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What Does COVID-19 Mean For Weddings In 2021? (UPDATED JULY 2021)

The following article looks at the impact of the virus namely on people planning their weddings for 2021 + 2022. This article has been updated on 14/7/2021. COVID-19 is an ever-changing situation so for up-to-date health alerts and advice related to the virus, visit health.gov.au.

Dear Couples,

First up, let us begin by sharing our deepest, heartfelt sympathies if you’re currently experiencing stress and wedding disruption due to the pandemic. This whole virus shebang is a *touch wood* once-in-a-lifetime experience. And yes, the irony of how in sync that is with the nature of weddings isn’t lost on us. We wish we could give each of you a big hug right now.

Over the last 12+ months, we’ve been responding to a large number of queries from concerned couples desperately seeking guidance on what to do right now. We don’t have all the answers. But we’ll do our very best to help provide whatever insights and advice we can. This is the basis of this article.

Before we go any further though, we just want you know that we’ve been inspired by you guys – the positivity that so many of you are sharing right now is amazing. And we’re proud of the way that our industry peers are approaching the situation: largely with compassion, flexibility, and understanding. Many small businesses are struggling right now. But we’re all in this together and working toward a common goal – to get you guys hitched and having the best damn day ever, even if that day takes place a little later than originally planned.

And if you’re planning a wedding and looking for some extra support, join our private couples-only FB group Wedchat by Wedshed. It’s an amazing, understanding community.

 

>> COVID-19 And Weddings – The Latest Update As Of 14/7/21:

There are new changes and updates from the Australian Government for each state. Please note these rules and regulations are subject to change at any time with the uncertainty of COVID-19.

In general, for all states, it’s worthwhile considering and breaching the topic of the following with your venue/vendors:

  • Canapé service may not be permitted in all states, and it’s best practice to serve each guest separately, meaning no shared plates or family-style catering. Your state might only allow sit-down service only too.
  • Consider how many people you sit at each table and check in with your rules and regulations for your state as well as your venue. You may be restricted to a maximum of ten per table.
  • Aim to seat people with their household, partners or family where possible.
  • Check in with your venue regarding styling changes. We’re aware of some venues not permitting cutlery and glassware on tables to minimise risk. 
  • Singing (including group singing), and wind instruments can spread COVID-19 if a performer is infected. If either of these are involved in the ceremony or reception, ensure that there is protection in place for guests including at least 3 metres distance from the performers.
  • Dancing has been restricted in some states. Please make sure you choose a venue that has a dancefloor with enough space. Consider what strategies you can put in place to avoid crowding on the dancefloor and other areas such as foregoing or modifying rituals like throwing the bouquet, and ensure people don’t take alcoholic drinks on the dancefloor. 
  • Record all of the names and contact numbers of all of your guests and vendors attending your wedding, regardless of if it is a residential or commercial property wedding and retain these records to provide to the government if required.

STATE-BY-STATE BREAKDOWN OF THE LATEST WEDDING RESTRICTIONS

NEW SOUTH WALES 

  • New restrictions apply for the area of Greater Sydney which includes the Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong government areas.
    • People are not allowed to host or attend a wedding in Greater Sydney.
  • Regional NSW
    • Drinking and eating while standing at indoor venues will not be allowed
    • Dancing is allowed at weddings for the bridal party only (no more than 20 people).
    • Public indoor and outdoor weddings must adhere to the one person per four square metres rule.
    • Private weddings limited to five visitors to the house including kids.
    • Dancing is only permitted for the bridal party, up to 20 people on the dancefloor at a time.
    • Singing is not allowed at indoor venues by guests in an audience.
    • Outdoor seated weddings are limited to 50% capacity and masks must be worn.
    • The couple must record the names and contact details (including contact phone numbers) of all people attending, conducting and contributing to the wedding, regardless of if it is a residential or commercial property. The records must be kept for at least four weeks and provided to the Chief Health Office if required.

