Navigating Covid-19 and Your Wedding

With all the cancellations and postponements that have been forced by Covid-19, it is not surprising that weddings, engagement parties, and other similar celebrations are caught in the mix.

It’s understandable, of course, as we are all making an effort to maintain social distancing so we can slow the spread of the virus. But it is still saddening, nonetheless. Many couples’ big days—which have taken months and months of planning—have either been cancelled entirely, postponed, or scaled back.

Currently, the CDC is recommending that all events scheduled for the next eight weeks (or into May and June) need to cancel. Group activities are limited to ten people or under, and even then, healthcare and government officials are asking that we #StayAtHome, limiting our interactions only with those who are also isolating in our household. 

So if your wedding is planned to occur within the next couple of weeks to months, you’re probably trying to determine what your best course of action is. We’re here to break down some of your options! 

Cancel Or Postpone Your Wedding:

Sadly, this is what most couples are resorting to, but you have some leeway with your decisions! Firstly, you’ll have to decide which option you want to take. A lot of wedding planners and specialists are recommending that you look into postponing your special day. That way, you’ll still get to have your dream day, and you’ll still be supporting some of businesses which were likely struck hard by Covid-19 too! However, with no certainty as to when this pandemic will end, and with wedding dates hard to get as is, you may be looking at postponing your wedding day until at least a year away from your original date.

Start by talking to the contacts at your venue to see what options are available and what they recommend. They are well aware of the circumstances, and will want to accommodate you because they want to keep your business. Just be open about your concerns, and together you’ll hopefully be able to work something out with you that will fit both of your needs.

Photo by: Jeremy Wong

Next, you’ll want to reach out to everyone you have made commitments with—caterers, florists, DJs, stylists—and inform them of your new plans. Like with the venue, these suppliers will also want to keep your business once life gets back to normal! Work with them to figure out a plan. You may even want to consider keeping your deposits and payments as a credit with them, that you can then use on your new wedding day. 

And don’t forget to reach out to all your guests, and tell them of the new big day. That way they have ample time to adjust their schedules and plans. 

If circumstances prevent you from being able to postpone your wedding date that long, you should still reach out to your venue and vendors to see what can be done. Maybe an earlier date is available, or the company is offering refunds due to the pandemic. It will, unfortunately, all be case by case, but you’ll never know what they can (or can’t) offer unless you try contacting and negotiating with them.

Whichever scenario, you’ll want to be open about your concerns and be available to negotiate. You may even want to consider hiring a wedding planner to help you figure out all the details—which we would love to assist you with!

Dan Stuglik and Amy Simonson getting married during a “private” ceremony. Photo by: DON CAMPBELL/THE HERALD-PALLADIUM

Marry Now, Celebrate Later

If you aren’t ready to give up on your big day yet, you still have some options! Lots of couples are modifying their wedding day plans to accommodate new guidelines and the safety of their guests.

One popular way is to significantly reduce the number of guests that can attend, and then livestream the ceremony! Guests from afar can abide by the travel restrictions, and those at risk of the virus can virtually attend the wedding from the safety of their homes. This type of practice is far from new. In fact, there are lot of a professional streaming businesses that established themselves just for weddings. If you don’t want to hire a professional though, you can always take the DIY approach, and simply ask a friend to stream it from their phone.

And if you’re antsy for that marriage certificate, there are plenty of ways to obtain it virtually. WebWed, for example, secures marriage licenses and performs wedding ceremonies all online. And since the outbreak, they have seen an explosion in requests! Be mindful though. These online certificate services are only available if marriage courts in your city or state remain open. 

Other couples are getting creative, as an unprecedented virus calls for unprecedented ideas! 

  • In the streets of New York, Amanda Wheeler and Reilly Jennings were married by their minister friend, as he made their union official from the window of his fourth floor apartment. People clapped and cheered from their own homes, as they watched the couple tie the knot in the street.
  • In Utah, Matthew Ryan and Krista Brennane were married in a private ceremony, only to have their friends and family surprise them afterwards with a drive-by reception. As the line of cars went by their house, their loved ones offered well wishes through the car window, held up loving signs, and even dropped off wedding gifts.
  • In Michigan, Dan Stuglik decided to surprise his wife-to-be. Not wanting her to walk down the aisle to an empty church, he decided to place cardboard cutouts of their guests in the pews. Though not what they had initially hoped for, it still made the day memorable! 

Despite the circumstances, couples are still finding ways to celebrate their love and the start of a new chapter! 

What It Comes Down To:

In the end, it really comes down to safety! Be cautious in your choices, stay up to date on the government and CDC recommendations, and do something that makes you happy. 

We’d love to hear about how you’re navigating the pandemic with your wedding plans. Or feel free to share your ideas!

And, as always, if you need help, reach out to us! The team at Arrive Celebrations is always happy to assist and advise.

