EDIT – August 30th, 2020 – We’ve updated our COVID-19 information page.
Firstly.. wow. What a weird world we have found ourselves in. At the time of this post, the country is in a partial lockdown. We can go outside, but only in small groups. Our international borders are closed. This isn’t a unique situation, as I’m sure you all know. All around the world, similar measures are in place.
If you were in the middle of planning a wedding prior to all of this happening, you’re probably facing some tough decisions.
“Do we postpone? Do we just do it now with a celebrant and witnesses? Maybe we should wait and see how things play out. “
In the industry, we’ve been asking ourselves a lot of questions too. Obviously, our livelihoods are heavily affected by the current situation. Like everyone in this industry, I want to do what is right for my family, but equally, I want to do what is right for my couples. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks talking to upset couples, thick in the uncertainty of what they should do. It absolutely breaks my heart what they’re going through. I couldn’t imagine having to postpone my wedding two days before the date.
From the darkness we’ve all been faced with these last few weeks, though, I have hope. One thing we all need to remember is that this, as things tend to do, will pass. Life will go back to normal, and I for one know that I will be so much more appreciative of the things I took for granted.
So… if you’re planning a wedding, should you still do it? Well, that obviously depends. I hope that these points help shed some light on what is the right decision for you and your amazing day!
Postpone or cancel? If you’re looking at changing the date of your wedding, you should consider it a postponement and not a cancellation. If you’ve already put deposits down with venues and vendors, you’ll find those deposits are very likely transferrable to a new date. While every business has different policies, obviously, you will likely find that the majority of deposits are non-refundable. Why? In the wedding industry, Saturday is the day. While we’re a full-time industry, the game day (if you will), is Saturday. When you put your deposit down with a venue or a vendor, they, in turn, take that date off their availability and it is no longer available to other couples. To outright cancel a date with no reschedule means that the business has lost one of the limited operating days in a calendar year for them. As such, you’ll find that postponements and reschedules are welcomed warmly and with open arms!
When to postpone? If you’re planning a wedding that is slated to happen prior to August/September, it would probably be in your best interest to look at postponing your wedding. While no one can predict the future, it would be unreasonably optimistic to think that the current restrictions are going to be lifted in the coming few months. It also really isn’t fair on you to expose yourself to the stress and uncertainty every day of whether your wedding will go forward. My couples who have rescheduled their dates feel a huge weight of the whole uncertainty lifted when they do it. Put yourself in control of the situation and I promise you, you will have so much more joy leading up to the day!
What if we’re planning a 2021 wedding, should we postpone? The short answer is NO. If you are discussing dates for a 2021 wedding, you should actually be ramping things up! There are going to be THOUSANDS of displaced couples from 2020 who have their wedding dates pushed out to 2021. Popular venues and vendors book quite quickly on a normal year, and it’s predicted that 2021 dates will book out 50% faster than normal years. To give context, I generally finish booking an entire year by January of that year. That’s about the time I hit capacity and need to close the books. I anticipate 2021 booking out by October this year, if not earlier. I can not stress this enough.. continue planning your wedding. Do not wait, reach out now to all your preferred vendors. If not, you may find yourself marrying on an off-day Such as a Friday or Sunday, or pushing your wedding out further than you’d like!
Will venues and vendors be giving discounts for bookings now that the industry is hurting? That’s a hard question for me to answer because I can’t speak for other vendors. I’ve always stood firmly on my packages because of several factors, but mostly because I know how much work I put in for every single couple. For an 8-hour wedding booking, I will spend close to 70-hours from start to finish. While you may find some vendors willing to offer discounts, please understand that every dollar they discount for you is a dollar they are taking away from a business that, in all likelihood, has had zero income for months. We aren’t big companies, we’re generally small businesses or sole traders just trying to provide for our families. Please do keep that in mind when asking for discounts. You’ll find vendors are much more likely to work with you on deposit and payment schedules to help spread out the costs. Gestures like asking for a payment schedule as opposed to a discount is such a considerate thing to do for your vendors, and I promise you, that will mean so much to them.
Can you photograph an elopement? At the time of this writing, the answer is yes! Weddings are restricted to 20 people; the couple, the celebrant, and a few witnesses. I have been the witness for several elopements I was photographing in the past, so that is one way you CAN get married right now with wedding photography included.
Will our photo delivery time be impacted by COVID-19? In the short term, you’ll likely find the answer to be no. Looking into the early part of 2021, you may find delivery times do increase slightly. If I am shooting 3-weddings in a weekend to accommodate displaced 2020 weddings, that one weekend of shooting will equal roughly 3-weeks of editing. Multiply that over several weeks, and it’s very likely you’ll start to see delays in photo delivery. While most of my weddings are delivered in 6-10 weeks, I anticipate 12-14 weeks to be the norm in 2021.
What are you doing to accommodate displaced couples? As soon as these restrictions came into place, my wife and I made the decision to cancel a large family vacation in 2021 to accommodate for displaced couples. While I had originally blocked off the majority of January and February for some much needed personal time, we are now accepting bookings and reschedules during that time. All deposits made are fully transferrable to another available date we have, and we’ve also postponed any outstanding payments on rescheduled weddings.
What can we do to help? I will say, I have seen SO many amazingly kind gestures from couples during these past couple of weeks. From looking out for each other to offering us kindnesses, it has been such a light in this dark time! I’ve had couples who have elopements booked reschedule to give their date to larger weddings, and so many emails of support from and to each other. I’ve seen the best part of humanity, and it makes me so hopeful for the future. I’ve also had couples reach out and ask what they can do to support Russell Stafford Photography. From paying balances early, to ordering albums, to gifting portrait shoot coupons to friends, I’ve been FLOORED at your acts of kindness. THANK YOU.. from the bottom of my heart.
AS ALWAYS, PLEASE BE KIND TO EACH OTHER. WE’RE ALL IN THIS CRAZY MESS TOGETHER, AND THE SOONER WE HUNKER DOWN AND GET SERIOUS ABOUT THESE RESTRICTIONS, THE SOONER WE CAN ALL GET BACK TO NORMAL. GOSH… HOW GOOD DOES NORMAL SOUND NOW!