Wedding Ideas

What Does the Latest Ban Mean for Your NJ Wedding?

Posted on March 22 by Molly Gregor

Governor Murphy’s order on Saturday, March 21, banned all gatherings, including weddings, in the state of New Jersey. To read his order, click HERE. So…what does that mean NOW for New Jersey brides? Here I’m going to try to answer as many questions as possible. Keep in mind that there’s a lot of confusion and scrambling on the part of BOTH brides and vendors right now. Everyone is trying to figure out this new territory, all while trying to keep their wedding vision intact.

Please try to keep calm and remain patient. Reach out to your vendors for guidance and advice. They want to help you and will do whatever they can to switch dates around. But remember that we’ve never seen anything like this before and everyone is trying their best. Your vendors are not only trying to accommodate your wedding, but potentially hundreds of other brides, so patience is key even though that seems hard right now.

We will get through this. You WILL get married. And you’re so lucky to have the love of your life by your side during this crazy time.

HERE ARE ANSWERS TO MANY QUESTIONS THAT BRIDES HAVE RIGHT NOW:

1. WHAT?? All New Jersey weddings are banned for the foreseeable future? That’s right. ALL weddings are banned. This means that venues are not allowed to hold weddings and marriage licenses will not be issued.

2. How long is this ban? We don’t know. We have to wait for Gov. Murphy to either lift the ban or make another statement.

3. Can I still apply for a marriage license for my wedding in 30 days? No, this order means that ALL clerk’s offices will not be issuing marriage licenses.

4. I applied for my marriage license this past week. Can I still pick this up? No, because Gov. Murphy has banned all weddings. You can call your individual clerk’s office to see what they advise, but these offices have been closed and government workers may no longer be responding. If they do pick up, I do not know if they can legally give you the license. As soon as I find out more about this, I will update this section.

5. I got married this weekend BEFORE Gov. Murphy issued the ban. How can I send my license back in? Per state guidelines, you’re to submit a signed marriage license back to the state within 5 days. This regulation may be waived due to the current circumstances. Call your individual clerk’s office to see if they answer and what they’d suggest. I’ve heard of some brides being able to mail their license back to their clerk’s office but call to find out how they’re individually handling this.

6. Forget all of this, I’m just going to elope! Can I get married in my house with a relative as my officiant? If you do not have a wedding license in hand, you will no longer be able to apply for one under the current ban. If you DO have a license in hand, I do not know if your marriage will be legal since it will have taken place during the ban. Once I have more research on this, I will let you know. You can call your clerk’s office to inquire, but I don’t know if anyone will be in the office.

7. Do I need to postpone my wedding? If your wedding is scheduled for April 2020, yes, you will need to reschedule due to Gov. Murphy’s current ban on weddings. We know of many May and June brides postponing as well. Unfortunately, no one knows when the ban will be lifted or when it will be safe for people to convene again in large groups. Some venues and vendors are currently postponing April brides but haven’t made a call on May brides yet. EVERY VENDOR IS HANDLING THIS DIFFERENTLY RIGHT NOW. If you haven’t yet heard from your venue about having to postpone or haven’t reached out about your concerns yet, call your venue to find out their individual policies, your options and how to go about making your individual decision. May and June weddings may be fine. But we just don’t know yet.

8. I need to postpone my wedding. Where do I start? First start with your venue. Find out what available dates they have. Realize that many other brides are calling about dates as well, so if there’s a date you like, grab it. Waiting a half hour…or even five minutes…may result in you losing this date. I know this sounds crazy, but this is what is going on right now. You don’t have the luxury of taking a week to confirm this new date with family and friends. I’ve heard of brides and wedding planners getting their venue and other top vendors such as the photographer, officiant and florist on a conference call to go over available dates and pick the one that works best for all.

9. How do I get ALL of my vendors to make my new date? Unfortunately, you may not be able to. Everyone wants to make this work for you, but unfortunately one person can’t be in two places at once, so you may run into trouble with an officiant, deejay, photographer or makeup artist who already has a wedding booked on your rescheduled date. They may be able to offer a colleague to take their place or refer you to another professional. We ARE seeing brides who have been able to successfully move their entire vendor list over to their new date. But we’re also seeing brides not be able to keep their dream photographer or makeup artist. Try to have an open mind and realize that this is NOT personal if they are already booked and cannot accommodate your new date.

