14th May 2020
With the announcement from Boris and the publication of the 50 page document detailing the measures and their plan for the way forward being brought to our attention, I wanted to pop on to discuss how this affects you and your wedding planning.
I'm going to keep it brief for the simple reason that any advice I give is likely to have a shelf-life, and with the current responsibility now on the public doing the right thing, our way of life over the next few months is likely to be affected one way or another. I'm no lawyer and that anything I say is my personal opinion, so do not take this as gospel. It is simply that there is so much nonsense-advice being given to couples and I feel that what you need at the moment is to be guided by people who have your best interests at heart rather than from people who may have ulterior motives...
As a wedding planner, I have a responsibility to act with integrity and fairness to my couples and this extends to all of you who are probably feeling anxious, upset and angry. We have to navigate solutions and act as problem solvers - we are expected to have the answers but, I and my associates will hold our hands up and say quite frankly, that we do not have the answers to this one. We know about the virus as much as you, but all we can do is to be positive and look at the evidence and try to hold your hands, find the best way to move forward and focus on getting your wedding re-booked and fabulous. Our relationships with you are more important than anything and we want to work with you to find a solution. Your big day will happen and, my goodness, there are going to be some pretty epic parties at the end of this, we will make sure of it!
Have things changed?
The announcement on Sunday 10th May has had all sorts of reactions. Without trying to get political at all, it has confused couples and industry professionals alike. I have personally had quite a few of my Summer/Autumn couples ask for advice as to when should they postpone and then on the same day we see some industry professionals interpreting the Government's recovery strategies and FAQs completely differently. No wonder there are a lot of frazzled and confused people out there.
The document states three things which are relevant to you and I:
"Can weddings go ahead?
There is no change at this time, but we have set out our intention to enable small wedding ceremonies from the 1st of June. We understand the frustrations couples planning their wedding must be feeling at this time...we will look to ease [restrictions] as soon as it is safe to do so."
"In addition, the Government is also examining how to enable people to gather in slightly larger groups to better facilitate small weddings."
"The ambition (from the 1st July) is to open at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close...including hospitality..."
Any lifting of lockdown restrictions is hugely positive, however, the restriction on weddings being able to take place (certainly for June/July at this stage) has not changed. The wording uses very cautious language: intention, examining, ambition. In my opinion, this is to enable couples to have hope, which is great, but the message has to be read with open eyes. What they are saying is that they understand that it has been really hard for you to have to cancel or postpone your weddings and that they are looking at how they can allow for you to get hitched with everyone who you love being present. However, this cannot happen until it is safe to do so.
There have been people in the press who have interpreted these new dates as a green light for weddings to take place in June and July - folks, I'm sorry to say, there is no green light. Until it is safe for the public to mingle together the whole industry cannot function normally.
Can your wedding safely go ahead later in the year?
The focus in the Government document is on weddings in high-season - June, July, Aug. But what if everyone behaves, follows social distancing and the measures are adhered to? We cannot say for sure, but you must understand that if your wedding falls in the Autumn and Winter, and there have been further lifting of measures, it is likely to be a very different experience. You may face difficult decisions about how you group your guests at the wedding breakfast, or how you feel about guests unable to come due to self-isolating. A few things to consider:
Can your venue guarantee that there will be sufficient H&S in place for the wedding? This covers things from having hand sanitiser and how they manage social distancing and any restriction on guest numbers etc.
If there is a second spike over the Autumn/Winter, there may be very little notice of a further lockdown.
Do you understand your contracts and are your deposits going to be affected? There has also been a lot of quite negative press about this, particularly about venues being difficult. Please be aware that this may only apply to a very small amount of venues - most will be wanting to keep you as clients and bending over backwards to offer you alternative dates in what is likely to be high season 2021. In my experience, any wedding suppliers, whether big companies or small want to help you.
Can your wedding safely go ahead with the guests you wish to attend and can your existing suppliers fulfil their full obligations? Would you be happy if these things have to be compromised in some way?
Have you considered how self-isolation may affect your guest numbers?
You could consider having the legal ceremony when you can and have a blooming' big knees up when you can guarantee all the guests will be able to hug each other safely.
In a nutshell, my advice is to be realistic. Use this time to consider whether you are likely to get married in the way you hoped. If you are not willing to compromise on your choices, then certainly have a back-up date prepared. There is no shame in this. Communicate this to your guests so that they can be supportive of you. And remember, if you need help - ask.
YOU WILL GET MARRIED. THERE WILL BE JOY AGAIN.