As things rapidly unfold with this current pandemic, we are carefully watching for the advice and regulations are being announced by the Department of Health (in Australia) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to see how this is impacting couples getting married in 2020.
For the latest health alerts and announcements, please visit health.gov.au for Australians.
25/3/2020 Update: Weddings have been restricted to a maximum of 5 people including the couple, the celebrant and witnesses.
COVID-19 Restrictions on Gatherings
In Australia, the Australian Government Department of Health has put restrictions on “non-essential gatherings” which include weddings.
As of March 18th, these limits on non-essential gatherings include:
- Keeping indoor gatherings to fewer than 100 people (including staff)
- Keeping outdoor gatherings to fewer than 500 people (including staff)
- Being able to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between people indoors
- Providing hand hygiene products and suitable rubbish disposal bins with frequent waste disposal
- Australian citizens and residents who are returning from overseas need to self-isolate themselves for 14 days upon returning to the country.
- Australia has now closed its borders to non-citizens and residents
20/3/2020 update: For indoor gatherings of less than 100 people, a space of 4 metres square (2m x 2m) needs to be provided per person.
22/3/2020 update: The Prime Minister has made an official statement to put further restrictions as part of the new Stage 1 restrictions on social gatherings. From 23/3/2020, pubs, licensed hotel bar areas, casinos, night clubs, entertainment venues, churches and places of worship, gyms and indoor sporting venues are restricted from opening. Restaurants and cafes have been restricted to takeaway and delivery only. This will be reviewed on a monthly basis, but we should expect these measures to be in place for at least 6 months. Note: For places of worship, there is an exception for weddings and funerals as long as they are in compliance with the 4 squared metres (2m x 2m) floor space density restrictions. (Reference: Statement from Premier Daniel Andrews)
24/3/2020 update: Scott Morrison has just announced weddings are now restricted to couples, the celebrant and witnesses (no more than five people).
As we’ve seen over the last few days, the rules and recommendations for gatherings have been changing almost daily. To stay up-to-date with the latest information, please make sure to check for updates on the Department of Health website.
For couples in the United States,the CDC has outlined a series of considerations for postponing gatherings and the steps to plan, prepare, when proceeding with mass gatherings including but not limited to:
- The overall number of attendees
- The number of people who are at greater risk of serious illness after contracting Covid-19
- The density of the attendees within a confined area
- The potential economic impact to guests, staff, and the larger community.
- The level of transmission in your local community and the area where your guests will be traveling to.
- If there are any ways to reduce the number of guests at your event.
These are some of the consideration guidelines at the time of writing this post, but as things have been changing regularly, we recommend finding the latest information on the CDC website.
Should I cancel or postpone my wedding?
This is a very personal decision with several factors that come into play such as guest numbers, people travelling from overseas, your venue choice and the necessary precautions you would need to take.
It’s hard for me to make a blanket statement here, but if you have a wedding date coming up in the next several months, I would recommend considering postponing rather than completely cancelling for the risk of losing any deposits you’ve already put down. Depending on how close you are to your wedding date, the T&C’s of your venue and vendor contracts, you may also incur additional fees by canceling your event.
I know that’s not what you want to hear, but there are some steps you can take to find what your options are to postpone your event rather than cancelling.
Steps to take when postponing your wedding due to Covid-19
1. Read through your contracts
Before you get in touch with your venue and vendors, take a moment to carefully read through your venue and vendor contracts to understand what options you have moving forward. Understanding what is outlined in your contract and preparing your questions before picking up the phone is going to help guide this conversation to something actionable game plan for both parties.
2. Reach out to your vendors
Whether you have decided to move forward or postpone your wedding, your venue and vendors are waiting to hear what you’ve decided to do. Start by reaching out to your highest priority vendors first to discuss what safety measures you can take and/or the options you have to postpone. While you may not get the date you had hoped for, try to remember that the safety of you, your guests, and vendors is the number one priority for everyone involved.
If your venue and vendors are taking a bit longer to respond than usual, please keep in mind that they are doing their best to juggle multiple wedding changes from couples who are in the same boat as you
3. Keep your guests informed
Once you’ve made your decision to move forward or postpone your wedding date, you’ll need to let your guests know ASAP. If you have decided to proceed with your event, we encourage you to let guests know and what you will be doing to keep them safe in alignment with the health authority’s guidelines.
Guests will have their concerns and may already be asking you for updates. Your wedding website is a great place to make announcements so guests can easily refer to it as changes are made.
To make things a bit easier to manage, we highly recommend proactively adding a new section on your wedding website to acknowledge Covid-19 and let them know you will be updating them.
If you think your guests will have similar concerns around your new date, travel, safety measures, etc., it may be worth putting together a list of FAQs to address these right away.
If you are a WedSites user, it wouldn’t hurt to send out a quick email to your guest list to let them know about your decision to postpone. And if you already have a new wedding date, you can send them an email asking them to kindly RSVP to confirm if they’ll be able to attend this new date. (Here’s how you can do this.)
4. Give yourself time to process
Let’s face it, this pandemic is nothing like we’ve ever seen before. Everyone is struggling to come to terms with what is rapidly unfolding, and it’s totally normal to be upset by what is happening. While some may dismiss that there are bigger issues in the world, remember that your feelings are totally valid. There are literally thousands of other couples going through this with you. Lean into the communities and relationships that will support you, and talk about what you’re going through to help you process your emotions.
5. Celebrate your day anyway!
Even though this day won’t be how you imagined it, it’s still a date of significance worth celebrating! Plan a special date night with a romantic dinner, crack open your favorite bottle of wine, or maybe book a trip away in the countryside to get away from it all. Whether you’re going out or staying in, together is a beautiful place to be.
When times get rough, I really believe it brings to light what is really important in this world. The fact that you two have found each other and made a promise to spend the rest of your lives together is really darn special.
Be safe out there and take care of each other x