How to plan a wedding with Coronavirus

March 6, 2020

“In Sickness and in health” has a new meaning.

How do plan a wedding with all the fear of Cornoavirus? There is a lot of panic circulating now that Covid-19 is in the US, and very present throughout the globe. Just as I am writing this, the first cases in Maryland have been confirmed. This is causing a great deal of stress for couples who are in the middle of wedding planning. The key right now is to ask the right questions, stay alert, stay informed but don’t panic.  

  1. Do not panic! There is a lot of misinformation flying around. The best places to get accurate up-to-date information is still the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. At this time, they are still recommending thorough hand washing and avoiding touching your face, eyes, or mouth as your best protection. Masks are best for those already sick or health care workers.
  2. Assess your wedding’s risk. If you are planning a destination wedding with lots of guests traveling from all over (or countries where the virus is already very active like China or Japan?), your risk is greater than a local wedding with local guests. While it might be safe to assume we will continue to see cases rise, what is unknown is if the warmer weather of Spring and Summer may help reduce the virus’s spread. It’s best to keep watching and see how things are panning out before making rash decisions. Respond, don’t react.    
  3. Re-read your contracts. What is your venue and vendor’s policy on postponing vs canceling? Often postponement comes with less financial loss than out right canceling. The time to ask is now so you know what options are open to you if you need to consider adjusting the date. You may be surprised by how many people are willing to work with you given the concerns, especially in places where the virus is already very active. It’s also worth asking new vendors before you sign, what their policies are.  
  4. Wedding Insurance. Every policy is different but according to the New York Times, most policies cover the couple’s health, not world wide pandemics. In fact, a world-wide pandemic may be considered “an unforeseeable event” like acts of God, weather events or terrorism. Read your policy closely and ask your agent questions to be sure you understand what you are actually covered for. And don’t feel silly for asking these questions- you are paying money for these policies so ask every question you need to be sure you understand what you are and are not covered for.  
  5. Speak with your guests. Get a read on how your guests are doing. Are they feeling really anxious and likely to cancel on you? Are they unphased? You don’t want half your seats empty- even if you feel comfortable moving ahead. Getting a read on their concerns may give you clues about how likely people are to cancel vs weather the storm.
  6. Made in China? One of the biggest issues right now is the sheer number of wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses, suits, and other wedding decor that is made in China. Many factories are shut down and it is already causing major delays in shipping from major retailers like Azazie. DO NOT WAIT to order any item, and where possible, substitute for items made in the US. Ask bridal shops what supply they have in stock, and on hand. If you are buying from over seas, look for “ready to ship” which is likely coming from a stock they already have vs “made to order” which would be made for you and likely faces more delays. Local consignment shops, and sample stores may be a safer bet than ordering a dress from overseas. I personally got my dress from such a store; Say Yes for Less, where they sell designer gowns from previous seasons. At these stores the dress you try on IS your dress so you can be assured it will be done in time for your wedding. Remember: the risk for picking up the virus from a packages that has spent days or weeks in transit is very very low.    
  7. Honeymoons. If you haven’t considered a travel agent, now is a great time to speak with one. They will be the most up-to-date people on what destinations are safe to travel to and where to avoid. Their knowledge of hotel, resort, cruise ship, and air-line policies will be a huge asset in planning a trip where you many need to cancel or postpone as the virus moves around. They would also be very knowledgeable about travel insurance and how that may be able to help cover the risk of planning such a large trip with unforeseeable factors at work. 

This is a developing issue that we all need to follow carefully. Common sense cannot be overstated at this time- there is no need to panic, just stay aware of developments and make whatever choices you feel most comfortable with. There is nothing wrong with postponing your wedding or even doing a small elopement, with a bigger party later. No matter what, the wedding industry is full of people and vendors who genuinely want your day to be perfect, and will be as helpful as possible.  

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