From Isolation to Aisle in 30 days!
Being a bride in 2020 will forever change your marriage story. In a time where everyone has seen some disruption to their day to day life, this new normal has brought an entirely different level of uncertainty for those planning a wedding this year. And as couples, and the entire wedding industry, scramble to keep pace with a situation that remains fluid but frankly feels like it is going no where brides and grooms are left with big decisions, no real timelines and a whole lot of currency, emotional and financial, on the table.
Many of the brides I have spoken to feel equally guilty and concerned for their future plans. In comparison to a world wide outbreak a pretty dress and a big party seems a little like Cher complaining about going to a party in the Valley. But the truth is, weddings have always been a symbol of hope and promise. Not just for the bride and groom, but the family and friends that surround them. And even for us vendors, who have built entire businesses on being a part of these symbolic and special occasions.
I wanted to find a way to provide something that would feel like a plan in a time where making plans just doesn’t seem possible. Because the hardest part of this for everyone is the unknowns. What if the social distancing measures are lifted? What if my guest list exceeds the number allowed? What if the travel restrictions remain the same? What if I can’t get my dress altered in time? The what if’s have become mind numbing. So what if we plan for the smallest window possible to get this wedding train back on track so we can hope for the best instead of just planning for the worst.
I asked the lovely Leanne from Prairie Sky Events to help me answer some tough questions using her expertise as a wedding planner and together we discussed postponement, cancellation and logistics. The result? Some great advice and a FREE CHECKLIST that will get your from Isolation to Aisle in just 30 days. Read the interview below and don’t forget to grab you FREE CHECKLIST when you are done!
Q. As someone who is in direct contact with brides and other wedding vendors, what date are you comfortable working with for brides who wish to get married in 2020 as of today?
This is really a hard question to answer mostly because it depends on the couple’s story and it really changes every single day. I'm currently working with my May to July couples and looking at postponement possibilities with them and then going month by month with each couple to figure out when makes the most sense. Some couples are moving to the fall with the caveat that they need to realize they may have to move again and (in doing so) may have to be doing this whole process over. I have the conversation every time we move a wedding date,” do you want to have to discuss postponement again in July or August or do you want to just reduce the stress and move it automatically to 2021?”. Obviously there are people who want to get married in 2020 no matter what and we talk about the options that are available to them regarding reducing the size, just having a simple elopement or looking at other innovative ways we can do things. So truthfully, there is not a specific answer for me on what date to move to or what date I'm comfortable with. It really depends on the couple, their wants and desires, their current wedding date, as well as the venue's availability.
Q. Explain the difference between postponement and cancellation and the benefits to postponement?
Okay so there is a big difference between postponements and cancellations. Postponement is when you take your current date and move it to another date. Most couples are currently moving their date to late 2020 or 2021. Postponement allows you to move your date without too many added costs. Most vendors are doing this for free due to the current situation. Cancellation means you aren't going forward with your wedding day at all. This option make me sad since they have been building up to this and having the opportunity to celebrate is so important to me. When you cancel your wedding you are forfeiting all your current retainers, initial payments and possibly future payments depending upon the contracts of your vendors. I highly discourage this as there are always ways we can still help you reinvent your wedding. As an industry we are strongly encouraging couples to postpone to a) help themselves out by ensuring they will still get their special day and b) helping the industry to not lose out on these amazing events that we are so excited to be a part of. If you want to have it in 2020, we can look at some options depending upon the current government regulations as well as we can see how we can change what we were to provide you into something slightly different if needed.
Q. As a planner, offer some insight into why using a coordinator is so important during a time like this.
I am super biased toward this question (obviously!) as I feel great pride in working for my couples. I can see their stress reduce when we have a conversation and they know they have somebody in their court that understands them as a couple, understands their reasons for getting married, understands their personalities and is there to just help them through this time. For some of my couples I have guided them on moving their dates, reviewed contracts for them as well as given direction and suggestions on what the best steps forward are. This time is stressful and there are lots of different people giving advice. As a wedding planner, we are known to be (and really have to be) the calmest person in the room. In this way we are there to be that sober second thought, industry expert and the person who can calm them down and think rationally based upon their situation.
