UPDATE MAY 12
Moving into Level 2 gatherings are remaining at only 10 guests. This was unexpected, so may cause more stress to those with winter Weddings planned, and for those with weddings from September 2020 onwards, there may be uncertainty about continuing to plan or book weddings. Although government are looking to allow Weddings of up to 100, they haven't announced a time-frame for when this might be. They will provide an update every two weeks as they are aiming to slowly increase the numbers for gatherings. So depending when your wedding date is, if you can be patient, I would suggest to consider waiting for those updates, and I would hope we would have some certainty by mid-end June.
Whatever stage you’re at in planning your Wedding, we totally understand the biggest concern right now, is the implications of Covid-19. And if you have, or are planning a wedding within the next year, the decision of whether to postpone.
Planning a wedding can already be a stressful and overwhelming process, let alone the added uncertainty of Covid-19, with not only the restrictions, but the uncertainty of when exactly we’ll come out of this. And if your business or employment has been effected, as it has for millions around the world, this can cause financial implications. So let’s be honest, this is a really difficult time. Especially when planning for your wedding should be an exciting journey!
It’s truly heart-breaking that after so much planning and excitement looking forward to a day that for many was so close, many couples have to consider postponing their wedding. You may be trying to find answers and are unsure how to make a decision, so I’ve written this to share my opinion about the important topics and questions to consider.
At the time of writing this in New Zealand, on Tuesday 12 May, we are moving into Level 2, which restricts public gatherings to a 10-person limit. Temporary limits on gathering numbers will be in place when we first move to Alert Level 2. Updates will be provided every two weeks by Prime Minister Jacinda Arden on increasing the numbers to eventually hold weddings of 100 guests. To keep updated, check the official government website at https://covid19.govt.nz/
This is the current information regarding gatherings, provided on the government website:
Alert Level 2:
Domestic travel is allowed
Gatherings allowed for 10 people
The event must be no longer than two hours
Physical distancing and infection prevention must be met (need to stay 1m apart and continue washing hands)
All gatherings must record attendees for contact tracing
No one must attend a gathering, if you have any Covid-19 symptoms, or if you need to be in isolation or quarantine for any reason.
For more detailed information the full chart can be found here
Following is my advice on what I feel are the crucial questions and steps, to consider about postponing your Wedding, due to the impact of Covid-19.
No. 1: THE STRESS FACTOR of Covid-19
Planning a wedding is known to be one of the most stressful tasks you’ll ever undertake. So the added uncertainty around how long restrictions will be in place for Covid-19, and when we’ll be totally clear again is stressful. It really is. This added stress can place pressure on you as a couple, and all your relationships. Everyone is different and handles stress differently. So I truly believe you need to realistically consider how you handle stress. And would the decision to postpone, remove the stress factor, allow you to relax, and give you more time to plan for your day. The benefit of this could be the opportunity to make some changes, or add things back in that you’d love, but had eliminated.
No. 2: TRAVEL IMPLICATIONS of Covid-19
Consider guests invited from domestic and international locations. The crucial question to ask about each guest is: “How important is it these guests are physically present at our Wedding?”
If you feel it’s not absolutely imperative they are present, and you’re willing to consider an alternative, an option is to organise a live video-feed of your ceremony. Or hire a videographer and host a watching party the following day, or at a later date.
If it’s important overseas guests attend, you will need to stay updated with the government announcements about border control for NZ. And your guests will need to stay updated regarding their location. Looking at the information provided, when we reach Level 1, border measures to protect NZ will still be in place. There is no further information about the actual measures, but according to government our borders will be closed for 'quite some time'. So this may have a huge impact on your decision whether to postpone. It’s a personal decision and a risk you need to carefully consider, but if you absolutely want overseas guests to attend, it might be the safest option to investigate a postponement.
Government has been discussing the possibility of a larger bubble, between NZ, Australia and eventually the Pacific Islands. If this is put in place, this will open up more opportunities, for guests to travel to/from those locations without the need for a 2 week quarantine.
