We’re back and we’re kicking off season three with… a global pandemic.
In this episode, Cindy and Amanda discuss the ways the COVID-19 outbreak may affect your wedding plans. Should you postpone or cancel it? Go on as scheduled and keep your fingers crossed? We offer our opinions on the possible options and what actions you might want to take for each of them.
Welcome to 2020, the year that was supposed to be better than 2019.
It’s been a while since we last recorded an episode and let’s just say were weren’t planning to kickoff season three by helping you deal with the effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus on your wedding.
But first, what the fuck have we been up to?
Cindy and Aisle Less Traveled relocated to Seattle, Washington in the fall – the current COVID-19 capital of the US. <headdesk>
Before the pandemic, she was happy to be in a watery place, despite being an earth sign, and has been visiting a different section of coastline every weekend.
And then, a mere 5 months into her new life, Seattle got hit with its first case of COVID-19 in a local nursing home. Since early January, the number of confirmed cases has grown exponentially.
By the beginning of March, Seattle had basically shut down. Big companies like Google, Microsoft, and Amazon sent employees who could work remotely home to do so.
As a risk-averse person, Cindy and her partner began isolating as much as possible starting then, too. Unfortunately, this meant skipping out on joining a queer D&D group. #NERD.
Let’s Talk About COVID-19 and Your Wedding
Disclaimer: We are not medical, legal, financial, or insurance professionals. We cannot tell you whether or not you should cancel or postpone your wedding or exactly what the consequences of doing so might be, because you are not our clients and we don’t know the details of your plans. We are not responsible for any actions you may take as a result of listening to our podcast. What follows are our opinions based on our experiences as wedding professionals, which you can take or leave at your own risk and discretion.
Touchy feely stuff first! We are living in historic and interesting times and it’s unimaginable that any of this could happen.
It’s ok to feel whatever it is that you’re feeling right now because it’s frustrating, it’s terrifying, and it’s not fair.
But what you feel isn’t what you do or how you act. So go ahead and feel ALL THE SHITTY FEELINGS. And then take a breath before you make any decisions.
This fucking sucks.
Planning a wedding for a year or so already and having to postpone sucks! It’s shitty!! And now you have to re-plan a bunch of stuff that you’ve already planned or have it without some loved ones who won’t be able to make it or even call it off altogether. All of those options SUCK.
So What Should You Do About Your Wedding?
Given that the CDC has recommended not to have gatherings of more than 50 people in the next 8 weeks (currently through mid-May) and because things are changing rapidly, you’re going to have to be flexible. Even in the less than 24 hours since we recorded this episode, new guidelines have come out that groups should be limited to 10 people.
Again: the decision to change your wedding plans is totally on you! We’re just offering our opinions. Please do your own research.
Here are the three potential paths your wedding plans may take (and it’s worth noting that it may, eventually, go down more than one) – postponement, cancellation, or going forward as planned.
If your wedding is in June 2020 or beyond…
We recommend you wait to make a decision. You can begin to research possible options and consequences for rescheduling but please bear in mind that your vendors are all hyper-focused on dealing with March, April, and May weddings right now – so please be patient if you do decide to contact them now.
If your wedding is in March, April, or May 2020…
We encourage you to listen to the CDC, WHO, and your local and state health departments for recommendations and best practices. In some locations, there are already legal bans (not just recommendations) on events over a certain size – so you may not have a choice about making changes.
If You Decide to Postpone Your Wedding Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Here’s what to do:
- Your first call should be to your wedding planner, if you have one, because we are here to handle this shit for you! If you don’t have a planner and you want Cindy to deal with it for you, you can reach her here.
- Reach out to your venue and vendors and find out what their postponement policies are. You should have this information in your contract but it’s worth checking in as many wedding vendors (including us) are being more flexible on our reschedule policies during this unprecedented time. But don’t assume all vendors are waiving fees – each business needs to decide for themselves what is the best policy that works for their business and their clients. We’re all looking at a long spring full of lost and delayed revenue (and a consequent reduction in revenue and available dates in 2021) so please give us some grace here!
- Once you’re sure you want to reschedule, find out what dates your venue is offering for coronavirus-related postponements and then check those with the rest of your vendor team. Hopefully, you will be able to find one that works for everyone, but if not, you may need to cancel some existing contracts and secure new providers for those services. You’ll want to confirm their cancellation policies in this case (see the cancellation section below for how that may affect your budget.)
- Update your guests. As soon as you make the decision to postpone, let your guests know – even if you don’t have a new date yet. They’re reading the news and wondering what’s happening too! You can find a template for emailing your guests and updating your wedding website in our free guide, Your Super Gay Wedding in the Time of COVID-19. Drop your email here and we’ll send it to you:
What if We Decide to Cancel Our Wedding Due to COVID-19?
We strongly encourage you to reschedule rather than cancel! And that’s because if you cancel, you’re gonna lose all the money you’ve already paid towards your wedding and it’s probably not going to be refunded and you may even owe some extra fees depending on what your vendor contracts say.
