by MIKE CHAIKEN
The COVID-19 outbreak has forced many engaged couples to postpone plans for a wedding this spring.
This means the planning efforts likely have begun for rescheduled nuptials in September and beyond.
WeddingPro, which is part of The Knot bridal magazine family, had a webinar on March 24 to discuss how couples and wedding planners are managing to retool what might have taken months to plan during this time of social distancing and self-quarantining.
The moderator of the web-based discussion on March 24, Meghan Brown of Two Bright Lights wedding planners in South Carolina, urged wedding planners to keep an open mind for rescheduling events and to use their contacts to make it easy for couples forced to forestall weddings. “We’re all dealing with the new normal.”
Under normal circumstances, said panelist and planner Terrica Skaggs of Georgia, a postponement or cancellation of wedding plans would result in a penalty for a couple. But Skaggs said most planners likely will waive the penalty because of the coronavirus outbreak.
“This is so unprecedented. It’s not our client’s fault,” said Skaggs.
However, Skaggs said, couples should not expect concessions from planners or vendors because of the cancellation. “It’s not (the planner’s) fault either,” said Skaggs.
A planner cannot give everything away at the expense of their business, she said. They need to be able to take care of their brand and their business once the COVID-19 crisis has passed.
“Some vendors give away too much free,” said Kaliegh Wiese of Texas, another panelist in the webinar. The smart bridal vendors need to recognize, even in the face of COVID-19, they still have worth and value.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said panelist and stationer Amy Shey Jacobs of New York City, couples are getting even more value for their dollars spent on their planners. The planners offer expert guidance to get through this “unprecedented time,” she said.
Although she won’t be penalizing couples for postponing a wedding because of the coronavirus, Skaggs said she will be drafting new agreements with vendors and couples.
Skaggs said the postponement of weddings has interrupted the cash flow she expected for March and April. Some planners like herself now may ask for 50% of their fee up front, with an installment plan put into place for the rest. Skaggs said the agreement, [JUMP]in her case, is intended to bring some revenue home.
<t-2>”We’re all requesting new contracts with new dates,” said Jacobs. However, planners remain sensitive to the needs of their clients.
As for vendors, Kaliegh Wiese said clients should expect credits rather than refunds.
Besides the commerce side of planning the wedding, the panelist said there are other issues that will be up for discussion with couples. For instance, Jacobs said moving the wedding from spring or summer to fall or winter will impact any couple looking to have a uniform visual theme to their wedding.
Bridesmaid dresses may have been pink to reflect the spring, said Jacobs. Now couples may have to shop for darker colors for the bridesmaids to keep with a fall color scheme.
Some flowers that may have been in season in spring might not be available in the winter, said Jacobs. So couples may have to choose branches rather than floral decorations for the new date.
Some invitations may have been designed to evoke a summer wedding and those won’t work for a December wedding, said Jacobs.
Couples have to be flexible, said Jacobs.
However, Jacobs said the discussion on changing the theme may be a needed distraction for couples in a particularly stressful moment in time because of the virus.
And when the wedding pulls together, Skaggs said it will be the most blissful distraction of all for those involved. It will be a four-hour celebration of the power of love.