• Chicago Loft Venues

Love In the Time of COVID: How to Plan a Post-Pandemic Wedding PART 1

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

CLV’s Creative Director fields a few questions that are top of mind for couples attempting to reschedule their big day—and sheds some light on what your vendors are up against while offering up some creative solutions.

By Joshua Yates

Photo credit: Alana Lindenfeld

Maybe you’re still planning to have a ceremony on your planned day followed by a celebration with your friends and family later. We’re here for that! Or maybe you’ve chosen to delay the whole thing to 2021. We get it—and we’re here for that, too! And (ugh), some of you have ultimately opted to cancel all together for the unforeseeable future until things get back to normal. Uh huh. We 100 percent feel your frustration.

Whatever situation you’re in, we here at Chicago Loft Venues hope that your vendors have made the experience as painless as possible for you. To that end, we’ve received a lot of questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting wedding vendors and their businesses—and, ultimately, what that means for your wedding. Below are some of the questions that have been coming our way, and some insider insight to help you wrap your head around the re-planning process.

How much can I depend on my vendors for answers right now?

The truth is that none of your vendors know anything more than you do. (Unless you hired a psychic, in which case, tread lightly here—and please report back!) In all seriousness though, as much as your vendors would like to have a crystal ball and be able to tell you when it will be safe to host large gatherings again, they just don’t. My advice is to ask them to walk you through the finer points of your contract in order to schedule a “rain date” or “backup date” if possible.

And keep in mind that your vendors are just as anxious to get back to work as you are, and to get your wedding on the books. This is your wedding vendor’s livelihood. Do your best to reschedule to a day when all of your vendors are available, and know that they really want to be able to accommodate your new date. My tip here is to start with the vendor that’s most important to you. Try to see if, together, you can select a new date that works for both of you.

What do I do if my vendor is no longer available for my rescheduled wedding date?

A lot of vendors are restricted to doing one event per day, which means they could already be booked for your preferred, new wedding date. Let’s use your photographer as an example… Let’s say they cannot accommodate your new date. Step one: Look to them for guidance. Again, ask them to talk through the contract with you, and make sure to ask questions like, ‘Have I paid a non-refundable deposit?’ And, if so, ‘Would it be possible/worth my while to transfer that cost to a different service?’ Maybe the deposit you paid for your wedding photography can be put toward your engagement session, prints, a future family session, or an album. (Some photographers even offer albums made with another photographer’s images.) Your photographer is also the best person to ask for a referral. You chose your wedding photographer in the first place because you liked their style; so ask them what other photographers they like, who has a similar style, and who would they recommend to replace themselves if, say, they were sick.

If your vendor is able to book more than one event per day—like your caterer, for example—and is available, ask to be brought up to speed on who exactly will be handling your wedding going forward (if different) and schedule some time to meet with them over FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom. When you clearly communicate your wants and needs, they are likely to be met.

I’m being told that many of my summer wedding selections, in particular food and floral, will no longer be in season come fall. What types of concessions do I need to make, and why?

Consider the different obstacles that might apply to each of your vendors. Farmers around the world are dumping or destroying crops so that they can continue producing on their regular schedules. This will impact both your caterer and your florist, and each company is in the process of determining how to handle these changes. Talk to them about possible substitutions that may need to be made based on the budget that you’ve given them and the seasonal availability of your initial choices. Maybe the peonies you had scheduled for your spring wedding can be replaced with amaryllis, and that veggie medley may easily be swapped for winter-friendly root veggies. True… New decisions will have to be made. But you might end up really liking where you land!

I ordered—and paid for—my wedding stationary before finding out that I needed to reschedule my wedding due to the pandemic. What do I do?

I hear you. You have in your possession a beautiful stationery suite with a watercolor portrait of the church and a wax seal with your newly minted coat of arms designed just for your wedding. Giiiirl (or boiiiii), keep those babies—and insert a cute little “Change the Date” card. Your guests understand; your bank account more than understands; the world understands. These notes are allowed to be cheeky. Emily Post didn’t include a section for “Wedding postponements in the time of global pandemics” in her last book. But do err on the side of sensitivity here. Remember that people around the world have been impacted by this and that they quite possibly could have lost someone close to them. You don’t want to be insensitive or make light of the situation, but a “whoopsie, we didn’t plan our wedding around the pandemic”-style tack could be just the ticket.

Also on the topic of bought and paid for… We have our dress and suit already—and both are summer appropriate. What do we do?

Deep breath. We live in Chicago and, well, there are seasons. And while that sleeveless dress would have worked perfectly for your spring/summer wedding, it’s probably not your first choice for a winter one. But trust me… All is not lost. Your tailor or seamstress can work wonders. (We promise! We’ve seen it!) Maybe the answer is as simple as adding a faux fur stole to cover your shoulders for outdoor photos. Or maybe the solution is adding some sleeves to your dress. Either way, do not underestimate what your tailor or seamstress can do—and ask them for recommendations. They are the professionals, after all. You might be pleasantly surprised.

And remember… Your “Change the Date” was a dead giveaway to your guests. It’s not a secret to them that you were tasked with the burden of moving your entire wedding to an entirely new date. If you were supposed to get married on the beaches of lake Michigan in mid-July, but had to move your wedding date to December, you are not obligated to find a new dress. Guests are invited to weddings to provide support to the couple, and join in on the celebration of your union. More than likely, none of your guests are fashion critics, and you should wear whatever you feel good in—period. (It might not be you, but someone needed to hear this. Promise. We’ve gotten so many fashion emergency emails.)

I’m in a position to give back, and really want to support the small businesses that are helping to make my pushed back wedding a day to remember. How can I help support my vendors?

Yaaaassss, queen! In the city of Chicago, the majority of your vendors are bound to be small local businesses. Order a bouquet of flowers or a dozen cupcakes to be dropped at your door for your family to enjoy. Donate a couple of dollars to one of the relief funds set up for Chicago’s service industry. And, if one of your vendors goes out of their way to help you change your wedding date, leave them a review to let other couples know. A little goes a long way, even if it’s just reminding a small business that they’re valued in your community

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