Coronavirus: wedding advice for couples

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Deep breaths everyone. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Let’s face this music…

We know how uncertain everything feels right now. What should be the happiest time of your life, planning a celebration of your love, has morphed into something a great deal more sinister and stressful. What’s going on? Will your wedding go ahead? Will you lose the life savings you’ve sweated blood to build?

No-one has all the answers. But what we can do is give you some tools to cope, some sort of strategy. So, here’s a step-by-step guide, based on what we know at this point:

  1. Find your calm

This is your first task. Discovering what soothes you, even briefly, will allow you to tackle what lies ahead with a little more strength and a level head. It’ll also stop you from channelling any anxiety and frustration into your later correspondence with your suppliers, who are just as worried as you are. Take that bath. Do a YouTube meditation. Have a large glass of Rioja. Whatever momentarily takes your mind off the ‘C’ word.

  1. Talk to your suppliers immediately

If you haven’t already heard from your suppliers, particularly your venue, start the conversation now. Communication is vital.

“For couples with cancelled weddings, the amount of money they receive back will depend on the particular vendor and their insurance,” notes Toby Heelis, CEO of events company Eventopedia.

“Some venues and caterers may allow the wedding to be postponed, whereas others may rule that the couple loses their deposit. For entertainment, transport and photography, businesses can rule against providing a refund to couples for cancelling if their contract does not provide them to.”

That said, the industry is a very supportive one, which has come together in many a catastrophe to make sure special days go ahead, in the craziest of circumstances. There’s a tangible sense of camaraderie, and many suppliers will most likely have made agreements with counterparts in their field and, as such, have back-up professionals on standby should they fall ill. Find out for certain and check in. Can they assist you in postponing, if needs be?

The main concern is, of course, with venues. As the bulk of your spending will be going here, you’ll understandably be fretting over the financial implications of cancellation or postponement. It’s tricky to predict what will happen.

The Manorview group, which owns a string of luxury hotels across central Scotland, was one of the first in the industry to make the decision to suspend all trading, and operate purely as an administrative team. The company is currently contacting affected couples to reschedule.

“We are taking this action to look after the health and safety of others, while also looking ahead to the sustainability of our business and ways to support our team and our commitment to not making any redundancies,” reads the group’s official statement.

It’s worth asking your venue co-ordinator the following, in an attempt to cover yourself:

  • What’s the process like for securing an alternative date?
  • Can the venue confirm that your deposit (and/or any other funds paid) is transferrable to a new date?
  • Can they go over the terms of your contract with you and reassure you that these will still be met? Are they planning to review any, in light of the current situation?
  1. Talk to your guests

You’ll need to phone around your nearest and dearest and check up on everyone’s travel and accommodation plans, which they’ll obviously have to amend. If they were planning on staying at the venue, can you help out in this regard? What the venue do to assist?

  1. Insurance

It’s the word that’s been on everyone’s lips lately and, unfortunately, there is no straight answer here. Less than 30% of couples take out wedding insurance, and even those that have are not necessarily protected in an unprecedented pandemic. There’s a lot of fine print to wade through.

“We advise couples to carefully assess their contracts with venues and suppliers, as well as their insurance policy,” urges Toby. “If you have a wedding insurance policy and took it out before the outbreak in January, you are likely to be covered if your providers cannot deliver due to the infectious disease.

“Couples are also likely to receive payment if they cancel for the death or illness of a close relative or wedding participant. Most insurers now hold a note on their website discussing what will be covered because of coronavirus to protect both the firm and any customers from confusion.”

If you do have a policy, your best bet is to get in touch with your insurer as soon as you can (add it to the call list, along with your suppliers) to check their position. Venue closures or restrictions on events as a result of a government act, for instance, may not be covered by companies, as many couples are discovering, and some won’t pay out if you take matters into your own hands and postpone yourself. Get to grips with your insurer’s stance.

If you haven’t got a policy, it may still be possible to secure one (although many companies are temporarily suspending sales). A quick visit to CompareWeddingInsurance.org.uk gives you a clearer picture of who, and importantly who isn’t, offering policies at the moment. Just read the terms thoroughly and be fastidious filing all documentation and correspondence.

You may have heard this before: as long as you’re married at the end of the day, it has been a success. If your wedding does happen and it’s not how you imagined, but you and your love are standing hand-in-hand together, with rings on your fingers, that’s a pretty powerful thing. And we need this power now, more than ever.

Stay strong, brides and grooms.

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