Keep Calm & Plan On!
Lets just start this off by saying this, "OH MAN do I feel for you all right now." These past couple of weeks have been quite a wild ride for the entire world and wedding industry. During this crazy time I have been helping my AMAZING couples navigate this experience of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). There are so many disruptions going on in everyone’s lives and I am in no way downplaying the severity of the situation right now, but, I also know that the show MUST GO ON! With my own company I have had to pivot along with everyone else form rescheduling to finances, come up with solutions, and help keep my couples feeling good, calm, and supported. "I’m a firm believer in everything has a solution, ‘this too shall pass’, & keeping focused on the positive."
Step 1 on Planning Your Elopement during the Coronavirus: Stay Calm, Stay Safe, and Reschedule Your Elopement (if Necessary).
If you already have your elopement planned and it’s during the current travel bans, social distancing and isolation periods, or, you are in quarantine- it will be ok! I know for myself and most vendors within the industry, we are helping couples by offering to reschedule free of charge. My policy is that I’m allowing couples who are being affected directly during the bans and quarantine times to reschedule up to 12 months after their current date to give PLENTY of time and help ease the pressure a bit. Plus, we aren’t at mercy of venues so the couple has basically full control over their new date as elopements can be 7 days a week.
Rescheduling is WAY better than canceling, especially if everything is already planned and retainers or deposits are paid for, plane tickets are bought, and accommodation has been booked. Most cancelling policies won’t apply full refunds so instead of losing any money, just reschedule!
How to reschedule your elopement due to Coronavirus:
Reach out to your photographer & planner (who, might be one person, like me!). Know that we have your back, we WANT you to have your elopement and we WANT to support you. Let them know that you have to reschedule the date.
Work with your photographer / planner and find an open date that works for you. Most of my couples who have had to reschedule have picked dates later on in the year between September- November to give time for everything to heal. One couple is rescheduling to the beginning of 2021. Talk to your travel and wedding insurance companies to see what their policies are with this pandemic. If your trip is cancelled due to the ban (and not you canceling out of precaution), some companies ar e covering this situation. Talk to them and see what help they can give you.After you have picked your new date, now you can rebook the tickets and accommodation. Most airlines are allowing FREE rebooking and date changes, but still no refunds. So use that rebooking! Communicate these changes with your accommodation and see about moving the dates. I have seen most accommodation is also not giving refunds but allowing date changes. Some Airbnb’s will have a full refund at this time, allowing you to book another with the new dates, unlike most hotel chains. Check with your host, they would more than likely allow the date change versus a refund, also!
Don’t forget to change the dates of your car rental! Most car rental companies are allowing either refunds OR rescheduling for free! Reach out to the other vendors you have for your day such as Officiant / Celebrant, hair & makeup artist, and florist with your new dates. If your photographer and planner has been helping you organize this they should be able to help you with this, too. Step 2 on Planning Your Elopement during the Coronavirus: If you haven't booked your elopement yet- book your elopement, now.
I don’t mean to say this in a way to add to any panic, by any means. However, it is a reality right now. Everything happening currently in these next few weeks will have a ripple effect on everything else moving forward. Let me explain.
Reasons to book your elopement during the Coronavirus pandemic.
This pandemic is not a permanent state. In the next few weeks it will flatten out a bit and control will be had, which is the point of self isolations and social distancing, group bans, travel bans, etc. This is not forever. The couples who have / had their conventional weddings planned during these bans are being forced to reschedule. Some couples are opting to actually CANCEL their conventional wedding and opting to elope, instead, because it is easier and faster than moving the ENTIRE event to who-knows-when as they are at the mercy of their venues. They are taking any money they are getting back and having an adventure elopement experience instead. So your favorite elopement photographers are being booked and dates are being locked.The couples who have had to move their elopement dates being forced to reschedule are taking up the open dates for 2020 and also starting to pick into 2021. This goes for photographers, planners, hotels, car rentals, etc. Everything now is being pushed to later. So, if you wanted a specific month or even date- book it now so you can secure and guarantee having as much control over your elopement trip as possible.
Couples are 10000% still planning their elopements right now. According to Junebug Weddings analytics, who is one of the biggest elopement & wedding planning blogs, they sent out an email yesterday saying the spike in traffic on their site. And, my own site traffic is up.
Step 3 on Planning Your Elopement during the Coronavirus: Money anxieties and commitment- help us help you.
Right now I know that money might be tight, it feels anxious to think about spending money, and making a commitment during wild uncertainty feels, well, wild. Uncertainty makes everyone feel icky, especially if you are a Type A planner. How can you continue to spend money when you are unsure what’s happening??
Ways to work with money anxieties while planning your wedding during Coronavirus.
Everyone knows what’s going on and I have seen an OVERWHELMING outreach from so many people in order to help others. Your wedding vendors are no different, so firstly- know that they want you to feel as comfortable as possible during this time of uncertainty.
Ask your photographer / planner if they would take a retainer payment without you having to commit to the package and date at this time. This is something I’m doing for couples who haven’t fully committed with working through their package options yet but know that they want to book and have me. So, instead of putting extra stress on them to figure EVERYTHING out- they are paying a small retainer to guarantee them a date with me the end of 2020 or in 2021 AND getting my guidance during this time to help them navigate planning. The retainer is non-refundable and goes towards their final package price once determined instead of being an extra charge! Then when things calm down and they can focus on fully planning again we are already on our way to building that perfect wedding package AND planning. It’s a win / win.
Ask about payment plans! This is something I have been utilizing a lot with my couples and it has worked out really well! If putting the industry standard payments of 50% down and then 50% later is TOO MUCH of a commitment for you right now- ask about payment plans! With my couples, I have been offering a specific 4 payment plan AND asking them what they prefer. I have 3 couples right now paying me little bits at a time, $75 here and $100 there so they have control over their own finances, the how, and the when, up until the final payment is due. MORE WIN / WINS! Being able to help you feel more calm about everything is TOP priority.