Last night, we cancelled our wedding and postponed it to next year. It was such a difficult decision for both of us but it had to be made. We found it difficult to ignore the current spike in coronavirus cases as well as the restrictions due to travel bans and government lockdowns. We also felt like it was the responsible thing to do. By cancelling, we can do our part in helping prevent the spread of the coronavirus and limiting the number of people congregating into groups.
Right now, saying I’ve walked in my clients’ shoes sounds like the understatement of the year. Wedding planning is already stressful on its own. When you have to deal with a series of events beyond your control, the stress you feel can reach an entirely new level. However, I believe that there is always a silver lining to everything.
As difficult as it has been, the coronavirus situation has shown me in great detail what my clients are going through. It helped educate me about what they really feel, what they need from me and how I can better serve them in times like this.
To those of you who are in the same situation and had to make the same heartbreaking decision, I feel you. I know how hard it is and how devastated you must be right now. I’ve been there too. I respect you for making the difficult decision of prioritising health and safety in this time of uncertainty. To those of you who are still on the fence about making a decision, here’s a practical guide on the things you can do right now.
Rely on information and coronavirus updates from official and credible sources
Be mindful of where you get your information. Accurate information can only come from credible official sources. The most reliable and trustworthy source of information on the Novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak is the World Health Organisation (WHO). A visit to its official website is a sensible way to learn about the ongoing pandemic.
WHO provides rolling updates, the latest information and guidance on coronavirus, travel advice and responses to frequently asked questions. Watch out for updates issued by your national and local government. Stay alert for any safety precautions they advice or any restrictions they may implement.
Of course there are also other sources of information. However, beware that some of them (especially those shared randomly on social media) may not be based on valid information. Some might just be scaremongering tactics. Not all information you read will be accurate. Some might just cause you unnecessary panic and worry. You don’t need that right now, do you? The best thing to do is to only follow the advice coming from the official health organisations and your local government. Know the difference between facts and rumours. Ignore fake news.
Check your wedding insurance policy if it covers events similar to the coronavirus pandemic
Make sure you check your wedding insurance provider’s terms and conditions (including the small print). Those will help you understand under which circumstances you will be covered. You’d want to be clear as to what the insurance policy benefits are available to you. Some policies will not cover costs of cancelling an overseas wedding unless the relevant government body has officially advised against travel to that country. Consider this and other possible scenarios in mind when checking your coverage.
Are you are having a destination wedding? Know that wedding insurance is different from travel insurance. A typical wedding insurance policy will not cover costs related to cancelled flights. However, airlines have issued statements due to recent developments and a spike in the transmission of the Novel Coronavirus disease. In fact most airlines will offer free rebooking or cancelling of flights to or from countries or areas affected by the outbreak. Be mindful that these companies may be inundated with requests at the moment so be patient when communicating your concerns.
Maintain good communication lines with your wedding suppliers
Whether you have a wedding insurance policy or not, you should review the relevant supplier contract terms. Have open discussions with your wedding coordinator/planner and other suppliers. In many cases you will not be able to recover deposits you have paid if you cancel the wedding. However, see how flexible they would be about making changes to the date instead.
As a wedding supplier myself, I know that everyone in the wedding industry would want to do all they can to help their clients. As such, it is well worth having that open discussion to raise your concerns. Remember, it is in everyone’s interest that the wedding goes ahead even if some changes need to be made.
Have a contingency plan
No one knows for sure how widespread or serious the COVID-19 pandemic will become. We don’t know either when it will finally be eliminated. While it’s good to keep a positive outlook, it’s better to have a sensible plan of action. Think ahead and prepare for more difficult circumstances that are beyond your control.
You could opt to postpone your wedding to a later date. I understand that this is a very difficult decision to make. After a long period of preparation and anticipation, this could be heartbreaking. However, it pays to be practical in this time of uncertainty. There are now many travel bans, government lockdowns, quarantines and restrictions in place. It is possible that some of your guests may not even be able to make it. Consider that this could significantly reduce the size of your party. Those who will come will most likely be concerned about their safety.
It is also possible that official advice might be issued to avoid larger social gatherings for a time. This will prevent your wedding celebrations from going ahead at all. Weddings usually involve large numbers of people in close proximity. This could potentially lead to widespread transmission of the virus if any of the guests happens to be a carrier of the coronavirus. Make sure you have considered this.
Prioritise health and safety
You can also consider modifying some aspects of the celebrations to minimise the health risks. You may want to opt for a more intimate wedding than first planned. Why not limit guest numbers to include only immediate family and close friends? You can plan a bigger event at a later date once the pandemic has been contained.
If you’re determined to proceed with your wedding, you could make arrangements with your guests’ safety in mind. This might involve adding hand washing stations throughout the wedding venue. Instead of having a wedding buffet, a sit-down meal could be a better option. It could reduce the risks of virus transmission. While it may seem extreme to some people, you could also ask your guests to avoid physical contact. Weddings are social events though so this could be a real challenge.
Be kind to yourself
Wedding planning is stressful and when you are faced with more challenges than you expected. Thus, you might easily forget how to take care of yourself. Your wedding was already affected by the ongoing pandemic. Don’t let it affect your mind and body too. Give yourself enough time to heal and process the situation and then move forward.
There is no known cure for the Novel Coronavirus disease at the moment. Therefore, your best line of defence is a strong immune system. Take good care of your health, avoid eating junk food, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. Stay away from crowded areas, cancel unnecessary travel and practice social distancing. Ensure that you are taking the necessary medicine prescribed by your doctor if you have a pre-existing condition.
Now that wasn’t too complicated, was it? Every challenge is an opportunity to become a stronger person and every delay could potentially lead to a pleasant surprise. I hope you found this useful and I hope you also find your own silver lining.