Image by Katarzyna Grabowska.
We’ve recently updated this feature (originally written on Thursday 12th March) – please scroll to see the latest date and information.
I’ve been thinking about how to write a piece around the coronavirus that wouldn’t add to the noise and the Covid-19 scaries. It currently feels like we’re being hit over and over again with news that’s not exactly cheery. In fact, it’s down right upsetting, frightening and frustrating.
If you’re in full countdown mode to your spring/summer wedding then I’m sure the media storm is causing you some sleepless nights. If you have just got engaged and are in the beginning stages of venue searching then this has probably affected your confidence in making that booking – as if finding the right venue wasn’t hard enough we now have a ‘Global Pandemic’ possibly standing in the way!
So what should you be doing and how can you ensure that your wedding planning stays on track?
Currently things are developing and changing quite fast, so you can keep up to date with the latest advice and information at the following websites:
- Coronavirus Covid-19 Information for the Public
- Travel Advice: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- NHS: Advice, Symptoms and Treatment
But there are some simple points you might want to think about or consider over the next few days/weeks and I’ve listed these below.
Saturday 16th May 2020
How are you? I hope you’re doing well since we were last together on this feature back in April.
It’s a little difficult to find the right words to sum up what we’re going through collectively – worry, loss, frustration, anger and anxiety are all present daily and yet, at the same time, I know I’ve personally found pockets of magic in this lockdown period. I hope you have too.
We see and feel the impact that this virus is having across our precious industry – from couples devastated at their weddings being postponed or cancelled to brides and grooms unsure about whether to move their upcoming date. Newly-engaged folks are having to put their plans on pause and venues/suppliers are trying their hardest to nurture their couples through all of this uncertainty, whilst juggling their own personal fears and concerns.
It’s been almost a week since the latest government announcement on Sunday 10th May, and there’s been some speculation around when and how summer weddings will start to take place and how they might look in this new landscape. However, we feel it would be irresponsible of us to try to interpret or translate the recent published documents. It’s also prudent to remember this is only a guideline and open to changes as we progress through easing the current lockdown.
So what can we say?
If we can’t/won’t look into our magic ball and predict how and when weddings will start to happen, what can we pull out from the latest government updates?
We know the government is looking at facilitating intimate ceremonies from as early as 1st June and this will most likely be in the same format as pre-lockdown – 5-10 people present including the couple, two witnesses and an officiant. For some, being married is more important than the wedding (indeed they are two very different things) and I can absolutely understand wanting to go ahead with this option when you feel it’s safe and when your registrar is available.
We also know that from July they are hoping to open up some of the hospitality industry and places of worship, but with reduced numbers and social distancing in place.
Our advice remains the same – if you have an upcoming summer date, continue to keep communication lines open between your wedding venue and wedding suppliers. Keeping the dialogue honest and supportive with the people directly involved in making your big day happen is absolutely key – it is here you will find the answers as each individual wedding venue/local council will be working slightly differently.
What to expect from your venue if you’re yet to postpone
Since we started this blog thread back in March, we’ve offered lots of advice – from questions to ask your venue to how to manage postponements with your suppliers, however if you’re yet to have the postponement conversation it’s worth keeping in mind that each venue will have a different process in place when supporting their couples:
- Be open to the alternatives – we’ve mentioned this before, but when it comes to moving your wedding date it’s important to be flexible. You will most likely not be offered a like-for-like alternative, unless you’re willing to pay a little more to book a high-season date for 2021 or beyond.
- Family-owned or owner-managed venues will be able to have a slightly more flexible approach to finding solutions for their couples, whereas venues who sit within a large group or umbrella company may need a fixed approach/time-line for postponements.
- If your wedding venue is privately owned and only offers a handful of dates per year or has a shorter wedding season, then this may indicate they have restrictions on how many weddings they can host in a 12 month period. This could start to be a problem for couples looking to move to 2021 if the venue already have bookings/postponements in the diary for next year. We know venues are working to extend their licenses for this very reason, but it’s not a quick process sadly.
- Venues who host a high volume of weddings per year won’t be able to postpone weddings before they know they absolutely need to. The key to this is the current government ban on weddings, so any dates that currently fall in this immediate period will have been postponed. However, as the lockdown lifts and gatherings are allowed and venues can reopen, it’s then a slightly trickier conversation between the venue and couples about what adjustments will need to be made to make your day happen.
