There are lots of things a bride stresses about when it comes to her wedding day. On my stress list I had a few things which consisted of Steve not getting the right suits for his groomsmen, our florist not being able to get peonies for my bouquet and which way to seat some of our friends that have had a fall out on our seating chart. You know what wasn’t on my list? A global pandemic. That one somehow missed my radar completely and snuck up on me with less than 2 months to go until our big day. Now, I know that there are way, way bigger things going on in the world right now than a wedding, believe me I understand that. But I also know how sad it feels when the biggest day of your life gets cancelled, so with that in mind I wanted to write this wedding planning update. Not to complain or whine, but to provide other brides with knowledge of what to do when you are going through this and how to handle having your wedding postponed or moved. Brides of COVID-19, lets unite in this together!
How do you make a decision?
As I type this, we are sitting in a nationwide lockdown, so for any brides that were getting married between the 26th of March and the 16th of April, it wasn’t much of a choice. We made the decision to postpone our wedding on the 14th of March, so a little before the State Of National Disaster was declared. When making this decision, our biggest priority was the health and safety of our guests, and given the fact that a quarter of our guests were coming from overseas (and some from highly infected countries) we made the decision to postpone our wedding. I have no idea how the pandemic will play out, but the way I see it, is that if the virus has not reached a conclusion or a break by the end of the year, then a wedding will be the least of my worries. Postponing your wedding (and now I’m talking if you are getting married May-July) is such a personal choice, but I think always make a decision having the health of your family and friends, as well as your own, as the first priority. I also found this “support” group on Facebook very useful to chat to other brides about their plans, and how they are handling their situations and making decisions.
How do I tell the guests?
We sent an email informing every one of our plans, and there are a few websites currently offering some lovely “Change The Date” cards. Have a look over here for some lovely options (how cute is the “The Longer The Wait, The Sweeter The Kiss?”) and I found some more over here. I advise to do it over email, as this is a more formal announcement that deserves a bit more attention than a WatsApp group message. Don’t stress if you don’t have the new date yet- just focus on informing the guests that the original date will no longer be happening.
What do I do about the vendors?
This is tricky, as every vendor and every contract is different. The first thing I did was phone all of my vendors in the second week of March, as I was anticipating that we will have to move our date, to put some feelers out there. I needed to chat with each supplier to see how we could handle the situation, as once you’ve signed a contract, it is binding. Each contract is different as each vendor has their own rules, so make sure to go back and double check what you have signed(I honestly barely paid attention to this, because in my mind nothing was stopping this wedding, so why bother?). Wedding Insurance, sadly, does not cover you for disease outbreaks (the ones that I have found anyway) so you have to handle this matter one by one. Our florist, décor, videographer, singer and photographer were all understanding from Day 1, and told us that provided that they were available, we could move our wedding date.
This was great to hear, especially coming from the fact that all the vendors were small businesses! The most difficult part for us came with the venue, as they at first were not willing to negotiate, without us losing our deposit (which was a heavy chunk of the payments!). Only after the President declared a State Of Disaster, were we allowed to move the date (still with a lot of terms and conditions). Talking to the vendors is a tailor-made process with every bride, but if you are on the fence about your May-July wedding, then I suggest you start calling your vendors now to see what their rules and conditions are.
What about my dress?
As a lot of dresses are imported to South Africa, I was very nervous about my reception dress from Bride And Co getting stuck and not coming my way. However the Bride and Co team has kept me informed, and my reception dress arrived in the country just over 2 weeks ago. If your dress is being imported, give your salon a call to see what the expected delays on your dress are. My ceremony dress came from Italy, and I felt relieved that it arrived last year already, however I have held off all alternations for now, as I have been stress eating my way through this process. I have these 2 beautiful dresses now, that I have to wait another few months to wear. Seriously considering just putting them on one day in the house and sitting around in the lounge 😉
But will the change of season not affect the look and feel of my wedding?
I am also in the situation where I was planning a fall wedding, and now I will be having a summer wedding, but it is what it is. What this experience has taught me is that you can’t in fact, control everything when it comes to your wedding. It got me to relax on the centerpieces, and I have told my florist to go ahead and decide what will look best (greenery runners vs small white bouquets on tables), some of the furniture that we were hiring is not available on the day and it doesn’t bother me, and the fact that my bridesmaids will be wearing burgundy when everything around them is pink and blooming, well I no longer care. It got me to realize that the biggest part of the day is celebrating our love with our family and friends, and that’s what I want the most. Not the flowers, the dress, the cake but our loved ones with us (and being able to hug them!).
COVID-19 bride, I know how you’re feeling, and I know that no one else does. You are feeling guilty for being upset about moving or canceling your wedding, when there are bigger things happening in the world. You are feeling a sense of loss, because something that you were looking forward to for so long and it was just within your reach, has been pulled away from you. However in this difficult time, try and focus on the positives! Moving our date has allowed us to save even more as we were running tight on cash for some things- now we are able to take dance lessons because we’ve got more time and more money to play with. I actually always wanted a summer wedding (we only decided on May because it was cheaper) so changing the season of your wedding could work to your advantage. And when the day does come and all of your family and friends unite to celebrate your love, it’s going to be that much sweeter and worth it! Your bridal journey is not over, its just taking a little break.
The beauty of change is that it is constant, and this too shall pass. For now, hold on tight, drink some wine, stay healthy and safe, and reach out for help if you need it. We will all make gorgeous brides when we have all kicked COVID-19s butt.