Stay up to date on the latest Covid-19 recommendations: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

wedding ceremony in barn

10 hidden wedding fees that just might surprise you!

WEDDING PLANNING JUL 15

You’re happily engaged, scrolling Pinterest for inspiration on the daily, cruising along with wedding plans when BAM, you get to the wedding week and realize you’re gonna go over budget after all. Why? Those pesky hidden wedding fees that more than one couple has forgotten about AND those miscellaneous items you don’t think you’ll need until you are scrambling around wedding week because you realize you do need them after all. One of the reasons we recommend hiring a wedding planner to not only execute your wedding day, but guide you through the planning process, is that they can often help you avoid certain fees or at the very least, adjust the budged allocations in each vendor category accordingly so that even with all the “extras”, you’re still sticking to your budget.

So what should you be on the lookout for after all? We’ve rounded up 16 of the most forgotten wedding fees before, during and after the big day so that you can work smarter and have a totally stress-free day.

Hidden Wedding Fees 01 Hunterryanphoto

1. Wedding Insurance

When the inevitable happens, you’ll want to be prepared. You’re not putting out any negative vibes into the universe by investing in wedding insurance. Trust me, you’re setting yourself up for success where many couples are caught off guard. Say you’re getting married along the East Coast and a Category 5 hurricane becomes your uninvited wedding guest. Wedding insurance will protect you from losing your entire wedding investment, so that it might be possible to reschedule for another date. Insurance will protect you against anything like weather, injury or other unforeseen circumstances like property damage, a no-show vendor that has to be replaced, stolen gifts, a damaged gown, etc.

Before signing the dotted line on an insurance policy though, ask your venue + wedding vendors for copies of their policies so that you can see what their’s covers and avoid overlapping in your own policy.

There are typically 2 types to look into – Liability Insurance and Cancellation Coverage. Sometimes you can get a bundle that includes both, but on average, you’re looking at approx. $200 for liability insurance that give you $1 mil of coverage for accidents, while a basic insurance policy that covers financial losses will probably cost between $200-500.

Tuscany belmond wedding

2. Venue Requirements

It might be tempting to skim through a contract with a venue you’re dying to get married at, but this is no time for “light reading” per se. Certain venues will require a minimum number of wedding guests, a minimum spend for food & beverage or even a tent requirement as a rain backup booked via a specific company. These are pretty normal, and some venues are more lenient than others, it’s just best to understand what you’re dealing with up front and be okay with whatever the requirements are.

Too, some venues will have a list of preferred vendors that they require you use. In these cases, some will allow you to work with vendors not on their list, but this might incur a separate fee.

3. Gratuities

While tips are not necessarily required, they are generally expected and appreciated for services, especially if you love the work your vendors did for you! You’ll want to set aside 10-20% for gratuities for your service-based vendors, so be sure to keep this in mind as you’re setting up your allocated budget at the beginning of the planning process. You can withdraw cash from your bank the week before the wedding and separate vendor tips by envelopes labeled with their names for a trusted family member or your wedding planner to hand out to each party on the wedding day. Double check with each vendor that gratuity isn’t already included on their invoice, and do keep in mind that “service fees” for venues or catering companies don’t always equate to tips for the staff.

handmade wedding invitation suite with cloth paper and pink and blue tones

4. Vendor Meals

Often, it’s the wedding vendors who will be on-site the longest that will be present during the reception. The rule of thumb is to provide a vendor meal via your caterer for each wedding vendor who is on-site during the reception, which typically includes your planning team, photographers, videographers and/or band/DJ. These meals will cost you much less per person than your guests’ meals, but it’s always good to keep the cost in mind when working on your budget!

5. Snail Mail

Postage seems to come as a shock to most couples, as shipping is not typically included with the cost of your invitation suites. Keep in mind that bulky, oversized or uniquely shaped items may cost a little more than what you’re used to (sometimes $2/pop). Be sure to think about where your guests are coming from too, as international postage will cost a bit more than domestic.

Another consideration when mailing your invitations is the delivery process. If you want your envelopes to arrive in pristine, picture-perfect condition, consider getting them hand-canceled by your local post office. This way, they’ll avoid going through the sorting machine which can bend/stamp/damage them. Hand-canceling will take a little bit of time, so try to go to the post office on a mid-morning when the crowd might be lighter.

Bonus: Those fancy, vintage stamps you often see on invitation suites are the real-deal! You can find them at places like Verde StudioVintage Postage Shop and Darling One, but keep in mind that you might end up paying a little more for specialty bundles.

Hidden Wedding Fees 04 Jenniferfujikawa

6. Welcome Basket Delivery

If you’re curating welcome bags for your gifts, A) be sure to budget for these special items in general and B) do some research on the delivery method. If you’re providing welcome bags to your guests staying in a hotel room block, ask the hotel if room delivery is included with the room block or if it will incur an extra fee.

