Our Community is here to help!
Hello everyone! I hope this finds you all healthy and safe. Let me just start by saying that I feel like I've written and re-written this blog post at least 15 times now and every time I feel like I'm making headway, something else changes and we are thrown yet another curve ball....
So what I have decided to do now (with the support from some truly fantastic AWS members) is to collaborate with our community to give you as brides/grooms/couples and wedding industry vendors alike; the best advice we can possibly give you - through our own experiences and knowledge.
I have collected this information from our planners, venues, caterers and rental companies. All within the AWS community. I have chosen points from each of them that I believe will help each of us navigate these times as best we can. Please remember; when I created Alberta Wedding Social my main goal was to support our down to earth couples and our community in any way I could. I never would've guessed in a million years that just a few months after starting this, I'd be trying to help everyone navigate through a pandemic! This is NOT my area of expertise by any stretch of the imagination. But by collaborating with our community, I was able to gather some pretty great info to share with all of you!
Postponing tips for our couples:
Postponements are the biggest concern right now with weddings so I feel it imperative that that be our focus for couples. I hope these tips are helpful and give you a better understanding of what you can do to make postponing an easier decision. And how exactly to go about it!
"The 60 day rule" - from Chelsea (Coco & Ash)
Chelsea explains that if your wedding is 60 days away, you should be working with your planner to postpone or reschedule. (If you do not have a planner, you should be speaking to your vendors immediately). If you wedding is 60-90 days out you should be considering a plan B. Which another of our planners touches on next. And lastly; if your wedding is 90 days or more out; please sit tight! We all know that this is a stressful time and is an uncomfortable thought. However you shouldn't be making any huge decisions just yet.
"I have encouraged those with July weddings to start becoming comfortable with a plan B, should the government restrictions creep into the summer" - from Mel (Melissa Alison Event)
There is no harm is preparing yourselves. Reaching out to your vendors now and talking about possible postponement options. This doesn't mean that you have to make the decision to postpone today! It just means you are staying in communication with your vendors for the possibility of a postponement. Lining up possible postponement (or plan B) dates with your planner, venue and photographer would be the first things to check off your list as they are the vendors who book up the quickest.
"We are happy to transfer the clients retainer to another date at no penalty, and hold a few dates until they can arrange mutual alignment with their other vendors - realizing that the venue is usually first to rebook and no venue has many dates available" - from Penny & Bretton (Venue 308)
This is SO wonderful and such a good point! Many vendors will put soft holds on postponement dates to make sure they are still able to accommodate you. This is something you should be reaching out to your planner about so they can contact your vendors. Again, if you do not have a planner then this is definitely something you should be doing yourself. If for nothing else than piece of mind at this point.
"We are pro postponement as opposed to cancellation and are trying to offer clients options in the unforeseen event of a mandatory postponement due to the pandemic" - from Garret (Food Works Craft Catering)
Yes!!! Postpone, don't cancel. There is very little to no need at all for cancellations. This is a very hard time for everyone. But this too shall pass. And cancelling your wedding is in no way going to make things better. There is a possibility that some of your vendors will not give refunds, so you will lose that investment. However if you postpone, that deposit will (most likely) be applied to your new date. *I personally don't know of any vendors who aren't applying deposits to new dates at this time.*
"Postponements mean we can work with our clients, and still help them create their beautiful wedding day they originally hoped for, just at a later date" - from Heather (Orange Trunk)
Amen! At the end of the day, we are all in this together. Many vendors are offering payment plan options, splitting dates such as elopements in the near future with receptions down the road. We are doing work for our clients that isn't even in our job descriptions because that is how much you all mean to us! Have faith in who you've hired. Talk to them. Ask them questions. We want to be a part of your day whether it's a month from now or a year from now. :)
Lastly - A few words from our vendor Mel (Melissa Alison Events) who recently made the decision to postpone her own wedding
"I have been planning my wedding for almost a year and a half now and with only 2 months to go, I was obviously getting quite excited. I was initially in denial about postponing, however when the Australian government cancelled all outgoing international flights from March through June, I knew I couldn't go ahead with my wedding. Knowing my parents could not travel to be in Canada for it, would be heartbreaking.
I first reached out to my venue, to tentatively secure a new date in the fall, then reached out to the rest of my vendors. My venue was my number one priority, so once I had a new date locked in, I felt much better about postponing. A few hours later, we ripped off the band-aid and made the decision to postpone, and were then able to lock in our vendors for the new date in October. All vendors were more than willing to transfer our deposits to the new date, and were wonderfully supportive of my decision.
By the evening, we had sent out messages to all 100 guests, announcing the new date, and had many guests tell us they were relieved of this news, as it also took stress off those who were meant to travel for the wedding. Now, all I can think of are the positives that have come out of this - more time to save up for wedding expenses, more time to work out and feel better about myself, an opportunity to think of new/different decor, and most of all, knowing that all our guests and vendors will be able to attend our wedding safely."
And now some tips and words for our vendors:
"We are staying solid to the rules of the Alberta Government's health restrictions" - From Penny & Bretton (Venue 308)
This is so imperative everyone! Rules seem to be changing daily and we need to be aware of the restrictions in place by the Alberta Government. What was first 50 people events is now 15 and soon I fear it will be less. Whether you are a venue, a rental company or a florist, (and everyone in between!) these restrictions are for the benefit of all of us. To read more about the Alberta Government's health restrictions, click here.
Financial aide during the pandemic
I know many of us are full time in our businesses and do not have another source of income. This pandemic is going to have a huge impact on our finances, if it hasn't already. The government is now offering assistance for small businesses during the pandemic. To apply for the emergency response benefit, click here. Applications open Monday April 6th.
***I have also noticed that many photographers are still debating doing elopement sessions during social distancing and I enlisted a professional to add insight as to why this might not be the best idea.
Insurance advice - from Jason Stallard (husband to Amber of Captured in Amber Photography)
"As a first step, I would recommend contacting your insurance broker to review your commercial general liability policy inclusions to determine if coverage applies with respect to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Most insurance policies are standard forms with a pollution exclusion. COVID-19 could potentially be defined as a pollutant and thus, excluded from coverage. There is a potential if you are currently operating that if you were sued your insurance policy may not respond, opening you up to personal liability." - Jason Stallard, Commercial Broker Specializing in Hospitality Insurance, Hub International
I'm going to wrap up this blog with a few words from one of our planners and her personal experience dealing with all of this. Please remember everyone; that we are all in this together! Find strength in each other and in our community. Stay healthy and safe my friends! - Melanie Xx
"The silver lining among this is all is an epic collaborative effort that I have never seen before. I’ve met more vendor friends (via video call of course) than I have in my years of business. YYC planners have come together multiple times to chat, vent and share information and I have never felt more supported.
My couples find relief and comfort in knowing the connection their vendors are all having, and we all have the common goal- love cannot be cancelled. We can only make decisions with the information we have right now and to avoid panic and defeat we need to take it day by day. Stay informed enough to make proper decisions but not too informed that your days are filled with worry. Lean on your supports and your people and know that we are all in this together." - Chelsea of Coco & Ash
Thank you so much to all of our contributors and Alberta Wedding Social members:
Author - Melanie of Alberta Wedding Social & Grey Lily Photography | Heather of Orange Trunk | Garret of Food Works Craft Catering | Chelsea of Coco & Ash | Mel of Melissa Alison Events | Penny & Bretton of Venue 308 | Jason Stallard