Don’t Let Coronavirus Ruin Your Wedding Day

If you’re planning a wedding for 2020 then the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has probably got you wondering what to do. Here are some answers to questions you might have.

2020. Wow, just wow. It’s like 2019 finished up with all of its twists and turns looked up at 2020 and said, “Beat that, kid.” 2020 said “Hold my beer.”

A thoughtful bride on her wedding day.

UPDATES:

May 28 – We’re currently at Yellow here in Pennsylvania. While we’re not yet out of the woods it means the situation is improving so that we can have gatherings of up to 25 people. So if you want to have a small, intimate wedding then you can. Here’s a link to a page with some resources about small, intimate weddings in Pittsburgh. The state government may move to Green sometime in June. That doesn’t mean that the pandemic is over, but gatherings of up to 250 people would be possible with some limitations like masks and distancing. What that looks like is still a bit unclear but I don’t think that it’s a raging dance party with a crowded, sweaty dance floor.

So what to do? Well, without a doubt the very best weddings are the ones that reflect the values, tastes and wants of the couple. Maybe that means a small gathering where you exchange vows on a mountaintop in West Virginia. Or a sailboat in the Chesapeake with the 20 people who are closest to you. Then when there’s a vaccine you can have that big, loud, fun celebration. Creativity, patience and flexibility are the key – as they always are. Call me, I can help you to bring your ideas to life.

OLDER:

April 22 – Here we are more than a month into the shutdown of non-life-sustaining businesses and it looks like there are some glimmers of hope for a careful reopening. Governor Wolf announced May 8th as the date when some of the restrictions can begin to be eased. What does that mean for events? Well that question is being actively discussed in the wedding vendor community. There’s little likelihood that gatherings of 100-200 people (about the average size for a wedding) will be allowed right away. If you think about how you feel now when you see a group of 5 or 10 people together it’ll give you an indication of just how uncomfortable many people are going to feel about larger gatherings for a while.

So much depends on what your venue is able to accommodate. If your ceremony and reception are inside and your guest list is close to the capacity of the space that would seem to be different than, say, an outdoor wedding. My point is that as we’re approaching the start of return to social activities it’s important to be in consultation with your vendors and venue. The advice below is still valid, so I encourage you to check it out. Meanwhile, let’s get back to baking bread (my new passion) and cutting our own hair. Stay safe – we’re all in this together.

March 19 – As of 8pm on Thursday, March 19, Governor Wolf has ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their physical locations. What that entails can be found on this handy list. There’s so much more going on than I can possibly hope to list. Please turn to trusted news sources and agencies for greater detail. I’ve listed a few below, like the PA Department of Health. The New York Times and Washington Post have removed the paywall for their Coronavirus coverage. They are both excellent sources of information. For more local coverage you can access the Post-Gazette (paywall lifted) and the Tribune-Review (no paywall).

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS

I’ve been in contact with all of my May and June couples. Some are rescheduling to later in 2020. Some have chosen to wait and see how things play out. Again, whatever you’re thinking as you plan your wedding it’s very wise to consult and include the professionals you’re working with.

One more thing: I know it might seem to some that to be a trivial thing to worry about planning a wedding with the hardships and dire circumstances that many people are facing. I get it. But the thing about this situation is that it has an effect on all of us. So nobody has a monopoly on heartache or the right to tell anyone else that their concerns are unimportant. We’ve all had plans changed. Heck, I was looking forward to running the Boston Marathon in April. I’ve been training since last December but it’s now postponed until September. I’ll adjust. We all want to live our lives. With an attitude of gentleness, acts of compassion and a gentle spirit towards others we will get through this. And wash your hands. Let Alton Brown show you how!

Please call me if I can be of any help to you.

STRESS AND PLANNING

If you’re like me you’re tired and stressed out from the news of all things COVID-19 by now. Your inbox is probably filled with COVID-19 statements from every business you’ve ever given your email address to. Mine is. I’m like, “Thanks random coffee shop that I visited in New Orleans back in 2014. Glad to know how you’re thinking about how you’re going to handle this situation.” But if you’re planning a wedding you are no doubt at least a little stressed out wondering how you ought to respond to this crisis.

While rethinking a big event like a wedding is stressful to all involved, we – pros in the Pittsburgh wedding industry – are already experiencing the effects on our incomes – mainly from uncertainty. Most, if not all, of us are small businesses who depend upon each wedding season (May to October) to sustain through the year. The possibility of losing a year of wages in the blink of an eye has been something that is deeply concerning to all of us. We can’t afford to take cancellations or postponements lightly. We know you can’t either as most wedding fees, deposits, and retainers are non-refundable. So, let’s work together to keep the show on the road during this crazy time.

ACTION ONE: CARRY ON AS PLANNED

The decisions that you make around your wedding are very personal and while couples are looking to wedding professionals for advice during this unprecedented situation, we are not able to know what the future holds and therefore are limited in the advice we can give. One thing is certain, keeping up to date on the latest developments is the responsible thing to do. It’s crucially important turn to trusted sources like the CDC and the PA Department of Health for guidance.

One great thing about having a large group of industry friends from across the country is that I’ve been able to join in discussions about smart ways to move forward.

Here’s a list of some options to possibly consider as you continue to plan your wedding:

  • Consider adding a “sanitizing station” at your event for guests to use in addition to the restroom facilities. Discuss with your wedding planner or venue coordinator about this.
  • If you anticipate fewer guests will be traveling to your wedding and you have a hotel room block, consider contacting that hotel to discuss changing the number of rooms that are blocked. Contractually, hotels may not be able to change your room block numbers but that doesn’t prevent you from asking.
  • Consider live streaming or videotaping your ceremony and/or reception for guests who are not able to attend.
  • If you anticipate fewer guests will attend your wedding and you have a minimum with your venue and/or caterer, contact that vendor to see if there are options are for a lower guest count.
  • Depending on the dinner service that you have selected, consider talking with your caterer on the option to have a plated meal over a buffet or family-style meal.  If a buffet is still required, consider adding serving staff to serve items from the buffet vs having each guest touch tongs and serving themselves.

ACTION TWO: RESCHEDULING

As of March 15th 2020, CDC is recommending gatherings of no more than 50 people for the next eight weeks (until May 10th 2020). All public gatherings in Pittsburgh have been banned for the next two weeks.

Rescheduling to 2021 is currently not possible. That said, we will do our best to accommodate date changes and want to be flexible with our policies for 2020.

All rescheduling should be made as soon as possible.

If you reschedule for any unbooked Friday or Sunday date still have available in 2020, we will transfer the retainer with no additional fees.

In the event of a cancellation, the remaining payment is due in full if the wedding is less than 30 days out.

Please let us know if you have ANY questions at all regarding your wedding with us, by directing emails to me at joe@joeappelphotography.com.

We’re all in this together. Let’s be mindful of each other, kind, helpful where we can be and generous in spirit.

This is a developing situation so I’ll update this post as more information becomes available.