Wedding Planning 101
Here, we walk through each month and try to give you the best advice on whether you need to postponeRead More
UPDATE JUNE 4: The ban on large gatherings, including weddings, still remains in effect in New Jersey indefinitely, 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 still 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 large gatherings, including weddings, are banned. However, Governor Murphy’s most recent order announced that outdoor gatherings for 25, socially distanced, is now allowed, along with outdoor dining opening up on June 15 and retails stores opening up on June 22, with limitations on the number of customers inside. This is the start of Phase 2 of the reopening of New Jersey.
2. How long is this ban? We don’t know. We have to wait for Governor Murphy to continue with the reopening. We’re waiting on information regarding indoor dining…and then hopefully weddings. We need to wait for him to give the green light.
3. Can I still apply for a marriage license? Yes. Governor Murphy’s ban of gatherings never banned marriages or licenses from being issued. But some clerk’s offices were closed, causing much confusion for brides. To make this process easier, he signed an additional order on May 4 that now allows marriage licenses to be obtained via video-conferencing and also allows marriages to take place via video-conferencing, which will enable your officiant to be in a different location in New Jersey than you are. For more details, click HERE.
4. I applied for my marriage license before “stay at home” orders were instituted. Can I still pick this up? Yes. Call your individual clerk’s office to see the best way to pick up—either curbside or digitally.
5. How long will my license be valid for? Previously, marriage licenses were only valid for 30 days, but this has now been extended to 90 days during the state of emergency due to Covid-19. The license is technically “issued” once you pick it or or receive it. It is not when you submit your application. Your application can be submitted up to six months before your wedding, and this can be extended to one year, if need be.
6. Is there a mandatory waiting time before I can receive my license? Previously you would have had to wait 72 hours between submitting your application and picking up, but this waiting period has been lifted with Governor Murphy’s most recent order.
7. Forget all of this, I’m just going to elope! Can I get married in my house with a relative as my officiant? Yes. And your officiant no longer needs to be present at your house. With Governor Murphy’s most recent order, your officiant can now preside over your ceremony via video conferencing. But remember, you still need to get your marriage license for your ceremony to be legal. For more details, click HERE.
8. Do I need to postpone my wedding? If your wedding is scheduled for June and July 2020, yes, you most likely have already rescheduled due to the governor’s ban on gatherings. We know of many August and September 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. 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. August and September weddings may be fine. But we just don’t know yet.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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 August, September and October 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.
12. I can’t stand this anymore and just want to outright cancel my entire event. Will I lose money? In most cases, if you cancel your event, you will lose your deposit. And depending on how your specific contract is worded, you may even lose additional monies on top of this. This is so specific to individual contracts, so you need to read what you signed and understand exactly what monies you’ll be leaving on the table if you plan to cancel.
13. What happens if my venue can open in July or August, but I can only have 50 guests? We don’t even know if this will happen yet, but if it does, you need to work directly with your venue as far as how you’ll proceed. If you have 300 people on your guest list and have no interest in cutting it down to 50, you will have to postpone to a future date. If you’re fine with just having 50 people, work with your venue regarding how they’ll handle this smaller number.
14. If venues are able to open this summer, how will my venue handle health and safety regulations? You can be sure that ALL venues are considering these possibilities right now so that they’re prepared as soon as their doors reopen. While we don’t know what the regulations will be, we can guess that hand-sanitization stations, masks, temperature reading, spaced-out tables and additional employees to direct guests may be possibilities. Once we know FOR SURE what the state requires, contact with your specific venue regarding how they’ll carry this out and express any of your individual concerns or questions.
15. 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 at a reduced rate. Reach out and see if any of these offers apply to you.
16. I’ve postponed my huge wedding until 2021, but I LOVE my date and still want to get married on it. But I have no idea how to go about this and I’m not sure I want to plan this for my backyard. I’d still love it to look nice and have wonderful pictures of this special day. What are my options? With Governor Murphy’s recent order allowing for gatherings up to 25, socially distanced, many officiants, event planners and venues are offering micro-wedding packages, which offer everything you’d need for a mini wedding: officiant, photographer, flowers, cake, champagne and a beautiful setting. I’m in the process of compiling a list of these sources in New Jersey. Check back in a day or so for details…or email me at email@example.com.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. My honeymoon or bachelorette party was scheduled for this summer. Will we be able to go? Many Caribbean islands are starting to open up again, along with parts of Europe. But places like Hawaii still have mandatory quarantines in place. Check with the US State Department to see if there are still restrictions in place for your intended destination. You don’t want to leave the country, and not be able to return. Unfortunately, we still don’t know how long all restrictions will be in place. Your airlines or hotel may have already even cancelled on you. At this point, we just need to remain patient and see what these coming weeks bring and how soon restrictions lift. I’ve heard of many brides planning domestic trips instead…or that are within a few hours’ drive. Consult with your travel agent or airlines about cancellations. The good news is that Florida and South Carolina are opening back up, so if you don’t mind driving or flying, these will be great destinations for this summer and fall.
21. My wedding isn’t until late 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.
22. 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 until June 15, 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.
23. 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. For more support, click HERE.
24. 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!
25. I have a venue in mind for my future wedding, but haven’t toured it yet. I’m worried that I may lose my date if I wait to tour. What should I do? Reach out to your venue and ask for a virtual tour. Also ask if they’d consider holding your date with a refundable deposit, in case you change your mind once you go for a tour. We know that many venues are being accommodating right now and trying to help brides plan their future weddings any way possible. Good luck!
If you have more questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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!