Couples and the wedding industry have had to scramble the past few months as they figured out how to plan around a global pandemic. Not only have we had to question WHEN we can plan a wedding, but also HOW. What will weddings look like moving forward? And how can couples (and vendors) protect themselves amidst all the uncertainty?
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We connected with David Berke, founder of eWed Insurance and former managing partner at Colin Cowie, to see what he thinks weddings will look like over the next few months, as well as ways you can negotiate your wedding contracts and deposits moving forward to make sure you’re covered no matter what issues might arise. Read on for his expert tips!
First things first…Most couples want to know if wedding insurance (or any other type of insurance) will cover cancellations due to Covid-19?
At this time there is not a wedding insurance company in the world that I am aware of that is offering any kind of Covid-19 coverage. If there was, I would let every bride know. Insurance was not designed or priced to cover pandemic-type losses.
The best advice I could offer to a wedding couple is to specifically negotiate what happens to their payments to a venue and/or a vendor in the event the wedding needs to be canceled or postponed due to Covid-19. The couple should discuss with their venue/vendors different possible scenarios (IE: a government order prohibiting large events, not being able to hold the event because friends and family are afraid of attending, the bride or groom becoming ill with Covid-19, etc.). One thing that will be particularly difficult is if there is a vendor bankruptcy. In that situation there is no company left to refund the couple’s deposit. (More on that below!)
How can a couple protect themselves going forward?
It would smart to negotiate a delayed deposit schedule (you pay the deposits closer to the actual wedding date). Your caterer, florist, band, etc. don’t need your money six months prior to the wedding. They are not paying for anything associated with your wedding that far out. This way you have some protection in that you are laying out less money early on.
Another idea that has not been used but is certainly possible is to open an escrow account to hold all vendor deposits. This way the vendor knows you are committed to moving forward with them and you are not risking them going out of business and keeping your deposit. This is a brand new idea that I think will gain a lot of traction in the near future.
WGM Says: Escrow is a legal arrangement in which a neutral third party (IE: a bank or agent) temporarily holds your funds until a service or condition has been filled.
What do you think weddings will look like over the next few months?
As we emerge from the lockdown, there will still be a lot of confusion on how to best move forward. The smartest way to proceed would be to imagine different phases of thinking ahead.
Here is what Berke thinks planning will look like over the next few months:
There will still be concerns about allowing large group gatherings. I recommend limiting your plans to mainly intimate, family-only weddings or virtual weddings.
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I see a big return to normalcy at this point. People will be tired of not socializing. We need to interact with others. But I believe larger gatherings will be done with some caution initially. Less seating per table to spread people out, less crowded dance floors, no conga lines, etc. Buffet style weddings will be a big “maybe” at best. Also waiters will probably be wearing some type of protective gear. The band/DJstage will probably be set back farther from the dance floors and obviously everything will be disinfected. I doubt you will see guests wearing face masks, but who knows for sure. Gift bags and party favors will probably be a “no.” The new wedding favor will be a packet of wipes at each guest’s seat.
Weddings will likely return to normal if we don’t have a return of the virus in a major way. There will probably be some residual social distancing but far less. Wedding couples will want to celebrate with their friends and families and not from a distance.
Do you have any tips on how to make a or small wedding feel special?
Every wedding should feel special. Small weddings are easy. The couple could ask each guest to write a note to the couple that will be opened on the couple’s one year wedding anniversary. Also, small weddings afford the couple the opportunity to really visit with each guest, and they should take advantage of that opportunity. Same for taking a picture with each guest at a small wedding.
How can couples celebrate again after having a smaller or virtual wedding?
Party, party, party in 2021. A one-year blowout wedding anniversary party is always fun. There is nothing stopping you from having an officiant at the anniversary to marry you all over again. If it’s a small virtual wedding, once again, think of personalized things you could do for each guest (send a picture, write a hand written note, etc.)