As I mentioned in my letter of yesterday, we are here for you. We know that for anyone planning a wedding, particularly those whose wedding date isn’t that far away, things are worrying right now.
In an effort to be as helpful as possible at this time, we are working with our industry colleagues to share as much information and helpful advice as we can. Please bookmark this page on Love My Dress, as it will link to everything coronavirus related that we publish.
This article relates specifically to wedding venues. Please be reassured that UK wedding venues and suppliers are going above and beyond to be as flexible as possible. They are keen to help as much as they can. The industry is on your side.
It’s a pleasure to be joined by Emma Hla, founder of Coco Wedding Venues, to answer some of the many questions that we’ve received from readers, focussed around venues. Emma has a wealth of knowledge and experience in this area so we hope that the following helps to reassure you.
If we have to postpone our wedding, where do we stand with our venue in terms of setting a new date? Will they offer us a new date and will there be charges?
I wish there was a simple, generic answer to this question for everyone but there isn’t. Each wedding venue will be offering their couples different levels of flexibility, support and advice on their current wedding date and plans.
If you are considering postponing your wedding my first piece of advice would be to contact your wedding insurance company to see where you stand and what you’re covered for. Cancelling a wedding is going to have an impact across all elements and suppliers, not just your venue.
Most couples take out wedding insurance to cover the two big events – wedding venues cancelling and suppliers failing to attend. Unless the government issues a ban or lockdown, most venues will not be looking to postpone or cancel booked weddings due to the financial impact.
If you’re marring in spring and early summer this year, then get in touch with your insurance company to see what is currently covered in relation to Covid-19 and what you’re entitled to should you need to cancel your wedding and/or a key supplier is affected.
Cancelling your wedding now because you ‘fear’ something ‘could’ go wrong will probably have financial implications as this won’t be covered by insurance. Venues will also treat this as a cancellation and you may be liable for additional payments and will most likely lose deposits at the very least.
If you need to postpone your wedding because you or your partner fall ill and need to self-isolate then illness should be covered within your insurance. However, due to the current situation, it is very important that you check in with your insurance company to see what is and isn’t covered for coronavirus related illness.
If you do need to postpone and you’re covered, then you can discuss new dates and plans with your wedding venue. However, it’s worth noting that some venues will be booked out for the next 12-18 months with only a limited amount of late availability dates for this year so some flexibility may be needed on your part.
Donna form Aswarby Rectory in Lincolnshire says “Should you be forced to postpone your wedding we will work with all of our couples on a one to one basis to see where we can support and accommodate new dates. We will all have to try to have a flexible approach and work together.”
Melanie, Owner of Bellissimo Weddings and Weddings Planners and Venue Managers at Came House in Dorset adds ”Most venue contracts will say that a postponement acts as a cancellation so, technically they will be able to enforce a change of date as a cancellation and you may have some costs to meet there but you should speak to your venue as soon as possible if you are thinking that you may have to postpone. Most venues will be flexible and helpful and try to assist you with a change wherever they can.”
Lots of our guests are travelling to be with us. If our numbers change, and potentially drop below the venue’s minimum numbers, will we get hit with a bill for guests who can’t come?
Every wedding usually has some guests coming from afar, and if your guests do find themselves caught up in flight cancellations or a travel ban then you will need to communicate this to your venue ASAP.
Again, if your wedding is coming up then it’s worth checking in with your guests now to see if they have any concerns around attending your wedding so you have a basic understanding of how people are feeling. Friends and family are most likely being polite at this stage and don’t want to rock the boat or be an unnecessary burden, however if you ask the question openly and supportively then they will probably be honest with you and honesty is what you need to really gauge your actual numbers.
If you do have friends and family flying into the UK for your wedding, or have elderly relatives or guests with health conditions which may mean they would prefer not to attend then check in with your venue now to understand their minimum guest numbers and what financial liabilities there are should your planned guest list change or fall below their minimum requirements.
Whilst most venues probably won’t charge for reduced numbers, it will depend on whether the catering is in-house as this is where it will have the biggest impact on your costs. Your caterer will most likely have a surcharge for below minimum numbers as again, without this they may struggle to cover their own costs and outgoings.
