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COVID-19 UPDATE: Coronavirus and Your NJ Wedding

Posted on March 12 by Molly Gregor

UPDATED ON MARCH 22, 2020: As fears of coronavirus continue to spread throughout the state and precautions and bans are being enacted on almost an hourly basis, there are updates that brides must be aware of, especially since Governor Phil Murphy has now banned all weddings in the state of New Jersey.

HERE’S WHAT WE RECOMMEND IF YOU HAVE A WEDDING OR EVENT WITHIN THE NEXT 60 DAYS:

  • If your wedding is within the next month: Since we don’t know how long the ban will last, if your wedding was schedule for April, you will need to postpone. Call your venue and vendors now. They’re professionals and will be able to walk you through the precautions they’re taking, and they will calm your nerves. Find out what dates they have available. We’re hearing from a lot of brides that many Friday and Saturday nights for 2020 are all booked, so if there’s a date that sounds good to you, grab it before another bride does.
  • If your wedding is six to eight weeks away: These next two weeks are crucial in terms of “flattening the curve,” so I’d wait until April 1 to make a decision to postpone—and see what the CDC is recommending, but we know of many May brides and even those with weddings in June postponing their events. You need to do what you’re comfortable with—and what your venue suggests. Only you know where your guests are coming from and what they’d be comfortable with. If you have a lot of elderly relatives, postponing may make sense. Or at least understand that they may cancel. Talk to your venue NOW about what they’d recommend and what precautions they’re taking. Talk to them about guest counts and any concerns about not meeting your minimums. They will be able to guide you in your decision—they’re professionals and will help you with all of this.
  • If you need to postpone or cancel: Alert your guests as soon as you can, asking family members and bridal party members to help spread the word. Divide and conquer your guest list as soon as you’ve made a decision so that no one is left in the dark. If you are postponing, you do not need to worry about the new date yet. Simply stating that the upcoming event has been postponed and that additional info will be forthcoming. After you’ve taken a breath or two, we’ve seen many brides sending out “Change the Date” cards with details of the new date. Also update your wedding website and change your hotel block reservations. For more on postponing your wedding, click HERE.
  • If you are NOT postponing your event in the next 6 to 8 weeks: You may be receiving a lot of calls inquiring about whether the wedding is on or off. You may want to head off all of these calls and send messages to all of your guests that your event is still ON. Direct communication during these confusing times helps calms everyone’s nerves. Ask your venue about what their precautions they’re taking (such as having standing Purell stations in the lobby and ballroom) and communicate that information to your guests. Also expect to have last-minute cancellations, as guests may not want to fly or feel comfortable in larger groups, even if it’s not for another six to eight weeks.
  • If you were all set to send out your invitations for an event 8 to 12 weeks from now: You’ve spent a lot of money and time designing and preparing these invitations, only to have Covid-19 throw an enormous wrench into your plans. While we’re suggesting that you wait until April 1 to make any decisions regarding a postponement, if you ARE going through with your event, your invites need to go out now. So, what to do? We’re seeing brides going ahead and mailing out their invitations, and some are even including a simple insert that says something along the lines of: “We’re hoping to still be able to tie the knot but are keeping a daily watch on the state of Covid-19. Your health and safety are our greatest concern, so if our event needs to be postponed, we will let you know.” Feel free to personalize that any way you’d like!
  • If your bachelorette party/shower/engagement party is within the next 8 weeks: You most likely need to postpone.  Airlines, hotels and venues are all being more than accommodating with postponing to a future date.
  • If you have international guests invited to your wedding within the next 30 days: Under President Trump’s ban of international visitors from 26 European countries, they will not be able to enter the country for the next 30 days.
  • If you’re hoping to buy wedding insurance, you’re probably out of luck since most wedding insurance companies have stopped issuing policies to new customers in the wake of the outbreak. They’re waiting to assess the situation and their risks. If you’re a current customer, your policy will remain in place, but contact your provider to see if you’re covered for any cancellations due to coronavirus.
  • If you’re concerned about your honeymoon plans within the next 6-8 weeks, you will most likely need to postpone. Worldwide travel has already been pretty much shut down and there are rumors of an impending domestic shut-down as well. Most airlines and major hotel chains are relaxing their cancellation policies and waiving change fees, but recouping all costs associated with the fear of traveling due to coronavirus is not guaranteed. For a great list of airlines’ coronavirus change and cancellation policies, click HERE.  The ONE bit of good news is that ALL airline travel is drastically reduced right now, so if you want to risk buying flights for June and onward, you’ll be able to get amazing deals.
  • If you have a compromised immune system, you should not be flying for your destination wedding, honeymoon or bachelorette party in the foreseeable future. Do not travel until you consult with your doctor.
  • If your wedding is this summer or next year, read below. We are still recommending that brides order their gowns or bridesmaid dresses well in advance of the normal order times, in addition to changing certain travel plans.

