What is the impact of the Coronavirus on your wedding? As a wedding planner in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the majority of our weddings are “destination weddings” where couples and guests travel into the area to get married. I am seeing the impact of couples thinking about canceling or postponing their wedding due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. It is uncharted territory for many couples, venues, and wedding professionals.
COVID-19 (aka the coronavirus), is rapidly impacting all areas of business. The wedding industry is not immune to the virus, and unfortunately, if you are having a wedding this year (and maybe more specifically, within the next six months), your wedding could very well be impacted by the pandemic. What does this mean to you?
If you are planning a wedding, you may be considering whether or not to cancel or postpone your wedding. Whether your wedding is next weekend, a month from now, or several months it could impact your decision to postpone or cancel your wedding. If your wedding is a destination wedding, or if guests are coming in from heavily infected areas, you may have additional considerations to take into account.
You need to think about the safety of you and your guests attending your wedding. While it is frustrating and disheartening to think about putting off your wedding, it is better to be prepared. Arm yourself with as much information as you can, research your options, and do what is best for you in these trying times.
Here are some scenarios you may encounter when considering the impact of the Coronavirus on your wedding:
1. The need to cancel or postpone your wedding due to sickness of yourselves, or your immediate family.
2. The need to cancel or postpone your wedding due to the reduced number of guests able to attend your wedding.
3. Travel restrictions impacting your decision to cancel or postpone your wedding. This could include a travel ban on getting to your destination wedding or a restriction on guests flying to your wedding.
4. Quarantines could impact the need to cancel or postpone your wedding. This could mean quarantines in the region you live in, or quarantine of the region your wedding is in. You, your wedding guests, or your wedding service providers could face quarantine.
5. The closure of your wedding venue due to an outbreak could mean that your wedding is canceled altogether.
6. Bans of public gatherings that are in place, or could be put in place (e.g. a ban on gatherings of 250 people or more, 50 or more internationals, etc.).
7. A desire for social conscientiousness to not contribute to the spreading of the virus.
The decision to cancel or postpone your wedding, or to go ahead with your wedding as planned, should not be taken lightly. You and your partner will need to have a discussion on what you want to do, and maybe what is the “right thing” to do. You shouldn’t have to feel guilty about going ahead with your wedding, so long as it is safe for you and your guests. It’s paramount to consider all scenarios and to keep yourselves and your guests safe.
If you are lucky enough to be in an unaffected area, and your wedding is proceeding as planned, you may still want to ask guests to stay at home if they aren’t feeling well, or if they have symptoms. Take the necessary precautions to keep yourselves and your guests safe. Ask yourself what if one of your guests get sick while attending your wedding? What will you do? What if your venue gets shut down? Every wedding, every area, every situation is different, and you will need to take into consideration your specific situation.
Resources to help you?
One of the first resources you have is your wedding venue contract. Read it over carefully. What does it say? Is there a “force majeure” clause, which is a contract provision that allows a party to suspend or terminate their obligations usually as a result of unforeseeable events, or an “act of God”? The COVID-19 pandemic will likely fall under this category.
Know the cancellation policies of your wedding venue and your service providers. Will you lose your deposit? Have you paid money in addition to your deposit? Will you get any money back if you cancel? Can you postpone your wedding indefinitely, or can you reschedule for another date without penalty? Remember, you have signed contracts with your vendors. You have to make arrangements with your vendors if you are wanting to alter the arrangements. You may need to amend the original contract if they are willing.
You will want to know how much money, if any, you can expect back from your service providers, or how much money you may still owe. Even if you cancel your wedding, you may still be obligated to make payments or find yourself in breach of contract. Know your contract!
Read all your signed contracts with vendors, and if necessary, speak with your wedding vendors and work to make arrangements with them should you decide to cancel or postpone your wedding. Can you re-book with your service providers for a later date? What if the vendor is already booked with another wedding on the date you plan to re-schedule your wedding? Being informed is the key to making the right decisions for your specific situation.
Here are 10 steps to take right now when deciding to cancel or postpone your wedding:
1. Research information on the area where your wedding will take place. How is the virus impacting that area? Are there any restrictions in place (including travel restrictions or warnings, quarantines, etc.)? Keep in mind that this is a fluid situation, and things could change rapidly. Stay up-to-date.
2. Read over all your signed contracts with your wedding venue and service providers. Know their cancellation policies.
3. Get in touch with your wedding venue and service providers as soon as possible. See what kind of flexibility they have, and what arrangements can be made in the event you decide on canceling, postponing, or rescheduling. If you are planning on rescheduling, have a few alternative dates in mind when you contact the venue.
