2020 vision is apparently very different than we all thought. But here we are, trying to make the best of it all. While working with my couples this year, here are some steps I’ve found incredibly helpful as I navigate the chaos of COVID-19. I hope this is helpful for you, and I’d love to hear what you’ve found helpful in dealing with couples postponing and canceling weddings! And you’ll notice I’ve included pictures of very happy people. I hope it balances (slightly) the stress of this topic and makes you smile a little bit. Or you can imagine them laughing at your pain. Whichever you prefer.
1. Reach out and check in
It may seem too premature to reach out to your brides in July, August, and September, but reach out anyway. Check in and see how they’re doing, or see if their planning has been disrupted. You don’t know who’s planning has been interrupted, who’s thinking of rescheduling, or who is overwhelmed by job situations. You don’t know what complications are coming up for couples, so reach out to them. If they’re doing well, great! One less wedding to postpone. And if they’re looking to shift things, it’s better for you to know now.
2. Develop a plan
Figure out your options. What will you let couples do? What about retainers? What does your contract say? What will you do if a couple postpones to next year? Or if they cancel? Create a plan. You may have already done this for your May weddings. Will you do the same thing for weddings later in the year or those not under a stay at home order? Of course as you talk with your couples this can shift and you can be flexible. But create a framework for you to work from.
In fact, over communicate! Let them know what you’re doing and how you’re helping them. If they’re even thinking of rescheduling let them know what their options are. I’ve found it helpful this year to create a list of all the dates I’m available for so that when a couple needs to postpone, they can see instantly what dates I’m available for. Be the vendor that makes this process easy for them! Don’t be the vendor that’s difficult to work with and adds to their stress. It’s also ok to put in a disclaimer that hopefully this info you’re sending isn’t relevant. But at the risk of over communicating here- over communicate!
4. Be empathetic
Everything that’s happening right now with COVID-19 is so hard for vendors! It’s paychecks, deposits, mortgage payments, and so much more. And if you’re getting married and are reading this, hopefully you hear our pain. And as vendors, we also need to remember that it’s hard for our couples as well. Couples are having to drastically shift their wedding that they’ve spent months planning and put a lot of money towards. And who knows what else is being added to their plate. And I’ve found it’s easier to work together if we can understand each other and see where the other is coming from. Please don’t hear me say that you need to refund retainers or go against your contract! But when we empathize and listen, not only are others much more willing to empathize with us, but it’s also easier for us to hopefully work through this together.
5. Go above and beyond
How can you go above and beyond to help your couples? One small thing I did was send some resources to my couples who are rescheduling. It wasn’t much but there are some great resources to help clients as they’re postponing and figuring this out. What can you do to let your couples know that you’re thinking of them during this time? If they see you going out of your way for them now, it will only help communication and planning in the future.
For those getting married
I’m beyond sorry if you’re wedding has been effected by COVID-19! While this is written to vendors, I hope that it’s still helpful in some way- even if it’s simply the encouragement to communicate with your vendors and be empathetic. I encourage you, when possible, to postpone and not cancel. When we can celebrate again- what a great celebration it will be! And please know, that we as vendors, small business owners, and friends, care deeply!
My name is Catherine and I’m a wedding photographer in Milwaukee, WI. Let me know below what you’ve found helpful during this time! And if you’re getting married and like what you see, send me a message and let’s talk! I’d love to hear about your day.