you’re booked to be wed within the coming months, its inevitable that the atmosphere at your wedding may be slightly altered. We are all coming to grips with the impact COVID-19 is having on our day-to-day lives. Social distancing measures also mean that guests will be encouraged to keep a safe distance from you as a couple, and one another (the recommendation is 1.5m) – think about how your congratulations will look after your ceremony, the dance floor, bridal party, family and group photos. We absolutely believe that the love you have for one another, and how your loved ones feel about you both, will still be ever-present and shine through – these are just some of the challenges we are now all presented with.
It’s also increasingly likely that some guests may have to pull out at the last minute, impacting your back pocket, seating charts etc.
Let’s get you on track.
It’s important to start making decisions, or at least kick-start these conversations with suppliers if you haven’t as yet. Trust us when we say that it will relieve some of the stress on you. Once again we can’t stress enough that you aren’t alone in this – reach out to other couples, talk to wedding industry folk, contact whoever you need in order to help you realise that opening up the lines of communication will ease some of the strain.
If it’s all getting the better of you and turning you into an emotional mess, in all honesty, a postponement may be the answer. This way, you can get back to planning when you’re feeling up to it and a lot more in control over the situation. While it is certainly a tough decision, it may help alleviate some angst and stress – living in limbo is tough and your wedding is a time of love, joy and celebration.
WHAT IF WE DECIDE NOT TO GO AHEAD?
Firstly, we implore you where possible, to postpone rather than cancel your bookings entirely. We know that vendors across the wedding industry are working their butts off to accommodate changes of date and while things might look a little different – (late 2020 is gearing up to be allll about the weekday wedding!) hope is NOT lost.
Postponing does not cancel your love. It does not mean you don’t get to wear your gown, or have your best mates beside you, or ultimately, make it official alongside the one you love most. It just means that all of these things will all be waiting in the wings.
Again, we suggest that once you have made this call, reach out to your Tribe. You chose them for a reason, they are your A-team and they are there to work with, not against you. We would suggest that in most instances, deposits already paid will not be returned to you, however we are seeing in most cases, vendors are shifting dates to hold bookings and ensure it’s a win-win for all.
WE’RE STILL GOING AHEAD – WHAT SHOULD WE KNOW?
If you decide to proceed, (and by all means, if you feel this way, go for it), you may have to adapt quickly to changes and adjust your plans and expectations. As we have seen, changes surrounding the health crisis are emerging thick and fast – so there is no telling how it will unfold – if you can pivot and be prepared for this, then that’s entirely your call to make.
As we’ve covered, guest lists may need to be altered to accommodate number restrictions, as well as cover those that are vulnerable to COVID-19.
Be aware also that things might change when it comes to sourcing supplies for your day. Blooms may be harder to get due to supply, certain foods might be more difficult for caterers to get their hands on and let’s not even get started on toilet paper! It’s important you keep in touch with suppliers and work with them. They will be feeling the stress as much as you and will be doing all they can to accommodate and adapt themselves.
Be smart when it comes to social distancing and factor this into your day.
The silver lining in all of this is that you can still legally be married. Things might just look a little different. If you’re adaptable you could even consider the following ideas;
- Press on with your wedding ceremony with your nearest and dearest and hold your party at a time when COVID-19 is a little more under control. Added bonus – you get to wear your glamorous outfits twice!
- Consider a romantic elopement with just you, your partner, a celebrant and two witnesses.
- Lessen the numbers but live stream your celebration so all of your family and friends can share in your day.
- Communication is key. Keep your guests abreast of any changes to your plans and the measures being put in place to ensure their safety and enjoyment.
WE HAVE POSTPONED. WE NOW NEED TO LINE UP ALL OF OUR VENDORS ONCE AGAIN – HOW DO WE HANDLE THIS AND WORK OUT WHEN THEY’RE ALL AVAILABLE?
We hear you! Pulling together a team of a suppliers and ensuring dates line up can be a real headache. While everybody is riding the wave of this crisis, it’s a busy time. Save on hundreds of emails and make your lives easier by using apps and digital platforms to your advantage.
Using an app like Doodle can help ease the painful process of aligning everyone’s availability. Effectively Doodle allows you to run a poll to investigate your vendor availabilty – so you can suggest wedding dates, invite suppliers to participate and know that you’re all on the same page, quickly and easily.
Communicating with your guests can also be done through digital means. Paperless Post, wedding websites or a simple Facebook group. It might not cover everybody, it may not be beautiful to look at, and it may be a pain gathering email addresses, but it is a simple and effective way to start the process.
