Planning a Wedding During the Coronavirus Pandemic? You Should Be Asking Your Vendors These Questions

Get the answers you need to avoid additional stress.

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STOCKSY

Planning a wedding is already stressful enough—and now the global spread of coronavirus has placed a whole new level of anxiety and uncertainty on couples-to-be, especially with the CDC's most recent announcement that affects weddings for the next eight weeks, or until mid-May.

If you're an engaged couple feeling overwhelmed by the unprecedented situation, we are here to help. Right now, you naturally have plenty of questions running through your mind—How do I postpone my wedding? Will I get refunded? Are my vendors willing and able to reschedule? What do I tell my guests?—and while this is unchartered territory for everyone (industry experts included!), you should be aware of how coronavirus may affect—though, hopefully, not—your wedding, particularly in regards to your hired vendors.

At this time, e-mail is the best way to correspond with vendors, as it lets you get your questions clearly out and gives vendors a chance to respond in writing (so you have their answers in front of you).

To help, we tapped major wedding pros to create a list of the most important questions to ask your vendors at this time, whether your wedding is in the next eight weeks or eight months from now. Take a look at the below to educate yourself and get the answers you need—but, at the end of the day, remember we're in this together. Whether you're a couple, a wedding planner, florist, photographer, or even an editor at Brides, it is everyone's goal to see you celebrate your love safely and as close to your original vision as possible.

What to Ask Your Wedding Planner

At this time, Courtney Tibbets of After The Engagement, a wedding planner based in California, admits that many of her couples are concerned—even those with fall 2020 wedding dates. "I have offered advice in this unprecedented situation, and am keeping a clear head and hoping my clients, in turn, can do the same," she says. "We will attack this in digestible chunks."

Meet the Expert

Courtney Tibbets is a professional wedding planner and founder of After The Engagement. Based in Californa, Tibbets has personally planned over 400 weddings.

Tibbets also says that, from her knowledge, she has found that most wedding vendors are happy to work with you to postpone your event in light of the coronavirus pandemic. "If you choose to postpone, they will likely apply your deposit or retainer, with some with fees to cover actual expenses or materials already purchased, for the future date," she says. "We have big hearts and still want you to have the best day ever."

Below, the top questions to ask your wedding planner right now.

  • What are our options if we decide to postpone our wedding?
  • Will you coordinate with our other vendors on our decision?
  • What is your availability in the coming months if we need to reschedule?
  • What are the monetary implications of postponing or canceling our event?
  • My wedding is more than eight weeks away. Should we still make a contingency plan?

What to Ask Your Wedding Venue

With spring weddings being forced into the fall and winter, couples are also finding themselves having to change their wedding decor and design ideas to match the newly scheduled season. But Sarah Jennings of Lonesome Valley encourages couples to "embrace the new season that you find yourself having an event in. I think everybody’s event will feel differently regardless of how they design it because of the seasonality of it. You never expected to have a fall or winter wedding and it’s sort of being forced upon you, but embrace it."

Meet the Expert

Sarah Jennings is the special events and marketing director at Lonesome Valley, a wedding venue in Cashiers, North Carolina.

Her venue is also loosening certain restrictions on dates that were previously unavailable to make accommodations for the influx of couples looking to reschedule. "We’re also doing most of these postponements without penalty and I would encourage most venues to do that if they can," she adds.

Below, the top questions to ask your wedding venue right now.

  • What fees are associated with postponing or canceling our wedding?
  • What available dates do you have for rescheduling?
  • If we reschedule our wedding to a new season, what are our options in terms of ceremony and reception locations on-site to combat the respective weather?
  • In the event that the venue is temporarily shut down, what is the best way to contact you?
  • In response to COVID-19, is there anything that the venue will be doing differently?

Jennings also has a message to venues and couples alike: "We’re all in this together," she says.

What to Ask Your Photographer

"While we have always had a cancellation plan in place in our contract, it’s been interesting seeing how it all plays out in reality," explains Lisa Ashley of The Wedding Artists Co., a collective of wedding photographers. "Keep in mind: The cancellation policy was born out of the idea there may be one weekend affected due to a hurricane or other natural disaster. We’ve never considered what it would be like if an entire wedding season had to get moved."

Meet the Expert

Lisa Ashley is the owner and curator of The Wedding Artists Co. She works with photographers, such as Sasithon Pooviriyakul of Sasithon Photography and Samm Blake, and filmmakers, managing their bookings and contracts.

This is the exact reality that those in the wedding industry are living right now—so due to the sheer number of postponements and rebookings, Ashley encourages couples to "think outside of the box and be flexible" when choosing a new date. "Be open to a Thursday or Friday wedding or perhaps a wedding off-season like November and December so that you can keep your same vendors and deposits in-tact," she recommends. "We are committed to our clients and will try and support whatever path they decide moving forward."

Below, the top questions to ask your wedding photographer right now.

  • What is your reschedule/cancellation policy?
  • What are there the fees associated with rescheduling?
  • What is your availability if we do reschedule our wedding?
  • Can we apply our deposit to a new wedding date?
  • We planned a destination wedding. Will you still feel comfortable traveling?

What to Ask Your Caterer

For couples postponing their plans: Robin Selden of Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning encourages you (as well as other caterers) to "be patient." "Try to take a deep breath and put this into perspective and know that like you're going to get married," she says. "You're robbed of the day that you hoped it would be but it's still going to happen. It's just a matter of when."

And like Tibbets, Selden also stresses that flexibility at this time is vital. "You’ve got to be willing to be creative," she says. So, be open to adjusting your wedding meal to your new date—after all, will a summer menu feel appropriate on your new November date?!

Meet the Expert

Robin Selden is a managing partner and executive chef of Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning on Stamford, Connecticut. She is also on the president's council of the International Caterers Association.

"While we all need to worry about our businesses, at the same time, this is a day that couples dream of and so [we] want to make sure that [we] are making them feel good," Selden shares.

Below, the top questions to ask your wedding caterer right now.

  • Are there any fees associated with canceling or postponing our wedding?
  • What is your availability if we do postpone our event?
  • Will you be changing the way you present and serve food?
  • If our original guest count lowers because of COVID-19, can we pay based on the new count or will you charge us the original amount?
  • If we reschedule, will we have to completely change our wedding menu?

What to Ask Your Florist

For Jenn Sanchez of Jenn Sanchez Design, nothing is more important than empathy right now. "I think the most important thing is that we all have a lot of patience and understanding for each other," she says.

Meet the Expert

Jenn Sanchez is a floral designer based in California. She has executed events across the U.S. and around the world.

Like Ashley, Sanchez also stresses being flexible. "A lot of our beautiful product is imported from different parts of the world," she explains. "We can't control if certain countries are stopping production or stopping shipping." For this reason, she recommends that couples—or their planner, if they have one—reach out to their florist, reach out to their vendors, overview contracts, and make a contingency plan. "I don’t think it hurts to ask these questions and also be understanding when we just might not know right now," she says.

Below, the top questions to ask your wedding florist right now.

  • What happens if we decide to postpone or cancel our event?
  • Where are our chosen flowers coming from?
  • Do you foresee an issue sourcing our chosen flowers?
  • If so, will you work with us to pick different flowers that are available?
  • Can we apply our deposit to a new wedding date?

Adds Sanchez, "I don’t think it hurts to ask these questions and also be understanding when we just might not know right now."

The current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared a pandemic by The World Health Organization. As the situation remains fluid, we’ll be sharing tips and stories from industry experts and couples who are experiencing cancellations to give you the most up to date advice on how this can impact your wedding.

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