At the time of writing, social distancing and avoiding crowds/gatherings are the recommendations of governments and these are changing daily. The province of Ontario has declared a state of emergency. Restaurants (aside from drive-thru, takeout & delivery) are closed. Additionally, all organized public events of over 50 people are prohibited. Penalties for non-compliance vary from min. personal fines of $1,000 to up to $500,000 for businesses. These orders will remain in place until March 31, 2020, when the province will reassess for an extension or end the closures.
Do you have plans to get married this March, April, May…or even June? Unfortunately, given the current covid-19 pandemic, your plans may have to change. Rest assured, there are still plenty of options available to you; you may just have to get a little creative.
The option that sounds the easiest is postponing; however, this can come with a number of its own challenges. First, you’ll want to contact all of your vendors & suppliers to confirm their policies (especially cancellation penalties) and ask what flexibility (if any) they are offering their clients at this time. In many cases, vendors are offering penalty-free changes; however, it may be limited to events set to happen within a specific timeframe and you may have to reschedule within another set period of time. (For example, events happening between now-April 30th, 2020 can rebook (without penalty) with a new date between 12 months.) If your event is happening outside of the timeframe stipulated in their new policies, you can choose to wait and see if the policy is updated to include your date or reschedule/cancel now (possibly with penalties). Next, rebooking all of your favourite vendors will depend on all of their individual availability. With Spring 2020 weddings being impacted and Summer being peak wedding season, we’re likely going to see an overwhelming amount of demand for Summer, Fall and Winter 2020 weddings. Still, before choosing a new date, keep in mind that it is currently unknown when everything will return to ‘normal’. In fact, the scientific community believes it could be any time between this summer and the next.
You’ve already spent a year+ planning for the big day. What else can you do if you do not want to reschedule or cancel?
If the wedding date you’ve chosen is significant to you, you can still get legally married on this date. To get legally married in the province of Ontario, you require a valid marriage licence, the presence of the couple, two witnesses as well as a recognized religious (officiant, minister, priest, or celebrant) or civil (judge, civil clerk or justice of the peace) official. That’s 5 people that have to physically be in the same room; all of whom can practice safe distancing as well as bring & use their own pen for signing. This signing can be done privately in your own home or at a mutually-agreed upon location. The details will need to be discussed and confirmed with your official.
If you want to share this private ceremony socially, you can record it or stream it live (like this couple did) using a number of social or videoconferencing applications.
If you are already planning your wedding outdoors, what about setting your venue up like a drive-thru movie? You could get married on-stage or on-screen and have all of your guests remain in their vehicle.
If you have already paid your caterer, ask them if they are able to provide individual meals in takeout containers and deliver them to your venue. Post I-DOs, you can personally thank & deliver these (along with the favours you’ve already purchased) to each of your guests while properly protecting yourselves.
Another food delivery option would be to replace your seating chart with a parking chart. Assign each vehicle a numbered parking spot. That way, you can prioritize your VIP in the front row & your caterer can easily deliver the food to the appropriate guests.
Still want a sit-down dinner and dance? You can always host the reception portion of your wedding at a later date. This practice is commonly used by couples who host an intimate destination wedding followed by a larger local wedding reception…which can be months later. Speaking of destination weddings, we’ll cover how those are being affected by the global pandemic next.