Hamish Shephard, CEO of Bridebook and owner of Hedsor House shares his Covid-19 advice for couples with weddings in March, April & May 2020.
With the news from the government solidifying the ‘stay at home’ message, I know that you are concerned about what this means for your weddings in the coming days, weeks, and months.
Below we have outlined our advice based on the information that we currently have, based on feedback from couples, venues, other industry profiles, insurance companies, legal advice, and government recommendations. Of course, there will be nuances, and this will not apply to every single couple. Nonetheless, we hope that it is helpful for a large number of couples planning weddings in the coming months.
We know that the situation is far from ideal, but remember that one day it will be over, and you WILL get married to your partner in a wedding filled with love. However, at this time, we all need to be realistic, understanding and flexible.
Remember, also, that your venue and suppliers are going through an extremely stressful time too, trying to protect their livelihoods, while ensuring they do what is right for their couples. It is a time for all of us to come together and be understanding of a very difficult situation for everyone.
Our strong recommendation is that you should work with your venue and suppliers to postpone your wedding as soon as possible. This is the right decision on the basis of public health, your financial interest, and for the overall success of your wedding. If your wedding is scheduled any time between now and the end of May, your wedding will certainly be affected and may not be able to go ahead at all. Making postponement arrangements now with your venue will put you in the best position to find a date that works for you, and keep most of the plans and financial commitments that you already have in place. Priority no.1 is to talk through your options with your wedding insurer, if you have cover.
We next suggest you speak to your venue to discuss alternative date options, and then discuss with your partner and key guests which dates work best for everyone. Keep an open mind with off-peak seasons and non-Saturday wedding dates, as they will undoubtedly become desirable for the many couples rescheduling their weddings. Venues typically have greater availability in Autumn and Winter, and the industry as a whole already sees a trend for couples booking Thursday, Friday and Sunday weddings. These dates are going to be the solutions for many couples, and you should start considering them now.
It is important to recognise that your venue is likely having an extremely stressful time too. They are likely a small team, dealing with a huge amount of change and many very anxious customers. They will be doing their best handling these unprecedented challenges, which significantly threaten their livelihoods, so work with them and give them your support. They likely need support at this very tough time as much as you do.
If you are still considering going ahead with your wedding, please remember that the risk of losing your deposit or other financial commitments will be greater if you don’t make plans to rearrange your wedding date. Given that the government have now stopped public gatherings, your wedding will likely need to be cancelled or affected in a drastic way and it is not always clear who will be financially responsible for these cancellations. Since these are unprecedented times and there are so many unknowns, we suggest acting now rather than waiting with fingers crossed. There is a very real possibility that your wedding will not be able to go ahead as planned, and the costs may not be covered by your or the venue’s insurance policy.
While your wedding may not be in immediate jeopardy, it has the potential to be disrupted, especially if you have overseas or elderly/vulnerable guests. Making a contingency plan now will give you the greatest opportunity to control the outcome and costs, and find a wedding date that works for you without the ongoing stress and anxiety of a potential cancellation or disruption. We recommend starting to have conversations with your partner now about alternatives that will work for you including the possibility of postponing your wedding or contingency plans if some guests are unable to attend. You don’t need to make any immediate decisions right now, but you should be having the relevant conversations. Remember to be patient with your venues and suppliers, as they are having to shuffle weddings that are supposed to take place in the coming weeks too.
Our advice at the moment is to keep monitoring the situation closely. Keep an eye on the latest information and consider thinking about basic contingency plans, should you need them. At the moment, we are hopeful that September weddings and beyond will go ahead as planned, but of course we need to monitor the situation closely.
Once again, I want to express my utmost sympathy with all of you going through this incredibly tough situation. Now is the time for you and your partner to stick together closer than ever and Bridebook will be there to support you too. Remember, this will be over and your big day will come.
Best wishes and keep safe, Hamish
Here at Bridebook, we believe strongly in the power of community during times like these, so we have set up a Facebook group for anyone involved in planning a wedding. Join here for some practical tips from our team of experts, as well as friendly support from others in a similar situation.