For more information for NSW weddings, please click here and here and to access the NSW Covid-19 safety plan, please click here

VICTORIA

  • Public weddings are permitted (indoor or outdoor) of up to 300 people subject to venue density limits. Children under 12 months old are not counted towards this cap.
  • A wedding held in a private residence will be limited to 15 visitors, including the people required to conduct the ceremony and dependants.
  • Dance floors at weddings will be allowed again, but there will be a one-person per four square metre rule, with a maximum of 50 people.
  • Ensure no guests that are unwell attend the wedding, and practice social distancing and good hygiene practices
  • Guests can travel from anywhere in VIC to attend a wedding.

For more information for VIC weddings, please click here.

QUEENSLAND

  • The following restrictions apply to Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Townsville (including Magnetic Island), Palm Island, Ipswich, Logan City, Redlands, Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Somerset, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and the Gold Coast until 6:00pm Friday 16 July 2021:
    • You must be seated to drink or eat.
    • Indoor weddings must follow the one person per four square metre rule. For outdoor weddings it’s one person per two square metres, while smaller venues up to 200 square metres can have one person per two square metres with a maximum of 50 people.
    • A wedding held in a private residence will be limited to 30 people.
    • Weddings are permitted for up ro 100 people (only 20 people can dance).
  • From 6am Friday 16th July 2021, restrictions for the above regions will ease and all QLD will be operating under the same restrictions:
    • A maximum of 100 guests can attend a wedding. See more here
    • Dancing allowed but there must only one dancer per two square metres.
    • Social distancing must continue to be practised and guests who are unwell should not attend.
    • A record of contact details including name, phone number, email address and date and time of patronage of each guest must be made to assist in contact tracing if required. This record must be kept for 56 days, provided to public health officers if requested where it will be securely stored and deleted after 56 days
    • The Check-in QLD app is mandatory for indoor weddings.
    • Indoor wedding ceremonies can have up to one person per two square metres, or 100 per cent capacity with ticketed and allocated seating (whichever is greater).
    • Wedding ceremonies held outdoors have no limit on the number of people who can attend.
    • Wedding ceremonies held at a private residence are limited to 100 people if there is no COVID Safe Plan, Checklist or Event Checklist in place.

For more information for QLD weddings, please click here.
For further details regarding cancellations, postponements and insurance for weddings in QLD, please click here.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

  • The total number of people at a place must not exceed 3 people per 4 square metres (indoors) and 1 person per 2 square metres (outdoors) with a cap of 200 guests
  • If you have 51 – 200 people at a residential premises you must have a Covid-Safe Plan, appoint a Covid Marshall and require your guests to check-in via the Covid Safe Check-in.
  • Dancing and singing – no limits
  • Physical distancing principles still apply. Every person should attempt to stay at least 1.5 metres from other people however, this does not apply to people who live together, who are friends or family members, or people who regularly associate with each other.
  • Some businesses are required to make and retain records of patrons attending public activities. This must include the name of each patron in attendance, as well as their phone number or email address, along with the time and date of their attendance. Contact tracing records must be presented at the request of an authorised officer. These records must only be used in the event that tracing of contacts needs to occur. For example, the records can’t be used for marketing or similar purposes
  • No communal food or beverage service areas may operate (except at non-licensed premises), this includes buffets, salad bars or communal water/beverage dispensers

For more information for SA weddings, please click here.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

  • There are no longer any capacity restrictions for venues and events. This means weddings can go ahead at full capacity.
  • Venues require a COVID Safety Plan and must maintain a contact register.
  • Weddings with more than 500 patrons are required to complete a COVID Event Checklist or Plan.

For more information on WA weddings, please click here.

TASMANIA

  • There is to be no more than one person per 2 square metres at a wedding
  • The number of guests is capped at 250 people for indoor venues and 1,000 for outdoor venues.
  • A wedding can only be held at a residential property if there are no more than 100 people (including staff, wedding vendors and the residents who normally live at the property).
  • If a residential premise is located on a large block of land, that entire block of land is part of the residential premises. A wedding cannot be held on land that forms part of a residential property when there are more than 100 people attending unless that part of the property is normally used for weddings. A farm is considered to be a residential premise if persons reside on the premises (the property).
  • Up to a maximum total of 100 people in the indoor spaces of a premises and a total of up to a maximum 250 people in the outdoor spaces of a non-residential premises are permitted to stand while drinking alcohol and/or dance. All other people on the premises must be seated if they are drinking alcohol.
  • Ensure that staff and guests are 1.5 metres away from each other. For groups of people seated at the same table, and for staff at times, this will not be practical
  • Arrange the wedding in such a way so that the 1.5 metre can be adhered to between patrons from different tables
  • Coordinate arrivals and seating of guests so that crowding doesn’t occur in arrival/waiting areas
  • Ensure there’s appropriate space between seated guests

For more information on TAS weddings, please click here.