OTHER WAYS COVID-19 MAY IMPACT YOUR WEDDING:

  • Your wedding gown, veils and accessories: Eighty percent (yes, you read that right!) of the world’s wedding gowns are produced in Suzhou, China, and here’s why this is a problem. Not only are the factories that are creating these wedding gowns being temporarily closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, but the factories that produce silk, chiffon, lace and satin for designers elsewhere in the world are also facing temporary closures and delays, which means that these fabrics are not readily available. China is also responsible for the intricate handiwork and beading on many wedding gowns and accessories, so Chinese seamsters and seamstresses not being able to come to work have far-reaching implications. Veils, belts, laces and other accessories may also be delayed. While some designers and manufacturers are currently reporting a one-month delay, the longer the outbreak and factory shutdowns continue, the greater the problem becomes. Inventories of both gowns and fabrics will significantly drop, transportation to deliver the gowns will continue to be delayed and there literally could become a shortage of wedding gowns worldwide.
  • David’s Bridal brides: James Marcum, CEO of David’s Bridal, told CNN Business that “We have spent a lot of time monitoring the situation in China and I believe a lot of disruption is going to happen. It’s not only with bridal gowns but there’s the bridesmaid side of things, too.” The good news for David’s Bridal customers is that, according to Marcum, all of their factories in China are currently open, with only half of the brand’s wedding gowns being produced in China. David’s Bridal also produces its gowns in Sri Lanka, Burma and Vietnam. Marcum said David’s Bridal currently has enough inventory set aside in its warehouses and in its 300 stores nationwide. Marcum even went so far on Monday of this week to guarantee all David’s Bridal customers that their dresses will arrive in time: “We know how stressful a delayed order can be to a bride, so I’m here to unequivocally say that every customer will have the dress of her dreams in time, before her event date,” Marcum said.
  • Bridesmaids gowns: Yup, they’re produced in China as well. But since they don’t take as long to produce as wedding gowns, the delays may not be as long. Bridal and special-occasion dress company Azazie told us that their production times have only been slightly delayed to nine weeks (versus the standard six weeks), whereas their competitors are seeing delays up until August 2020. This is because Azazie keeps sufficient stock of their fabrics and also works with vendors in Vietnam that have not been impacted by the virus.
  • Hair extensions: China is the biggest exporter of human hair, so chances are that the gorgeous hair extensions you’re interested in buying for your wedding are made in China as well—yes, even the blonde ones! There are likely to be delays or increases in prices as the supply decreases worldwide.
  • Your wedding guests: If you have a lot of out-of-town guests who will be flying to your wedding, they may not feel comfortable in airports or on airplanes. Expect some cancellations, especially from elderly guests or those with compromised immune systems. As for international guests, they are banned from 28 European countries for the next 30 days.
  • No-travel zones: Almost all international travel has been shut-down at this point for the next 30 days. Before making any plans, consult with the CDC’s no-travel zones.
  • Honeymoon plans: If they’re happening in the next 30 days, you will need to postpone. Be sure to consult with your airlines or travel agent to see if your flights are being canceled or rerouted. Most airlines and major hotel chains are relaxing their cancellation policies and waiving change fees, but recouping all costs associated with the fear of traveling due to coronavirus is not guaranteed. For a great list of airlines coronavirus change and cancellation policies, click HERE.
  • Travel insurance: A standard trip-cancellation policy is unlikely to cover cancellations due to the fear of coronavirus. According to travelinsurance.com, “In the case of the coronavirus, the only type of coverage that will allow you to cancel your trip and be reimbursed is an optional Cancel For Any Reason upgrade, since it is a known event and excluded by standard travel insurance.” For more information about insurance that will provide coverage for the coronavirus outbreak, click here.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Reach out to your wedding planner, even if your wedding is not taking place in the next four weeks. They are professionals and want to help you. They will let you know the precautions your venue is taking and will help you set your mind at ease.
  • If you have already ordered your wedding gown, contact your wedding-gown salon to find out if the production of your wedding gown has any connection to China and whether there are any delays anticipated. It is not the wedding-gown salon’s fault—nor do they have any control—but they should have information from their vendors and gown designers as to whether delays may be expected. There’s not much you can do if your gown is delayed, but at least having the correct information is better than worrying if it’s not necessary.
  • If you have NOT ordered your wedding gown yet, give yourself more time to factor in these fabric and gown-production delays. This means that if you were planning to look for your gown nine months before your wedding, you should start looking 12 months before just to be safe. Also ask WHERE your gown is being produced so that you’re aware if delays may be an issue. And remember, it’s not just where your gown is being produced; it’s where the fabric to make your gown is coming from. If you don’t have a 12-month cushion, consider buying off the rack or from such designers as BHLDN.
  • The same applies for bridesmaid gowns: If you’ve already ordered, call to find out if your dresses are being produced in China and if there is an expected delivery date. If you’re shopping right now, ask WHERE the gowns are coming from. You may want to choose a designer or style that is not made in China. If you are worried about time, there are great off-the rack and online options.
  • Put your honeymoon plans on hold for the next 30 days—and after that, be sure to consult the CDC’s no-travel zone to see if flights have resumed to these countries. There are fabulous destinations in the Caribbean and the United States that may be a safer choice right now. For ideas, click here.  The bright side from all of this is that with airlines canceling more than 200,000 flights worldwide, jet-fuel prices are down sharply to more than two-year lows. This may result in less-expensive plane ticket costs in the near future, making your honeymoon more affordable than you had initially planned for.
  • Purchase travel insurance for your honeymoon with the Cancel For Any Reason upgrade. This is the only type that will provide coverage for cancellations due to the coronavirus. For more information about this insurance, click here.

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