Image by Britt Crowe.
Instagram: it’s a time-suck, a place for FOMO and a source of inspiration, education and excellent memes all at once. It’s also the equivalent of a modern-day diary – you only need to look at your personal feed to realise how much has changed in a short period of time.
This became very clear to us last week as we took a look at some of our past Instagram content. We have an Instagram Story Highlights reel titled ‘COVID + wedding’ where we’ve been publishing any lock-down and restriction updates relevant to the wedding industry over the course of the pandemic.
The first story in this reel was posted in March when this pandemic really kicked off. For us (and no doubt for many of you), it feels like the coronavirus has been a thorn in our sides for much longer than that. It kind of feels offensive that something could crop up and cause such massive disruption in a timeframe of less than a year. Like who do you think you are, turning the entire world into an unimaginable shitstorm in the same time it takes to gestate a human, virus?
Nevertheless, here we are – heading into the 2020 Spring/Summer wedding season. And understandably, people are concerned. Some businesses that have already been struggling are now facing a second wave of postponements and cancellations. Couples are unsurprisingly hesitant to move forward with a big day that’s bound to be unrecognisable from the vision they’d dreamed of. And both parties – businesses and couples – are in uncharted territory negotiating changes with each other. Let’s face it, most event contracts don’t address global diseases. Emotional and financial stakes are high.
As a two-sided marketplace here at Wedshed, we’ve been engaged in conversations with both sides of the industry – the folks getting married and the folks making the wedding happen. We’re asked almost daily by you wonderful couples and businesses for our opinion on what to do. We don’t have all the answers but we’ve put together our thoughts on the most common concerns that are raised. Read on.
We’re worried our overseas guests won’t be able to make it next year
This is such a valid concern. And unfortunately, there’s no answer to this. We suspect (based on media reporting) that the reopening of international borders hinges on containing the virus on a global level, which itself hinges on a vaccine being developed, which then hinges on people getting vaccinated.
In short, our completely uneducated guess would be that there’s a lot that needs to happen before overseas guests (without an Aussie passport) are allowed into Australia (and before we’re allowed to travel outside of the nation too). That’s not to say that it can’t or won’t happen next year but we’d be cautious about getting too optimistic too early. We would expect that any changes to international travel will be accompanied by a period of quarantine too.
If some of your most important guests will be travelling from overseas for your wedding and it’s critical that they be in attendance, we’d chat to your venue and vendors about their future availability and agree on a date next year that you reassess whether to proceed with or postpone your day.
We won’t have the day we dreamed of
This one hurts our hearts. Because the truth is, if you’re getting married during this pandemic, it’s really inevitable that the day will look a bit different to what you’d dreamed. The degree of just how different depends on what state or territory you’re marrying in – some parts of Australia are relatively relaxed right now due to the good fortune of *currently* not having a large virus spread, while the east coast is much more restricted right now.
That’s not to say though that it will feel different. This is an important distinction we really want to make. You’ll still be surrounded by loved ones (restrictions permitting). You’ll still be sharing heartfelt vows and promises with your partner. It’s impossible not to get swept up in the power and emotion of the moment – even if you need to remain at arm’s length from the limited number of guests in attendance.
Despite the changes to weddings-as-we-know-them, we’ve heard from many couples that have gone ahead with their weddings over this period (adapted, of course) and not a single one has regretted it. It’s really about making a decision about whether to proceed or postpone and then adjusting your mindset to focus on what’s most important. To us, that is that you and your partner met, fell in love and despite all the odds and all our human flaws, you’re making this incredible commitment to support and love the sh*t out of each other for life.
This said you shouldn’t ever be made to feel guilty for wanting to have the wedding you originally envisioned either. Our ethos here at Wedshed is that your wedding should be a direct reflection of you guys and what you’re passionate about. This has never been more apt than now – if you want a raging party with a jam-packed dance floor and all the physical affection you’d expect at a wedding then you should have it! It’ll just need to happen down the track. An alternative option could be to hold an intimate ceremony on your original date and then postpone the big bash until a later date when it’s safe and legal to let loose. We know loads of couples doing this and who have done it already.
Will we lose all of the money we put down to lock in our venue and vendors if our wedding plans change?
No, not necessarily – this depends on what your future plans are for your wedding. If you’re postponing your wedding, it’s likely that your venue and vendors will honour their pricing and allow you to push back your date with no/little changes financially.
