As you probably know by now, we have reached an unprecedented moment in the history of the wedding industry leaving both brides/grooms and vendors with our heads spinning. With our priority of being a helping hand to engaged couples everywhere, we felt the urge to do SOMETHING to try and help you figure out what to do next in such a time of uncertainty. Our hopes are that these three topics will help you gather your thoughts and help you move forward in this strange, strange time for weddings.
POPULAR COVID-19 WEDDING SOLUTIONS
Now, there are already many articles out there about the best solutions if your wedding date falls during this time of social distancing and/or quarantine due to COVID-19. I personally felt no need to reinvent the wheel. Just in case you haven’t come across these I’ll recap what I’ve seen floating around already.
1. Have an Intimate Wedding instead.
Many couples are simply ready to marry the love of their life sooner rather than later, even if it means making some changes to the original plan. Reducing your guest list to your closest few is the easiest way to "have your cake and eat it too". Remember this may vary throughout each state and county, as even a small event may not be in compliance if you reside in a county with a “Shelter In Place” Ordinance. Be sure to check first for the safety of you and your guests.
2. Elope now, celebrate later.
When it comes to reducing your guest list, the safest option is to elope with the only people present being the happy couple, your officiant and your photographer. Keep in mind, with today’s modern technology even an elopement can still have a virtual audience through livestream or video recording. The best part is you can still have it covered by your booked photographer and get those killer suit and gown portraits to hang up in your home. Also, the best way to save on your deposits is to have your reception at a later date when its safe to celebrate with your full guest list. Keep in mind, this option is still dependent on your county and whether you have a “Shelter In Place” Ordinance in effect.
3. Postpone the wedding.
We know many brides have been dreaming of this day for years and would be utterly heartbroken not to experience every little detail that was planned specifically for this special day. Many vendors are waiving any rescheduling fees during this time, making postponement one of the most popular options. Remember to show love to your vendors if you go this route as there are a finite amount of weekends per year; each postponement also means a loss of income on a day that could have been booked otherwise. Many vendors are willing to take this loss to see their clients happy!
What if my photographer is not available?
Now that you know the top 3 solutions, what if you decide to postpone and your photographer is not available? I’m sure you’ve spent a lot of time and set aside money to secure your dream photographer for your big day. Unfortunately, the truth is that many vendors may have their schedules jam packed, making the idea of postponement virtually impossible for you. So what then? We know you may be heartbroken, but hopefully these potential solutions will help make the best out of a tough situation.
1. Go over the Contract/Refund Policy.
Most retainers or deposits are non-refundable and will vary per photographer, but be sure to check what the policy is as there may be a portion that is refundable for any work that has not been completed. Also remember, if you already had an engagement session or ordered any canvas/prints, they may be taken into account as completed work and deducted from any refundable portions.
2. Ask about associate photographers.
Some photographers may have a trusted associate or second shooter that can photograph your wedding on behalf of them. The benefits to using an associate photographer from the same company is that you will get the most similar experience and the head photographer will most likely still take care of any post processing of your photos; so you will still get the same look and feel of the portfolio you already love. An even bigger plus, you don’t lose out on any non-refundable payments already made.
3. Ask for references.
Your photographer most likely has photographer friends they can vouch for or knows of other professionals who may give you the closest experience and style. Always ask if they can point you to someone who might be available.
4. Ask about a post-wedding photoshoot.
As mentioned before, we know that both you and your photographer may be completely heartbroken that you will not be able to work together. We don’t usually condone asking for custom packages, but in this unprecedented situation, there is no harm in asking your original photographer if they would be available for a wedding portrait session sometime after the wedding, at a time you are both free. That way you can still get bride and groom portraits done by the one you so carefully chose to work with. Who says you can't dress up twice?!
Booking in a time of uncertainty
This is for both engaged couples searching for a new photographer, and for newly engaged couples trying to begin planning for a later wedding date.
1. Follow the same protocol as searching for your first choice.
Review the photographer’s portfolio and make sure their style fits your vision. Ask for pricing and be sure they are within your budget. Set up a meeting and be sure your personalities mesh (our team has implemented and strongly recommend virtual meetings by phone or video chat during this time). Always remember your photographer is one of the few vendors with you for most of your day and any discomfort you have around them can show up in your photos. Getting along with your photographer is key to reducing unnecessary stress on your special day.
2. Ask about the retainer and refund policy.
Each photographer will have a different retainer or deposit amount to secure the date. With the onset of postponements, securing dates for later in the year is important to ensure availability. In this time of uncertainty, ask if any portion of payments made will be refundable due to unforeseen circumstances and thoroughly go over the contract terms before signing.
3. Ask about flexibility and how schedule changes are handled.
We always make it a point to let our couples know that we limit our weddings each year; with our current team we accept no more than 12 weddings per year with no more than 2 in one month. We do this to ensure we can give you and every couple the attention you deserve while also maximizing our turnaround time. Because of this, we have a higher chance of being able to reschedule without any penalty to you. Although many photographers can handle a booked year flawlessly, in this year with so much uncertainty of what’s to come, it is extremely important to know about your photographer’s flexibility.