With all the uncertainty surrounding everyday life right now–let alone weddings–we know you all have a ton of coronavirus wedding questions about how to actually plan your wedding amidst all this craziness. To help, we’ve taken to weekly Instagram videos and commenting in our private Woman Getting Married Facebook group, where we try to answer a lot of your coronavirus wedding planning questions (and where you can vent about just about anything you want to right now. Hey, we ALL need to vent these days!)
In this article, you can read our advice for:
Since we have been reading a lot of similar coronavirus wedding questions from users, we thought it would be good to compile our answers/advice in one place so you can refer back to them as this situation unfolds. States are beginning to slowly reopen depending on their testing data, however this is looking different for each city and county. this is looking. (See our breakdown of the latest gathering guidelines by state. The CDC now also recommends “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), and it’s unclear for how long social distancing measures will need to be enforced.
When it comes to love and coronavirus wedding planning, there are certain guidelines we think are helpful to always remember as well:
The health and safety of you and your guests comes first
Do not invite guests (especially older parents) over to witness your elopement/small ceremony wedding right now and risk them being exposed to the virus. Remember that not only are most states mandating everybody shelter at home and to only go out for essential services, health officials are finding that anyone can spread the virus with no symptoms at all. So unless you live with those you would be inviting, hold off on tying the knot just now. Just because you want to honor your original wedding date does not mean you should risk infecting loved ones. We know it’s not easy, but YOU WILL be able to get married after this has passed.
At this point we can’t recommend you go out and get your marriage license, either (and since many state court houses are closed, it’s not an option for most people). If we want to get through this we all have to follow guidelines and continue to only go out for essential needs.
However, if you need to get a marriage license for health or other legal reasons, some states are offering Emergency Marriage License options, such as Philadelphia. New York City has started their own program as well. For those who already have their marriage license, if you want to have an official wedding ceremony your officiant will need to be there in person (and observing social distancing recommendations) however we can’t really recommend this either unless, again, your wedding is required for health or legal reasons.
Instead, to honor your original canceled coronavirus wedding date, consider planning a special night-in and exchanging vows that feel relevant to you in this moment. At the end of the day it’s about your commitment to each other, not a piece of paper, so don’t risk your health or others by trying to figure out a way to make it legal.
Postpone. Don’t cancel.
Canceling your wedding will most likely mean lost deposits and you don’t want that. If you postpone and work with all your vendors to find a better date, you will reduce any extra fees you might incur. Talk to your vendors NOW and ask them about backup plans or dates you can possibly put on hold in case this extends into the summer (more on that below).
If your wedding is currently scheduled for one of the questionable months below, I would ask your venue for first right of refusal for a backup date. This is a date that they currently have available, and if you decide to “wait and see” for your existing wedding date, they will give you first choice if another couple requests it.
Our advice? If you have been offered a 2021 or 2022 date that works for you and your family/vendors, take it now.
Keep guests informed.
If your wedding was scheduled for this month or next and you haven’t let them know what’s up, now is the time to do it. The best way to keep guests informed is via your wedding website, however with this initial outreach I would enlist the help of a family member and your partner to help spread the word first via phone, e-mail or text.
From there you can remind people of your wedding website information and let them know you’ll be posting updates on there. Free “Change of Dates” are also available to Zola customers, and Zazzle is offering free updates for customers who buy invites and announcements by April 30th.
When it comes to postponing your wedding and picking a new date, be open. While Saturday weddings are obviously something we all strive for, in this new reality (and with every wedding having to be rescheduled) you might not get the date you want.
Most couples are going to have to schedule weekday weddings for the remainder of this year. So unless you are OK waiting another year to get married (which is ALWAYS an option if you are flexible) tell yourself this mantra: Wednesday is the new Saturday. I think we are ALL going to be so happy to get out of the house that we will WELCOME a weekday wedding. Trust me.
Don’t rush your RSVPs.
Chances are you will not get an accurate guest count if you send out your RSVPs at this point for an early summer wedding, so hold off as long as you can. Ask your venue when they need a final head count, and mke your RSVP deadline 2-3 weeks prior to your wedding day if possible. If your RSVP cards have already been printed, don’t worry. You can print out an insert with language such as:
Due to the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, we have changed the RSVP to 7/20. We will continue to keep you posted on our wedding plans at lindsayandcorygetmarried.com, and hope we can celebrate together soon! Stay safe. xo
If your RSVPs/invitation suite has already arrived to you stamped and sealed, consider a note on either the RSVP envelope or outer envelope, as one of our Facebook users recently did.
