I do feel for couples who had their weddings planned for…right around now. Smack dab in the middle of a pandemic. Depending on how long their engagement has been, they may have been looking forward to this for anywhere from six to 18 months! And now COVID-19 cases are peaking. As of today, there have been over 7 million confirmed cases in the world. Daily deaths are on the decline, thank goodness, but daily cases are on the rise – big time. We are not out of the woods on this thing. So what is a couple to do if there date is around the corner, and COVID-19 is still at large (which it is)? We are friends with a few couples who, back in March said, “This virus will be long gone by the time our ceremony comes up in the late summer.” Whoops. In the best-case scenario, they would have postponed or canceled back then. But, they didn’t know how bad this thing would be. None of us did. And I get it. They spent hundreds of hours (and thousands of dollars) finding a venue and booking the DJ and the caterer and the florist. They sent out the Save the Dates. Friends and family already made travel plans. It seems like so much is at stake if they cancel now. But, none of what’s at stake if they cancel is as big as what’s at stake if they don’t: people’s lives. Dear betrothed couples, here’s why I implore you to cancel or postpone your wedding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Make the choice for guests
You may have some guests who feel so much pressure to come, so long as the wedding is still on. That includes very old relatives, who want to make sure they see you get hitched while they’re still around. That includes loved ones with compromised immune systems. They may still show up, to the detriment of their wellbeing, if the wedding is still on. They don’t want to miss it. You can be the responsible one and save their lives. You can make the choice for them, by postponing.
Weddings are stressful enough
You should enjoy your wedding day. And, the truth is, if it weren’t during COVID-19, you’d probably already enjoy it less than you’d hoped because weddings are stressful. The day isn’t for you. It’s for everybody else. You are an elevated hostess on your wedding day, attending to the needs and demands of other people. It’s stressful as it is. Do you really want to add the stress of wondering if your wedding could cause someone to catch COVID-19?
Guests have to get on airplanes
Many of your guests will need to get on airplanes to come to your wedding. And that can be a recipe for getting sick. Think of all the public spaces they need to enter and touch, from the cab to the airport to the shuttle between terminals to the airport bathrooms to the airplane seat fold-out tray to a luggage cart.
Your wedding could cause an outbreak
What if your wedding alone caused an outbreak? You’ve heard the stories. Choir groups of 72 people meeting during this pandemic, 42 getting sick. Any time a large group gathers, you create the risk of an outbreak. All it takes is one person to be sick within that group, but because they’re a part of that group, the hundreds are at risk. And a high risk, at that.
Then people fly home
At the moment, the country is mostly asking that people limit travel to essential travel. Would you be so bold to suggest that your wedding qualifies as essential travel? The reason for this restriction is to limit the spread of cases across state borders. So if people fly from all over to attend your wedding and get sick, they will then drag that virus back to their corners of the country, and possibly cause an outbreak in a town that was otherwise doing okay.
Guests have to stay in hotels
Many guests need to stay in hotels in order to attend your wedding. While many hotels are making a strong effort to minimize the potential risk factor for guests, that doesn’t change the fact that the real way to avoid the risk is to not stay in a hotel. Hosting a wedding right now just triggers so many activities that are ripe for virus spread.
Airlines must offer refunds
If you feel bad for guests who have already booked airline travel, know that a bill just passed requiring airlines to give full refunds to those who must cancel during this pandemic. But even if that weren’t true, many guests would have likely received a voucher from their airline if they couldn’t cancel, and would rather have that than the risk of getting sick.
Most hotels offer some assistance
Most hotels are offering some assistance right now, from full refunds, to credit with the hotel. Really, worrying about the expenses guests have already paid is no good reason to move forward with an event that puts their health at risk. Most businesses are helping customers out during this time, and understand that requests for refunds will come flooding in.
A wedding is a time for affection
You say you’ll keep guests apart. You’ll tell them to dance six feet apart. But think of a wedding. It’s a time when the air is filled with love. It’s a time when family and friends who haven’t seen each other for years finally see each other. And they drink. They’re drunk on champagne and affection. People break the rules. One hug here. One kiss on the cheek there. A close dance here. Then it’s on. The virus can spread. It’s one of the hardest events to limit affection at. It’s not natural.
You can’t afford to space people out
If you’re still set on spacing people out, you’ll quickly find out that you can’t afford to do that. In order to adequately space people out, you’d need a venue that was over twice the size of your current one. So that instantly means canceling this one, possibly for no refund or deposit return. And it means reserving a bigger (read: pricier) space.
Many have fallen on hard times
A lot of your guests have currently fallen on hard times. Many of them lost their jobs. Or got pay cuts. Or lost most of their savings in the stock market. They would probably appreciate the chance to get a refund for their hotel and airfare and to hold off on buying you an expensive gift for now.
Consider the nature of caterers
You can’t do a buffet. You just can’t. Those are off-limits during COVID-19. You can’t have exposed trays of appetizers being handed out. That’s also ripe for a virus spread, with everyone breathing on them and touching the trays. So, what about caterers? Bringing out entrees, individually? Sure. But that’s dozens of individuals touching all the plates. You need a lot of caterers to get a large wedding served in a timely manner. So that’s, say, 20 or 30 more humans on site. Who can spread a virus.
Your venue will likely work with you
Wedding venues are hurting right now. That is, quite sadly, true. But talk to your venue. They’re aware of the virus. They may offer you a new date, further down the line, if they can’t give you back your deposit. Or they may offer you a hefty gift card, so you can re-book them at a discount in the future.
Or, you can reduce and zoom
Another option, if you can’t cancel the venue for a refund, is to reduce your wedding size. Cut it down by 75 percent, since 25 percent is the safe capacity for venues right now. Have just immediate family and a handful of best friends there. Have only those who live in town and don’t need to travel there. And have the rest watch on Zoom.
Imagine if someone got it, and died
Imagine if someone got COVID-19 at your wedding, and died. The memory of your special day would be forever ruined. You’d instantly feel in a deep, painful, devastating way that that wasn’t worth it. The chances of it happening are small, but the fallout if it were to happen would be massive. It would destroy relationships. It would taint your wedding day forever.