We understand the panic you’re feeling right now and the worry that you have regarding your New Jersey wedding or bridal event these next few months. We know the amount of time, money and emotional energy you’ve devoted to this day. And we also know that there’s a tremendous lack of information out there regarding what’s going on, because no one at this point can accurately predict how long this virus will last. Here, with the help of JoAnn Gregoli from Elegant Occasions in Sparta and New York, we walk through each month and try to give you the best advice, based on the information out there and our expert opinions as to what we’re hearing in the bridal world. Hang in there! And reach out to me directly on Facebook in our Private New Jersey Bride Group or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While many venues are waiting to hear more from the state, we’re seeing most postpone all events up to May 15 and many for the entire month of May. Also keep your guests in mind. “We feel that people will still be too nervous to assemble in large groups in May,” Gregoli advises.
JUNE & JULY:
It’s still too hard to tell how this is going to affect June brides, especially with the ever-changing news. “We are on a wait-and-see approach,” says Gregoli, who has asked her brides to hold off on printing invitations, just in case. We’d advise that you wait until May 15 to make a decision. Some venues will not allow you to postpone your June or July date yet, so there’s not much you can do other than to try to remain patient. If you have concerns, reach out to your individual venue to see what they’re advising.
Proceed with all plans for your August events, and make final decisions in June.
SEPTEMBER THROUGH DECEMBER:
“All systems go so far,” Gregoli says, “but again we are watching carefully.” Since changes happen daily—as far as restrictions and the search for a vaccine goes—it’s impossible to predict just what the fall will bring. Proceed with your plans and let’s hope that everything will be much more manageable. Keep an eye on the news, communicate with your vendors and try to remain patient.
EVENTS IN 2021:
We’re hoping that all 2021 brides are good. “I am optimistic that just like 9/11 and Zika, things will be back on track,” Gregoli says.
IF YOU HAVE TO POSTPONE:
- 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.
- Brides are postponing to later in 2020…and also for dates in 2021. Read your contract and ask your venue when you can postpone. Some are only allowing brides to move to available dates left in 2020…while others are charging 2021 rates for events postponed to next year. This is on a venue-by-venue and case-by-case basis, so consult and confirm with your individual venue. Read and re-read your contracts.
- SERIOUSLY consider taking an available Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday date so that you can get married in 2020 at your venue AND keep all of your vendors intact. Keep in mind that there are thousands of brides who have already booked your venue and vendors for the prime July, August, September and October dates, so this is a monumental puzzle for all involved. It’s not so easy to move a Saturday night wedding in May to a Saturday night in October. This realistically will most likely not be able to happen. By rescheduling to a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, you WILL have the original wedding you planned with ALL vendors left intact. It will just be a different day of the week. Trust me, your guests will come regardless. Once all of the restrictions have been lifted, everyone will be thrilled to come to your event.
- 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. While other brides are in the same boat right now, remember that everyone’s venue and contracts are different, so you can’t go on what other brides are experiencing right now. Contact YOUR venue directly.
- Once you’ve confirmed a date, contact all other vendors to reschedule them as well. As awful as this sounds, you may not be able to reschedule every vendor. 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. And this is highly possible if you pick a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday 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. Also realize that you may lose a deposit if your vendor can’t make the new date and your contract states this. 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.
- Elopements. While all receptions and gatherings in New Jersey have had to be cancelled or postponed until further notice, we are still seeing a number of brides still get married on the beach, in the park or in their home with just their officiant who is most likely a family member. The only way that this will be legal is if you have your wedding license in hand—New Jersey marriage licenses are now good for 90 days after they’ve been issued. If you applied for a license but have not picked it up yet, call your town clerk’s office where you applied. Some offices are closed but some are allowing brides to pick up curbside. This is happening on a case-by-case basis, so the best way to navigate this is to call and inquire at your individual office. Governor Phil Murphy’s May 4 order now makes obtaining a license and getting married much easier since he now allows video-conferencing for both. For more details, click HERE. Once you’re married, you can mail your license back in. If you have NOT applied for a license yet, call your clerk’s office to see the best way to obtain your license, either in person or via video-conferencing. Again, we’re seeing this handled differently by each municipality, so call or email to inquire. Please note: This is only for elopements of less than 10 people who are practicing social distancing. This is not an opportunity to have a party.
- Communicate with your guests. Direct communication is best in these crazy times. 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. You do not need to send out a new invitation, but we have seen certain vendors replace invitations free of charge or at a greatly reduced rate, so be sure to inquire.
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