Tania also answered other questions that were raised during the webinar and which are still applicable given the current restrictions.
EW brought you some of the more frequently asked legal questions around contracts as well as some other advice specific to Australia’s response to COVID-19.
Please note: the information in this article is not, and should not be considered to be, legal advice. The material has been produced with the help of Cross the T and is intended to provide general information in summary form only. The contents do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular matters or matters where you have further questions.
DOES A BUSINESS NEED TO REFUND DEPOSITS IF A COUPLE CANCELS RATHER THAN POSTPONES?
There are three basic scenarios in which refunds may arise:
- CLIENT DISCRETION
- SUPPLIER DISCRETION
- THIRD-PARTY DISCRETION
These are going to be dependent on what is already in the contract terms and conditions and may change depending on the circumstances of the cancellation. Make sure that these terms are clear and easy to understand in the contract.
If a couple has a silent contract or verbal agreement that is less clear or hasn’t gone in to return or payment obligations, then they may have some broader rights depending on why they are asking for the refund.
Client discretion comes down to if a couple is changing their mind and decides not to go ahead. Third-party discretion comes into whether the wedding or event needs to be postponed due to something like government directives or an act of Government. If a contract says that a deposit is non-refundable for any reason, then the business is not legally required to refund for change of mind or act of Government.
If the event is being cancelled because a business cannot provide its services or supplier discretion, then consumer law will likely step in and say that the business needs to return funds to their client, provide a refund, or provide replacement services depending on what is required. This could come into play if a person or business is ill, self-isolating etc. If a business cannot perform its services and has to cancel, then it is unlawful to retain the deposit.
Australian Consumer Law will override supplier discretion and essentially state that everyone who is providing goods or services to a client, or a couple, needs to give their warranties and guarantees around the provision of service if you are unsure about what to do in a particular circumstance we recommend contacting public consumer law authorities or reaching out for further legal advice.
WHAT IF A COUPLE CHOOSES TO POSTPONE, BUT THE BUSINESS CAN’T SERVICE THAT DATE?
Look at your terms and conditions to see whether they cover postponement. If these have a postponement clause, then it will likely be possible to go back and forth according to your contact and agree upon a new date.
If your contract doesn’t discuss postponements, then it goes back into a commercial agreement, and it will be up to the business to discuss this with the customer.
If a business has taken all the steps that it reasonably can do to try and accommodate a postponement (e.g. offering new dates, vouchers for other services etc.) and is still unable to agree on a new date with the couple, then it is unlikely that it will be held liable for withholding the contract funds, notwithstanding if it has a contract that allows it to do so.
COULD A BUSINESS BE LIABLE TO REFUND MORE THAN THE CONTRACT PRICE IF IT IS UNABLE TO DELIVER ON A SERVICE AND A CUSTOMER THEN HAS TO INCUR ADDITIONAL CHARGES TO HIRE SOMEONE ELSE?
Under the Australian Consumer Law, when consumers buy products or services, they come with automatic guarantees that cannot be excluded by contract. One of the guarantees that applies to contracts for services is that the services must be delivered as and when contracted or otherwise within a reasonable time when there is no agreed end date.
To the extent that a business cannot meet a consumer guarantee in relation to services, remedies available to your customer include cancelling the service and, in some cases, providing compensation for damages and loss.
Where your customer elects to cancel the service as a result of the supplier stating that they will not be able to provide the services, the supplier should give any refunds in the same form as the original payment. It is also open to customers to ask for compensation for damages or loss.
The type and quantity of compensation that the supplier may be obliged to pay the customer will depend on the particular circumstances, with the general rule being that the compensation should put the customer in the position that they would have been had the supplier performed their services.
If a customer approaches a supplier with a claim for compensation, it is reasonable to request the customer to show proof of the damage/loss which they suffered prior to agreeing to pay such compensation (this may be an invoice from the replacement service provider).
IF A COUPLE SAYS THEY CAN’T GO AHEAD WITH THEIR EVENT AS A RESULT OF COVID-19, IS THIS CONSIDERED A “CHANGE OF MIND”? IS IT IMMORAL TO ONLY OFFER PROVISIONS FOR POSTPONEMENT?
If a client elects to cancel their event or service due to concerns about COVID-19, but in circumstances where that event or service is not otherwise prohibited by law, this may be treated as a “change of mind” under the Australian Consumer Law.
In those circumstances, the terms of the contract between the supplier and the client will govern the rights of the parties and the remedies available.
However, in light of the exceptional circumstances, the ACCC has been very clear in encouraging all businesses to treat consumers fairly. This may include the provision of refunds, vouchers or other goodwill gestures.
WHEN A DEPOSIT IS RETURNED, HOW MUCH OF THAT DEPOSIT CAN BE RETAINED? WHEN A DEPOSIT IS RETURNED, HOW MUCH OF THAT DEPOSIT CAN BE RETAINED? (IE: ADMINISTRATIVE FEE, BOOKING FEE, INGREDIENTS ETC.)
This will again depend on the circumstances of the cancellation, what already exists in the terms and conditions, and the type of business.
The percentage of a deposit that a business can retain as an administrative fee will depend on the circumstances and is a reflection of the cost incurred by the business for returning the fee or recouping costs that have already been spent in anticipation of the event.