- If you have an early autumn wedding date (September/October) it’s too early to start thinking about postponing. The situation has changed rapidly over the last few weeks and it could do again. But because it’s all so uncertain right now and everyone’s situation is different, you could start to think about your Plan B and what you would like to happen if your wedding can’t go ahead. Check in with your wedding insurance, if you have it, to see what level of support there are offering. Perhaps ask your venue what their current lead-time is when dealing with postponements, for example some venues are contacting couples 12 weeks out from their wedding to talk through options. But when you do email, remember the team may take a little longer to respond as they will be working with their summer couples first.
A wedding is a day filled with love, hugs, kisses and sweaty disco dancing and you probably won’t want to compromise on that and neither will your venue, so keep communications open, work on those Plan B’s (and even C’s), work with your venue and suppliers to postpone if it means you will have the wedding you truly want and stay up to date with the latest (official) news.
Most importantly be kind to yourself and others, unfortunately no one has an answer and we’re all trying to do our best in these difficult and uncertain circumstances.
Sunday 19th April 2020
Our period of lockdown has now been extended for another 3 weeks taking us into early May. Most venues and couples with weddings across April and May should have already gone through the motions of a postponement, so for this update we will be focusing on summer 2020 weddings and how weddings in June, July and August might be affected.
As we’ve mentioned before, this situation isn’t fair on anyone. These are unprecedented circumstances and there will need to be a level of flexibility and compromise from both sides in your communications.
To assist, here are some questions that you might want to run through with your venue:
Is there a fee to move/postpone our wedding date?
Most venues, up until this point, have not been issuing fees to move a date. However, do talk to your wedding venue about how they are dealing with postponements as it will differ venue to venue.
Venues may have date limits to their no-fee postponements such as moving within one calendar year, moving to a weekday date or moving to a low-season date. However, as March, April and May weddings have been postponed, this will naturally narrow the options available to couples marrying this summer who feel they now need to move their upcoming date.
An additional fee may be required if you want to move your wedding to a like-for-like date, such as a key weekend date in 2021 or beyond. This isn’t an unreasonable request from the venue as they will be turning down a full-price wedding to secure that new date for you.
Alternatively, have a think about how important a Saturday wedding is for you and if a weekday wedding could be a happy alternative. Also do consider marrying in a different season – if I got to plan my wedding all over again I would swap my August date to October in a heartbeat. It’s without doubt the best month to marry if you ask me!
What dates are available if we postpone our wedding?
For those couples with weddings this summer, we mentioned having a contingency plan in our last update below.
It might be worth having a chat with your venue to see when they will be working through possible postponements for June, July and August etc. If it’s a possibility to ‘pencil’ in a new date with your venue then we would certainly recommend doing this, however before moving ahead do check in with all suppliers you have booked so far to see how the new date(s) work for them. In the last update, we also gave some tips on how to do this.
It may be a real possibility that some of your suppliers won’t be able to make the new date due to commitments/postponements that are already in their diary. If this happens, then you may lose your deposit and be liable for some additional costs due to their cancellation policies.
Go back to your contracts, understand which suppliers are key to your big day by doing our exercise and try to find a solution that works for you, the venue and those key suppliers.
Can I lower my guest numbers?
When weddings are allowed to go ahead, there may be several restrictions in place such as a limit on the number of people allowed in one place. Talk to your venue to see if there are any restrictions or financial implications of having a smaller wedding on your new date.
Also consider any elderly family, friends of those who are more vulnerable. It may not be possible for them to attend once gatherings are allowed again as they may still need to be shielded for an extended period. It’s important you’ve had that chat and understood what that means and what possible alternatives there are to make them feel involved in the celebrations.
You can find lots of beautiful examples of small weddings and elopements here and as you’ll see, a smaller wedding doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to scrimp on the trimmings! In fact in can mean upgrading to a more luxurious package and spoiling your guests whilst keeping within your original budget. Discuss with your venue, caterer and bar team to see what’s available.
The legal bit
If you’re having a church ceremony or civil ceremony then it’s vital to check in to see if the new date works for your officiant too as this may have an impact on your original timings.
Remember, you may need to give notice again at your local registry office if your current notice expires before the new date. You will also need to check in with the local registry office to see if they are able to take new date bookings for weddings as some councils have now stopped ceremony bookings to focus on essential administration during this time.
If you had planned a Church wedding, then you need to ensure the new date allows you sufficient time for your Banns to be read.
If your new date doesn’t allow for either a civil or Church ceremony, then do consider a humanist ceremony or a blessing with a Celebrant, the legal ceremony can be done at a later date with just witnesses.
If we postpone to a new date, but we need to move the date again, what happens then?
The toughest thing about the current situation we’re all in is that we don’t know how long this is going to last for.
