Corona Virus and Wedding Cancellations
Nobody could have predicted the current Covid-19 situation and my heart goes out to anyone who is in the middle of having or about to have a wedding.
Your friends and family likely don't want to travel and the current situation, as of March 21st, 2020 in the United States is a lockdown on any gathering of more than 10 people.
Anyone who has been to a wedding, especially a large Indian or South Asian wedding knows that we sometimes wake up next 10 people.
How to Postpone Weddings during Corona Virus
The situation is currently changing daily, however given so many couples, guests, families and vendors are unsure how to navigate this time, I thought I'd jot down how we are proceeding in order to help you navigate this unprecedented time.
Please note I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice and every situation is different. I am just sharing things I am seeing in the event industry.
1. Ask your Hotel or Venue for Options
Given the legal order to avoid meeting in hotels, even if you're past your deposit period I'm pretty sure your hotel is watching the news just like you.
Chances are if your wedding was in the month of March or April in 2020 your hotel is going to either refund your non-refundable deposit or let it be used towards a date in the next 12 to 18 months.
2. Email Your Guests and Let them Know it's Ok whatever happens
You have best friends who may not want to travel, pregnant friends who wouldn't risk anything, grandparents who can't bear to see you cry, we get it.
Again, if your wedding of over 10 people was in March or April of 2020 we understand it might be cancelled or a much smaller affair, so if you're pushing ahead let everyone (even your closest friends now) you understand. Perhaps use whatever money you saved or got returned towards a bigger party when things return to normal?
3. Ask your Vendors for Options
At our company we are being flexible on using deposits for up to 12 months and in some cases longer.
A florist who may have already spent $10,000 on your flowers for the weekend may not have that luxury.
If you told your caterer to go ahead last week and then he/she spent the $4000 on raw materials and now you're pulling out, well, each of those are a case by case basis.
Most vendors may not have an initial sunk cost (Photographers, Emcees, DJs, Lighting, Priests, Planners & Coordinators, Video) will be much more understanding in extending your deposit than someone like a catering or decorator who has already spent thousands procuring the time and materials for your event.
Please remember most vendors currently in the wedding industry have lost about 4 months of income and are literally having hundreds of thousands of dollars wiped out for their employees and family.
4. Cancel the Whole Wedding and Try to Recuperate Losses
Every situation is different and for our younger couples I can only imagine someone who waited to see what folded, then lost thousands in cancelled plane tickets, empty hotel rooms and months of planning.
If that is the case, the good news is I'm sure we'll see airlines offer refunds (with aid from Uncle Sam) and similar breaks as more and more legislation unfolds. I've also seen people use online fundraising and friends and family chip in.
Everybody is trying to work through this difficult time and these are just a few of the things I'm hearing in the wedding industry. How are you navigating this time? Let me know in the comments below and I'll do my best to suggest some options.
Ajay Manaktala is a wedding expert on Quora and has helped over 100,000 couples virtually and 1000 in person make their wedding day one to remember.