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

  • There is no longer a fixed limit for weddings. However, if there are more than 25 people (excluding staff or those assisting the service) the rule of one person per two square metres of usable space applies (this applies for indoors and outdoors).
  • Dancing – no limits
  • Eating and drinking – no limits
  • Wedding organisers must keep a record of the names and contact numbers of individuals attending and details can be safely destroyed after 28 days
  • You must develop a COVID Safety plan
  • Any indoor or outdoor reception must adhere to the ACT’s restrictions on public gatherings and/or hospitality venues and function spaces

NORTHERN TERRITORY

  • There is currently no limit on the number of attendees
  • Weddings with less than 500 people do not require completion of a checklist or safety plan, however physical distancing and hygiene practices should be implemented
  • For weddings with more than 500 people, you must submit a COVId-19 safety plan

For more information on NT weddings, please click here.

_______________

Here’s a topline summary of the things we’ll get into below:

Insurance

  • It’s unlikely existing wedding insurance policies will cover wedding changes/cancellations due to COVID-19.
  • If you’re thinking about purchasing wedding insurance now to protect yourself from wedding changes/cancellation due to COVID-19, you won’t be covered as the pandemic is a known event.

Postponements and cancellations

  • If your state/territory looks like it will be heading into lockdown, we’d urge you to contact your venue and vendors via email ASAP to ask them what their postponement policy is and to gather their available dates for later this year or the next.
  • We would strongly urge you to postpone your wedding rather than cancelling the entire occasion – you can find a step-by-step guide to postponing here and some further tips and templates to share with your wedding team and guests here.
  • When postponing your wedding due to restrictions that mean it can no longer go ahead, we know that the vast majority of wedding venues and vendors are be incredibly understanding in helping you facilitate this. This said, due to the backlog of 2020 postponements, weekends in latter 2021 and 2022 may be tricky to secure, so consider midweek weddings or winter weddings (hand-on-heart, both are awesome options).
  • If you decide to cancel your wedding, however, it’s likely you’ll forfeit any deposits you’ve put down. Also, depending on the proximity of the cancellation to your wedding day and the T&C’s and position of the venue/vendor, you may incur additional costs.

Restrictions

  • See state-by-state breakdowns above

Proceeding as planned

  • For those progressing with their 2021 wedding, just be sure to adjust your celebration to fit into the new restrictions.

Honeymoons and travel

  • Longhaul travel has been restricted for the foreseeable future aside. We’d recommend postponing the big international honeymoon and instead consider a local-moon after your wedding does take place. You’ll be providing much-needed support to local businesses and let’s face it, our own backyard is bloody beautiful.

Emotional burden

  • We 100% get where your head might be right now. You may be feeling hopeless, sad – even guilty for feeling these things, given the threat to people’s health right now. Please know that this is all completely normal and that you’re in no way alone.
  • Your wedding – when it happens – is going to be made all the more special for getting through this period.

The future 

  • Don’t stop planning your wedding. Life will go on post-Coronavirus and there are so many people in this industry more excited than ever to help you celebrate your love.

We know it’s a nerve-wracking time for both couples and industry alike but we will get through it together. This is a situation where we all need to work collectively to be as compassionate and supportive of each other’s positions as possible.

If you were scheduled to get hitched in the next several months or even weeks, our hearts are right there with you as you adjust to the rapidly changing requirements surrounding gatherings in Australia and New Zealand. Hopefully, this article provides you with some confidence to move in the direction that feels right to you.

The big thing we want to say is that when your wedding does happen, there will be a new meaning to it. And we’d bet our bottom dollar that the dancefloor moves your guests will pull will be even more impressive.

