How to navigate COVID-19 if you are planning a wedding or an event

There are many couples that don’t have the luxury to hire a wedding planner (me a few years ago!) and this pandemic is difficult to navigate.  Even as a professional in the industry, I find myself having to check the news each morning before speaking with clients and many more times throughout the day. That’s how fast news is changing. So, for those who could use a little guidance through this all, I’m here for you! By this time, if you are reading this and your wedding was scheduled for late March or April, you’ve most likely made the difficult discussion to postpone. My heart breaks for you, because I know how much time and energy has gone into the planning process. To those couples, please know we are thinking of you and you deserve only the best wedding possible.  A wedding that involves hugging and kissing, no social distancing, and all your family out on the dance floor! So, although it was a difficult decision, know that you made the right choice by postponing. 

For those who are still in that purgatory state, or have weddings scheduled in May and so on, the best advice I can give you, is stay calm. We will get through this, we’ll get more information to make decisions easier,  and you WILL come out on the other side.  

Here are my top 5 suggestions how to move forward if you have a wedding or an event planned in the next few months!

1) Don’t cancel your event. Postpone! It’s as simple as that! DO NOT CANCEL! The show must go on! 

2) Reach out to your vendors as soon as possible if you haven’t done so already. Your first call should be to your venue.  Ask them what other dates are available and see if they can place a hold on that date for you. From there, reach out to your other vendors and check their availability (and their re-booking policy) for your new date. Once you know the availability of all your vendors and the fees associated with postponing, it may feel less daunting to postpone. If you are thinking it’s too early to reach out to your venue for a wedding or event in July or August, it’s not and it certainly won’t hurt! Just be mindful that these vendors are prioritizing Spring weddings, so give them some grace with their response times. Continue to keep all lines of communication open with your vendors in these next few weeks.  As a side note,  do not forget about your hotel room blocks. They play a critical part in the re-planning process – and it’s important that you reach out to them soon. Request a full list of those people who have confirmed reservations, and also, to see what accommodations they can offer on your new date. Especially, if you have many out of town guests. And lastly, don’t be afraid to think outside of the normal Friday or Saturday evening weddings. Experts in the industry are anticipating a rise of Thursday evening receptions. I know it may sound a little unconventional, but if I received a wedding invitation for a Thursday night, given the circumstances, I would completely understand and take advantage of having to take a Friday off from work and enjoying a long four day weekend. I think others will too!

3) Review your wedding contracts you’ve already signed, but also keep in mind that contracts are put in place to protect both parties. Tread lightly when speaking to vendors, and know this is a difficult time for everyone! Unfortunately,  it doesn’t look like COVID-19 is a “force majeure” because it isn’t an “act of God” rather it’s an “act of man”. But I’m not a lawyer! I do know that vendors will try their best to work with you as much as they can. As vendors, we go into this business to help people make your dream a reality. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true! We wouldn’t be in this industry if we didn’t want to help you in the first place! So when you have meetings with your vendor team, conflicts with rescheduling, or when your planner has to have that dreadful conversation about the possibility of postponement, know that we will do our best to help anyway we can. Be patient and kind – it goes a long way. Try to keep in mind that your vendors are small business owners, they are parents who have become teachers, they too are worried about the state of the livelihoods, and they too are trying to navigate this as well. They definitely don’t want to lose work or have unhappy clients. 

4) Come up with a communication plan as to how you will keep guests informed. This may mean updating your wedding website, mailing “change the date” cards, or starting to gather email addresses and sending out weekly updates. It’s  not easy compiling these lists, but I encourage you to start working on this now. For those who need to print “change the date” stationary, look to local small businesses who can help design something for you! There are many who are offering complimentary services!

5) I’m staying positive, but also realistic. If your wedding is a few months away, but you still need to place orders for cocktail napkins, favor tags, menu or programs, leave any dates off! If you’ve already ordered items with your date on them, and your date has changed,  please don’t reorder items, it’ll make for a funny story down the road. Put your money towards your honeymoon, or a down payment on a house, or a hour long massage. You definitely deserve it – just hold off a couple weeks on that massage! 

My heart goes out to all those couples who have to make these tough and difficult decisions. I’m here for you if you have any questions or concerns or just need someone to chat with! Email me at [email protected], I’d love to chat and help you get through this! To those vendors who have been working tirelessly to make every postponement slightly easier, who have waived postponing fees, and those who have graciously answered their cell phones without hesitation outside normal business hours, thank you! We will get through this and come out as an industry that is much stronger and united!

Please take care of yourself and loved ones!

Author: Jodie Lupo Munson

Hi there! I’m Jodie. Particular Planner is a wedding & event planning company based in NJ, founded on the idea that event planning services should be accessible to all. Having a planner isn’t a luxury service, but a necessity. Let’s get started!