• Farida Pedhiwala

Wedding Planning Through A Pandemic

Wedding planning is hard; wedding planning in the midst of a global pandemic? Dear 2020 brides, I feel you! With conferences and events being cancelled, the NHL season suspended and today even schools calling for closure, we have spent the last few days and weeks working with couples to get through this all. From all the conversations we’d had, we’ve put together the following advice & suggestions.

While we are NOT medical professionals, we are here sharing all the information we have about what we do best – wedding planning! We hope we can help you get through this confusing time.

First, let’s just say it out loud, THIS SUCKS! And I’m so sorry it’s happening to you. Yes, it’s hard, but now is a good time to “have the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, courage to change the things that you can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

Let's break this down; what do we know? As of today (March 12th 2020) Toronto Public Health has merely suggested using caution at large gatherings, and the federal government advises making informed decisions regarding public gatherings during the COVID-19 global outbreak. As of now, only Alberta has placed a ban on public gatherings (of more than 250 people). School closures were called today across the province, but Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health says it is because he is concerned with the likeliness of children travelling over March break. (All resources used for this data are listed at the end of this post.)

So coming to the next part of this, what can we do?

If your wedding is in the next two months, chin up girlfriend – you got this! I know you’ve heard it before, but do not panic! Below are some tangible steps you can take:

  • Take a stock of how many guests are travelling from overseas. International travel is tricky at this time. Work with your partner to assess how it would affect the two of you if your international guests could not make it. Is it a parent or sibling you are expecting from overseas? Or a distant cousin who you might be able to catch up with later in the year? Are they travelling from a country on the COVID hot zone list? (China, Iran, Italy, Singapore etc) There is a real possibility these guests will not, and rather should not travel to Canada.

  • Connect with your local guests, tell them how much you would have loved to have them share your day, but be understanding if they choose to stay home. Tell them they should stay home if they or anyone in their home has any symptoms like a fever, cough, or body ache etc. (list of symptoms should be referred to on official sites.) Tell them how much you value their well being rather than the efforts they will put into being there if they are unwell.

  • Talk to your venue, ask them what steps they have taken to ensure the venue facility is appropriately sanitized, high frequency zones like elevators, door knobs, bathrooms especially should be disinfected regularly.

  • Talk to your venue about how flexible they can be about last minute no-show guests in this time of uncertainty. Venues generally have you submit a minimum number of guests well ahead of the wedding date, talk to them, see if they can be flexible if your numbers have changed or are uncertain.

  • Ask your venue if they are using antibacterial soap in the bathrooms? If not would they consider switching to one? Do they have hand sanitizer stations around the venue? Frequent hand washing is the most advocated way to protect yourself, so consider having signs around the venue reminding guests to wash their hands. Avoid handshaking (even if it is culturally expected or required for the wedding ceremony find a way around it) and announce a reminder to wash hands before each course- ensure there are enough soap bottles in the bathroom to avoid a stampede here or offer baskets of hand sanitizer or wipes at guests tables.

  • Avoid the buffet – This is actually a recommendation on the federal website. If possible, avoid having a buffet at your wedding. Opt instead for packaged boxed meals, this is going to help avoid all your guests touching the same serving spoons at the buffet table, and eliminate the possibility of someone accidentally sneezing on the rice. Buffets also require people to all gather around in close proximity, so it's best to find an alternative. It's not completely unheard of to skip the meal all together. Opt for a cocktail reception instead with passed hors d’oeuvres .

  • Check in with your vendors and ask them about their contingency plans. Read through their contracts and discuss what flexibility they are offering now with an ever-changing situation.

Only after doing all of the above, do we recommend moving to the next steps of considering a date change. If you are forced to go this route, remember it’s a delay, not a dead end.

  • Find out from all of your vendors where you stand in the event of a date change. Ask if they can move your deposit to a future date. Be kind and respectful. Remember that this is affecting everyone in your community in some way or the other. Majority of the wedding industry is run by small business owners who do not work with massive profit margins and are in it because they love what they do, and more than anything WE WANT TO HELP YOU. Keep in mind that depending on how close you are to the wedding and how your contract is set up you may still be required to pay a full final payment. If your vendors do agree to move deposits, it has to be a date that is still available on their calendar. Start this process in the same order in which you booked the wedding vendors to begin with, venue first then in the priority of your must-have favourite vendors. Find out their availability for the new proposed date and be flexible to the idea of having only part of your original team stay on for a future date. This will likely be an expensive decision to make, so remember to stay flexible and open minded to various options.

  • Consider still having the ceremony, if your current date is important to you, you have the dress, you’ve written the vows, you’ve got your loved ones saving the date, go ahead and say I Do! You can always just move the party to later in the year.

  • From our research, event insurance companies will not insure you against Covid19. If we have any new information we will be sure to update you as soon as we can.

Finally, I want to conclude by reminding you, the wedding is the event, but your marriage will last a lifetime. So focus on that lifetime, focus on the forever and please let us know if you have any more questions and we will do our very best to help as we can. Feel free to share this information with anyone you think it can help, and remember to wash your hands!

Works Cited

Canada, F. G. (2020, March 12). Risk-informed decision-making for mass gatherings during COVID-19 global outbreak. Retrieved from Canada.ca: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/health-professionals/mass-gatherings-risk-assesment.html

Herring, J. (2020, March 12). COVID-19: Alberta bans all public gatherings of more than 250 people; 23 Alberta cases confirmed. Retrieved from Calgary Herald: https://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/alberta-covid-19-toll-hits-as-nhl-suspends-season-kenney-comes-home/

Kopun, F. (2020, March 12). Dr. Eileen de Villa, the head of Toronto Public Health, said Thursday that there is still no confirmed evidence of local transmission of COVID-19. CITY HALL Toronto Public Health urges caution on public gatherings. Retrieved from The Star: https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2020/03/12/toronto-public-health-urges-caution-on-public-gatherings.html

MILLER, J. (2020, March 12). Ontario to close all publicly funded schools for two weeks following March Break. Retrieved from Ottawa Citizen: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/ontario-to-close-all-publicly-funded-schools-for-two-weeks-following-march-break

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