The Wedding Industry During The Coronavirus Outbreak

 In Advice

The Wedding Industry During The Coronavirus Outbreak 

Q&A from Charlotte Ricard-Quesada, founder of luxury wedding planning company, La Fête

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak should I cancel or postpone my wedding?

I would always recommend postponing and not cancelling. This decision should be made between both partners and whoever is funding the wedding. Right now, there might not be a date that you feel comfortable postponing to, due to the uncertainty around the virus, and that’s okay. But if you want to ensure that your suppliers can keep their companies afloat during this difficult time, don’t cancel. Speak to them openly about your concerns and negotiate a middle ground, such as keeping your already-made payments as credit with them to use for your wedding, once a date has been set. We’re all in this together at the end of the day!

When is the right time to communicate with guests about the postponement of my wedding?

Your venue will, of course, dictate when your wedding will be rescheduled (due to their future availability). Once the venue has informed you that you will have to reschedule your wedding to another date, then begin to tell all of your vendors the same. I would then advise to immediately tell your guests. You don’t have to have a definitive new date in mind, but it would be helpful if you shared a few tentative date options to your guests so they are looped into the current situation and can prepare as much as they can for it (especially if your guests are flying in for the occasion). With the majority of people in this quarantine state, everyone has time! Time to plan, time to schedule, etc. 

As a wedding planner, how would you deal with a wedding during this critical time? What would you do?

First things first, try and remain calm. I know it’s hard, but panicking won’t help you. If you’re in the process of planning a wedding in the coming months, I can’t stress enough how important it is to hit the pause button. If you keep planning as though nothing is happening, you will only stress yourself out more and risk losing large amounts of money as the big day approaches. Create a setlist of all the things you need to tackle and keep your communication channels open with all your suppliers. I know that it will be heartbreaking to delay your wedding plans, but just remember that everything is on hold right now and you’re not alone. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any tailored advice right now, I’m here to help.

Who should I contact first if I have decided to postpone/cancel if I don’t have a wedding planner?

If you are planning your wedding yourself, speak to your partner and close family first and vent your frustrations. Once that stage has passed and you want to tackle the postponement, speak to your venue and caterer: as key suppliers, they will be able to provide the most assistance and guide you along the way. See what you can negotiate with them financially and date-wise and always remember: they will do their best to accommodate you as they want to keep your business once we resume a normal life.  

And again, I can’t stress enough how cancelling events will force businesses to let go of staff or close down completely, so please please postpone instead.

How should I reach out to my suppliers if I need to cancel/postpone my wedding?

I would always advise having things by email so that you have a written trace to refer back to. Their phone lines will be off the hook right now, so if you want to call (especially if your wedding is just around the corner), get ready to wait to speak to someone. Once you have had a phone conversation, and if you haven’t already sent an email, send one as a recap and save copies in a dedicated file, so that you can keep track of all discussions.

As a wedding planner or supplier, how do you deal with angry customers?

This time is difficult for everyone and people are being affected in so many ways, in various capacities. It’s important for parties on both sides to be understanding and know that this is a situation that is out of everyone’s control. Much of the anger comes from not knowing, which is why it’s extremely important to keep customers up to date as much as possible regarding the situation. We also need to remember to be compassionate with the frustrated bride or groom at this time. A wedding is undoubtedly one of the most important and memorable days of a person’s life, so acknowledging this with the couple will go a long way. This virus won’t last forever and you want to help your customers during this tough time and be there for them when their wedding is rescheduled. 

What should I do if my wedding is planned for June/Summer months in areas affected by the virus?

This especially affects wedding hotspots such as Italy and Spain, and based on the current situation, it seems safer to postpone for now. It’s obviously your personal decision and risk to take, but even just based on the current border blocks and travel restrictions, it’s wiser to put things on hold. Even if you can still travel to your wedding destination now, nothing guarantees that that will still be the case in even a few days from now. There’s also the risk of getting stuck somewhere and unable to return home. Remember to exercise good judgement and social responsibility when you can.

When do you think the wedding industry will go back to working with certainty, especially in Europe?

Unfortunately, there are no markers of when this will be, as everything is constantly changing, so I can’t give an educated answer on this. My only advice is to accept uncertainty and learn patience for now.

If someone has planned their wedding in Italy or France, when should they postpone it to?

My advice would be to postpone for no less than a year from your original wedding date. Hopefully, the issue will resolve quicker, but you need to have some breathing room to get back on track with planning and allow your suppliers to deal with the backlog of events. As frustrating as this may be, you need to do your best to be patient and focus on the positives.

How would you guide your brides and grooms in this uncertain moment?

Compassion, understanding and always looking for the silver lining when possible. As terrible as prospects may look right now for all brides and grooms-to-be, it’s not going to last forever. If any brides and grooms out there need some advice or just someone to listen to their concerns, DM us on Instagram.

Should couples have a plan B and find a new wedding destination?

Things are so up in the air right now that I wouldn’t recommend committing fully to a new destination. If you did, you might also risk feeling like it wasn’t really the wedding destination you originally dreamed of, so be patient and your dream will come around, I promise!

How should you inform your guests if you plan to cancel your wedding?

Usually, a group email is the most effective way to inform your guests of any postponement, cancellation or change. For any people who you feel email wouldn’t work, send them a text or call them to let them know.

Talk us through the importance of having Wedding Insurance.

Wedding insurance should, in my opinion, be included in any budget. However, in the wake of COVID-19, dependent on the provider, there is no standard coverage set out. It seems as though if your venue closes and is unable to host your wedding or if a close relative were forced to self-isolate or passed away (of the virus or something else), then you would be entitled to compensation. Air travel, accommodation and personal choice to cancel do not seem to be covered. This is also why it is vital for your budget and your suppliers that you postpone and keep any payments made as vouchers or credit to be used in the future. Please do check the terms and conditions of your insurance provider though and don’t hesitate to discuss with them further as policies can and do vary from what I have mentioned here.

If I want to get married in Spring 2021, should I book now or should I wait? 

I would advise waiting and playing it by ear. Carry on with your research, Pinterest boards and shortlisting of suppliers, but don’t commit to anything financially just yet. See how everything plays out over the next couple of months, and be considerate of the backlog of weddings and date changes that venues will have to deal with once life resumes its normal course. 

Brides around the world are absolutely devastated their wedding has to be postponed. What do you suggest they do in the interim?

Many brides are going through awful feelings of having their wedding day taken away from them. To me, it’s quite similar to having a miscarriage in a lot of ways, where your hopes and dreams are suddenly taken away and there’s nothing you can do about it. My best suggestion for brides to get over this “loss”, is to focus their energy on planning a new wedding. It can be the exact same as your originally planned one, or it can be completely different. What’s important is not to dwell on the past, especially with everything being so negative at the moment. Just make sure when you’re thinking of your wedding, you’re thinking long term and what the implications are. At the end of the day, this wedding will be the one day you will look back on and remember for the rest of your life. That being said, whenever your future wedding date may be, make sure the final outcome is everything you imagined it would be – do not settle!

image by natalie delente

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