But do send your invites as scheduled.
If your Save the Dates or invitations are ready to go and your wedding date is currently locked in (and you feel comfortable based on the month-by-month advice below) send your Save the Dates and invites as scheduled, but lean towards the later side if possible. That could be three to four months before your wedding for Save the Dates, and six weeks for invites.
If you have not yet ordered your invites, I would consider going with a company (like Zola or Zazzle) for your Save the Dates given the free change offers, or sending a digital Save the Date. Just be sure to create a wedding website and include the url and login on your Save the Dates so guests can visit the site for any updates.
Re-schedule your pre-wedding parties, too!
Just because the date for your bachelorette party or wedding shower has passed, doesn’t mean you can’t reschedule. Even if it means doing it a week before your new wedding date or even after. Just because it’s not happening exactly when it should be doesn’t mean you can’t plan it. It will be better than ever once you do have it!
Should I postpone or should I go-ahead?
Most of the questions we’ve received have been focused on wedding dates, and if you would need to postpone based on the month. Below, we’ve included general advice we would give couples based on their existing wedding date. Keep in mind that this is just our advice, and by no means should our advice conflict with your current plans if you don’t want it to.
If your wedding is scheduled for within the next few months, you need to reach out to your vendors ASAP. And you are not bugging them. I’ve heard this sentiment echoed a lot recently. Everybody wants to get on the same page, so don’t worry about that.
If your wedding is currently scheduled for…
Our Advice: Reschedule
While many states are slowly beginning to reopen as part of the government’s Phase 1 guidelines, some states have restrictions on gatherings in place until June 10, so be sure to monitor your states guidelines for the latest news.
Given the state and CDC guidelines, your vendors should hopefully be willing to work with you to reschedule your May wedding at this point. If they are NOT willing to reschedule your wedding, then I would look at your contract and speak with an attorney if necessary.
If the guidelines for your state are extended, your vendors will most likely have no choice but to reschedule your wedding to a different date if states continue to keep non-essential businesses closed for even longer.
Read all of your vendor contracts and make sure you are clear on any force majeure clauses that might be in there, and that you communicate with your vendors (in writing) about what happens with your deposits should your date need to be pushed (for the first time or again).
Our Advice: Reschedule if you can.
Virginia has extended the closings of all non-essential businesses to June 10. And while that order might be lifted if all is looking good, at this point we just don’t know yet.
If you haven’t already, you should reach out to all your vendors and ask them what your options are. If they have an early fall date available that works for you, I would take that now and avoid the hassle of having to decide. Or if they can offer you a first right of refusal I would be prepared to jump on that if things don’t look good in two weeks.
If they are not offering backup dates at this time or if you do not want to reschedule, you will have to wait and see. Hopefully in two weeks we’ll have a clearer idea of where this is heading and what our summer is going to look like.
Our Advice: Decide as soon as possible.
Chances are if your original date is in July, your vendors might not be encouraging you to reschedule at this point. However, most planners are waiting 60 days out to decide, which would be right around now. While July weddings could be safe, you’ll want to decide whether to postpone or not ASAP. If it were up to us, I would reschedule if possible.
Our Advice: Wait until June, but have a backup date if possible.
As with most July weddings, vendors are most likely forging ahead with all weddings scheduled for later this summer and beyond, and that’s OK. If your vendors reach out to you with a later date (for this fall or next year) and that works for you I would take it before other couples do. Otherwise I think you have until June to safely decide.
Again, as with all upcoming weddings (even those scheduled for 2021 and beyond) I would ask your vendors what their contingency plans are should this (or something like it) surface again, and see if you can get a clause added to your contract (or at least e-mail verification) that your vendor will follow all government guidelines for gatherings should the need arise.
Fall weddings and beyond
Our Advice: Plan cautiously.
At this point we have to be positive and hope that by this fall things will be somewhat back to normal. People will go back to work and parties will happen once again. I know it’s normal to worry that this will never ago away but we don’t have evidence of that happening, so we have to make plans and hope that we will be in the clear. Send your Save the Dates and Invites and let yourself get excited for your wedding again!
With that said, if you have a destination wedding planned for 2020 that will require most of your guests to travel, either domestically or abroad, I would postpone to 2021 if possible. However, talk to your wedding vendors and get on the same page with them about how to best move forward.
Hopefully this advice will help you make a decision, no matter what that might be!