There are exceptions here based on circumstances, for instance, some businesses may need to charge a fee to postpone to a weekend date in the future. What we do know is that the vast majority of folks in the wedding industry that we’ve been dealing with are incredibly passionate about helping their couples continue to get married and are being as flexible as possible. Coronavirus has dealt blows to all of us – couples and industry alike. Our sector is largely made up of small businesses that are suffering big time right now. But if you’re postponing your wedding rather than cancelling, that means that businesses can survive AND you get to experience one of life’s most fun milestones. Win-bloody-win.
If you choose to cancel your wedding, your booking terms and conditions will dictate whether you’re eligible for the return of any funds paid to your venue and vendors – this will likely depend on how far in advance your original wedding date is from the time you cancel.
The tricky area here is if you choose to postpone your wedding but aren’t able to get all of your vendors to align with your new date. In this case, you may have no choice but to sadly cancel the services of one or more of your original wedding team. In this instance, the original booking terms may mean that your deposit was non-refundable or your vendor may refund some of the funds you’ve paid – again, this comes down to the T&Cs of your booking with that vendor.
Something to keep in mind is that more often than not, the vendor will have already begun working on your wedding long before the wedding date – whether that be through planning, sourcing, concept-developing, administration and/or communications with you. It’s one of the reasons why most deposits are non-refundable.
Can we have a dance floor?
It depends where you are – right now dance floors are allowed in some capacity across most of Australia. But we’d encourage you to do your reading – we aim to keep this blog post up-to-date with the latest restrictions.
Putting off other life events like starting a family
If you’re feeling concerns about the knock-on effect of pushing back your wedding on other areas of your life, you are not alone. For many couples, the thought of postponing a wedding leads to other major considerations: does this mean we try and have a baby/buy a property/start a business/change careers/move cities now or later?
If this is you, we understand how challenging this predicament would be. The decision to push back or fast-track life events that you’d originally planned on experiencing after your wedding is an entirely personal one. It’ll depend on various factors like age, family, finances and more. We’d encourage you to not carry the burden of such big decisions between yourselves if it feels overwhelming – talk to family, to friends and even to complete strangers that are going through the same thing: there are plenty of couples in our private Facebook Group that are also making some tough choices right now.
Cutting guest numbers
For many couples (depending on which state you’re in and your guest number), your hands are tied here – in order to legally hold a wedding, you may need to cut your guest numbers. While this is awful and no one wants to be in this position, hopefully, the burden of reducing your guests is made a little easier by the fact that those guests that do need to have their invitation reneged will understand that you had no choice. And if anyone gets funny about this difficult situation, well, there’s bigger fish for them to fry at this time in history in our opinion.
We’d suggest messaging or emailing those people who you sadly need to cut from your guest list to explain the situation – there’s every chance they may have been expecting the note.
Postponing and then being forced to postpone again in the future
This is the position that a number of couples find themselves in right now. In short, it’s shit. If you’re feeling nervous about the possibility of needing to postpone or re-postpone, our advice is to chat to your venue and your vendors early to coordinate a potential future date/s that will work for everyone. Just knowing you’ve got a plan B (or C) can be a stress-reliever and give you a feeling of control in a situation that’s out of our control.
Not being able to find a date that suits all our vendors if we postpone
We touched on this earlier – it’s a very real concern for couples postponing and a reality that many are navigating. To make it as easy as possible to find a new date that works for your wedding team, we’d suggest firstly gathering all the available dates from your venue and then shortlisting around five that you’d be happy to get hitched on. Add these dates to an editable spreadsheet that you can share with all of your vendors (Google Sheets is great for this) and share with each business, asking them to mark ‘available’ or ‘unavailable’ on each of the dates. This will allow you to quickly establish a new date/s in the event you choose to postpone.
The next challenge is making the call whether to proceed toward your original date or postpone while you know those future dates are free for your team. It’s not an easy call, we know. Again, our couple’s FB Group ‘Wedchat by Wedshed’ is an awesome source of support here and a place to talk to other couples that are planning to get married in the same month as you to see what they’re doing.
What if I lose the love of my wedding dress once the day is pushed back?
Our advice? Store the dress away (here are professional tips to do this) and don’t think about it until closer to date. Remind yourself you chose that dress because you loved it and look SMOKING in it.
If in the future you decide the dress is no longer right, you could always have it altered so it feels fresh, or resell it on a second-hand bridal platform. But remember that while you might be fatigued of it, it will be the first time anyone else sees you in it and that holy-wow-factor moment when your partner first lays eyes on you will no doubt confirm that you made an excellent choice originally.
For more advice and guidance navigating a wedding at this time, join our couples’ only Facebook Group ‘Wedchat by Wedshed‘. It’s a supportive space for thousands of couples experiencing the same challenges right now.