The purpose of this blog is to share with you the steps I am taking on behalf of my clients to minimise the impact of coronavirus on them and their wedding celebrations. I hope this is helpful.
How will coronavirus affect my wedding?
The main areas of impact in my opinion will be:
- The need to cancel or postpone due to the sickness of the couple or their immediate family.
- The need to cancel or postpone due to a reduction in the number of guests who are able to attend.
- Closure of a wedding venue due to an outbreak.
- Cancellations by wedding suppliers who are sick or in quarantine.
- A blanket ban on weddings put in place by the government which means your wedding has to be cancelled or postponed.
You and your partner will need to have a conversation about who are the “must have” guests at your wedding and what you will do if any of those guests become sick and are unable to attend. It is worth checking where you stand with your insurance policy. Some policies will cover postponement or cancellation due to the sickness of the couple or an immediate family member.
Then you may need to discuss whether you would cancel or postpone if a certain number of guests are unable to attend. This may occur due to travel restrictions, sickness or their own concerns. It is worth having this figure in mind. Then if you have a date where you need to make a second wave of payments (e.g. 6 weeks before your wedding) it may be worth checking in with your guests and seeing what your attendance is likely to be at that point. Again, some insurance policies will cover postponement or cancellation as a result of a reduction in guest numbers so it is worth asking your insurers or checking your policy.
You will need to check each and every contract that you have signed for your wedding and write down their postponement and cancellation policies. For most couples there will be a sliding scale of payments due, so if you cancel “x” weeks before the wedding you lose your deposit but if you cancel “y” weeks before the wedding then you owe the full amount. I would put all of these in a table and highlight the key dates in your calendar. Again, this gives you a timeline for making any tough decisions.
Have a conversation with your wedding suppliers. We will all understand the situation you are in so do not be afraid to clarify where you stand. We are in it too and everyone wants to find a solution! Most wedding suppliers are self employed and so a summer of cancellations and postponements will be as terrifying to them as it is to you. I think this is about working together and finding a solution should the worst happen.
Speak with all of your suppliers and find out who their “back-up” is in case they are sick. Doing this now allows you time to look into them and check that you are happy. That will make it a lot less stressful if one of your wedding suppliers rings you the week before your wedding and says they are not able to attend.
Perhaps, the weirdest part of all of this is that you actually need to encourage any sick guests or suppliers not to come. Unlike where couples normally would be furious at somebody cancelling last minute you need to create a method of communication where this is encouraged. I believe that is done by opening the channels of communication about it now. The last thing you want is someone to bring coronavirus into a room of all of your favourite people!
Steps to take at your wedding or event to prepare for coronavirus:
- Speak with all of your suppliers and find out who their “back-up” is in case they are sick. Doing this now allows you time to look into them and check that you are happy. That will make it a lot less stressful if one of your wedding suppliers rings you the week before your wedding and says they are not able to attend.
- Have a list of all guests and suppliers (and their staff). This list should contain their name and their contact details. You will then be able to give this list to the health authority if someone tells you that they are sick after your wedding. No-one wants to spend their honeymoon compiling a list! Equally make sure that all guests and suppliers have a point of contact (this will be me as wedding planner) in case they get sick after your wedding.
- Make sure that all of your suppliers are following hygiene advice.
- Encourage guests and suppliers not to attend if they are unwell.
- Make sure there are plenty of hand washing facilities available. This is particularly relevant at outdoor weddings where you may have mobile toilets. It may definitely be worth having a few extra soaps and hand washes if they run out.
- Identify a room as an area that someone could be isolated if they fall ill at your wedding. Have on hand the local health facility details.
Wedding Insurance and Coronavirus
I am hoping that everyone reading this has wedding insurance in place. In which case it will be a case of understanding the terms of your wedding insurance. You will be wanting to discover whether your policy covers you for the risks that I have outlined above. One thing to look out for is whether your insurance policy excludes liability arising from a change in law or regulation. If it does, this is where it can get slightly trick if the government was to introduce a law or regulation banning certain gatherings. If this does happen, we suspect (perhaps hope) that it will only be for a limited period.
Another thing worth mentioning is that your wedding insurance may specify what the trigger has to be. For example, it may be that the wedding venue has to cancel in order for you to be covered rather than you cancelling. It is certainly wise to speak with your insurer before taking any action.
For those of you who do not, if your wedding is more than 3 months away then there are still some insurance policies out there. If however, your wedding is in the next 3 months then I am afraid most providers have suspended the issue of new policies whilst their underwriters consider their positions. However, this is where being really on top of your contractual provisions and when your final payments are due will help you to know when is the time to make those really hard decisions.