I Was Planning My Wedding. Then COVID-19 Hit. Now What?

You were in the middle of planning the biggest day of your life when everything came to a screeching halt. Government officials implemented social gathering restrictions, travel bans are in effect and now you are in panic mode. As a wedding and events professional, I am here to assure you that we will get through this together and I am here to help. Here are the top four questions wedding couples have asked me, and their answers.

Do you have wedding insurance? If so, your policy may protect you in the event you have to cancel or postpone your event and incur charges or penalties. I would highly recommend looking over the details of your policy and/or reaching out to your representative to confirm what and how much will be reimbursed before contacting your vendors.

If you did not purchase wedding insurance prior to COVID-19, unfortunately many companies are not offering it at this time. According to Markel Specialty’s website, they are no longer offering new event cancellation policies, but you can still purchase liability insurance. The liability insurance will not endorse event cancellation coverage.

At the moment, the Marriage Bureau of Washington, DC is closed, as are many others. What this means is you cannot apply for a marriage license or request/hold a civil wedding at the courthouse. If you have your marriage license in Washington, DC, but have not held your ceremony, do not worry. Your license does not have an expiration date, which means you can hold off on your ceremony as long as you need to.

If you would like to move forward with a ceremony and you already have your license, make sure the officiant is registered through the courts. A virtual ceremony with family, friends and officiant on Zoom seems to be the talk of the town these days. An elopement ceremony falls under the guidelines of gatherings of 10 people and under.

Every state and county have different laws when it comes to marriage licenses, so please check with your local Marriage Bureau.

Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Make sure to review your contracts in detail. Most vendors are still abiding by cancellation and postponement agreements included in the contract. However, some have a force majeure clause that covers both parties in the event that services or goods cannot be provided due to forces beyond their control. Most clauses will include specific events such as act of God or government, natural disasters, etc.

If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to your vendors and discuss the matter at hand. It is better to postpone than to cancel, as you are less likely to incur any penalties. 

Many have posed the question, “What do I do if my vendor goes out of business?” If you have wedding insurance, most if not all of your money will be refunded. If you do not have insurance make sure to be proactive by completing the following steps:

  1. Review your contract for language regarding reparations in the event of bankruptcy/close of business.
  2. Discuss your concerns with the vendor and confirm any arrangements or substitutions in writing.
  3. Try to make payments with a credit card. Most of the time you can dispute a charge where services have not been delivered.
  4. If you should find yourself in this situation, reach out to your other vendors. You may be surprised to find how a community can work together to help solve an unfortunate situation.

I have shared with my couples that we have reached the biggest boulder in the road and now we have to work diligently to get around it. My advice to all couples planning their wedding is to keep going. “This too shall pass.” Even if the sacrifice is a crisp autumn wedding instead of a warm spring day, or a date in 2021. Ultimately, sharing this day with your loved ones and marrying the person that brings you joy is worth all the hurdles it takes to get there. Keep your head up and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at Divinity@HillCenterDC.Org.

Centered on You!
Divinity Buggs
Venue Director, Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital
Divinity Buggs Venue Director

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