As of a few weeks now, we have all been shaken by the dangers of the Coronavirus and the uncertainty it brought with it.
It is becoming more and more likely that 2020 weddings up to the end of the summer/beginning of autumn, will have to be postponed. Between the social distancing measures, the travel bans and the large gatherings limitations, unfortunately weddings in France, Europe and the world in general are hugely impacted by the Covid-19.
We are French wedding planners with 10 years experience planning weddings in France, and below we are trying to answer some of the most frequently asked questions and to give you our insight on how best navigate through this storm and postpone your French wedding…
First things first
Before making any decision or communicating anything with anyone, contact your 2-3 main vendors and check their availability for a new date. These would usually be your wedding venue, your wedding planner, and your caterers. If you are getting married religiously, you will need to also check your ceremony venue’s availability too.
Hopefully there will be at least one, maybe a few dates that will be free with all. Ask them if they would be able to keep a pin on your preferred date for you for a few days, time to get in touch with your families (and maybe some other vendors that are very important to you e.g band or photographer to check their availability) and make your final decision.
If there are a few dates for you to choose from, you could set up a poll (e.g doodle) and send the link to all your other vendors so that each can let you know their availability for each potential date. This way you could choose the date that allows you to keep as many of your vendors as possible!
Once you have made the decision to postpone and chosen your new date, act fast: confirm the new date with your venue, caterers and planner, and contact all your other vendors to let them know.
You should also get in touch with the hotels and other accommodation you may have provisionally booked for your guests to let them know of your new wedding date. If you have not provisionally booked rooms for your guests yourselves but know that many of your guests are staying in a specific hotel, consider calling that hotel to discuss how they could re book the rooms for your new date, so you can reassure your guests about how their deposits for rooms will be passed onto your new date. They will surely appreciate it!
If you are postponing to a late 2020 date (autumn or winter) or if your wedding is currently planned for September onwards, you should take into consideration the possibility of a restriction in numbers. It may be that large gatherings over a given number of people are still banned in September, October and November.
Review your guest list and create several A, B and C lists for example. List A would be max 30 guests, list B would be max 50 guests, list C could be max 75 guests,… and so on. See what would be the minimum number of people you would definitely want to have with you on your special day. If that is 100 guests minimum, it may be wiser to postpone to 2021.
In parallel, prepare a communication for your guests. If you have a wedding website, maybe add a popup window advising of your new wedding date. Ideally you would have all your guests’ email addresses and be able to send a note to all to let them know that you have had to postpone your wedding, hoping they can make the new date.
If you have already sent out your invitations, get in touch with your stationery designer to ask if they could print a small card advising of the new date, which you can send out by mail.
If your invitations are printed but not mailed, you could do the same and just add the extra card advising of the new date, all other information on the printed invitation remaining the same (if it is the case).
Attention: if you are getting married at the same venue but at a different season, you may want/need to change your timings a bit. An outdoor ceremony and dinner in May will not take place at the same time as it would have been in August…
New contracts or addendums
Once you have set your new date and re arranged your vendors, make sure you update your contracts or sign new contracts for your new date. Vendors are receiving lots of enquiries from couples considering several dates, so it is best to avoid any confusion by having it all confirmed in writing.
Dress / outfits storage
If you have already picked up your dress / outfits from your designers, you need to make sure they are properly stored until this autumn/next year. Ask your designer for recommendation and advice!
Design, florals, etc for a different season
If you were supposed to get married in July 2020 and are postponing to May 2021, chances are some of the flowers you had chosen will not be in season. Work with your florist to make a new plan with local and seasonal flowers.
Also, temperatures may be lower in May than they would have been in July. This may mean having to set up a marquee for the evening, or hiring some heaters, or providing some blankets or pashminas after sunset… Make sure you review all of your plans according to your new date’s needs.
Could postponing your wedding cost pennies
Each vendor would have set their cancellation, change of date or force majeure/act of God policy in their contract. We would advise you to look back into every and each of the contracts signed with your vendors to work out in which capacity you could forward any deposits paid to a new wedding date.
Some vendors may not be available on your new date. You should discuss with them wether any moneys already paid would be refunded to you. If they are not able to refund your deposit, maybe they work in partnership with another vendor in the same field who could take over? It is always worth asking and discussing openly. Remember that this is a difficult situation for all of us and that nobody is responsible. We are all trying our best to be fair to our clients without putting our livelihoods and businesses at risk.
Some vendors may ask you for a postponement fee. There are a few reasons for that:
- Currently a lot of 2020 weddings are being cancelled or postponed, which means most professionals in the wedding industry are going to earn very little or even sometimes 0 this year if they just forward their 2020 deposits to 2021 weddings.
- Some/most of us are not able to double the amount of weddings we can do next year to make up for this year. If those vendors are not earning at all this year, they may well have to close their business… which means all deposits paid will be lost.
The ideal situation would be that all your vendors are available on your new date and able to pass your deposits on to the next year without any additional fee. To note that 2021 pricing may be higher than 2020 and there may be a difference in the rate chargeable by your vendors for next year.
Note that vendors will be more likely available or able to forward your deposit and not charge postponement fees if your new date falls on a week day (Monday to Thursday) or on a usually quiet date (Mid-October to April for weddings in France). Although in normal times you may not have considered asking your guests to travel mid week, these are very special circumstances and I am pretty sure that there will be lots of week day weddings in 2021… and it will be OK.
If you have wedding insurance, get in touch with your insurers as soon as possible to confirm the terms of their cover. It may be that any cancellation or postponement cost will be covered!
We are all in the same boat and we are all affected, most of us in a substantial way, by the Coronavirus. Although you have every right to be disappointed, sad, and frustrated, this is what it is. The good news is, everyone from vendors to guests will be very understanding of the circumstances, and whatever you choose is best for you will work for everyone else.
We understand that things can be overwhelming and a bit scary right now, but as soon as you will have put your action plan in place and confirmed a new date you will feel much better already!