If you’re wanting to connect with other couples who are also going through the same thing right now, please join our couples-only Facebook Group ‘Wedchat by WedShed. There is a huge number of supportive discussions happening, with wonderful advice shared.

So, let’s get into things in more detail.

INSURANCE

++ Does wedding insurance cover COVID-19?  

Unfortunately, no. We’ve reached out to multiple Australian wedding insurers and have heard back from one – the message was:

“Few policies covering weddings (or usual commercial activities) will cover a pandemic or infectious diseases so sadly few brides will have insurance protection if their wedding is cancelled due to the virus but the policy will cover loss through the all the other areas such as fire, death or injury to the bride and groom.

… we are fielding many calls from couples wanting insurance for Coronavirus – this simply isn’t available.”

We’ll update this section with more information as we receive it from other wedding insurance policy providers. We did hear second-hand (not confirmed) that one policy does cover cancellations related to Coronavirus. Though if true, this policy would’ve needed to have been purchased prior to Coronavirus being identified as an epidemic, and it’s not clear what the circumstances need to be in order to make a successful claim now. An alert was issued for the Coronavirus outbreak on 23rd January 2020, and we know that many travel insurers will not cover any claims made on policies taken out after that date, so in the absence of more solid info, we’d suggest it’s probably a similar scenario for weddings.

++ What about travel insurance? Does this cover for COVID-19 related changes? 

Choice.com.au has provided this information regarding travel insurance and COVID-19:

  • A bit over half of the insurers cover medical expenses resulting from a pandemic, but less than half cover cancellation expenses
  • If you buy travel insurance after a pandemic or epidemic such as the COVID-19 coronavirus becomes a known event, you may not be covered regardless

Here’s further clarity on this, direct from Choice:

“People who bought travel insurance before the disease became a “known event” may be covered for medical expenses that arise from contracting the disease overseas, and may even be covered for cancellation expenses. But people who bought travel insurance after COVID-19 was a known event may not be covered for medical or cancellation expenses relating to contracting the disease, or from changes to travel plans that result from quarantine measures, for example.”

We understand this is a bit ambiguous. If you’ve purchased travel insurance to cover you for a honeymoon or even for an overseas wedding, you’re best to contact your insurer directly for the most relevant information according to your policy.

WEDDING POSTPONEMENTS AND CANCELLATIONS

++ Should I postpone my wedding?

As each day passes, we’re hearing of more and more couples making the voluntary choice to postpone their weddings. There are several reasons why:

  • Their guest count is more than the maximum number allowed for their state/there is a ban on weddings at their location
  • Their guest count is more than the allowed number in order to abide with any 4-square-metre rule at their venue
  • They had overseas family and friends attending their wedding that can no longer make it
  • They don’t want to bring together a large group of people and put their loved ones at risk
  • They’re conscious that it’s a decision that may be taken out of their hands soon anyway and want to get the jump on it
  • They’ve spoken to their venue and vendors who have been accommodating and happy to facilitate a postponement, making the decision easier
  • They don’t want a day that they’ve invested a lot of time, energy and resources into to be anything different to what they imagined
  • They don’t believe the social distancing that’s currently recommended is conducive to weddings (no hugs, kisses, close dancing, shared food or normal seating, which tends to be within 1.5 metres)
  • They don’t want to put guests in the awkward position of deciding whether or not they’re comfortable to attend in the first place

The decision to proceed or postpone is largely personal and will depend on the restrictions in place for your state/venue and how that impacts the vision you have for the day.

We’d strongly advise starting the conversation if you haven’t already with your venue and vendors about how they’d feel if you were to postpone your big day if it’s unable to go ahead due to restrictions, as well as gathering alternative dates that are available. We can guarantee it’s a conversation they’re expecting.

Here’s a sample email that you could send:

Hi {VENUE/VENDOR NAME},

We hope you’re well and that you and your loved ones are safe during this difficult time. Due to the pandemic situation in [your region/state], we’re concerned about proceeding with our wedding and putting our guests and wedding A-team (you guys) at risk. We’re sure this situation has put you under a lot of stress as we know it’s impacting many people right now and our thoughts are with you.

