It's not 'Business as Usual'
So last week I published a post on the impact of the virus on the industry. Broadly speaking the entire events community were able to relate to the article in some form or other. I was surprised by its organic success and almost proud. A lot of couples reached out and thanked me for the guidance which was great!
Something started niggling me though.
Did I not look at it enough from a couple’s point of view? Was I just an industry head with my business hat on?
It’s a difficult scenario to be in, I am one of hundreds that relies on the wedding industry as my full time occupation. I am lucky my wife is not involved in this industry but there are many couple and family businesses that solely earn their crust from weddings. It was them and I that was predominately in my thought process at the time of writing, naturally as the worry was setting in.
Putting that to one side, I received some messages from individuals who felt the blog didn’t do enough for couples. That I was protecting and even indirectly colluding with the industry. I just want to be clear, this was just my views and I was being realistic. To speak against the article takes a lot of courage, so thanks for reaching out. We’ve had some healthy debates!
As the week has progressed things have got worse with the acceleration of the virus and the PM effectively banning social gatherings (albeit no direct hit on weddings). However the fear among the public has heightened and vendors have gone from ‘business as usual’ to ‘we should postpone’. Most venues are now closed for at least a month - this includes The Natural History Museum, Chateau Impney Hotel, Grosvenor House and many more.
I have spent most of the last 5-6 days rearranging events for our customers. I really applaud the proactive April/May couples who have just taken the outright decision to postpone for a later date. It has been a really smooth process thus far, as there are some great dates still floating around in July, then September onwards. The trouble is, these key dates will go quickly, because everyone enjoys a wedding in the Summer.
I would really encourage our April/May customers to move quickly to change dates, please stop hoping for the best. We need to be isolating and making social distancing our priority.
I get it though, when you have booked a date two years in advance, picked the perfect venue, managed to get your dream MUA and a date at Gravesend Gurdwara and all your perfect suppliers on board, this is a big shock to the system. This wasn’t in the plan! You don’t now want to compromise on anything and rightly so! I have had brides in tears on the phone and I wholly empathise with the situation. I know for one Kudos and I are doing whatever we can to ensure the shift in dates is as much in favour to the couple as possible.
The industry is a strange place, customers book the same dates every year and equally every year certain dates are never booked. This actually a great thing right now because if say Kudos are available on a Sunday in July (in 2020 or 2021), this could be the date you go for as all the suppliers will most likely have the same date free. It’s weird but always the way!
Anyway so a few scenarios were brought to my attention and require some answers so here we go:
I do not agree that weddings need to be done by March 31st, I am worried now
What I wrote wasn’t gospel. Many different suppliers have different demands. You will find some smaller businesses have more flexibility, this is usually because the wedding industry is their side chick. It’s great if its busy, no big issue if it isn’t.
For the larger industry players who devote their life and soul into making your wedding that magical moment of your life, they have many more considerations. At the moment focus is on survival mixed with trying to provide great customer service. I have spoken to a lot of the industry and it’s not that 31st March 2021 is the cut off due to profits, its more so that all the key dates or your equivalent date next year is already booked.
So realistically it will be difficult to give you August bank holiday next year because I know for one that i’m already booked out that date and so are a lot of my colleagues.
One thing that has been encouraging is that most venues and suppliers have been very sympathetic to the situation and are doing what they can to rearrange. Don’t be shy to propose dates beyond this, but don’t be too upset if it doesn’t work - there are going to limitations that are out of everyone’s control.
My venue said I have to choose a June date, otherwise I will have to pay more!
This is a joke. Any one propagating this type of behaviour needs to named and shamed. I know which venue is trying to enforce this and its a pendu mentality which will no doubt cause customers to steer away from this type of venue in the future. Speak out because there will be other couples who don’t have the courage to speak out or will run with this.
The virus isn’t just planning to switch off in June - we don’t know what the immediate future holds.
Shall I postpone my August wedding?
If I was me, I would wait until the end of May to make a final decision, we should have a clearer image of which way the virus is heading based on what is happening in Italy and around the world. There is no right or wrong decision at the moment, but if the uncertainty is killing you, start flexing some dates, have some casual conversations with your suppliers and see if another date works. Im quietly confident we’ll all be back in action but this virus will change how society perceives social interaction and it will be strange for a while!
Couple have remortgaged their house to get married you need to do more for them!
I won’t be taking any moral high ground here, my Amex bill is no joke so I know people borrow to perfect their big day. It is a really emotional time for many of you, but please think clearly here. Put the money aside, get written confirmation from your suppliers that your deposit is safe and remember in most circumstances you’re not losing your money, it’s just transferring to a new date.
For the 100’s of people that are going to exclaim that you should have got wedding insurance, just tell them to do one. Most people I know don’t factor it in and my understanding is the insurance industry is simply just not paying out on anything at the moment. Don’t beat yourself up about it, it really isn’t designed for Indian weddings anyway!
I don’t care what happens, we’re going ahead with the wedding next week
Look, I get it but honestly? No one is going to come! Postpone and you will not regret it. The fear levels at the moment are incredibly high and rightly so. I have friends working in the NHS who can’t see their own families and are at breaking point. They are putting themselves on the line to protect us, so please don’t go ahead with your wedding. Pause, reflect and rebook. Do you really want to be known as the Corona couple?
This extract from a friend on Twitter (@geegrewal) summed it up a little:
If you have any further questions I will really do my best to help. Your first point of call needs to be the first person you called when booking your wedding, which is most likely the venue or caterer. Take it from there. I cannot stress how more beneficial it will be to you guys to take this in your stride and accept its a bad situation for everyone and we can’t really do much about it at the moment.
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