WE HAVE WEDDING INSURANCE, ARE WE COVERED?
From what we are hearing so far, it’s unlikely wedding insurance covers pandemics. In saying that your first port of call should be to the insurance company who will be able to give you a yes or no answer.
OUR WEDDING IS PLANNED FOR 2021 – SHOULD WE CONTINUE PLANNING, OR PUT ON THE BREAKS?
There is nothing to say that your dream day can’t continue to take shape. At the moment though, things might look a little different.
Rather than face-to-face supplier meetings, get yourself familiar with platforms such as Zoom or Skype, that will allow you to chat from the safety of your home.
All suppliers are adapting as quickly as they can to regulations as well as keeping health and safety at the forefront of their minds.
It is also worth mentioning the inordinate amount of stress the industry and wedding vendors themselves are under right now. As small business owners and operators, many are facing loss of income and working hard to accommodate the requests of impacted couples, please show them your patience and kindness. We are in this together.
While COVID-19 is feeling all encompassing right now, it won’t forever.
Weddings will happen again and if anything, demands for availability of wedding suppliers will be at an all-time high. So it may even pay to secure their services now before they are completely booked out.
It’s ok to still keep planning, get excited and look for the positives where possible. In fact, it’s really important to do so.
WHAT ABOUT OUR TRIBE? HOW CAN WE BEST SUPPORT THEM?
We won’t lie, this has been a particularly stressful time for wedding vendors who are facing serious uncertainty.
The key here is adaptability and understanding.
If you had invested in a team of talent, it’s likely their books are potentially filled until the end of 2021. So if you still want them to be part of your day you may have to be flexible. Consider weekday weddings (Friday and Sunday’s are often a little less busy also).
Communicate with them. Let them know what is going on with your plans, allow them to ask questions and propose solutions and show them compassion – they are under a lot of stress right now. But we also know they are simply wanting to help you too. The wedding industry do what they do because they love it, they are hurting just as much as you.
You can also look to support them in other ways as they re-group over the coming months and try to make up for some lost income. Purchase home delivery from caterers, a posy from your florist, a birthday cake from your cake maker, book an engagement or family shoot with your photographer. We are in this sh*tstorm together.
WHAT ABOUT OUR OVERSEAS HONEYMOON?
Is there anything more of a mood killer than a cancelled honeymoon? Not only is the wedding industry under a huge amount of pressure, so too are travel and tourism.
Quite simply, the Government has issued a travel ban overseas on all Australians to Level Four, the first time in Australia’s history. What does this mean? Well, normally this kind of level of warning is reserved for war-torn and chaotic countries. So it’s serious. Basically – do not go overseas.
It’s likely to be in place for some months, so unfortunately overseas travel plans have been dashed. Speak to your travel agent around cancellation and refund policies.
The silver lining in this is that given the bush fires experienced in the summer months, as well as the economic crisis our tourism industry is facing, now is a time we can support our own country. Head to beautiful Broome, get on the foodie trail in Tasmania or travel to bus fire affected areas in the Empty Esky travel movement. We often forget how incredible our own country is, and it’s important we support it.
Keep up to date with travel changes with Smart Traveller.
I MAY HAVE TO CANCEL MY WEDDING AND I’M FEELING SO SAD AND FLAT ABOUT IT. HOW DO I COPE WITH THIS FEELING OF OVERWHELM?
It’s really important that you look after your mental health, even if you might be feeling that wedding planning seems a little ‘excessive’ right now in the face of a global crisis. You’re likely feeling a myriad of things. Sad, flat, worried, anxious, depressed, upset, angry and unsure – it’s understandable.
You’re also likely dealing with the added stress of family and friends asking questions, pushing their opinions in a time where you wish the world would just go back to what it was.
It’s important that you take some time out and look after your health during this stressful time. Talk to someone you trust, try relaxation techniques, do some physical activity, switch off your phone and keep healthy as best you can.
However, if you feel that your emotions are getting the best of you, and that you are feeling overwhelmed, seeking professional help is an important step. Wedding planning is full on at the best of times, and at the worst of times it can have a huge impact on us and how we feel. A little bit of self care goes a long way.
This one is a real work in progress. Stay tuned, stay calm, and stay in touch.
It’s important that you know that we are here for you, and happy to help answer your questions in any way you can.
Feel free to drop us a DM or email at [email protected] at anytime.