No. 3: GUEST NUMBERS & SOCIAL DISTANCING due to Covid-19
Consider that even once gatherings of 100 people are allowed again, this number will be inclusive of all suppliers. So this may be easily possible for you, or you may need to consider cutting back your guest list. However social distancing must still be in place. So this means all guests will need to stay apart. The questions this brings to mind for me, about the realistic impact on a wedding, is to consider:
Is maintaining social distancing going to be possible at the venue?
How is social distancing going to impact on the sense of celebration?
No. 4: TALK TO YOUR SUPPLIERS
Get in touch with all your suppliers to discuss the possibility of postponing. Most suppliers will be willing to change the date of your booking, as they will be wanting to keep your business, and more than likely will transfer deposits and payments made to a new date. I recommend the sooner you do this, the better, as dates may be limited for the upcoming season due to existing bookings, and other date changes. Remember this doesn’t mean you have to postpone immediately, but at least if you have those conversations and some tentative dates, you’ll know all the options, to make your decision. Some suppliers may hold tentative dates, but this is up to each supplier, so ask them.
Also check with all your suppliers, if there will be any additional fees to postpone. Sometimes suppliers may need to allow for administration fees to cover their time, and a percentage for the increase in costs due to a date change (especially if the new date is 12 months after the initial booking). So it’s important to be aware of this, and plan for any additional fees.
Another consideration is should you need to postpone again due to Covid-19 restrictions, check any terms and conditions for cancellation or date changes carefully. If this isn’t covered, then raise this with your suppliers. The agreement could be added to the contract or in a separate written agreement. I would suggest this needs to be fair and acceptable to both parties.
No. 5: KEEP YOUR GUESTS UPDATED
Whatever stage you’re at, many of your guests could be wondering if your Wedding will be going ahead, due to the impact of Covid-19. And advising of a potential date change is especially important for any guests who will be travelling, whether domestic or international, who will need to change their plans. To be as efficient and quick as possible, if you have all your guests email addresses, you may choose to send an email announcement to all your guests, with a heart-felt message letting them know about the status of your Wedding, and if there’s a potential date change. It’s also a great idea to setup a free Wedding Website, as this is the most effective way, to keep your guests updated and informed. This is a site we recommend:
Here is an example of wording you can personalise, to send a change of plan notification:
Change of Plans
With heavy hearts we have decided to postpone our wedding due to the uncertain times we are currently facing.
The new date is (insert date) - and the venues and times remain the same.
Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your understanding.
Sending you love and wishes for good health and please stay safe.
Due to the impact of Covid-19 and as we want to celebrate with everyone we love, we have made the decision to postpone our wedding
A new date will be announced as soon as possible
We look forward to celebrating with you soon
No. 6: FINALLY, HOW DO YOU WANT YOUR DAY TO FEEL
I’ve left this till last, however I believe this question is the most important consideration. Your wedding day is a celebration of your love story. You are gathering together your loved ones, to celebrate together, as you commit to becoming husband and wife. It’s usually the happiest and most joyful day of your day. So give it a few moments and let yourself imagine “How do you want your day to feel’? A wedding day is full of emotion, and love, so I’m pretty certain you’ll want your bestie standing right beside you, your little brother who lives overseas to see you walk the aisle with the biggest grin on your face, and you’ll probably want to hug your guests and feel a sense of connection.
The importance of this question, is if the experience, celebration of love and connection with guests, IS what is most important, and for you that includes hugging; or having those overseas guests present is non negotiable, then it may be crucial for you to postpone. But maybe if you’re not an affectionate person, social distancing may not bother you so much. So I would suggest clarify what is most important to you, and decide if you can compromise and still have your wedding.
If you feel you can compromise, this can provide an opportunity to do things differently and re-shape your plans. You may decide to get married now and have an utterly beautiful, romantic and intimate ceremony…then plan a party later, so you could:
- Wed Now. Party Later!
- Wed Now. Buy a House!
- Wed Now. Plan an Overseas Trip!
In my next article I will include further advice around Covid-19, and ideas for how to do things differently. In the meantime, breathe and get clear about what you truly want for your day. You will still have your beautiful wedding, and you've got this!
Because I understand how stressful this can be, please feel welcome to reach out and email me, if you need advice on any aspect of your wedding, or help to create a new plan.
Disclaimer: Some of the information is transcribed directly from other sources. All views expressed are personal, and are not official or legal advice.