10. Will I lose my deposits if I postpone my wedding? It is SO important to read contracts right now. We’re seeing many venues and vendors move dates with no penalty to the bride, but you may not get your first choice of date. You may only get an “available date.” We’re hearing of brides taking Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday dates so that they can get married in 2020 AND keep all of their vendors intact. Keep in mind that there are thousands of brides who have already booked your venue and vendors for the prime July, August and September dates, so this is a monumental puzzle for all involved. In cases where your vendor is NOT available on your new date, we’re seeing vendors give deposits back but we’re also seeing vendors who are not able to do this. READ YOUR CONTRACTS. While this may seem cruel or insensitive, this is their legal right if it is stated in their contract. Consult your lawyer about any questions you may have. Every contract is different, so what is happening with other brides may NOT be what your contract states.

11. Now that I’ve changed my date, how do I let my guests know? Direct communication is best in these crazy times. If your wedding was within the next two weeks, call or email your guests as soon as possible to let them know it will be postponed and that new details will follow. Update your wedding website. Call your hotel to change the hotel blocks. Once you have a new date, you can send out a “Change the Date” card. Look at Instagram and Pinterest for free templates to create an inexpensive card that you can have made affordably. Some invitation companies, such as Minted, are either offering new invitations with the new date free of charge or at a greatly reduced rate. Reach out and see if any of these offers apply to you.

12. I’ve postponed my wedding, but my 300-guest affair has now been reduced to an intimate 50-person event. What do I tell my guests who were originally invited to the first event but are not included in my smaller wedding now? Your guests will understand. In these crazy times, they want to remain safe and healthy and will want the best for you as well. A simple message stating that you’re sorry to cancel your wedding but that you’ll be rescheduling for just close family will more than suffice. They will understand. You can send this message either via phone call, email, individual note or via a “change the date” card.

13. I had already received my RSVPs for my wedding next month that I’ve now had to postpone. Who do I send “change the date” cards or new invitations to? You should extend your invitation for your new date to your ENTIRE guest list, not just the ones who had replied YES. Some guests who could make your old date, may not be able to make your new date. And some guests who could not make your old date, may be available for your new date.

14. I had a bridal shower last month and received many guests. My large wedding is no longer going to happen due to a postponement, elopement or smaller event. Do I need to return gifts? No, you don’t need to return the gifts. Send a thank-you note thanking them for the gift, and also explain that in light of what’s going on you no longer will be having the initial wedding that they were originally invited to. You can let them know that you’re still getting married but that it will be a much smaller event with family—or let them know that you have already eloped. You can also offer to return gifts if that makes you feel more comfortable, but your guests will understand. These are crazy times and they will be happy for you.

15. My honeymoon or bachelorette party is scheduled for next month. Will I be able to go? The State Department just issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory, recommending that US residents not leave the country. If you leave, you may not be able to return. We don’t know how long these restrictions will be in place. If you have ANY trips scheduled for the month of April, we highly recommend that you cancel—if your airlines or hotel has not already cancelled on you. Unfortunately, everyone needs to stay in place until we know more. Consult with your travel agent or airlines about cancellations.

16. My wedding isn’t until summer or next fall, and I’m starting to panic. Do I need to worry? We certainly hope not but we don’t know yet. Do not worry about things you can’t control. And until you’re told to reschedule, try as hard as it is to not worry about this.

17. My wedding gown or invites or shoes or bridesmaid dresses have come in but I have not picked them up yet. What should I do? While all retail stores are closed due to Gov. Murphy’s order, we’re hearing about many stores offering to either ship your items to your house (David’s Bridal is doing this free of charge) or providing curbside pickup where you do not enter the store. Call your individual vendor for more information and how they’re handling this.

18. I’m getting so depressed reading about all of this. What should I do? Go for a walk with your fiancé, play games via Zoom with extended family members, have virtual cocktails with your bridesmaids, put social media on hold and try to stop thinking about your wedding, even if it’s just for 24 hours. Take a break and recharge. Remind yourself why you’re getting married in the first place—you found someone whom you deeply love and cherish, with whom you’re going to spend the rest of your life. These trying times, believe it or not, will make your bond stronger. But if the bad news gets too much, remove yourself and practice self-care! You will get through this.

19. My wedding isn’t until 2021 or beyond. Should I still be planning my wedding? YES!! Every day, we’re seeing brides plan their weddings, ask for recommendations, book dates, make deposits and payments, and go about all the details of planning their individual events. While weddings may be impacted in the near future, weddings will go on! And if you have your heart set on a specific vendor, book them now or someone else will. Also keep in mind that SO MANY bridal vendors are small businesses and your deposits right now may be the only income they have for a few months. Supporting small businesses in these trying times applies to the bridal world as well, and by booking future events you will be doing your part for sure!

IF you have more questions, email me at mgregor@newjerseybride.com or join our Private New Jersey Bride Facebook group and I will do my best to get ALL questions answered. This list will be continually added to until everything has been addressed.

HANG IN THERE! YOU WILL GET MARRIED!

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