How will Coronavirus affect my wedding plans?
16 Mar 2020
As the world awaits further updates on the spread of Coronavirus, we take a look at how this could affect weddings, honeymoons and hen and stag parties
Image: Jonathan Borba via Unsplash
With the number of confirmed cases across the globe increasing at an exponential rate and a rising world death toll a growing concern, the threat of Coronavirus has escalated in recent weeks.
On 23 March, to further delay the spread, Boris Johnson instructed the public to stay at home and only leave for the following reasons:
- Shopping for necessities (food and medicine)
- Medical reasons
- If you care for a vulnerable person
- To exercise ONCE a day only
- To travel to work IF you are a key worker or absolutely necessary
The measures will last into April to ease the pressure on the NHS, when the Government will review the situation and announce whether further action should be taken.
The prime minister also announced that all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies but excluding funerals, would be banned.
Couples set to wed in the next few weeks have been left devastated by the news as they are forced to cancel or postpone their plans. However, with Coronavirus cases in the UK not expected to peak until mid May/early June, many more weddings could be cancelled.
Here's a summary of the information received thus far and advice from industry experts.
What is Coronavirus?
Defined by the NHS, COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called Coronavirus.
It is characterised by a high temperature or fever and a new, persistent cough. The exact cause of the spread is unknown, but as most viruses are spread by cough droplets it is thought Coronavirus is spread in the same way.
Personal hygiene is of utmost importance to delay the spread, with the public advised to wash their hands in warm soapy water often for 20 seconds. Read this advice from Public Health England, which details how to protect yourself from Coronavirus, what to do if you suspect you have symptoms and the self-isolation procedure once diagnosed.
A vaccination for Coronavirus is not expected to be available until the end of summer in 2021.
What does the spread of Coronavirus mean for my wedding?
With the future of Coronavirus and the extent of its impact still uncertain, weddings will cease until further notice. However, here are the considerations to make during this challenging time.
Wedding insurance should always be a serious consideration for any engaged couple when their wedding plans get underway. Giving you the peace of mind and financial security if unforeseen circumstances arise, wedding insurance policies can cover you in the event of illness, death or if a booked wedding supplier goes bankrupt. Take a look at these reasons to consider wedding insurance.
However, Coronavirus has given rise to a whole host of additional concerns for engaged couples, namely an increased threat of infection and travel disruption. It is the surge in demand that has ensued that has caused many leading wedding insurance providers to stop selling new policies.
John Lewis and Debenhams are just two of the insurance providers who have confirmed the news that they are suspending all new policies, although existing wedding insurance policies will remain valid with any claims considered on an individual case basis. This may exclude circumstances arising from Coronavirus, classed as a notifiable disease which many policies don't cover.
Read this article on Coronavirus and wedding insurance to find out where you stand, what insurance providers are still supplying policies and whether these cover you for Coronavirus, and speak to your wedding suppliers about what they are doing to safeguard your plans and payments.
It is also in the best interest of you and your wedding suppliers to avoid all physical contact, so arrange meetings over the phone and on Skype where possible.
Toby Heelis, CEO of events company Eventopedia, advises: "Some venues and caterers may allow the wedding to be postponed, whereas others may rule that the couple loses their deposit. For entertainment, transport and photography, businesses can rule against providing a refund to couples for cancelling if their contract does not provide them to.
"If a venue company cancels all events themselves because of Coronavirus, the wedding party will receive a refund as their insurance comes into play. However, if the couple wishes to cancel before this point, or they do not have insurance, they will likely not be covered and will lose their deposit or payment.
"We advise couples to carefully assess their contracts with venues and suppliers, as well as their insurance policy. If you have a wedding insurance policy and took it out before the outbreak in January, you are likely to be covered if your providers cannot deliver due to the infectious disease. Couples are also likely to receive payment if they cancel for the death or illness of a close relative or wedding participant. Most insurers now hold a note on their website discussing what will be covered because of Coronavirus to protect both the firm and any customers from confusion.”
