For many people, their weddings are meticulously planned, sometimes years in advance. The pandemic has changed everything.
( 5 minutes to read)
In this article, we speak to two women whose weddings were affected by COVID-19, and what they’ve done as a result. We also speak to some wedding industry professionals about what’s happened for their businesses that you should know about.
Lucy goes ahead with her small wedding
Lucy had her wedding booked for the 16th of May. A was to be a small wedding, held at home with close friends and family, followed by drinks, dinner and dancing at a local wedding venue. There were family coming from all over NZ to celebrate with them, and some friends, including a bridesmaid, coming over from Australia.
Initially, Lucy and her husband-to-be weren’t worried about CV19—after all, they thought, surely this will all just blow over. But as the situation continued to escalate, the future looked more and more uncertain. Then, the infections arising from the Southland wedding happened and with a heavy heart, Lucy pulled the pin. She couldn’t imagine putting people she loved at risk of getting sick.
Rather than postpone and rebook, they had already decided on the date, so they just decided to roll with the punches. They are going ahead with the wedding, just much-scaled back. Depending on the levels in NZ on the 16th, it will be a small affair, but with all the love and support from her wider whanau and friends. And, as she said—some serious money savings!
Sarah’s decision to postpone
When planning a wedding, some people choose a special date to be married on. Sarah and her husband-to-be had chosen the 18th of April as it was her Grandparent’s wedding date. A truly special date to remember made all the more poignant by her Grandmother’s tragic death at the start of 2020.
Then in mid-March, when the lockdown was looming and the situation looking dire, Sarah and her almost-husband made the decision to postpone the wedding until late September 2020. It was an incredibly sad time; not only giving up the date that meant so much for them, but also they were only three weeks from being married—the excitement and joy around that time are amazing, and to have that taken away is incredibly difficult.
Sarah had also had a range of items personalised with the date; wine glasses and display boards were all printed with the 18th April date. Amidst all the uncertainty and stress of rebooking everything, it’s also been an incredibly sad time. Sarah and her husband take some peace in knowing they aren’t alone; thousands of people across NZ have been and will continue to have their weddings directly affected.
Debbie Hawker has had all her couples so far postpone. Unfortunately, because Debbie is booked up to two years in advance, it has taken some time working together with her couples to confirm new dates in the current wedding season. She says her couples have all been amazing and are determined to continue working with her.
Unfortunately, The Department of Internal Affairs didn’t have strong guidelines and left it up to the couples and celebrant to decide if their wedding was ‘essential’, which created confusion for many. Some other couples have flouted the government’s recommendation by demanding their celebrant marry them in lockdown or risk losing the payment. This is heartbreaking for the celebrant, as 90% of the work they do takes place before the ceremony.
The hire company
Fallon from The Little Hire Company has had to deal with a range of scenarios. They were literally setting up a wedding for 100+ people when the first restriction was announced, and the bride and groom had to unexpectedly remove ten people from their wedding.
Then, April and May couples started cancelling and postponing. Fallon is honouring their booking and is happy to transfer it to another date of their choice. However, because of existing bookings, it may mean that couples can’t get the specific items they want, but Fallon is frantically working with people to ensure everyone is accommodated.
Has your wedding been affected by COVID-19?
If your big day was given the kai-bosh by COVID, there’s a lot to think about. Not only the logistics of re-booking or postponing, but also dealing with the emotional fallout; this is something you’ve looked forward to for a long time.
Some things you’ll need to think about as you move forward:
- If you have overseas guests, it’s possible that international travel may be impossible for up to a year. And even if they do make it here, they will likely have two weeks in isolation before they are allowed to attend a public event.
- If you are rebooking, most wedding venues, photographers, hire companies and celebrants will have existing bookings for up to two years. Saturdays especially, and also Fridays, are busy days for everyone. Consider a mid-week wedding to still have the vendors of your dreams. They will thank you for it!
- Heading into level two, there are no gatherings of over 10 people (as at 13 May when this was written), even for outdoor events. Consider your guest list carefully until we return to level one where there no restrictions. There is also a limit of two hours maximum for a gathering, and the recommendations is to avoid buffet food.
- If you are changing your date, think about your flowers—are they still in season at that time?
- Just like you’d grieve losing something important, there is a grief process associated with this. Even without all the stress of re-scheduling everything, it is perfectly normal to feel upset and down about this. Be kind to yourself.
- How are you going to tell everyone about your new plans? People will likely be understanding, upset on your behalf, and helpful, but you want to give them as much notice as possible so they can change their plans too.
- Celebrate your day anyway. While you may have postponed the event itself, the date is still meaningful. Plan something nice on the day to commemorate it anyway; and remember this will be a great story to tell the kids one day.
Overall, remember that 2020 isn’t what you had planned; this was not the expected course of events. But you’re not alone in this; there are other weddings, graduations (imagine studying for seven to ten years to get your PhD and not being able to physically graduate!), holidays and events. Everyone is experiencing some level of loss or grief; we are all in this together. You have each other, and maybe, that’s enough for today. Arohanui.