COVID- The One Event The Wedding Industry Couldn’t Plan For
Before We Get Started....
I’m not going to lie, many of us GREATLY underestimated the virus. We knew it was serious, but nothing prepared us for what was coming. The CDC releases general guidelines to follow and we interpret what it means to a wedding vendor. Gloves on our staff at all times. Buckets of sanitizing liquids. Video conferences with clients. We limited ourselves to greeting our clients we often hugged with a simple wave. We smiled all we could. Distanced ourselves from our clients who made payments. If it was cash, we cringed. We often pumped the hand sanitizer so many times I’m surprised we didn’t develop joint pain.
We kept smiling. Because when you are planning someone‘s special day, nobody wants to think about what is going on outside the company doors. Nobody asked. We didn’t tell. What exactly do you say when you have no idea what’s going on?
Rumors swirled around our offices. We’d be closing soon. We’d lose our jobs. Unemployment.
What about our clients?
Of course, the rumors were ceased by our positivity telling us everything would be fine. No way they’d shut us down. We can social distance.
Days went by before we heard it.
File for unemployment. We’re closing.
What Do We Do?
Picture this: your boss just told you that within the week, the entire company is closing. You are losing your job per the government shutdown. You have hundreds of events to call. You have no idea when you are reopening. You have no plan on what to say. The government has NO guidelines for vendors. But you have to grab a book of contracts and cold call every single person who has an event in the next few weeks. And then, after you break hearts, you have to tell your staff and break theirs too.
This is THE WORST Feeling on Earth
How do you call a bride, a groom, a family member, a pregnant couple, a Sweet 15/16, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah and let them know you are closing per the government and they needed to reschedule?
How do you defend yourself when you need to explain that this is the government, not the business?
Contracts are Legally Binding
When you sign a wedding contract, it is legally binding. So are the cancellation policies. Even in a government mandated shut down, you are not entitled to a refund of your deposits unless there is a clause that states you are. But there is no global pandemic clause. This is why many vendors offered postponements and credits. You can have a new date or you can use the money you’ve invested to host a future event via credit. That is very fair, all things considered.
I Promise, I’m Not Evil
When I say fair, I do mean as fair as we can be while honoring our part of the deal. In reality, we were ready to host your event. We have the space open because you secured that date. We have staff. We can get your food, linens, etc. We could DJ, bake your cake, tailor your attire, drive your family and take your wedding photos. We held our part of the bargain. The government came in and closed us down, but we did not cancel your event. If you have a wedding contract, take a look at your fine prints. MANY contracts state that a vendor may cancel the contract at any time, for any given reason. Many are clear that you will not be given a refund.
Now, we do have hearts. Of course ethically speaking wedding vendors will refund you for certain circumstances. Especially if it is the morally correct thing to do. But please understand that when you sign that contract, you are consenting that a vendor actually does not HAVE to if they didn’t want to. And in the instance of a global pandemic, where thousands are suffering, unemployed, and losing their jobs, it is imperative for vendors to hold you to these contracts or risk shutting down indefinitely.
We do not do this to scam you or because we are money hungry jerks who thrive on the downfall of their clients. It is written this way because life is unpredictable and we need to protect our business. I‘m sure your job does similar in another industry as well. If someone decided to cancel their event, we lose that date. We lose business, but our staff also loses money. No work= no pay. And like every job, many vendors have teen employees saving for college, a car, and education. Parents who are single, or paying all the bills, or taking care of sick family. When we lose parties, our entire business feels it. It isn’t just about a greedy businessman losing money. And yes, one lost event does not crumble a business. But cancelling hundreds, that would. Which is why, you can imagine, many vendors will offer for you to postpone given the circumstances.
I am not saying that what is happening to people’s special events is ideal. But I am saying that we did not have a choice. “You can give people their money back.” To which I just as sarcastically reply with yes we can, but then my job closes down and I become permanently unemployed in a detriorating job market. So does my staff. If every wedding business simply cancelled their clients contracts and gave refunds, we’d be out of work for quite some time trying to find an open job in our field. I wish it was as simple as giving people back the thousands they have invested to keep our businesses going. But unfortunately this isn’t a talk show “look under your seats” type of thing.
If you comb through your state‘s pandemic information and COVID guidelines, it is unlikely you will find much about what wedding vendors should do. It is also unlikely that you will see any information on how we can reopen like other businesses will be soon.
We are completely in the dark, but we are trying. I promise. And we are trying 100% to the best of our human ability. I know, we seem like fairy godmothers when you are planning your wedding. If I could snap my fingers and turn your worries into a pumpkin carriage that leads you to your wedding, I would. But I’m laid off, in my apartment, certifying for unemployment benefits in the same pjs from March like the rest of the world. And that’s the unfortunate truth to the matter.
Please remember that just because a company is successful does not mean it was not affected drastically by the pandemic. Even those who receive pandemic assistance have lost months of potential bookings and events. Incoming payments go towards paying bills. Paying staff. Paying to keep us in operation. There is no promise that the event industry will reopen when the rest of the world does. Social distance at parties is unrealistic. If we lose business, we struggle. And trust me, we all are.
We Are in This Together
While we all are devastated to have to move your events, please understand we have lost a lot as well. I get it. Losing what was supposed to be the biggest day of your life is heartbreaking. Losing your job and fearing for your financial status is terrifying. But we lost our jobs, too. We are sheltering in place, too. We have bills to pay, too. We lost what keeps us going. If you call any industry professional the first thing they say is ”I can‘t wait to be back in action!” We miss events. We miss our clients. We miss seeing you in your celebration attire. It is breaking our hearts that we can‘t party with you. But our hearts are also breaking for the loss of lives globally. For the losses in our own homes, in our own neighborhoods. By waiting until we can safely reopen, we protect our staff. Our families. Our community. Our elderly. Our first responders. While it seems unfair that you can’t get your deposit back, or have your event on your original date, please remember that the storm will clear and you WILL be married/celebrating soon. It crushes me to think of events where one less guest is in attendance due to this terrible virus. But I also think of all the ways so many people have come together, and it makes me smile. Wash your hands, wear your masks, and we will see you on the dance floor soon.