Gary Rycroft, chair of the Law Society’s digital assets working group and a consumer law expert, concurs: “Many will be wondering what to say when speaking to caterers, florists and other businesses about cancelling or postponing. The legal issue here is a request by one party to vary the terms of a contract.
“In normal circumstances this may be tricky as usually the business has superior bargaining power to the consumer. However, in the current climate the tables have turned and I would say any sensible business will look at a postponement without any quibble or charge.”
Your guest list
While it is unclear when weddings are likely to resume, when they do, social distancing measures will most likely still be enforced.
High risk groups who are more vulnerable to contracting Coronavirus, such as the elderly and those with serious chronic medical conditions, should be considered first and foremost.
Guests should be given the choice whether to attend your wedding, no matter how upsetting it may be for you and them if they can't come. You can always make them feel a part of your day by saving them a slice of wedding cake and setting aside an order of service and wedding favour for them.
Speak to your wedding venue team and suppliers about the risks at hand and ask if they have any guidelines for wedding guests. It may also be useful to discuss the extra hygiene measures they are implementing, including having hand sanitiser dispensers readily available around your venue and using disposable paper towels in the toilets instead of hand towels.
While there is no travel ban to the UK currently in place, guests travelling from outside the UK should keep up to date with government and travel announcements as the crisis continues to evolve.
Deborah Page of True to You Celebrancy Yorkshire has announced that she will be offering recording and live streaming of her ceremonies, to be accessed by guests who can't attend the big day.
She says: "If you have guests who are unable to attend your ceremony because of travel restrictions or other related issues, I will explore live streaming and recording your ceremony with you. I know it's not quite the same, but we will do what we can to help them feel as much a part of your special day as is possible."
You could even set up a hashtag on social media, so those guests who can't attend are still able to follow the day's events from home.
Watch Deborah's Facebook Live video, where she discusses all the measures she is putting in place to minimise the impact of Coronavirus on her couples' weddings and offers further ideas to prepare you and your guests ahead of an impending wedding date.
Your hen and stag party
Boris Johnson has advised all non-essential travel to cease.
Depending on when and where your hen or stag party is taking place will determine the best course of action for you. UK hen and stag parties may be able to go ahead during the summer although extra precautions should be taken and group activities carefully considered. More information should be sought around celebrations held abroad.
Managing director for events company Funktion Events, Jay Broughton, says: "Before booking or altering any plans, think about whether the group as a whole is prepared to travel first. Make sure you and everyone in your group keep up to date with all the travel advice and government information and ensure everyone in your group has travel insurance. This is vital to any form of travelling within the UK or overseas, but you definitely want to be covered if you need to cancel your hen/stag weekend due to self-isolation or travel restrictions coming into effect."
According to Funktion Events, 55-60% of stag parties travel to Europe compared to 25-30% of hen parties.
If you are yet to book your hen or stag party, then a UK-based event may be favourable for all members of your party. Jay continues: "This year we're expecting a lot more national bookings as a result of Coronavirus. It doesn't have to be less fun in the UK, there are some great things you can do for stags/hens in this country."
Funktion Events reports Liverpool, Manchester and London as the top three UK destinations for hen parties, while Bournemouth, Edinburgh and Newcastle are the favourite UK hotspots for stags. Read more.
Marrying abroad and honeymoons
As non-essential travel has been banned, destination weddings and honeymoons set to take place over the coming weeks should be cancelled or postponed.
Speak to your suppliers or wedding planner as a matter of urgency to discuss your options. Belief Wedding Creators have announced a FREE consultation service for couples without a wedding planner looking for advice. You can also join the COVID-19 and Weddings Facebook group to receive updates on the countries affected.
Any couple who was set to travel in the coming months should check their travel insurance policies straight away to familiarise themselves with cancellation procedures before speaking with their insurance providers.
Whatever your situation, the best advice is not to panic. Thoroughly research all eventualities and keep up to date with the latest government information. As a worst case scenario, your wedding may have to be postponed, but the health and safety of you and your guests should be of primary importance.
Have your wedding plans been affected by Coronavirus? Join the conversation and find advice from wedding professionals on the Enjoy Weddings More Facebook group.