We’re all going to have to become super flexible in how we react to situations and some couples could face the real possibility of their date moving again, especially those who moved a spring date to a late summer date.
So again, talk to your venue about what that looks like both logistically and financially.
You can keep up to date with all of our coronavirus related content here, however this feature will continue to be the main thread for all venue related advice and notes.
Wednesday 25th March 2020
The government lockdown on Monday evening brought with it the clarity needed for couples and venues alike. The question ‘should we close our venue/postpone our wedding?’ firmly and heartbreakingly answered.
Weddings are no longer able to go ahead, certainly for the next 3 weeks and most likely longer, so any couples and venues who were hesitating to postpone then now is the time to start those important conversations.
An open, honest and supportive dialogue from both sides is going to be key to moving forward as this is going to be a very difficult time for both parties.
Postpone your wedding, don’t cancel
The key word here is postpone – venues and couples should be looking to postpone weddings and not cancel.
We know that venues are working super hard to be as flexible as they can under these unprecedented circumstances and most are not issuing fees to move a date. However, do talk to your venue about how they are dealing with postponements as it will all depend on the individual venue.
Venues may have date limits to their no-fee postponements such as moving within one calendar year, moving to a weekday date or moving to a low-season date.
An additional fee may be required if the couple want to move their wedding to a key weekend date in 2021.
Setting a new date
Ask your venue for a selection of dates that are available to you and run these by key family and friends to ensure they can attend the alternative dates.
Next draw up a spreadsheet with the new dates running along the top and your key suppliers listed by importance to you in the first column – this will be different for each couple. You can then check with each supplier which dates work for them and pop a tick in the relevant columns.
This is going to take a little while to do so some team work is essential! Once you’ve spoken with everyone you can then work through which date is going to work with your ‘must-have’ suppliers and which dates minimise any potential losses (such as deposits if suppliers are unable to make your new date).
If you’re having a church ceremony or civil ceremony then it’s vital to check in to see if the new date works for your officiant too as this may have an impact on your original timings. Remember, you may need to give notice again at your local registry office if your current notice expires before the new date.
Get it in writing
Whilst you shouldn’t need to sign a new contract for a date change, we do recommend that any changes to the date or current contract are put in writing (an email is fine) between you and the venue.
When should you consider postponing a summer/autumn wedding?
For couples looking ahead to summer and early autumn, you might be concerned that your plans will be disrupted. It’s therefore a good idea to have a contingency plan just in case your date is affected too.
That initial conversation with your venue will be key – ask them what plans do they have in place should this continue into summer/autumn and when will they review your wedding date for postponement.
Talk to your friends and family now to understand any anxiety they may be feeling. As the current measures are lifted, identify anyone that may not be able to make it should your wedding still go ahead such as guests coming from overseas and elderly or vulnerable guests. Whilst weddings will start to happen again, there may be certain restrictions in place at first.
It’s important to be patient with your venue with these initial conversations, especially if your wedding is in late summer/early autumn as their focus will be on working with couples due to marry imminently.
New season = new inspiration
You may have been dreaming of a romantic spring wedding, but are now faced with a weekday wedding in November. You have every right to feel sad, angry, tearful, scared, disappointed and quite honestly exhausted. But if you can, try to embrace the exciting possibilities for your new wedding day.
The best place to start getting ideas is by asking your venue for photos which show examples of previous autumn/winter weddings so you can see what other couples have done with the space. Talk through the new date/season with your florist and any furniture/décor hire companies you’re working with to see how you can change your colours/flowers/options to suit.
Your suppliers will be well-versed in seasonality and will be able to talk you through how to switch up your original ideas whilst staying true to you as a couple.
Friday 20th March 2020 (8am)
How’s everyone doing?
It’s been a long week hasn’t it.
I will be updating our Instagram today and over the next few days with new content, because boy do we need it. But for now, in this article, we’re focusing on the current situation couples, venues and suppliers are finding themselves in.
Wedding Venues have been working tirelessly trying to support, comfort and find alternative solutions for couples during the next few days and weeks. Postponement conversations are happening and wedding dates are inevitably now being shifted.
We commend venues such as Elmore Court (we love these guys so much) for taking the decision to close their doors, wanting to protect their teams, couples, guests, friends and families. You can read their statement here.
Venues like Hampton Manor have their entrepreneurial “we can do this” hat on and are taking their Michelin-starred restaurant, Peel’s, on a new journey. From Peel’s on Wheels to a Drive Thru and Pop-up shop concept, you can keep up to date with and support their amazing journey here. Their wonderful couples have delayed their weddings and the venue are still taking bookings for 2021 and will conduct showrounds by appointment only currently.
