Keep Calm and Plan On...4 Tips!
Updated: Apr 13, 2020
One thing is certain, you WILL be thrown a curve ball or two while wedding planning. Some are small issues, easily solved. But in the midst of wedding planning, even small solvable issues can affect you in a big way. And then there are the BIG curve balls...the ones you never saw coming and seemingly impossible to predict.
Planning a wedding is often a year long journey…and a lot can happen in a year. Personally, both my husband and I changed jobs during our engagement. Someone in your bridal party can conceive, carry and deliver a baby all within the time you are wedding planning! New world leaders can take office while old ones step down. A lot of things WILL happen in a year and many are beyond your control.
Lately there have been some global health concerns causing a trickle down effect on more industries that you would think. Widespread health scares aren’t super common (thank goodness) but it does bring a lot of issues to the forefront. Travel is obviously affected (and that affects wedding attendance) but also the goods widely used for weddings can be impacted as well. There are so many other national and global events that can affect our every day lives, travel plans and special events. Changes in government leadership, trade regulations and the political climate can all (unfortunately) play a part in your wedding planning process. Not to mention, businesses (including venues) go out of business unexpectedly.
The purpose of this post is NOT to insight panic in any way. The goal is to empower you with knowledge, so you feel less panicked when unforeseen circumstances occur. So, hopefully one of these tips will speak to you and give you some comfort and better yet, an action plan!
1. Source Locally
To immediately address the elephant in the room, our current global crisis is definitely affecting the procurement of goods from overseas. Bridal party attire, wedding dresses, stationary, party favors and even fresh flowers are all commonly sourced outside the United States. Some of these locations are temporarily shutting down to keep their employees safe for which we applaud them for. However, it can severely delay the production of the above items and more.
Sourcing close to home can eliminate the stress of worrying about a world event affecting your planning timeline…and yes, it is okay to be worried about your own plans in addition to the health and safety of others but we will get more into that later.
Search for a local stationary store (yes, they still exist) and see what they offer in the way of invitation suites. This is a great way to support small business foster a connection with a vendor you wouldn’t normally even meet!
If you aren’t already using Etsy, make it your best friend for favors and décor items. Etsy is a global online marketplace where artists and craftsman sell their vintage or handmade goods. Best of all, you can have an online conversation directly with the seller/artist. Their profiles have their geographic location and shipping expectations clearly outlined. Transparency and accessibility are key here and sometimes “local” means 5 states away. I encourage you to get comfortable with the policies of the vendor you are dealing with.
*Note – just because you are using vendors getting their supplies from down the street, doesn’t eliminate risk of unexpected delays. Each business has it’s own model and process that may have risk factors. Which is why it is important to…
2. Ask Questions
Repeat after me, “It is okay to ask a lot of questions”, “It is okay to ask a lot of questions”.
Your wedding is a BIG DEAL. Even if you are totally a #bridechilla, it is perfectly fine to place a lot of importance on your wedding. So, don’t feel embarrassed or selfish to call your bridal salon, florist, venue etc. to ask if everything is under control and running on schedule. As long as you approach the conversation with respect and understanding, no one can fault you for wanting information. Most wedding industry vendors respect the investment you have emotionally and financially.
To build on the point above, it’s okay to ask where the goods you are buying are made or sourced! It’s okay to ask if there are expected delays. It’s okay to ask about local alternatives that may be subject to less red tape. It’s okay to ask your venue (and your vendors) what happens to your event if something unexpected happens. Personally I have terms clearly outlined in my planning agreement as to what happens if I am unable to perform their services for any reason (a substitute planner of equal experience will take over the day of responsibilities in my place). In my first year of business, I was pregnant at most of my weddings, so having a backup plan was essential.
Which brings us to…
3. Have a Plan B (and C) and Plan Ahead
So you’ve asked the questions, now what? Whatever your questions, whatever the answers, your chosen wedding professionals SHOULD offer you some alternative plans. Maybe your florist can guide you toward bouquet alternatives with easily attainable blooms. Maybe your wedding planner can suggest venues that have great contingency plans in place (yes, for weather related occurrences but also for unexpected closures…yikes!). Whatever the situation, your vendors should not leave you high and dry without wondering what to do next. A seasoned wedding industry professional will have respect for your day and will help make it right.
Also, it never hurts to plan ahead and plan early! Keep in mind, this is coming from a PLANNER but yes, I am in favor of planning ahead. This doesn’t mean send your invitations out 2 years in advance, but certainly give a nice cushion to everything. Planners are the timeline masters. We provide our couples not only with a detailed wedding day timeline but ALSO a wedding planning timeline and checklist at the beginning of their journey.
But let’s get specific. In addition to wedding party fashion (including your dress), you should consider ordering items such as favors and décor pieces earlier than expected. When timely delivery from other countries is a concern, catalog items will take longer to fulfill and store shelves won’t be quite as stocked.
4. Protect Yourself
Besides the above listed tips, there are some very practical ways you can guard yourself from unexpected curve balls. *Disclaimer: We are not financial or legal experts but offer the below examples based on previous experience.
Wedding Insurance – Simply put, it is an easy and affordable way (ranges $75.00-$235.00) to recoup some of your money due to well, almost anything unexpected. Good coverage can help reimburse you due to vendor bankruptcy, extreme weather, illness of a host or immediate family member, damage to special attire, stolen gifts and lost deposits to name a few. We like to recommend Markel Insurance but there are many options out there. Actual Claim Example from Markel: A venue went bankrupt 2 weeks before the insured’s event. Total Damaged paid out under Event Cancellation Coverage was just over $27,500.
Pay with Credit Cards – This varies greatly by bank of course but if a vendor or venue ghosts you (shame on them) with no warning and no refund you may have the option to report the purchase as fraud.
Work your Food and Beverage Minimum – This is a completely separate blog in the works BUT there are ways to protect yourself from attendee cancellations with your Catering contract. Basically, contract for a lower attendance than you actually expect, to allow for changes in guest travel plans. There is usually a percentage of adjustment also in the contract, so don’t go so low that you have to renegotiate when you get your final RSVPs. Again, have a very honest conversation with your caterer (or venue if they are providing food) so the agreement works for everyone. Or, ask your planner to take a look, of course! It’s their business, so of course, the initial catering quote will probably be that higher number. If you contract high and end up with less guests, no worries…everyone will get Filet Mignon, Premium Bar and Late Night Bites!
I know no one wants to be “that bride” or a groomzilla...
But as I mentioned before, there is nothing wrong with asking a lot of questions about a large investment you are making. The national average of almost $34,000.00 in the United Sates in 2019 according to The Knot’s 2019 Real Weddings Study. With that kind of cash, you can buy a brand new (nice) car or put a 20% down payment on a starter home!
And believe me, during our engagement, I was the one rolling my eyes when my husband asked our officiant what happens if he gets sick. A little wiser and more experienced now, I can’t imagine NOT asking those questions of your vendors. So, keep your head and get a plan together for these unpredictable times. Make sure you extensively interview your venues and vendors and remember to stay pleasant, understanding and flexible. Your hard work, planning and good attitude will go a long way!