4. Know what money you still owe, and know what you may potentially lose. You have contractual obligations to fulfill unless you are able to make alternate arrangements with your vendors.
5. Know the impact on your overall budget. Maybe you will have to reschedule to a date farther in the future then you originally thought as a result of your financial situation?
6. Did you purchase wedding insurance? Now is the time to know exactly what is or isn’t included in your policy. Do you need to seek more information from your insurance provider? How do government opposed sanctions affect your insurance coverage? Ask questions!
7. If you didn’t purchase insurance, can you still do so? If your event is in the near future, you probably won’t be able to get a new policy as the Corona Virus was a “pre-known condition” as of January. However, if your wedding is set-off in the future, you may be able to still get insurance (keeping in mind that companies will likely not cover a “pandemic”, but you may be able to get basic coverage in the event of cancellation that is not directly related to the virus). Again, know what your policy includes if you do manage to find an underwriter for insurance.
8. Discuss guest safety, and determine what steps you need to take to ensure their safety.
9. What are your wedding must-haves, and how does this inform your decision to postpone or cancel your wedding? Do you have to make compromises with your wedding vision? What are you comfortable with giving up?
10. If you have to alter your plans, then what? What alternatives can you come up with? What are your options?
Discuss your plans with each other, and with your family. Make a responsible, and informed decision that is best for everyone involved. Though it isn’t a pleasant discussion, it is an important one.
Keep in mind, that while your wedding is important, you want it to remain special. You want to have fond memories as you look back on your wedding. You don’t want your wedding to be cause for concern for your guests that may be faced with fear or worry that they might contract the virus. Your wedding should be a place of special memories. You will know what is right for your situation.
We wish you all the best with your decisions. Know that you are not alone in this crisis. Your wedding community is here as compassionate support for you. We are here to support you however we can now and in the future.
If your wedding is not moving forward at this time, keep in mind that it is only a roadblock for now. You will get married when the time is right for you! We wish you all the best as you grapple with this ever-evolving situation!
We will be reaching out to all our wedding clients over the next few days and weeks. We have begun addressing this issue with some of you already! Please get in touch if you have questions, and if you haven’t heard from us yet, please have patience, as we may be dealing with time-sensitive matters with upcoming weddings.
UPDATE: Weddings over 15 are not currently allowed in Alberta in an extreme effort to “flatten the curve” of transmission. Most wedding venues are only evaluating weddings on an individual basis that take place within the next 30 to 60 days. If your wedding falls within this time period, I do suggest you get in touch with your venue as soon as possible. Weddings outside the 60-day mark can email their venues (depending on the venue, don’t necessarily expect an answer right away). If you know that you for sure would like to post-pone your wedding regardless of the date, it may be beneficial to suggest a preferred date. It might help expedite the process while still allowing you to re-book your venue on a desirable date. Otherwise, these dates could book up.
Getting Married in Banff or in other parts of Alberta?
I will try and update on this site as I am able, but I encourage you to check with the official agencies for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
UPDATES: Currently, as of April 19, 2020, here are some stats on Canada and Alberta:
• There are 2,803 confirmed cases in Alberta, including 55 deaths.
• As of April 19, 2020, there have been 101, 323 COVID-19 tests completed with 1,198 recovered cases.
In Canada overall, there is 34,777 confirmed cases, and 1,580 deaths. There have been 549, 349 tests (14,555 tests per 1 million population).
If you are interested in checking out the modeling projected by Alberta Health Services, you can do so here.
Some important notes of the Alberta modeling include that Alberta (and to a slightly lesser extent, Canada), appear to be modeling similar curves to that of South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.
Of the four major provinces, Alberta is currently testing at the highest rate and the lowest rates of hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and deaths reported.
Under the probable model, Alberta is predicted to reach its peak number of cases of infections mid-May.
• Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer has advised the following mass gatherings should be canceled:
1. All events over 15 should be canceled.
Events that do not meet this criterion can proceed, but risk mitigation measures must be in place, such as providing sanitizer stations, enhanced cleaning protocols and distancing between attendees.
All weddings may need to be canceled. There are many wedding venues in the mountains closed, and access to Parks are closed. The registry offices are only open on a limit basis with appointments only.
• World Health Organization’s bulletins for updated travel advice
• Calgary specific information – live updates
• In Alberta, if you develop symptoms – cough, fever or difficulty breathing – stay home and call Health Link 811 for instructions and testing. Do not go to the ER or doctor’s office.
For information on British Columbia (Emerald Lake Lodge and Golden weddings fall under this umbrella) visit http://www.bccdc.ca/
If I have missed anything or have something wrong, please send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.