By Briget D’Antonio
Spring has sprung! The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the wedding church bells are ringing…wait, scratch the bells.
What is normally the start of a lucrative wedding season, is now an eventless series of months stuck at home. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the wedding season upside down. Most 2020 couples, and everyone that works in the wedding industry, are panicking. Will there even be any weddings this year? If so, what will a wedding in Rhode Island look like? Will the couples be limited to inviting a certain amount of guests? Will the guests and vendors be required to wear masks? How will the food be prepared and presented? There are so many unknown variables at this time.
As a professional wedding planner and officiant, I struggle with finding the right words to comfort my clients. I want to be able to educate and guide them through the process, but there are no certainties of what the future holds.
For all upcoming weddings and events, it’s important to be hopeful, but realistic. Try to focus on what you can control, rather than all the unknowns. In an ideal situation, all weddings would go on as originally planned. But that’s not plausible right now. So if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to consider your options.
Option 1 – Hold the course and have your wedding on the original day.
Pros: You have been planning on getting married on THIS day, and by golly, you’re going to do it! The date will bear even greater significance, because getting married to your soulmate means more to you than having your dream wedding reception.
Cons: If you keep your original date in 2020, you will have to abide by the state’s current guidelines. That may very well mean that you can only invite 50 guests (including vendors/service staff), everyone will need to wear masks, and guests will have to sit six feet apart. Also you have to consider the safety of your guests, and whether or not they are able/willing to attend. If your guests are traveling from out-of-state, they may have to self-quarantine themselves for 14 days. Some couples have opted to host their ceremony on Facebook Live (in a private group) or Zoom.
Option 2: Postpone your wedding to a future date.
Pros: Many couples are opting to postpone their wedding. Before you make this decision, check with your venue and ask what their postponement policy is. Will they allow for your deposit to be transferred or is it considered a cancellation? Some venues are allowing couples to place a ‘soft hold’ on a future date, which is extremely helpful. Postponing your wedding may give you a little piece of mind…your wedding may not happen when you originally wished for, but you will hopefully still have all the guests and vendors that you want to share in your celebration.
Cons: The drawback is not knowing how far to postpone. When this health crisis first started, many Spring couples postponed their weddings to the later half of Summer or Fall. But with the limitations set in place for the unforeseeable future, many couples are now having to postpone their weddings a second time. Again, my advice would be to contact your venue and large vendors first to see what their postponement policies are and if your deposits/payments will transfer to a new date without penalties. Also, if you are able to communicate with your guests via email or a website, it’s easier and more affordable to make changes to a digital invitation.
Option 3: Cancel the wedding altogether and elope.
Pros: Planning a wedding under normal circumstances is stressful in and of itself. And for many, the stress and anxiety of planning a wedding during a pandemic is downright overwhelming. If this is the case for you and your fiance, you can always elope! There are several beautiful venues in Rhode Island that are offering elopement packages or micro-weddings, including Hotel Providence, Queen Anne’s Loft in Newport, Meadow Brook Inn in Charlestown, Blueberry Cove Inn in Narragansett, and more (for a complete list, please free to contact me). Some of the features highlighted in these packages may include an intimate ceremony, champagne toast, flowers, photography, and music for you, your fiance, and a few guests.
Cons: Depending on your contractual obligations with your vendors, eloping means that you may suffer a significant financial loss. Be sure to review all of your vendor contracts to see what losses you may have from non-refundable deposits and payments. Most vendors are trying to be flexible, but please remember that this pandemic was not your fault, nor theirs. Hopefully, you can work together to come up with a fair solution that is amenable for both parties.
We realize that having to change any part of your wedding is something that you never thought you would have to do. For vendors like me whose livelihood and whole worlds revolve around weddings, we can completely empathize with you! But what brings us joy and happiness is seeing all the amazing ways that our couples – and couples all over the world – have moved forward with love, laughter, and hope!
Bridget D’Antonio is a wedding planner and a Discover Rhode Island Wedding Expert. She is also the Co-Owner of Anchor Productions, LLC