And, sorry, but there’s more bad news: your wedding/event insurance is probably not going to pay for any of it either. There are some possible exceptions, assuming that you’ve purchased not just liability but also cancellation coverage: if you, your partner, or an immediate family or wedding party member gets ill (from COVID-19 or something else), you might be covered OR if your venue goes bankrupt and can’t hold your wedding anymore, that might be covered.
Once again: we are not insurance pros; we don’t know the specifics of any policies you may have purchased; and you’ll have to check with your insurance provider to find out what is or isn’t covered.
Although the coronavirus is natural and it is a disaster, it’s not a “natural disaster” – but we are. 🤣
If You Decide to Have Your Wedding During the Pandemic…
Again: we are not health pros nor are we certified in any kind of food service or other sanitation protocols. You should consult qualified professionals about any health and safety measures you take. Here are some suggestions that you could investigate:
Scaling Back Your Wedding
One possible option is cutting your guest list down to your closest friends and family members only in order to come in under whatever is the currently recommended maximum amount of people at a gathering. Bear in mind that this is the total number of people at the event, not total number of guests – so you need to count yourselves and your entire vendor team. And note that caterers often have 10-15 staff members on-site, which can drastically affect your possible guest count.
Keep an Eye on Travel Restrictions
Especially if you have international guests! There are a bunch in place already and there’s a non-zero chance that more will be put in place, possibly within the United States as well.
Sick & Immunocompromised Folks Should Stay the Fuck at Home
No, seriously. This is the advice of every major health organization, including the CDC. We strongly encourage you to listen to them and discourage elderly folks and anyone with underlying health conditions to skip your wedding. If you’re those people? Then you should consult with a medical professional before deciding to move forward with your wedding.
And please understand that some of your vendors may be immunocompromised or have at-risk folks living in their household and may, therefore, need to substitute another professional, either on their staff or an outside company, to perform those services and protect their own and their family’s health.
Your wedding is not more important than anyone else’s life.
Food Service Safety Precautions
Yeah, sorry, one more time: we’re not food service sanitation pros; these are some ideas we have, but you should ask the experts. In fact, that’s tip #1:
- Make sure that whoever is preparing, delivering, or serving your food and beverages is properly licensed and has the appropriate certifications from your local health department. This is especially important for folks doing more of a DIY-style wedding, such as a restaurant drop off with event staff attending to the buffet and bar. Ask what certifications they have and what extra measures they are taking during this outbreak.
- Switch from self-service buffet to a served buffet or a plated meal. That’ll drastically reduce the number of folks touching serving utensils. Less touching = less germ spreading.
- Use disposable dishes and glasses. Not so great for the planet, not as classy as real dishes, but also less handled. There are sustainable and compostable disposable dishes and as a bonus, they’re less ugly (and usually less expensive) than your standard paper or plastic plates.
These are some ideas of what you can work with your venue on to make it a safer experience. Again, we recommend consulting your local health department, the CDC, and the WHO on sanitation guidelines.
- Add hand sanitizing stations (assuming you can find any)
- Discuss sanitation measures for high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, toilet handles, soap and paper towel dispensers, faucets, etc.
- Keep multi-stall bathroom doors open if possible so that no one has to touch them.
- Prop or get someone to hold main entry doors open as guests arrive and leave to reduce germs and touching on those. Please provide gloves and sanitizing wipes for door holders and remind them to wash their hands properly after they’re done!
Our Coronavirus Resource Pack
…is available for you, for free. It’s got the steps we outlined in this episode for postponing, canceling, or carrying on as well as copy & paste templates you can use to communicate with your guests and vendors as you make these decisions.
Don’t Forget Self-Care!
One final disclaimer: we’re also not mental health professionals. If you don’t already have a great therapist, we recommend you get one because therapy is awesome!
Tips for Working From Home with Your Partner
- Work in separate spaces if at all possible. Ideally, in rooms with doors that close.
- If you can’t do that: noise-canceling headphones, my friend!
- Literally pretend that your partner doesn’t exist during the workday. If you need to go into the room where they are, be as quiet as possible and don’t interrupt them. Text or message or slack or whatever you usually do when you’re both at work normally if you need something or you want to take a break together.
- SET SOME BOUNDARIES! This is actually a bonus of the pandemic! Figuring out your needs, asking for them to be met, and negotiating with your partner are lifelong relationship skills.
General Self-Care Tips (That Work for Us)
- Get outside and move your body (but stay the fuck away from everyone else while you do it) and get some vitamin D.
- Schedule virtual sessions with your therapist, if possible. And if you need to see another medical professional, try to do that virtually too.
- Hang out with your friends and family! (Virtually, of course.) You can play games (things that are Cards Against Humanity-style where all parties have their own deck are especially well-suited) or have a watch party for whatever you’re bingeing right now.
- It’s a great time to get back to that hobby you’ve been “getting around to” someday or to try a new one.
- Read some of those books that have been collecting dust on your shelf.
- Finish some of those home renovation and redecorating projects that don’t require a professional.
- Stockpile those naughty treats like CBD oil, Girl Scout cookies (which tragically have a 4-box minimum for shipping), and your favorite grown-up beverages.
Wash Your Damn Hands.