7. Gifts for Loved Ones

If you’re including warm fuzzies in your overall wedding budget, be sure to think about what you’ll be gifting to your bridal party from the moment you pop the question to them to the wedding day itself. It’s always nice to think about a special gift for your parents as well to say thank you – be in a specialty frame with an archival print from the wedding day, a spa day for them while you’re on your honeymoon, etc. These costs can add up fast, so it’s always nice when they don’t come as a surprise to you!

Hidden Wedding Fees 05 Juliewilhite

8. Beauty Treatments

Guys + gals, you’re probably well-acquainted with the price of beauty these days. Haircuts + coloring, mani-pedi’s, waxings, facials, and the like don’t come cheap! You’ll probably book most of these treatments during the week before your wedding, so be sure to set aside a pocket of cash for these services. And don’t forget gratuities!

9. Marriage License

For as crucial an item to have for a wedding, many couples forget that marriage licenses do cost money! While usually a small fee, it is a fee nonetheless (and one that can’t be avoided). Also, look into how much it costs to become ordained if you’d like to have a friend officiate your wedding vs hiring an officiant.

10. Emergency Fund

Many couples will set aside a percentage to be their Emergency Fund in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Not a replacement for wedding insurance, but a good place to pull from if you get hit with overtime charges by certain vendors because the party was just so good, you lost track of time. Or even if you have a rainy wedding day and need to bring in some extra umbrellas or rent a wedding tent.

Hidden Wedding Fees 06 Heatherwallphoto

11. Unexpected Guests

As much as no one likes to think that someone would show up to their wedding uninvited, your third cousin twice removed just might decide to bring her 3 kids after all. It’s a hassle to deal with, and in the midst of your celebration, you might just rather let it go so you can focus on you. It’s always a good idea to have a couple extra meals + place settings available on standby for unforeseen circumstances like this or be prepared that a few extra guests may show up or rsvp last minute, so the final catering bill may be slightly higher.

12. Sales Tax + Service Charge

These fees might not always be included in the quote a vendor provides you with, so be sure to ask about it as you speak with them and review the contract to make sure there are no surprises. Sales tax is typically a requirement by state, while a service charge is a venue’s way of covering their own costs of doing business (hiring staff, additional labor, etc). Again, the service charge is not a tip for the catering or venue staff, so that would need to be a separate line item you budget for! Service charges are typically about 20-25% of your total food & beverage bill, but be prepared for extra fees like corkage and cake-slicing as well in certain cases.

hand-tied bridal bouquet

13. Labor

An umbrella category, this includes things like hiring extra staff for set-up and clean-up (whether the venue requires it or not), delivery fees with your rental company, perhaps a childcare service during the reception should you choose to include kids in your wedding.

14. A/V

When you’re chit chatting with your band/DJ, be sure to enlighten them on the space they’ll be working in. Maybe provide them with a floorpan and confirm number of power outlets, voltage capabilities, etc. with your venue so that they know in advance if they will have to bring in extra speakers or amps, which would appear on the final bill.

Not necessarily A/V, but in terms of equipment, you’ll probably want to set aside a sum for renting a generator too so that you’re prepared against power loss if you’re having a backyard wedding. You wouldn’t want the party to stop mid-dance party to Shout!

honey colored tablescape with drippy petals

15. Vendor Trials

You’ll probably want to lock in a hair and makeup trial, as well as a menu + cake tasting, prior to the Big Day so you have a good idea of both what to expect and how to change your plans in the event you weren’t exactly thrilled with a certain hairstyle or entree. Sometimes, vendors will include a trial in their package complimentary, but this is not always the case. Be sure to read your contract with each vendor thoroughly so you have a nice heads up if this is a cost that should be factored in.

16. The Morning Of

If getting ready photos are high on your priority list, or if you just want the ease of having everyone together prior to the wedding day so your wedding morning is that much more relaxing, you may want to consider booking a hotel room or Airbnb for the night before. Since this isn’t really related to any category specifically, couples sometimes forget to factor this in. So don’t miss it!

In the same vein, any meals or beverages you want to bring in for the wedding morning will add up to, so be sure to plan for it.

an assortment of wedding favors

Phew – that was quite the list, huh? Many of these costs are minor, but they are costs nonetheless! And every little bit counts as you’re preparing your wedding budget. Even after the wedding, you’ll have a few costs to consider! Think gown preservation, print orders from your photographer, thank you notes, etc. So before recording the flat rates for your vendors and calling it a day, be sure to scan this list again and make sure you’ve accounted for every line item before, during and after the big day. Your wallet (and your parents’ if they are helping $) will thank you!

Snag our 10 must-have FREE apps to plan your wedding!

GIMME THAT LIST!

We promise, NO SPAM FOR YOU! Your email is never shared.