Coronavirus (Covid-19) & Weddings: What are the rules?
2020 wasn’t off to a great start. It has, so far, taken us into never-seen-before territory.
The Covid-19 pandemic changed our lives in ways that we didn’t know were possible. As we struggle to go “back to normal”, it looks increasingly likely that many aspects of our lives… just won’t. At least for a good while.
Among other things, many people had to cancel or postpone their wedding plans. In this post I’d like to help all the couples in trouble, and answer some questions you may have.
The situation now
Let’s start with saying that, since the lock-down was enforced on the 23rd of March, all mass-gatherings are banned for the foreseeable future. This includes weddings and christening – at least until July. Although small celebrations might be allowed at some point in the next few weeks, the green-light date for larger events (50 people and above) is yet to be announced. Moreover, even when they are allowed, it’s likely that social distancing measures will have to be adhered to anyway. Therefore, no group pictures, guests seated 1 metre apart in church and at the restaurant, while also wearing a mask.
Therefore, couples are facing a difficult decision: accepting a social-distanced wedding, with a maximum of 8 guests (according to some speculation), or postponing to, probably, 2021.
Such a big disruption impacted all parties involved. Obviously the couples, who already paid large deposit fees to reserve the venue. But also photographers, florists, bakers, tailors and so forth. The pandemic proved to be a challenge (and a severe financial burden) for everyone.
So, what to do and how to deal with my Wedding and the Coronavirus?
1 – The venue
First of all, get in touch with the venue – quickly! Everyone will be forced to postpone to 2021, which means that suitable dates will be hard to secure. They may also have other options for you, such as other locations they partner with or different arrangements. It is in their interest to help you find a solution – and yours: if you opt out, you may loose your deposit. It’s always better to try and find a solution with them.
2 – Consider a Destination Wedding
The UK’s pandemic curve is delayed by a few weeks if compared to other European Countries. This means that, in July or August, it will be possible to have large gatherings in other idyllic locations abroad. Better still: they are going to drop their prices to attract customers. This might be a good chance to escape the lock-down for a life-defining ceremony on the Mediterranean, for example. I wouldn’t venture outside of Europe for now, but France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy and Croatia could be an option.
3 – how to hold on to your deposit: Photographer, Wedding Planner, Florist etc.
Again, 90% of the times they’ll do their best to accommodate your requests. But what if they’re being difficult? You could find yourself in an unpleasant situation, at the worst possible time. Well, if you struggle to find an agreement, read carefully: I’m about to drop some crucial piece of information.
Under consumer rights law, any “non-refundable” deposit can only amount to a “small percentage” of the total. Moreover, that amount should only cover the necessary goods and expenses, and only if these cannot be sold to someone else after the cancellation. To clarify: your baker can only ask you for the cost of the ingredients as a deposit. And even if you cancel, but he ends up using those same cake ingredients for another customer, he’s technically not allowed to keep your deposit. Please note: it does not matter what the contract clauses are: if they can be considered “unfair” under these laws, you can still claim your deposit back. You can find the Competition and Markets Authority’s official documentation here, or a quick recap on how to claim back a non-refundable deposit here.
4 – Accept that you’ll have to compromise
It’s your special day and you want it to be absolutely perfect, we get it. But if these don’t qualify as extraordinary circumstances, I don’t know what does. Keep in mind that your photographer is facing the same problems as you, desperately trying to cope with countless (often conflicting) requests. You may not be able to celebrate on that specific date that’s so symbolic and important for you. Or to have those cinematic drone videos you wanted. Or that signature chef’s cake. Some things are just not going to be possible and, if you approach these issues head-on and ready to fight, you may be on for big disappointments. In these difficult times, the best way to obtain as close to your dreams as possible, is to try and find common ground and help each other.
I hope to have been able to help some of you with these little tips. Remember, communication is the key in this difficult time. We’re all on the same boat: if you get in touch with the professionals you’ve hired, and are willing to be kind and compromise a bit on your dates and specs, a solution will be easy to find. And it will be a beautiful day.