Should I cancel my wedding due to the Coronavirus outbreak?
If your wedding is in the next 2-3 months you are probably already facing the reality that it will not be the day you have dreamed of. It is important to understand what the options are and take your time to decide what is right for you.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday 23rd March, along with other strict measures, weddings will not be permitted to take place for the foreseeable. These measures will be reassessed 3 weeks after this date, but it is unlikely that weddings and social gatherings will be permitted for some time.
Our advice to anyone with a wedding in April, May or June 2020 would be to postpone.
Can I get wedding insurance to cover Coronavirus?
If you haven’t got wedding insurance, it is now too late. All the main companies that provide wedding insurance have stopped issuing new cover. If you already have wedding insurance you may be covered for cancellation if you or your close family are ill or if the venue is closed down by the local authority. We’d recommend reading the small print of your insurance. They should all have coronavirus updates and FAQs so you should know exactly what you are covered for, however, there is a lot of debate about whether you’ll be able to claim, and if you are able to, what you’ll be covered for.
“If you are an existing customer, we can assure you that your policy remains in place and unchanged.” – John Lewis Wedding Insurance
The fact that existing policies remain “in place and unchanged” may not be as reassuring as it appears. Insurance can only cover against “specific perils”. Many policies stipulate that this includes “notifiable diseases”. As COVID-19 is a new disease and was first registered as notifiable on 5th March 2020, a lot of insurers will not be obliged to settle claims relating to COVID-19. In essence, as Coronavirus didn’t exist, insurance companies couldn’t insure you against it.
Postponing or cancelling your wedding
Check your contracts carefully to see how you stand legally. If you have insurance, check exactly what you are covered for. Most policies don’t cover Coronavirus.
With most wedding bookings, you pay a non-refundable deposit on booking, then pay the balance close to the wedding date. If the wedding doesn’t go ahead, as planned and on the date agreed, and it is you cancelling, you may still be obliged to pay the balance. Most venues and suppliers are waiving this clause, especially if they haven’t incurred direct costs at the point you cancel. If the venue or supplier cancels, the contract almost certainly entitles you to a refund of anything you have paid. In both cases, our very strong recommendation is to postpone, not cancel.
Just remember, communication is key. If you’re unsure, speak directly to your supplier.
Your venue and suppliers will almost certainly incur financial losses if you postpone. They are not obliged to accommodate a change to your plans so may ask you to wait until nearer to your wedding date if there is a chance it can go ahead.
Although we hope those listed on Guides for Brides will do what they can to accommodate a postponed wedding, if it is you choosing to postpone they may ask you to choose a less popular date or pay a small supplement for a peak date. Speak to your venue and caterers first as that is likely to be the biggest potential expense. If they are happy for you to postpone, speak to your other suppliers.
Confirm your new date as soon as you can. Venues are already fairly booked up for the autumn and throughout 2021. If a lot of 2020 weddings are postponed there will be a shortage of available dates. Use our late availability pages to check dates with a range of venues and suppliers.
Some of your suppliers may not be available for your new date in which case you may need to accept that you’ll lose your deposit.
How can I prevent the spread of Coronavirus at my wedding?
If you are getting married later in the year, and Coronavirus is still a concern, you may well be concerned about the possibility of the disease spreading at your wedding ceremony. The most important thing is to make sure that take all possible steps to prevent it. If you do everything that you can to minimise the risk, you will find it easier to relax and enjoy your big day. These are some of the best things you can do to keep your wedding safe.
Ensure everyone washes their hands
A simple one to begin with, make sure that there are adequate hand wash facilities available to your guests. Coronavirus doesn’t spread as easily when airborne, it is more effectively spread through physical contact. Hand washing is the best measure your guests can take to prevent the spread. Encourage everyone to wash hands before eating; you may need to adjust your reception timings to allow time for this. If you can get hold of hand sanitiser your guests will appreciate the convenience. However, washing thoroughly with soap and water is just as effective!
Check on hygiene standards
Several large hotel chains have announced rigorous measures that they are taking to help combat the spread. These measures include increased presence of hand sanitisers, more thorough cleaning measures and keeping in line with the latest directives from public health organisations. If you’re concerned about your venue’s hygiene standards, don’t be afraid to ask them what their processes are. Ask how they’re planning to keep up with the latest safety measures and whether they’re intending to perform a deep clean.
Cut out high-risk guests
Encourage anyone who is planning on travelling from overseas, or those with any cold or flu-like symptoms to stay at home. Ask your videographer if they can set up a live video link so guests can still be part of the day from a distance.
