Australian Weddings and COVID-19: The Need To Knows

by | Blog News, Bride

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Photo by Caroline Sada Photography via Simone & Jordan’s Romantic Winter Wedding At The George Ballroom (Because donuts make everything better!)

There has never been a more uncertain time than right now as the world battles COVID-19. Not just when it comes to day to day (oh toilet paper, where for art thou), but when it comes to planning a wedding. Plans and dreams that have been months or years in the making suddenly thrown into flux, unto the great unknown.

We don’t have all the answers, and with the situation changing rapidly, we’ve put together a few FAQS and need to knows on Australian weddings and COVID-19. To help ease your worries, to give you the tools you need and to help you in making your dreams still happen.

The next few months are going to have different kinds of weddings, weddings that perhaps aren’t going to tick every box of what they were imagined to be, but weddings, that after all, do focus on the most important thing – the tying of the knot.

As for us at Polka Dot Bride, we’ve always worked at home and are pros at it. So we’ll be continuing to publish inspiration, ideas and information across the next few months. Not only to support you as you continue to plan your wedding day but also to give you a little hope – because if nothing else, that is the very core of what weddings represent.

Please send us an email or let us know if you need help.

Should I cancel my March, April or May wedding?

 

Update 24th of March: tonight’s restriction reduces weddings to give people. This includes you and your partner, the celebrant and two witnesses. Your photographer can also double as a witness.

 

This is going to be a really tough one to answer as the situation constantly changes and you need to be aware of your wedding is very soon, it may have to be cancelled due to changing restrictions very close to the event itself. At this stage, we believe that if your wedding is taking place in the next three months, you should postpone it.

This decision is going to depend on you, the size of your guest list, the vulnerabilities of your guest list (i.e. whether you have a lot of elderly guests and/or guests vulnerable with health conditions) what your guest list is comfortable with (if you have many guests travelling from other countries for instance, who may not be able to get here), and your vendor policies.

You’re also going to have to consider the vibe of your day if you go ahead- you may have guests pulling out last minute, you may need to restrict things like receiving lines and hugs, the dance floor may not be the best option, you may have to reconsider a buffet reception meal. You need to consider if you can go ahead while guaranteeing your guest’s safety. How comfortable are you with the potential that many of your guests could walk away ill?

The best and the first thing you need to do is talk to your wedding vendors. Talk to your venue and find out what their plans are, your wedding photographer, your planners. Every vendor will be handling the situation differently with different policies, and it is only when you have all of this information, that you can make your decision.

If your wedding is in the next six weeks to three months, make sure you are talking to vendors and making decisions now.

If you are six months out, continue to plan as normal if you feel it is right for you and make further decisions closer to the date. But please ensure you talk to your vendors, so you can find out what their own plans are.

What are the restrictions?

Update 24th of March: tonight’s restriction reduces weddings to give people. This includes you and your partner, the celebrant and two witnesses. Your photographer can also double as a witness.

Update 23rd March: As of March 23rd, all non-essential businesses, including places of worship and licensed venues will be closed until at least April 13th.

There is still a 100 person limit for an inside event and a 500 person limit for an outdoor event. Be aware that the limits also include your vendors and the venue staff, so it is not quite as accommodating to guest lists as it makes it sound.

Additionally, as of Friday 20th of March, your venue has to have four square metres of room per person- whether you have 100 guests or 500. This means for a 100 square metre space, you can only have 25 guests.

There is also a limit on the time of the event- for a stand-up event, where guests are standing, moving & mingling, the maximum time allowed is two hours. For sit down events, the maximum time allowed is four hours.

What options do I have if I need to change my plans?

  • Postpone your wedding until later in the year or even 2021. If you are set on your dream team (understandably!) the absolute best thing you can do when postponing is to consider a wedding between Monday and Thursday!
  • Marry in an intimate ceremony (i.e two-five guests max) at home and have a big party at the end of the year or next year (wear your outfits again! Have all the trimmings you planned for this year!)
  • Elope somewhere locally.
  • Continue with a tiny guest list and use video conferencing services to allow absent guests to dial in. As mentioned above, you choose this option, you’ll also have to think about social distancing options- things like outdoor cocktail hours, skipping the post-ceremony congratulatory hugs etc

Why are vendors pushing for weekday weddings and “postpone, don’t cancel” ?

We wanted to get the lowdown properly for you, so we asked one of our wedding planners Vanessa of The Wedding & Event Creators.  She says  ” The current bookings for April and May are postponing to peak wedding dates mostly in October-December 2020 and February-March 2021 so far, which means we are just blocking out those peak weekend dates for new inquiries or potential new bookings to take. Although it is a postponement (and the vendors need you to postpone instead of cancelling!) if a couple from April 2020 is blocking out a weekend date in future, we cannot get another booking for that date or take deposits to keep us going. The deposit payment will have been paid in 2020 or 2019, so is not cash flow for us. Additionally, we’ve started the work and in some cases, the vendors have even finished it (i.e celebrants completing ceremonies and lodging paperwork).
We are really encouraging you, as couples, to move to mid-week Monday-Friday dates so that we can keep the weekends open for new inquiries and bookings. This will 100% help our industry stay afloat and keep small businesses in business You also need to remember that the wedding industry is seasonal and this is our peak season.

