Your Guide to Wedding Planning During Uncertain Times

How Unforeseen Circumstances Can Affect Your Wedding Finances

A man at a laptop and a woman with a notebook and calculator discuss wedding plans amid covid-19
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Due to the safety concerns and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, wedding planning and budgeting is quite a challenge. However, research from the wedding website The Knot found that 93% of engaged couples in the U.S. aren’t canceling. Instead, they’re postponing their weddings or moving forward. 

To help you make smart financial wedding decisions during COVID-19, consider options like wedding insurance, rescheduling, and safer, more affordable details.

What Does Wedding Insurance Cover?

Wedding insurance covers losses from a variety of unexpected circumstances, such as lost or stolen gifts, replacing a bridal dress or last-minute alterations, or legal fees due to an accident caused by an intoxicated guest. 

However, it typically excludes claims that involve a loss due to a “known circumstance,” such as the coronavirus. 

“Unfortunately, there is no insurance company that covers COVID-related losses for new policies, as we now know they may pop up,” David Berke, founder of eWed Insurance, told The Balance via email. 

Although insurance policies typically cover cancelations and postponements for illness-related reasons, they won’t when COVID-19 is a factor. Only couples who purchased wedding insurance pre-coronavirus might be covered for pandemic-related losses.

Wedding insurance could still be worth the investment to guard against non-coronavirus unknowns.

Rescheduling Your Wedding

The CDC recommends postponing, canceling, or changing guest lists for events, depending on the current state of COVID-19 community spread. You may need to cancel your wedding, change locations, reschedule (or leave it open-ended), or drastically reduce your guest list in consideration of older or at-risk attendees. 

Rescheduling can lead to serendipitous outcomes. For example, wedding planner JoAnn Moore is assisting a couple who cut the guest list from 200 to 50, and planned a smaller summer 2021 wedding celebration in Colorado. 

“Vows will take place in a grove of Aspen trees, while the reception will be under a white canopy with twinkle lights and stars in the skies above them,” Moore told The Balance via email. 

If you must reschedule, contact your vendors right away. Some may offer a partial refund if they’re booked on your new date. Others could charge a postponement fee. Read your contract to learn about cancelations and rescheduling.

Each vendor will dictate what happens to the deposit you paid. If you must change your wedding due to the coronavirus or other factors beyond your control, most vendors will be flexible and allow you to use the deposit toward an open date.

“I would advise couples to use a non-confrontational approach when asking about the deposit,” Berke said. “They should be open to compromises because obviously the pandemic has affected everyone.”

Each credit card company has its own terms for disputing charges. You could dispute charges based on the non-delivery of a product and/or services to receive a refund for whatever you’ve paid. However, time limitations and other factors may determine whether you receive a refund.

Next, contact friends and family who’ve already booked reservations, requested time off work, or otherwise made financial commitments—whether through change-the-date paper cards or digital notices. 

When considering a date change, remember it could be challenging to lock down a different Saturday or Sunday evening due to widespread rescheduling. Less traditional wedding days such as Monday or Thursday are more likely to be available. 

Finally, consider expenses. Since wedding prices often increase every year, you may pay more if you move your big day to 2021 or 2022. 

Planning Your Wedding

If your wedding is still a year or two away, you may wonder how to proceed, as we can’t know how the pandemic will play out. 

Go Virtual

Schedule meetings through Zoom, FaceTime, or another video conferencing platform, and try a virtual tour of a venue. You can also send out digital invites to increase your date flexibility and ease updates.

Ask Questions 

Ask important questions of vendors and venues such as:

  • What refund do we receive if you can’t open or serve us due to coronavirus restrictions?
  • Can we reschedule or postpone our date without penalty? What if we must cancel?
  • How many times can we postpone the date?
  • What guest and staff safety precautions are you taking?
  • What happens if you can’t fulfill your obligations due to staff illness or quarantine?
  • Do you have insurance coverage, and if so, what does it cover?
  • What happens if I must reduce my guest list or expand it?

Document answers and any agreements in writing, so everyone is on the same page.

Research Alternatives

Some wedding plans will work even if COVID-19 is still here in the future. For example, you could enjoy an outdoor or drive-in wedding, multiple ceremonies, or a live-streamed wedding. Or you might have a smaller, social-distanced wedding with reduced rental, food, and beverage costs. 

“Cutting back on the number of guests does not mean you won’t have the wedding of your dreams,” Moore said. 

Plan for worst-case scenarios so you have time to consider possibilities. You may need to change the date, shift venues, cancel vendors, add supplies, or reduce the guest list. For example, you may want to order custom wedding masks for guests or carry out the ceremony, but postpone the larger reception. 

Financial Help for Your Wedding

Weddings can be expensive. Consider these options for a wedding loan if you’re looking for financial assistance: 

  • Personal loans: You can apply for a lump sum of money and repay it over a few months or years via fixed or variable monthly payments. Your credit and lender determine the amount and rate, but personal loan interest rates are usually lower than credit card interest rates
  • Credit cards: Many cards offer low introductory interest rates for a limited amount of time for new cardholders. Try to minimize spending and repay your balance in full to avoid credit card debt, as card interest rates can be very high. 
  • Home equity loans: A homeowner can borrow up to 85% of available equity through a home equity loan (a lump sum) or a home equity line of credit (HELOC). The latter is a credit line that can be drawn upon, much like a credit card.

Not repaying a loan you backed with your house could lead to losing your home. Don’t risk more than you can safely repay, and investigate other options first.

Ways to Save Money on Wedding Costs

Regardless of when your wedding day arrives, it’s possible to save on wedding spending. After all, many venues and vendors are likely to be flexible in terms of services and costs. 

“It’s important to be upfront with your vendors about what you want and the price point you’re looking for. Just make sure you’re reasonable during the negotiation process,” Berke said.

Berke also recommends DIYing where possible instead of hiring professionals, to save money and put a unique spin on wedding details, like centerpieces and other decor. 

You could even save on insurance. Compare quotes from various wedding insurers, and check with your homeowners’ policy, Moore suggested.

The Bottom Line

Wedding planning amid a global pandemic is stressful. However, if you’re optimistic, flexible, creative, and take advantage of advice, your dream wedding will become a reality. 

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