Do you have any advice on when we should decide whether to postpone or not? Even if the government doesn’t ‘stop’ weddings, we have guests who are old and have health issues. Would our venue be flexible?
It’s not my place (or any other wedding expert), to tell you whether you should postpone your wedding or not. This is a hugely personal decision and it needs to be based on the welfare of your friends and family, how fast your wedding date is approaching, the logistics of your wedding and the financial costs that may incur as a result of you postponing. At this time, you need to reach out to only those who can help make this difficult decision – your venue, suppliers and your family.
However, if you are considering postponing Melanie says “It might be worth getting suggested new dates from your venue (without cancelling your existing date), running it past your key suppliers to see if they could still work with you if you moved the date and take it from there.”
The recommendation would be making your final decision ideally no less than a month to go. This is the time you usually need to submit final numbers to caterers, venues, orders to florists etc. Family and friends will also wish to know what your plans are. Things are changing daily if not hourly at the moment so keep in touch with everyone.”
“Get agreements from your venue/suppliers to change without financial penalties in writing wherever you can. Communicate and communicate some more has to be the key! Your suppliers might just be more helpful than you think!”
Will venues get in touch with couples to offer advice or options?
I think this week, as the news has ramped up, we’re seeing venues start to be proactive with reassuring their couples about the current situation. For our venues, it’s very much business as usual until the government states otherwise.
We sent out a newsletter to our venues offering guidance and advice yesterday in collaboration with venue consultant Kelly Chandler and within this we encouraged all venues to get in touch with their couples to talk through any concerns or issues.
If you haven’t heard from your venue and you’re worried then don’t wait to hear from them – pick up the phone or drop them an email.
If I was getting married soon but wasn’t planning to postpone, then I would want to chat to my wedding venue and key suppliers to see if they have additional protocols/staffing and health & safety procedures in place as a precaution. Being armed with this knowledge is going to make you feel reassured that the pros are on it and have back-up plans should they or any of their teams be affected by the virus.
If your wedding is taking place in the next few weeks, then chat to the venue team about what hygiene measures they will have in the bathrooms and throughout the venue. Hand-sanitisers, anti-bacterial soaps and paper towels/individual hand towels should all be available to your guests.
We’re not sure what to do or what we can even do. What should we look for in our venue’s contract to give us some guidance on where we stand?
I don’t think any of us saw a global pandemic on the horizon, so if you’re searching frantically in your contract for anything that’s related to this then you probably won’t find it.
The simplest place to look is at the cancellation policy which should be very clear in your venue contract and without any government ban this will be the policy venues will adhere to. But this is an unprecedented situation and venues may be open to discussing postponement options or offering alternative solutions to what currently stands in their contracts.
Donna says “Check the small print. Most venues will have a clause that states that they ‘cannot be held liable in the unlikely event of the property being unavailable for reasons beyond our control, including but not limited to Acts of God, Government Restrictions, wars, infectious or contagious disease, insurrections and/or any other cause beyond the reasonable control of the party whose event is affected’. As a smaller venue, we will always endeavour to work with our couples to ensure we can wherever possible offer them personal support and flexibility.”
If you are struggling to find the cancellation policy in your contract then get in touch your venue to talk through.
As a side note, if you’ve booked a destination wedding and are now possibly having to relocate back to the UK due to the travel restrictions then there are wedding venues who still have some late availability for 2020. You can view all late availability venues on our Venue Finder by simply selecting ‘Late Availability’ which is in the ‘Sort By’ section under the main filter box.
You can add venues that have late availability and that also fit your requirements to a shortlist and send a group message with your details – our venues will then back to you as soon as possible.
Emma, we can’t thank you enough for answering these questions in such a thoughtful, helpful and honest manner.
If you have a question that you’d like to submit, you can do so here and we’ll try and get an expert to answer it for you.
Coco Wedding Venues is the UK’s original style-focused wedding venue directory, serving up inspirational wedding venues, helpful articles and an indispensable digital magazine, The Annual.W
Credits & Thanks
- Main image - Aswarby Rectory, via Coco Wedding Venues