Due to the uncertainty of the coming months and new restrictions placed on weddings, we wanted to touch base to see what our options were on rescheduling our wedding with your team. Is it possible to postpone the date and reschedule once this has all calmed down? We appreciate you are no doubt managing multiple couples in the same position as us – please let us know if it’s easier to have a conversation over the phone. 

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Kindest,
{NAME + NAME}

++ What if I postpone my wedding but can’t find a date that all of my suppliers can service?

This is unfortunately a hard reality – it might be difficult or not possible to make your wedding work with all of the original businesses you chose to partner with, due to the volume of future weddings and postponements. We’ve got all our fingers crossed that these tips will assist you in finding a date that works for everyone:

  • Be open to getting married on a weekday when there’s likely to be more availability for your wedding team. Weekday weddings are a total vibe!
  • Start with your wedding venue – get their available dates for the preferred months that you’re happy to reschedule your wedding to
  • Share these dates using a platform that everyone can contribute to like Doodle.com with your vendors so that they can tick which dates they can and can’t do. This will make it much simpler for you to find the date that the vast majority can make happen

For any of your A-Team that sadly can’t service your new wedding date due to pre-commitments, it’s unlikely due to the nature of cancellations that you’ll be able to expect your deposit back.

++ I’m thinking of cancelling my wedding – what should I expect? 

This will largely depend on the T&C’s set in the contract you’ve entered into with your venue and vendors. Most contracts require a deposit to be paid to secure the services of the business and often these are non-refundable at a certain time-frame (for example, within six months of the original wedding date).

Chat to your venue and vendors if this is something you’re looking to do. Of course, if you make this decision it’s absolutely fine – your wedding, your call, always.

We do know that the vast majority of venues and vendors would much rather you postpone your wedding date over cancelling altogether. And as much as we’re sure they would love to be able to hand back any deposits, the financial implications of this is just too much to expect of a small business (it’s why they have T&Cs in the first place to protect themselves), particularly given the fact that they’re already likely to be losing future business that will be taken up by postponed weddings.

RESTRICTIONS

Scroll back to the top of this post for a state-by-state breakdown of the latest restrictions in relation to weddings.

PROCEEDING AS PLANNED

Each state has different rules about how a wedding may look right now, and they’re constantly evolving. Many couples are forging ahead with their wedding and if there is a change in restrictions that means their wedding cannot continue in the way that they had hoped, then they are reassessing as and when needed.

However, that’s not to say that you can’t make things paper-official on your original wedding day, even if a postponement needs to happen. There are plenty of couples that are getting officially married on their original date with an intimate ceremony, with a big reception-style party planned down the track when they and their loved ones can let down their hair restriction-free.

Another suggestion for couples proceeding with their wedding is to live stream your ceremony via video for those close family members and friends who are not able to attend due to the restrictions.

++ What if the guests I invite to my wedding don’t want to attend?

We really feel for you here – of course you want to get married surrounded by all the leading people in your life, let alone a select couple. But given the covert nature of COVID-19 and the fact that it’s impossible to know who has the virus until they’re symptomatic, it’s reasonable to expect that guests may not feel comfortable to attend your wedding. They may have contact with kids, the elderly or immunocompromised people, or they may just be conscious of wanting to distance themselves from people until authorities say it’s safe to do otherwise.

While it can be heartbreaking to hear, our advice is to be completely understanding of your guest’s choice and to not let it influence your relationship with them. This is a time where we all need to respect each other’s autonomy.

HONEYMOONS AND TRAVEL

++ Should I book a honeymoon?

If you haven’t already booked your honeymoon, the most obvious suggestion here is to postpone it or travel within Australia once travel restrictions and warnings are lifted. Right now, Australian state borders are in a state of lock-down, and overseas travel is prohibited.

If you had already booked travel,  some airlines are giving credits to flights, so touch base with both your travel partners and accommodation provider to see if this is an option for you.

You can find some amazing local honeymoon options right here.

EMOTIONAL BURDEN

OK, this is a biggie. And we want to spend some time here because we have a lot. Of. Feelings.

We know it’s likely that you’ve been looking forward to this day for ages. Putting time, emotions, money and more into bringing an epic celebration together, only to have the rug potentially pulled out from beneath you. If you’re getting married in the coming months, the confusion about whether to proceed or postpone (or otherwise) can feel overwhelming and just downright devastating. We 100% empathise with you here – we know this is not how you wanted to be moving into married life.