Minimise physical contact
A measure that has been widely recommended is to keep physical contact to a minimum. Of course, at a wedding, it’s always nice to have hugs, kisses, and handshakes, but once again the best policy to adopt is the one which most reduces the risk.
With sensible precautions, your wedding guests should be safe from COVID-19.
How has Coronavirus affected the supply of wedding dresses?
For many brides, trying to find your dream wedding dress can take a lot of time and effort. Having found, chosen and ordered your perfect gown it would be devastating to find you can’t wear it due to COVID-19. China is one of the largest wedding dress producers in the world. Northern Italy produces a lot of UK wedding dresses too; the high number of Chinese workers in the Northern Italy clothing factories are thought to have brought COVID-19 to Europe. The pandemic has led to production being stalled; gowns not being delivered on time and a subsequent shortage of wedding dresses in the UK.
Back in February, Labour MP Chris Bryant told the House of Commons that, due to many wedding dresses being designed here but produced in China, UK-based wedding dress designers are struggling. A majority of Chinese factories are out of operation while they await inspection and disinfection. The presence of coronavirus is affecting the entire wedding dress supply chain; from fabric mills to transport by road and air. All these factors inevitably impact wedding dress production and supply.
Postponement of London Bridal Fashion Week and The White Gallery – the main two trade shows for bridal retailers – will make it hard for bridal boutiques to choose their new ranges for 2021 weddings.
Is my wedding dress affected by COVID-19?
Wedding dress suppliers are using alternative methods in an attempt to combat the shortages. Half-finished dresses are being shipped to the UK so they can be completed at local factories. Meanwhile, the British Bridal Suppliers Association (BBSA) is advising brands to alter their standard delivery times to avoid disappointing customers.
Our recommendations to ensure your wedding dress arrives in time
We would advise brides to plan even further ahead than you would normally. Ask where your wedding dress will be coming from and prepare for a long wait if it is coming from China or Italy. Consider only looking at designers who design and make their dresses in the UK.
If you’ve already ordered your dress, get in touch with your boutique or designer. They can advise you on whether you should expect a delay and whether the current situation will affect your order. If your dress has already arrived at the boutique, collect it now so you are in full control.
How has Coronavirus affected Destination Weddings and Honeymoons?
Depending on the country, your destination wedding or honeymoon plans will almost certainly be in jeopardy due to coronavirus.
It all depends on where you are going and where you have been. Restrictions are becoming more widespread and major airports are implementing preventive measures.
The hotel industry has witnessed a massive dip following the COVID-19 outbreak. This is due to cancellations from immediate travellers and future bookings being stalled. Even hotel giants like Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott have seen their shares affected by travel worries in Asia and Europe.
Will our honeymoon be affected by Coronavirus?
If you are both healthy and are happy to take the risk that you may not be able to get back home if flights are cancelled or borders close, there is no reason not to go on a honeymoon as planned. Some countries are currently at considerably lower risk that the UK.
Consider whether you are happy with the health care provisions in the country you are visiting. In the event that either of you become infected, what will your travel insurance cover cost-wise?
If you don’t already have travel insurance you may not be able to get cover for illness or cancellation.
Will our destination wedding be affected by Coronavirus?
It will almost certainly be affected. Even if you are happy to travel, your family and friends are unlikely to. If you have suppliers coming out of the UK they may be very unwilling to travel.
You will need to make the decision on whether to go ahead with the wedding or cancel and start planning again. Assuming you have insurance, it is best to wait to see if the government or your airline forces you to cancel. Your insurance won’t cover you if you don’t go ahead with the wedding simply because your guests choose not to attend.
The good news is, many destination wedding celebrants are partnering with local celebrants in a small movement which they hope will improve the situation for couples. If your family cannot attend, some are offering live streams of the ceremony. If you cannot make your destination wedding at all, many celebrants are working with their UK partners. Your chosen celebrant, having written and crafted the ceremony, will ensure that a trusted colleague in the UK can officiate it locally. Ask you celebrant if this is at all an option for you.
Our recommendations for overseas weddings and honeymoons during the coronavirus outbreak.
Check the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website for an updated list of countries where restrictions are in place. It is changing all the time so be ready to change your plans accordingly.
Your travel insurance will only cover you for cancellation if you are forced to cancel, not if you simply choose to.
While there is such uncertainty on which borders will be closed, and with airlines in financial difficulty, consider what will happen if you are prevented from returning from your overseas wedding or honeymoon. You may think you want your honeymoon to last forever, but in reality, you’ll want to be able to come home as planned.
Credit: Guides For Brides