Earlier this week, Celia from The Wellbeing Farm was a leader amongst venues, taking her NHS background and applying it to the hygiene measures and a full Coronavirus Action Plan to keep her team, couples and guests safe. Celia also added a free live-streaming service for weddings where certain guests may not be able to make it.
Restrictions over the next few days will become stricter and weddings will eventually not be able to take place, and rightly so. As things develop keep communications open with your own venue, your own suppliers and your own friends and family to help guide you through those tough decisions.
But remember to focus on the two of you during all of this. It’s still your love story. This is a pause, not a full stop.
What’s new in the news?
In yesterday’s news, it was very much the same advice – social distancing, working from home, avoiding travel and avoid gatherings. With this very much in mind, the Church of England announced they would now only be holding ceremonies for up to five people – the couple, the priest and two witnesses. Certain traditions, such as blessing the rings, would not be required and any guests in attendance would need to keep a safe social distance.
If you are having a church wedding in the next few weeks or are currently planning a church wedding, then you can find all updates from the Church of England here.
If you’ve postponed your wedding date, but are still going ahead with your upcoming civil ceremony (albeit on a smaller scale) then check in with your local council to ensure they are still proceeding and are happy to perform your ceremony.
If you’ve postponed your wedding, but still want the legal ceremony to happen on the new date then you will need to notify your local council. If you have already entered notice of marriage or civil partnership you may need to re-enter notice if your ceremony is postponed beyond the validity date.
We’ll continue to update this feature with news we feel is relevant to our platform.
Tuesday 17th March 2020
So what now?
I’m sure those of you with weddings in the next few days/weeks have been consuming all the news and information you can find to understand how this will affect your upcoming wedding.
After the update from the Prime Minister yesterday urging us to avoid gatherings and non-essential social contact, it really does feel like the inevitable is imminent. However the ambiguity around whether you really should or could go ahead with your wedding, has sadly still been left open for venues and couples to decide.
I know many of our venues are still business as usual and they will not cancel your wedding unless they are told they must – so whilst couples have been saying ‘I Do’ and celebrating with all their might in the last few days, it does feel that couples with a date coming up in the next few days or weeks should look at now postponing.
And postpone is the key word here, don’t cancel, your wedding is just on pause. It will happen, you will be married and you will celebrate with all your loved ones around you – healthy, happy and safe. Because really that’s all that matters.
There is a lot of advice floating around the internet for couples who might be unable to currently think about or understand the situation clearly – I get it, it’s an unimaginable stress and everyone wants to help (me included if I can). However I can’t stress enough that the decisions that follow for you in the next few hours and days are so personal to you and your situation.
If you’ve decided to wait it out, now is the time to talk to your venue, suppliers and family again. What’s the plan now?
If you’d already done this as per our original advice from last Thursday (see below) then reach out again in light of the recent news. What’s the plan now?
Be patient when you reach out again, whilst we recognise and understand the upset you must be feeling, your suppliers are also going through a high level of stress during this period. It’s not in their nature to cancel or cause unhappiness for their clients, however these are unprecedented circumstances and there will need to be a level of flexibility and compromise from both sides in your communications over the next few days.
I guess the message here is be kind, try not to let the frustration and anger (which you quite rightly feel) bubble over into your relationship, and by now possible friendship, with your suppliers. Remember why you booked them in the first place, know they will do all they can to help, but recognise they too are worried.
If your wedding is in the next few days and you can and still want to, and the registrar is still happy to conduct your service, then get married folks. Have your immediate family or closest friends there as witnesses. Say your vows, make your promises, have that big kiss, laugh, maybe even ugly cry, but if you can and want to, get married.
A celebrant-led ceremony and a huge party at a later date will be a welcome relief after this cloud – you will soak up all of the joy, love and happiness that will still be there waiting for you. I promise.
To our venue searchers
For those of you just starting the venue search, we’re so pleased to see you marching on with your research! Venues are still taking enquiries and sending out brochures, so get in touch! Take the positive from the current situation, you now have a little stretch of time to really nail what you both want from your big day and do all the research into venues and suppliers you want.
Below I’ve listed some key features/pages to help you, the moment insurance companies start to issue new policies you will be armed and ready to make those big decisions!