On top of this, you might be feeling guilty or indulgent for even allowing yourself to feel upset about your wedding, given we’re talking about people’s lives and health being on the line.

What we need to say here is don’t. Know this: your disappointment is valid. We would feel exactly the same.

But also know this: no matter what happens to your wedding day in the short-term, it’s more important than ever to reflect on the things that are important to us as people, and that’s our relationships. The beautiful thing here is the very fact that you’re planning a wedding means you’ve found a life partner that you can depend on during the toughest times. It’s like you guys get to start your marriage early – just without the official piece of paper.

Focus on loving each other, keep communicating and know that when your wedding day does happen, it’s going to be so much more special having gone through this challenge to get there. If there’s anything we can take away from this pandemic, it’s the importance of taking stock of our loved ones and looking out for our community. This means when you’re smashing cake in your face at some point in the future and raising a glass of sparkling with those special people around you guys, there will be no better feeling.

THE FUTURE

++ Should I keep planning my wedding or wait until COVID-19 is over?

We know that Coronavirus is all-encompassing right now. But eventually, this will be something we can collectively put behind us. If you’re hoping to get married in the future, don’t stop planning your wedding – allow yourself to get excited, get inspired, speak to venues and vendors and get the ball rolling. Now more than ever, the entire industry is so excited to help you celebrate your love! And it’s not just for financial reasons; we all need some positivity right now and looking to the future and all the happy days ahead is as feel-good as it gets.

– – –

If you have any further questions, suggestions or comments, send us a DM on Instagram or ask our lovely couples in our couples-only Facebook Group. Our hearts and thoughts are with you and we hope you can remain positive knowing that you’ll have an incredible day regardless of when it takes place. We hope that you and your families stay safe and healthy as Australia navigates COVID-19.

With love,
The Ws Team x

14th July, 2020

Leave a comment

Comments

  1. Thanks for this article as the mother of the bride I have found it really helpful in planning a way forward .

    Ruth Mollison
  2. Thank you for such an insightful and valuable post! As we here at Swan Valley Wedding DJ try to navigate through this situation and achieve the best possible outcome for our clients and for our business (not always easy to balance those two things!), we are grateful to have something so specific to our industry to read through.

    I’ll be sharing a link to this article on our social media as I believe it is invaluable to our clients.
    Thank you again for writing it, and we wish you all the very best of health in the coming months.

    Marty and Rose,
    Swan Valley Wedding DJ

    Marty Owens
  3. Thank you for sharing such thoughtful insights! I love the positivity and actionable steps we can all take to make it through this crazy time.

  4. Dear Wedshed, you are the loveliest humans and thanks for putting into words what I am sure a lot of people need to read right now. You are always so kind, compassionate and on top of things. We love you – please keep being an awesome ray of light through these times. We’ll be ready to celebrate with you at the #postpandemicparty xo

  5. Something worth considering in line with weddings and seating plans from the Dept of Health website concerning Covid-19 and indoor gatherings under 100 (The last line regarding family and household groups is what I am referring to):

    “This might mean changes are needed to seating or capacity. For example, cinemas and theatres will need to decrease density of patrons, which could include alternate seating, staggered seating and alternatives, except for family or household groups who may be seated together.”

    S J
  6. Thank you so much for putting this post together., I have shared your link to my facebook page to hopefully help my Couples in their decision making process.
    I wish you all good health., hopefully one we all come out the other side of this chaos., the world will be a better place…..
    Long Live Love!!
    Leonie xx

  7. Great article, very informative and clear. Thank you for sharing with us within the wedding industry – I am a Wedding Celebrant by the way! I hope this is okay to share with our couples, whilst acknowledging the source. Once again, Big thank you.

    • Thanks for your kind feedback Julie and of course, share away. We hope to help couples in any way we can during this tricky time, so the more we can educate people the better.

      karina Lowndes
  8. Thank you for sharing these tips, you’re an absolute lifesaver. As an event planner myself, it has been a hassle to plan the perfect micro wedding. These tips will definitely help me to make sure the safety measures are met.

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