Q. Our wedding vendor community is fairly communicative in all of this, what would you want our Manitoba brides to know about their local vendors during this unprecedented time?
That we are here for them. The Manitoba wedding industry is fairly small but big all the same time. Us vendors have been meeting weekly to discuss the current situation and how we can help & support each other. Through it all, we come from a place of an immense amount of love and care for our couples who are getting married this year. We understand how tough this if for them and we just want to be there for them and have them know that we are working for them. This is such an unprecedented time but we want to ensure that they get to celebrate at the end of all of this.
Q. How do you proceed with a postponement- who do you contact first and what are the most time-sensitive services that require decisions promptly or impact your finances the most?
If you have a wedding planner I would suggest starting there, they may be able to assist you depending upon their contract and packages. They will give you some guidance on processes and next steps. Then I would be to talk to your venue. Most venues are not able to accommodate more than one event at the same time. I would recommend starting there to figure out what they are doing for their couples and what their schedule looks like. You need to remember a lot of our venues that we as Manitobans pride ourselves on are rural and some of them are not available all year. These venues will have fewer options for postponement and you need to be understanding of the constraints that exist. If your venue can accommodate any season and you are flexible in moving your date then you can probably wait a little longer to postpone.
Regardless, start with your venue as it's probably your biggest expense and their openings will dictate when you can get married (unless you are okay with switching venues!)
Once you have some options for new dates I would send a mass email to ALL of your vendors with some possible dates of postponement, indicating whether or not your decision to postpone has been finalized. Ask them to give you their availability for the possible dates. Then you can evaluate based on the vendors' responses which date works best for you as a couple. There might be some vendors you can't imagine your day without and others that you are okay to forfeit your contact with if you have to. These are decisions you need to make as a couple. Every couple will have different vendors that they want to ensure are a part of their special day. Ideally, we can find a date that works for everyone but unfortunately, that is not always the case.
Q. Since the situation is always changing, many brides are going to wait as long as possible to course correct their plans, what are the risks to doing so?
Waiting things out can seem like a great idea and I understand those that are doing this, however the risk of this is that you may not get your ideal vendors. If you are an August couple and you really want to get married in August 2021 you may not get that option if you wait too long. Availability of your vendors is going to be really tight for 2021 as we are currently getting inquiries from 2021 couples and, at the same time, we are postponing our 2020 clients. This is a tough balance for all of us as we are booking 2021 with both new clients and postponement clients. If you are even considering postponing and you have certain vendors that you absolutely want to be a part of your wedding I would be checking with them right away just to see what the options are and what their timeline is looking like for next year.
Q. Is there an important aspect of planning during a pandemic that you feel is not really being addressed by brides/overlooked in all this chaos?
I think an important thing to remember when your planning during the pandemic is to keep planning but ask the good questions about retainers, postponements, what vendor availability is like for future dates and on what timeline they need to know any changes. Planning your day is so important and exciting so keep doing the things that are happy and good. We as an industry are there to help you if and we will do everything we can to make your special day happen!
Leanne was able to highlight some fantastic points about working with vendors, potential outcomes and how to approach the situation with a clear idea of what is most important to you as a couple. But I think the most valuable part of her insight was to just keep planning and focus on the happy and good things that come from looking forward to the future. Communication is vital, between you and your your partner and with your vendors.
For those of you who hope to get married in 2020 we have no way of knowing when the things will return to normal, or some version of it, but when it does we have got you covered with a FREE printable checklist to get you from Isolation to Aisle in 30 days!
Did we just become best friends?!
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Leanne Rajotte is the owner and head event planner for Prairie Sky Events. She believes in celebrating all of life's moments!