Love In The Time Of Corona: Jax Wedding Planner Shares Tips For Postponing Nuptials
Jacksonville bride Natalie Smith was set to hold her wedding April 15 at the Brick and Beam in Springfield. She had family flying in from Europe for the occasion.
As the news of COVID-19 started to take over headlines, Smith initially thought of making the wedding a smaller event.
With the coronavirus now rapidly spreading across the U.S., Smith came to the realization that her initial wedding date was no longer an option.
“Not only because I didn't want a smaller wedding, but I was just totally paranoid about my family and getting sick,” Smith said. “ I have my grandfather who has a lung disease. I have an autoimmune disease. There’s all these little things, and I, just out of the sake of everybody's health, was just ready to postpone it.”
Now, Smith has had to move her wedding, less than a month before its original date.
“It's definitely heartbreaking,” Smith said. “You're so excited because everybody's coming into town and you have the next few weeks lined up of what you're going to be doing. So yeah, I definitely cried a lot.”
Brittney McColgan, an event manager with The Anti-Bride, a Jacksonville-based wedding planning company, said Smith’s predicament is an issue for many soon-to-be newlyweds.
“State-owned or operated venues like museums, libraries, and historic properties were forced into cancellation, you know, for some people the day before their event or the week before their event,” McColgan said.
Apart from many public venues becoming inaccessible, Jacksonville is not allowing gatherings of more than 50 people for at least eight weeks into May. President Donald Trump is discouraging gatherings of more than 10 people.
“We're looking at the eight-week mandate of the guest count as our primary focus right now through May 15,” McColgan said.
Wedding dates just outside of that May 15 date, such as a couple McColgan has scheduled to be married at the end of May, are in wait-and-see mode.
“That is really scary because it’s just right outside of the timeframe,” McColgan said. “And we kind of feel like we're playing chicken by saying, ‘let's hold out and see what happens.’”
While rescheduling a wedding can take a lot of changes, McColgan said contacting vendors, caterers and venues as soon as possible to check out later possibilities is the best route to take.
Afterwards, she said, send an email to all of the vendors with the latest information received and the possible new wedding date.
“If you have a planner, they're probably already making that move,” McColgan said. “If you don't have a planner, just get in contact. Everyone is very tied to their phones right now. You know, text messages are coming in, emails are coming in and everybody is really big on it, in my opinion in the industry, so just open up that communication and know your options.”
McColgan said she’s noticed couples who are wanting to go through with current wedding dates, or are preparing for smaller weddings by reserving space for just close family and friends.
“What I've experienced is a lot of people saying, ‘okay, it's going to be a really intimate, immediate family. We're looking at more like 10 to 15 people versus kind of trimming down a full guest list,’” McColgan said.
And overall, McColgan said vendors are acting with an understanding of postponing the events in the middle of a pandemic.
“I think a lot of people right now are working and thinking with their hearts versus spitting out the worry that's in all of our brains,” McColgan said. “It's helping, you know, negate that.”
Smith said she was able to work with her event planner and get her wedding moved to August without spending any extra money in postponement fees.
“I don't want to remember my wedding as being something I had to get done in the smallest way possible,” Smith said. “And no, I don't want to get married during a pandemic. I'd much rather you know, celebrate during a happier and easier time.”
Read more from WJCT News: Local, State And National Coronavirus Coverage
Sky Lebron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.