The past year has posed many challenges to the wedding industry, and many newly engaged couples have had to completely change their wedding planning process to keep up. The checklist, the tool that wedding planners and brides rely on the most in the weeks before the ceremony, has become less reliable in the age of last minute COVID-related cancellations. Before the pandemic, checklists would typically manage when the caterer, venue, and rental company needed final counts. However, the unpredictability of COVID-19 and vaccine rollout means that these numbers can change up to five days prior to your ceremony, making your pre-ceremony checklist less dependable. Keeping all that in mind, here’s how to prepare for last minute COVID-19 cancellations at your ceremony.
While it’s expected for your guest count to fluctuate during these times, it’s important to keep all involved vendors updated of your headcount throughout this process. If you have 10-15 people that are no longer able to attend your reception, let your vendors know so they do not set an extra table and hire a staff member your reception no longer requires.
On the other end, it’s helpful to communicate with your guests as your ceremony approaches, highlighting the updated details of locations, times, and dress code. Lack of vendor resources and staff, COVID restrictions, and last minute cancellations might mean you have to shorten your guest list. It may be difficult for some brides to inform friends or family that they are no longer able to attend their ceremony because of COVID. Organize a series of small lunches or get togethers with those who can no longer attend your wedding to help them feel included and to keep the celebrations going.
Many businesses are still operating under a 10-14 day quarantine. Plan your alterations date 2 weeks (or more) before you actually need your altered gown. Communicate with your vendors throughout this process and ask about their protocols should your alterations be delayed longer than 14 days.
Additionally, there is a widespread inventory problem across the country. To ensure your dress and your groomsmen’s suits have enough fabric and to ensure those working on your garments have enough time, reserve a few weeks over the recommended amount of time on all rental items.
Prior to COVID, rentals such as linens, plates, glassware and chairs would be reserved three to four months before your ceremony. Now, these items are being reserved nine months ahead of the big day. As vaccine rollouts increase and the the country prepares for a huge influx in larger events, it’s better to secure as many details as possible far ahead of time. As soon as you have your ceremony date and venue, reserve all other vendors for the higher end of your guest count. Securing these items nine months in advance at minimum will help ensure that they will be available the day of your wedding and will lessen your prep work as your big day approaches.
Because the hospitality industry has had to lay off so many workers, there’s a chance that the employees originally hired to help with your wedding may no longer be available. Do some research on the vendors you hire to make sure they are experienced individuals and confirm who will be on site on your wedding day. Additionally, make sure you have backups for all hired vendors and ask each of your vendors—especially your hairstylist, makeup team, and photographer—what they’re plan is if they or a staff member gets COVID.
Understanding how to prepare for last minute COVID-19 cancellations at your ceremony and attending to these confirmations as early as possible helps ensure that you won’t have an unexpected mishap and not enough time to address it. Once you have these four crucial details settled, you are ready to fill in the smaller details in your regular ceremony checklist and to have a dream wedding celebrating safely with your loved ones.
By Katherine Frost
Katherine Frost started her career in sales for a DMC (Destination Management Company), and then grew her first wedding and event planning company, A Frosted Affair, with this combined sales and operational knowledge as well as her love for making things beautiful and memorable. After 10+ years in the events industry, it became apparent the technology available to event professionals was lacking, so Katherine pivoted in early 2019 to assemble a team to help streamline the planning process and created ORO, a truly all-in-one platform to plan and manage events.
Images provided by Katherine Frost