Note: If you’ve come to this post in the weeks since it’s publishing date, since lockdown was enforced you may wish to skip down to the section – ‘Postponing Your Wedding.’
I’m sure if you’re planning a wedding in the next few weeks and months all the speculation about government lock downs is extremely stressful for you. I know that many of you have been planning this day for years and I’m sure it’s pretty worrying watching the news and speculating how this will pan out and effect your wedding. So, I thought I’d put together a post about how I’m dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic to answer any questions you may have and talk you through what will happen in the worst-case scenarios.
Firstly, as much as possible I’m planning to stick to business as usual. Currently, at the time of writing there’s no lockdown and so no reason for me to think I won’t be attending any of the weddings I have booked, but to reassure you I want to talk you through a couple of scenarios.
Most countries who have enforced a lock down have only limited gatherings of over five hundred or in some cases one hundred, which would mean most weddings aren’t effected even in a lock down scenario. However, if your wedding surpasses one hundred guests here two options:
SCALE DOWN YOUR WEDDING
It’s not something anyone would want in an ideal world but given the situation you could choose to scale back the guest list and have a more intimate day. I want to add some of my most favourite weddings have only been for a few guests and intimate weddings have a very special atmosphere.
While it would not be a fun job choosing who to cut from the list I would suggest contacting those who aren’t closest to you, or perhaps the elderly guests and see whether they’d consider staying at home as a result of the crisis we find ourselves in.
I’m certain that most friends and family will be understanding considering the situation and given that moving or cancelling the event could be a real pain, as well as being an expensive option for you.
It’s also possible that those who are elderly, or have vulnerable family members would choose to stay away at the moment anyway so no hurt feelings necessary, and this way you can still go ahead and get married as planned.
I know this option would make the photography even more important so you can share the day with friends and family afterwards who weren’t able to attend.
While I’m planning to attend every wedding at present if I’m unable to attend due to experiencing symptoms of the virus or enforced self isolation I will not rock up at your wedding and infect your guests. I know that many of you have elderly grandparents in attendance or those who have vulnerable relatives. I take that social responsibility very seriously and this would be treated like any other illness scenario in your contract.
Your contract says in the event I’m unable to attend that I will find an experienced replacement photographer who can shoot your wedding on my behalf and I’ll edit the photos so they still have my signature style. I want to reassure you that I’m part of a network of hundreds of photographers that’s been set up for this very reason and in an ideal world with enough lead time I would give you a choice of a few photographers, as well as the possibility of either meeting them in person or having a video call before the day.
I have once before had to use this scenario after breaking a wrist and while it was not ideal for either the couple or myself, they were still thrilled with the photos and you couldn’t tell they weren’t shot by me at all.
POSTPONING YOUR WEDDING
In exceptional circumstances, postponing might be a consideration you need to make. I’d strongly advise you speak to your wedding insurers & other suppliers about their cancellation/postponement policy before making a firm decision, as there could be significant financial implications to this option depending on the cancellation fees that may apply and whether or not your wedding insurance policy will pay out to cover what you’ve already paid, or what you would owe to suppliers in the event of cancellation. For this reason I’d only consider postponement as a last resort, and when we’re pretty close to your date.
The contract you signed when booking me states that all fees are still payable for weddings which are postponed or cancelled within 90 days of the wedding, and above 90 days there is a cancellation fee of 60% of the booking. However, I completely understand that these are unprecedented circumstances and within the current situation I’m very happy to help by moving any payments you’ve made to a new date within 2020 subject to my availability. If you need to check what dates I have free just let me know. I still do have plenty of free dates later in the year, both on weekends and mid week which is one big bonus of keeping my services quite exclusive. In the event of postponement 50% of the balance would be due on the original due date, and 50% on the first day of the month before the new date, to make sure I can control cashflow a little and still put food on the table at home. I’m sure you’ll understand that the current situation is a real worry for us small businesses whose livelihood is at stake.
Once you’ve made the decision to postpone please keep me in the loop when talking to your venue about the new dates to make sure I’m available for the date too so we can simply transfer any funds you’ve paid to the new date. You can check my availability for a new date HERE.
In the event I’m unavailable on your new date I will send an experienced associate photographer to shoot your wedding, and I’ll edit the photos so they still have my signature style which you chose. Your booking & all communication will remain with me, but you’ll have the opportunity to speak to the associate photographer before the day. Cancellation should be your last resort and is potentially the most costly, as all terms and conditions regarding cancellations & the associated fees still apply.
UPDATE (24th March 2020)
It’s become clear as the situation has unfolded since writing this post that it’s going to be impossible for many of you to re-arrange weddings within 2020. Of course I really want to do my best to help as much as I can during this incredibly stressful time for all of us. Therefore I’m happy to announce that I’m extending the postponement options for all of my couples by waiving the usual postponement fees for all wedding postponements to any date until the end of April 2021, or any mid week date within 2021 so you can postpone your wedding free of charge to 2021.
I have also cut the usual postponement/rebooking fee (shown in your contract) for all postponements to Saturdays by 60%. Postponements to a Saturday from May 2021 onwards will now incur a postponement fee of 40% of the package in addition to the original package cost.
There has been some talk on social media about why there are postponement fees at all, so I thought it might be helpful to shed some light on why these conditions exist within my booking contract. As a business providing a service there are a limited number of days per year on which I can shoot weddings, and there is only one of me. If every single 2020 wedding moved to 2021, I’d have no dates to offer new 2021 couples which would effectively wipe out my livelihood in both 2020 and 2021, as I’d be forced to spread one year of income over two years. I’m sure you can imagine how hard and stressful it would be to take one year’s salary over two years. I am very sympathetic that this is an incredibly stressful situation for us all, which is why I have waived postponement fees where I can so it’s possible to move your wedding with no financial hit. Many of you have already told me that you’ll be covered by your wedding insurance so that’s wonderful news, and I’m very happy to do what I can to help too.
MOST IMPORTANTLY DO NOT PANIC
As I say, at present there is no reason to think that your wedding can’t go ahead as planned, and perhaps with just a slight guest list change. I’m positive that the vast majority of weddings will not be affected and it’ll mostly be business as usual – with a few extra hand washes thrown in! There have been so many crazy events within the history of the world, and none of them ever stopped people getting married (if it doesn’t happen now, remember it WILL happen) and having a damn good time doing it. Remember the important thing is the health of those you love. Keep calm and carry on, and if you have any questions just let me know. I’m here to help.