Wedding Planning 101
Here, we walk through each month and try to give you the best advice on whether you need to postponeRead More
The threat of coronavirus has thrown wedding planning into chaos, with some New Jersey brides having to postpone their weddings and others still hoping they won’t have to. But with an indefinite statewide ban on social gatherings, the only constant right now is uncertainty.
“We are all navigating through this difficult time together, says Maria Daidone, general manager of the Estate at Florentine Gardens in River Vale. “We are following the news cycle, following the CDC guidelines, along with the state and local government, which is dictating what we can and cannot do.”
The one thing we can count on is that executives at several New Jersey wedding venues are united in their commitment to throwing you an amazing event, no matter when it ultimately takes place.
“Your wedding is still going to be the wedding of your dreams,” says Bryant Avondoglio, general manager of Perona Farms in Andover. “The same people are going to be there and we’re going to be there to make it happen.”
As the emotional process unfolds, venues are urging couples to be flexible, have patience, find a little creativity and know that the venues are ready to work with you collaboratively.
“Remember, the venue is there to work with you,” Avondoglio says. “Our interests align. We want to do your wedding. We want to be part of this. We all love doing this.”
Daidone wants couples to know that the day of their dreams is still possible. “As we are all in the same situation, we are encouraging couples to stay with their venue, where you have envisioned walking down the aisle and dancing your first dance,” she says. “Know that your venue will do everything possible to accommodate you.”
Some couples who have to postpone are up against an already tightly booked calendar at their venue when they go to choose a new date and are rebooking on a traditionally less popular time, like a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.
In these changing times, though, venue officials say the day of the week doesn’t matter, even if you had your heart set on a Saturday night.
“Weekday weddings have become extremely popular over the years due to having all day access to the building,” adds Daidone. “Couples are able to arrive early to get ready in the suites, enjoy breakfast and mimosas, and utilize the gardens for romantic first-look photos. This is something that isn’t always feasible for weddings on Saturday and Sunday nights. Friends and family are going to be extremely excited to celebrate the day with you, regardless of the day of the week.”
With the pandemic keeping all of us cooped up at home with immediate family, Max Janoff, director of sales and managing partner at Crystal Plaza Group in Livingston, notes that people are looking back at life before the coronavirus and saying they wished they hugged someone tighter or danced a bit longer. When life returns to normal, everyone will be ready to get out and celebrate.
“That’s the silver lining to this,” he says. “We’re going to get your family back together in one room and celebrate as you always wanted to, and it’s going to mean more now. People are going to want to go to a wedding. It does not matter the day of the week.”
“When this is all over, everyone’s going to want to celebrate,” Janoff adds. “That’s what we’re trying to do for them—still put together an event they can be proud of, we can be proud of and more importantly, they can have their guests come to.”
Janoff says when brides call to ask for a Saturday night, it’s often “with a lump in their throat.” “But they say it knowing it’s not realistic, and they go to their next best option,” he says.
He advises couples to look for a new date that works for them and their VIPs, that’s their close family and bridal party, and their vendors. “Flexibility is the key word,” he says.
Jeanne Cretella, president of Landmark Hospitality, which owns 10 event venues such as The Ryland Inn in Whitehouse Station, Liberty House Restaurant in Jersey City and Stone House at Stirling Ridge in Warren, notes that it’s not always possible to move a Saturday night event to another Saturday.
“Clients are moving to weekdays, as there’s more date flexibility and it’s much easier to secure their vendors,” Cretella says. “All in all, our couples are realizing that whether their wedding was moved from one day to another day of the week really has no bearing. Family and friends will look at a rescheduled date, no matter the day it is, as an opportunity to celebrate. Everyone during this extremely unprecedented time should rest assured knowing it’s never, we can’t do an event, it’s just a question of when.”
Avondoglio said Perona Farms has tried to offer each couple the same day of the week as they had booked, a Friday for a Friday, for example. But sometimes a weekday is easier because all of their vendors are available, whereas they might not have been on a popular Friday night. He says a lot of his brides switched to weekdays.
“The most surprising thing was how many people understood that a weekday actually made sense for them,” Avondoglio says. “We’ve had quite a few people take a Monday or a Thursday, or something that’s a little off the beaten path. It allowed them to pick up their exact plan they put together and move it to another day with all the same vendors. That’s been a really nice thing for everybody.”
Brides seem to be accepting of their new dates, and are relieved when they get their new date.
“I think people realize that it’s going to be a different world after this. People are going to look for something to celebrate.” Avondoglio says. “They’re going to be excited about going to a wedding, and if it’s on a Monday, they’re going to be happy to be there.”
In addition to being flexible, Avondoglio says couples should think creatively as to how they could make a Monday night wedding fun and different. Perona Farms is working on that, too, he says.
While Crystal Plaza has postponed all weddings through May 31 and Perona Farms through May 10 and they have rebooked most of those events through the few first months of 2021, the next challenge will be figuring out plans for the couples whose dates come after that.
“As hard as it is to, hold tight,” Janoff says. “I think it’s really important for June and July clients to hold tight and see if this virus will calm down.”
Janoff says he’s grateful for industry colleagues who are all in the same boat. He said many venues are pretty close to offering the same policies.
“We’ve had a lot of great phone calls with a lot of venues in the area to try to make sure we’re all on the same page and make sure we’re backing each other up,” he says.
Cretella adds: “I know I speak for all caterers throughout the state, we are dedicated and honored to be able to help people plan the most important day in their life. We’re committed to making lasting memories and giving our guests a sense of security in knowing that they’re dealing with companies who will deliver what they promise.”
“We encourage all couples, even newly engaged couples to continue planning your wedding” Daidone says. “We are fortunate to be living in a world full of technology—venues and vendors are available by phone, e-mail and virtual appointments. Speaking with wedding professionals and following Instagram for inspiration will keep your spirits up and before you know it, your wedding day will be here!”
“We continue to have faith that better days are on the horizon and we are looking forward to hosting beautiful weddings in the near future!” she adds.