- Venue Finder – browse our collection of beautiful wedding venues
- Planning Tips – a page jam-packed with advice and helpful articles for those planning a wedding
- Venue Search Tips – questions to ask your wedding venues and how to find the right one
- Suppliers We Love – a list of all the suppliers we’ve personally worked with and recommend
- The Annual – our digital magazine which guides you through every aspect of your wedding
Also, just enjoy being engaged! It’s so easy to rush into the planning, so take this time to come together and celebrate each other.
We’ll continue to update here when we feel it’s right.
Thursday 12th March 2020
Most couples take out wedding insurance to cover the two big events – wedding venues cancelling and suppliers failing to attend. We have a big post all about contracts, terms and conditions, deposits and insurance right here should you need it.
If you’re marring in spring and early summer this year, then get in touch with your own insurance company to see what is currently covered in relation to Covid-19 and what you’re entitled to should you need to postpone or cancel your wedding and/or a key supplier is affected.
Cancelling your wedding now because you ‘fear’ something ‘could’ go wrong will probably have financial implications as this won’t be covered by insurance. Venues/suppliers will also treat this as a cancellation and you may be liable for additional payments and will most likely lose deposits at the very least.
If you’re on the cusp of making some big buying decisions such as booking a venue, then you may want to do some research on who is offering insurance currently before making that purchase. Whilst you may be planning a 2021 wedding, the virus is unfortunately having an impact on new policies and insurance options until they know a little more about what’s happening, and you definitely want to make sure that you can cover any purchases/plans you’re about to make.
Should we panic?
The short answer is no.
Planning a wedding is stressful enough, without the threat of a world-wide virus being thrown into the mix! My first piece of advice is to continue to enjoy the process, it’s meant to be a super romantic time and you don’t want to look back and feel like you spent all of your time worrying.
Continue with your plans as normal however be sensible, much like any professional wedding planner, couples who are planning their big day right now might want to consider some alternative options so they have a solid Plan B should their wedding be unexpectedly affected.
Your venue and key suppliers
Get in touch with your wedding venue and key suppliers to see if they have additional protocols/staffing and heath & safety procedures in place as a precaution. Being armed with this knowledge is going to make you feel reassured that the pros are on it and have back-up plans should they or any of their teams be affected by the virus.
If you have any planning/supplier meetings coming up and it’s not necessary to be face-to-face, then perhaps opt for a video call instead.
If your wedding is taking place in the next few weeks, then chat to the venue team about what hygiene measures they will have in the bathrooms and throughout the venue. Hand-sanitisers, anti-bacterial soaps and paper towels/individual hand towels should all be available to your guests.
If you already have a wedding planner and your wedding date is imminent then they will be working through all of the above with you.
UK wedding venues with late availability
If you’ve booked a destination wedding and are now possibly having to relocate back to the UK due to the travel restrictions that are in place then there are wedding venues who still have some late availability for 2020. You can view all late availability venues on our Venue Finder by simply selecting ‘Late Availability’ which is in the ‘Sort By’ section under the main filter box.
You can add venues that have late availability and that also fit your requirements to a shortlist and send a group message with your details – our venues will then back to you as soon as possible.
Friends & family
If you have any friends and relatives flying in for the wedding this spring or summer then you might want to get in touch and ask them if they’ve recently travelled from or been in contact with anyone from affected areas.
It could be a possibility that an elderly relative or guests with underlying medical conditions reconsider their attendance. Whilst upsetting, remain positive and think about how you can still include them from afar – live streaming to friends and family who can’t be there is increasingly common at weddings.
If your guest list is reduced, then contact your venue and caterers as soon as possible to talk through changes and financial implications/options.
Support local and don’t worry about the small details
If you don’t fancy giving hand-sanitisers as favours (although Aesop have a lovely one just FYI, if you can get your mitts on it!) then forgo all those small details and stresses and just focus on the most-important elements such as good food, wine and company. Shopping locally for any items that you require will also cut down on any possible risk of delivery delays.
Honeymoon vs. mini-moon
Currently planning that once-in-a-lifetime holiday? If you’ve already booked your honeymoon for late spring/summer then you may need to postpone or cancel your plans. Keep up to date with your airline news and travel advice. If you haven’t yet got travel insurance then do and ensure it covers the current situation!
If you’ve decided to delay your honeymoon until things have settled but you still want to get away post-wedding then a mini-moon is perfect. I suggest packing up the car and hitting the road – think the Cotswolds, country houses, spas and romantic self-catering cottages. Our fave places/websites for this kind of trip are The Wild Rabbit, Daylesford, Mr & Mrs Smith and Unique Homestays.
If you have been affected by the news, then I’m so sorry. This is meant to be a super romantic time, so as much as you can stay positive and focus on the two of you. It’s still your love story.