Because of the state of the world, no one is booking and additionally, with postponed weddings, no one is paying instalment or final deposits. During a season where we usually bring in enough to cover ourselves over the slower winter. There is no revenue currently coming into wedding industry businesses to cover our expenses and staff wages”.

What do I do if I still want to go ahead with a March, April or May wedding?

The state shutdown laws in Victoria are in force until April 13th. So you will not be able to plan your standard large wedding until at least after that date, and possibly even longer, depending on how the virus progresses.

Further, if you are marrying in the next three months, you will have to adjust your plans now.

The good news is you can still tie the knot legally, it may just look different to how you planned – unless you postpone. This may be purely restricted to private ceremonies with just yourselves and witnesses.

How do I plan a wedding now?

If your wedding date is still a way off, wedding planning might look a little different in the next few months. In-person meetings with your wedding team will probably move to online platforms like Skype and Zoom, you may need to consider more digital tools too – make the most of them!

Most vendors you meet in person are taking extra precautions- bridal boutiques, for example, are allowing only 1-2 guests per dress shopping appointment- so again, make the most of your digital tools and take a slower, quiet approach to planning.

If it is indeed, creating an enormous amount of stress for you, consider hiring a wedding planner to help. They can take away the mental load for you and help you not just discover new or easier ways of doing things, but help you decide on your options.

Do remember that the vendors you are working within are currently under an inordinate amount of stress and have potentially lost their income for the next few months be patient with them as they work to shift current clients and make new plans.

What about my destination wedding?

Holding an international wedding is not going to be possible or easy for the next few months so if you do not want to postpone, it’s a great excuse to make the most of our local talent and start looking for your plan B. Australian has amazing destinations that can still replicate a holiday feel, and all the charm, but without travel and health issues involved. Start looking for your plan B now and enlist your vendors for their suggestions and ideas. They’ve worked at amazing weddings and will be able to advise you of places that may have a similar vibe.

If you want to shift your wedding to Australian soils and want to keep the same date, remember you have to register your intention to marry one month and one day before the big day. There is a “Shortening of Time” provision also in place you can apply for through your celebrant.

Will I get deposits back?

Generally, you won’t receive deposits back, as your vendors? They still have to account for and pay for the work, the time and expense they already out into your day.

It is so incredibly important to communicate with your vendor team, as you could work together to move the date to one that is mutually agreeable. The best thing you can do to ensure the wedding businesses you are working with survive is to postpone your plans and not cancel them.

What about wedding gowns and the coronavirus?

The wedding gown industry is experiencing an incredibly high delay. There are many, many gowns made throughout Asia which have had to stop production and even if your gown is made in Australia, it may use fabrics sourced internationally. You’ll need to hop onto your dress shopping as soon as it is safe to do so and check with designers regarding lead times and order delays.

What about other vendors?

This is going to affect almost every wedding vendor you deal with. International imports of flowers may be delayed or restricted, linens, catering, wedding gowns, diamonds, jewels, all may have their restrictions or delays.  Your dream team will also have situations such as staff members self-isolated, couples cancelling and so much more.

What about wedding insurance and the coronavirus?

You’re going to need to check this one directly with your insurer. Many insurers will not cover you if a pandemic crisis such as this causes the cancellation of your wedding. Make sure to triple check your policy before you count on it to cover you because chances are, you’re unfortunately out of luck.

What about my honeymoon plans?

As of 18th of March 2020, most international flights are now cancelled, and any that do exist will require a 14-day quarantine period. That much dreamt of honeymoon to Italy is going to be off the cards for some months. But Australian regions. which have already been pummelled by visitors dropping because of bushfires, really need you to visit as soon as it is safe to do so.

Plan a beach vacation to the Whitsundays, a road trip through the Yarra Valley, a city escape to Sydney. Our local travel industry is going to need everything we can give it when we can travel again. Keep up to date with international travel advice via the Smart Traveller homepage.

How can I support the wedding industry?

The wedding industry is built off gatherings and when gatherings can’t happen, it’s going to struggle. Postponing your wedding and event rather than cancel is the most important thing you can do. We do want these amazing talents to be able to continue their passion and be flourishing when wedding plans can pick up as normal again!

Postpone don’t cancel

This is the most important advice we can share. Please don’t cancel your wedding. please work with your vendors to set a new date. not only do they want to see you married, but they also need to be able to be here when you do want to tie the knot. Postponing allows them to shift that income instead of losing it.

Book a weekday wedding

2021 is already booking out with dates, and if you want your dream team to be together again, you might consider a weekday wedding for your new date. The next year of weddings is going to look so very different and Thursday weddings are totally going to be a thing This will also help your vendors not lose out on your booking altogether.

Pay your wedding bill in full

If you have the means, help your wedding pros out by paying as much of your forthcoming bill in full now

Support the vendors in ways outside of weddings

Check your local vendors to see what else you can do. Many caterers are offering home-delivered or take away meals, many florists are offering flower deliveries. Buy a cake and devour it, if they have online stores, gift vouchers or postal services – use them! We’ve started an Instagram page and a Facebook page for Wed With Them, so you can find these options in one place.

Don’t forget…

Marrying your beloved is the most important part of a wedding. In the end, everything else doesn’t matter. Remind yourself of that every time the panic and overwhelm tries to take control.

If you need someone to talk to about your wedding plans or need help in any way, please reach out to us. We have plenty of resources and vendors who can help!

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