Planning, COVID-19, and You | Questions and Tips | Minnesota Wedding Photographer

Lauren Baker Photography Minneapolis Saint Paul Twin Cities Minnesota Wedding Photographer Dellwood barn Weddings

To say that what we’re living through is insane is a huge understatement. In the matter of weeks, the world has all but come to a screeching stop and the fear and cacophony of news updates is more than any of us should have to endure.

But…here we are…

Brides and grooms, when I say I understand what you must be feeling, believe me, I do. Not only am I a small business owner trying to support my couples whilst trying to keep my business afloat, but I’m also a 2020 bride who has had her engagement season and wedding plans shaken up. It’s a lot emotionally so yeah, I feel you and it royally sucks.

But…we don’t need to let it defeat us. Not if we ask questions, know our options, make backup plans, and most importantly stay positive. Love will conquer all! That’s why we’re here planning our weddings, right?

I’m not going to say that I have all of the answers, hell, for every answer I feel like a new question pops in my mind. That said, I can put forth a few tips in a Q&A that I’ve been thinking of both as a fellow bride and as your friendly neighborhood wedding photographer. Hopefully, they’ll help you make informed decisions with regards to your own wedding plans in the age of COVID-19.

Lauren Baker Photography Minneapolis Saint Paul Twin Cities Minnesota Wedding Photographer

Q: How do I even know if I should postpone my wedding, bridal shower, or other wedding event?

A: That’s a tough one and there are several factors to consider.

First off, in Minnesota, Gov. Walz has issued a “Stay at Home” order which is in effect through April 10, 2020. According to MN.Gov, that means all Minnesotans should, “limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs.” If your wedding is between now and then, I’m so sorry but postponement is required.

After April 10, if the order isn’t extended, we should look at the CDC’s recommendations. According to the CDC’s website, it’s recommended that through May 15, 2020, events of 50 people or more be postponed and rescheduled. If you’ve invited more than 50 people to your wedding or wedding event (such as a bridal shower) that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to postpone entirely, it means you have a decision to make: to reduce your guest list or postpone to a later date.

If your wedding or wedding event is in June, you can continue planning as normal for now, though, I highly recommend keeping your ears tuned in for any new CDC and state recommendations and/or orders.

My personal recommendation for June weddings, and take this with as many grains of salt as you like, is to be proactive and connect with your team of vendors. It’s better to have a Plan B figured out ahead of time so if/when you need to pull the trigger you’re acting from a place of calm rather than a place of fear.

Q: If I reduce my guest list, is there a way I can still include my guests who can’t attend in person?

A: Yes! This is where technology comes in handy. I bet your guests would love watching a live-stream of your ceremony and first dance! There are several platforms you could live-stream on, too, such as Facebook, Instagram, or Zoom. My friend Curtis from Curtis Kennedy Films is also providing brides and grooms with some videography options if you would like to reach out to him.

Q: If I can’t reduce my guest list, is it better to postpone or cancel my wedding?

A: If you’re not able to keep your wedding date, the preferred option is to postpone and reschedule your wedding date within a year of the original date. Canceling should be the very last, no-other-option choice.

Pro Tip: You’ll likely end up saving money by postponing rather than canceling + rehiring your vendors.

Q: When should I postpone my wedding to?

A: I wish I had a hard answer to this…I think everyone wishes that. The fact is, we don’t know how long this virus will last and because of that we don’t have a date when we know things will be 100% good to go.

Erring on the side of caution, I’m personally advising my couples to reschedule no sooner than October and no later than a year of their original date. I’m asking my couples to start by looking at my available off-season dates (November-April) and if they absolutely have to have a peak season wedding (May-October), they should consider rescheduling to a Thursday, Sunday, or Monday date.

I’ve talked with several of my wedding vendor peers and they’re advising their couples similarly.

Q: How do I go about postponing my wedding?

A: This is the big one. Once you’ve determined postponing is the best option for you and your guests, I recommend taking the following steps:

  1. Re-read your vendor contracts and familiarize yourself with their rescheduling policies, especially with regards to any rescheduling fees. Many vendors are being flexible on this but it’s a good idea to know what their “in normal times” policy is.
  2. Let your vendors know you’ve decided to postpone your date and ask for their available off-season dates. If you have a planner, reach out to them first as they can manage your other vendors for you.
  3. Assemble your vendors available dates. If there isn’t a date where all of your vendors are available, prioritize your most important vendors and see when their availabilities align.
  4. Confirm a new date ASAP. Lots of 2020 couples are now looking at new wedding dates so it’s in your best interest to lock in a new date as soon as humanly possible.
  5. Sign and submit a rescheduling contract.
  6. If you can, stick to your original payment due dates. This will help your vendors tremendously! By keeping your original payment due dates, your vendors be able to pay their ongoing monthly bills and afford things like groceries and TP.

Q: If some of my vendors aren’t available on our new date, will I be able to get a refund from them?

A: This will vary vendor by vendor which is why it’s important to read each of your vendor contracts thoroughly. Chances are each vendor has a non-refundable retainer listed in their contract so you should not expect to get that back. For other monies already paid, that’s where specific contract language comes into play and you’ll have to have that conversation with those vendor(s).

If you can’t get money back, ask your vendor(s) if there’s a way you can repurpose the money you’ve already paid to something else. If it’s a photographer, maybe they’ll be able to do an anniversary session later in the year. If it’s a baker, see if you can apply the money towards a spectacular birthday cake…or hell…a buttload of donuts and slowly eat your way through them (throwing it out there that I will gladly accept any yummy donut and cookie donations).

Your vendors feel for you, they really do, and they want to help you out so I bet they’d be open to having a conversation about how to repurpose your money.

Q: How do I let my guests know of the date change?

A: If your invitations have already gone out, you can send a postponement card like these from Minted (use the code PHOTOPROLBAKER to get 15% off). You’ll also need to call your guests if your invitations have already gone out.

If your invitations haven’t gone out yet, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to include an “Updates” page to your wedding website that guests refer to if any changes to your date are made. You can also include a line on your invitations saying something like “for updates please visit our website.” That’s what we’re personally doing with our invitations.

Lauren Baker Photography Minneapolis Saint Paul Twin Cities Minnesota Wedding Photographer

This is by no means an exhaustive Q&A list so if you have other questions please send them my way. I’d like to keep this list updated as we move forward and as more information becomes available to us.

Know that you’re not alone in this. Know that it’s ok to be sad. And know that we’re going to get through this together!

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