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The Coronavirus and Wedding Vendors: What You Should Know

by Jennifer Prince
The Coronavirus and Wedding Vendors: What You Should Know

April 10, 2020

You’re getting married! If you were anything like six-year-old me, you once played dress-up in a makeshift veil holding an imaginary bouquet as you walked down the “aisle” of your bedroom. Now that time has passed, your wedding day visions have changed, but nothing you could have ever dreamed of as a child – or in early 2020 – could have prepared you for the situation you are facing today. 

There’s no doubt that the new coronavirus has upended the world around us. We are living in unprecedented times. As people are washing their hands and practicing social distancing, your mind is on other things — the uncertainty of when, if, and how you are still going to proceed with your ceremony. Take comfort that there is one group of people who can sympathize — your wedding vendors. 

Whether it is your venue, photographer, or florist, they understand. These times are difficult for them, too. Many are restructuring their businesses, getting creative about helping others, and making new plans with their clients. Here are a few of the ways your wedding pros are helping their brides and their businesses get through. 

Most Vendors Are Understanding

Approaching your vendors can be a bit scary. You entered into a contract, and what they choose to uphold or let go of is determined by them. The good thing is that most of the time, your wedding professionals are small business owners who are trying to make allowances and help their couples as much as they possibly can. 

Many have been proactive by taking the initiative to contact their brides and alleviate concerns. Derek Fowler of Derek Fowler Photography in Virginia, stated, “I spent almost a week reaching out to my brides to tell them that I have their back and I will be their photographer with whatever they choose to do.” To protect himself and his clients, Fowler has since added an “act of God” clause to his contract to better prepare for unforeseen circumstances.

Another Virginia photographer, Stacie Marshall of Marshall Arts Photography, has made exceptions to accommodate her brides. “I’m allowing rescheduled dates with no penalties,” Marshall stated, “This situation isn’t in anybody’s control, and I just want to extend as much grace and kindness as possible.” Thankfully, that seems to be the attitude of most wedding pros.

Besides making concessions in their contracts, other vendors are going the extra mile, such as Heather Smith, floral designer and owner of Fleur in Virginia. Smith was alerted to a couple who decided to elope amidst the chaos of COVID-19. The bride was distressed because she didn’t have a bouquet. “I could not let her go flowerless, so I put together a sweet bouquet and sent it on its way. It truly made my heart so happy to do something to make a difficult decision a little better,” Smith said.

Takeaway: We are all in this together! When dealing with your vendors, be considerate of them as they try to be understanding with you. See if you can agree, even if there are difficult decisions to make regarding contractual obligations. Ultimately, you do have a contract. They can choose to uphold those terms, but being open and honest can help you come to a mutual agreement.

Consider Rescheduling, Not Canceling

Knowing what to do can be tricky, and any direction you turn can raise questions as far as the next steps. It’s hard! Weddings are the lifeblood and full-time job for many wedding professionals, and this is an equally difficult time for them. #PostponeDontCancel and #RescheduleDontCancel are two movements to encourage couples to hold their events at a later date.

Doing so is beneficial for vendors as they try to keep their businesses afloat, but that also means that there is competition for specific days. Keeping your venue or planner may mean adjusting to having a weekday wedding if prime dates are booked. 

It also impacts the bottom line, as previously filled dates empty and future popular dates book up. Domenico Winery in San Carlos, California, had its venue calendar clear out quickly after the directive to shelter in place went into effect. “Essentially, within two weeks, we lost all of our business for the entire spring season,” Director of Events, Marina Patton offered.

Domenico is finding that many of their patrons are choosing to reschedule, which presents a new set of problems. “Most clients have not requested refunds and instead are pushing back their plans. But, the opportunity cost is that they are taking dates in the place of potential new clients,” Patton stated.

Another restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area, Servino Ristorante, is offering credit for future bookings. Managing Partner of Servino, Natalie Servino said, “Normally in the event of cancellation, a client would forgo their deposit; however, we are allowing clients to keep their deposit as a credit to be used for a future event.” As of early April, Servino was sustaining by offering to-go items and fresh produce boxes while also stocking their market area with essentials, such as pantry items and toilet paper, of course.

A popular option for postponing is to have a small ceremony and hold the reception until the the coronavirus pandemic has passed. An intimate wedding is a way to reschedule the celebration while still getting married. You can even live stream your ceremony to include family and friends in your nuptials.

Takeaway: Making an effort to postpone instead of canceling can be beneficial to you while helping small, local businesses stay afloat. Finding a new date is potentially a way to uphold any contractual obligations, which can make it easier for everyone. After all, you chose those specific vendors for a reason! To find out more about #RescheduleDontCancel, click here.

Desperate Times Call for Creative Measures

Creativity is bringing people together at the moment. Distilleries are making hand sanitizer, and tailors are using their machines to make masks. It’s refreshing to see what good is coming out of this, and your wedding vendors are no exception. 

Smith reiterated an instance where a styled shoot was canceled due to Coronavirus. It was too late to cancel her flower order, so the vendors had a floral delivery and no photoshoot taking place. “Unfortunately, the night before, we had to cancel it due to the Coronavirus situation. Instead of letting the flowers go to waste, I made multiple arrangements that went to two local nursing homes,” Smith reiterated. The nurses and residents were equally thrilled about the ray of sunshine those flowers provided. Since then, Smith has also purchased dinners for her local COVID-19 unit in addition to sending floral arrangements to go along with the meals. 

Domenico has had the opportunity to serve the homeless and infected people who are under quarantine in their area. “We signed a contract with a local government organization to provide individually packaged breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals seven days a week for county staff and vulnerable community members,” Patton stated. Like many eateries, they’ve also opened their restaurant, Osteria, for pick up orders. 

Wedding pros are helping each other out at this time, including offering to cover for vendors who catch Coronavirus. Marshall offered, “I love how the Virginia wedding community has rallied to support each other and our couples. Photographers have stepped up to say they’d shoot for one another in the event any of us become ill.” It’s a comfort to see people offering their talents to do what they can.  

Takeaway: Vendors are reaching out to their communities and rallying around each other. They are using their time and talents to do good both for each other and their couples. It’s a lovely thing to see people all around the globe rising to the occasion in whatever ways they can!

Take Comfort That Everything Is in Flux for Everyone

Uncertainty isn’t comforting, but it is encouraging that we are all experiencing the same thing at the same time. Rest assured that as you are trying to plan and prepare for changes, your vendors are, too. 

Servino stated, “COVID-19 and all of the changes that each and every one of us have had to make both at home and in our businesses, has made me realize how interconnected we are.” It’s that connectivity that will get us all through these times, and relationships are what a marriage celebration is all about. 

We all have been dealt a bad hand at the moment, which requires extra kindness and understanding from everyone. “Business is a brutal life, but my heart doesn’t have to be brutal to others,” Fowler offered. It’s precisely that awareness that is bringing people closer at this time. Your heart brought you and your future spouse together, and it’s what will sustain you through any changes you have to make. 

If you need advice on your next steps, Joy has curated helpful articles to answer your questions. Learn the steps you need to take to postpone your wedding and see how easy it is to live stream your ceremony

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