If a wedding is in the near future and the business has already spent considerable amounts for that specific event, then it is reasonable to retain amounts that cover these costs.
If a couple is cancelling or postponing an event that is further into the future, then the business is likely not to have expended as much, and the administration or break fee will be a lot smaller.
WHAT WORDING CAN A BUSINESS USE MOVING FORWARD TO PROTECT THE DEPOSITS RECEIVED AS NON-REFUNDABLE?
This question actually comes more into good contract management than specific events relating to COVID-19, but it is good to know anyway.
What is vital in all terms and conditions and contracts is clarity. You need to be very clear about what the business’ rights are and the rights of the customer. As long as these are clear and the customer has signed an agreement and signed to your terms, you should be protected.
A business should be very clear about the terms under which they can retain the deposit, being X, Y and Z etc. If the customer agrees to these terms, this should protect the relevant deposits as non-refundable.
However, understand that based on consumer law, a contract can’t do anything illegal. For example, it cannot say that a customer will not receive a refund “under any circumstances”, because under consumer law if the cancellation is the business’ choice, then the customer will be entitled to a refund.
There is also a legal concept against penalties. A business is not allowed to have anything in their contract that essentially penalises the counterparty if they break that contract. For example, a business may be able to retain a deposit but charging an additional fee for ‘the hassle’ would be considered a penalty and is against the law.
WHEN DOES THE ‘FORCE MAJEURE’ TERM IN A CONTRACT APPLY?
WHAT IMPACT DOES THIS HAVE ON OUR CURRENT SITUATION?
There are a number of contractual mechanisms that can be introduced into contracts to address future disruptions such as those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
One such mechanism that is gaining a lot of focus at the moment is that of ‘force majeure’. Force majeure is a feature of contract law which means that the concept must be specifically drafted into a contract. The law will not otherwise imply its application like other legal concepts.
Force majeure provisions generally provide relief from the consequences of non-performance, or delayed performance, in specific circumstances. Typically, a force majeure provision will relieve an affected party:
- that is prevented or delayed from performing its contractual obligations;
- due to an event or circumstance what is not within the reasonable control of the affected party;
- where the affected party is not reasonably able to prevent or overcome the event or circumstance by the exercise of due diligence.
A supplier’s ability to rely on a force majeure provision depends on the terms of the relevant contract. Businesses should, therefore, consider either:
- including a broadly drafted definition of force majeure which applies to all events that are beyond a party’s reasonable control, cannot be prevented or overcome by the exercise of due diligence and actually cause a delay in or failure or inability to comply with contractual obligations; or
- include a more limited definition of force majeure which addresses: epidemics, quarantine, acts of God, the exercise of governmental powers (including advice and guidelines provided by governments).
It should be remembered that relief is typically only available for the duration of the actual delay arising out of the force majeure event, with termination rights then only be able to be invoked where the affected party is prevented from performing their contractual obligations due to a force majeure event subsisting for an ‘extended’ period of time (which can be set out in the contract or which will otherwise be dependent on the circumstances relevant to the contract).
Aside from the inclusion of drafting relevant to force majeure and the resulting suspension of services, all contracts should clearly set out:
- cancellation and postponement rights;
- client discretion;
- supplier discretion;
- third-party directed / force majeure.
- how deposits and pre-payments will be treated in the case of cancellation and postponement (remembering that it is unlawful to include ‘unfair terms’ which are terms that are over and above what you need to protect your interests).
- The supplier’s right to appoint a third-party supplier of equivalent standard to supply the product/service should the original supplier be unable to provide the services due to illness etc.
The agreement that suppliers have in place with customers becomes proof of what was agreed and helps prevent ambiguity or misunderstanding. It can also stop either party forgetting or changing the terms of the agreement later. All terms regarding fees, deposits or cancellation charges should be disclosed clearly to your customers at the time of entering the agreement. Failure to do so could be considered to be contrary to the Australian Consumer Law for being unfair, due to a lack of transparency.
HOW SHOULD BUSINESSES HAVE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS WITH COUPLES ABOUT THEIR CONTRACTS?
Businesses should always try to keep communication with couples as open and free-flowing as possible. Be honest and transparent. While businesses are being impacted, couples are also suffering from restrictions being placed on one of the most important days of their life.
Businesses should endeavour to come at conversations with care and compassion and be honest. They could sit down and say “this is where we’re at, and this is what we’re willing to do to assist you going forward.” That could include a postponement, providing a voucher if suitable, trying to be flexible or being responsive to the customer’s needs.
IS TRANSPORT INCLUDED OR EXCLUDED IN SOCIAL DISTANCING? IF A COUPLE WANTS TO GO AHEAD AND HAVE 6 PASSENGERS IN A CAR, THEY OBVIOUSLY CAN’T SIT 1.5 METRES APART. IS IT THEN ACCEPTABLE TO PROCEED WITH TRANSPORTING THEM?
Each of the Australian and State/Territory Governments has implemented further limits on public gatherings in response to COVID-19, and this may change depending on where you are located. Bear in mind that this may change, so keep up-to-date with current regulations to see whether this advice is still valid.
General advice regarding social distancing from a private hire and/or commercial vehicle perspective is available from sources such as Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria.
To prevent transmission of the virus, the Government’s official advice is to maintain a 1.5-metre distance from other people and to avoid physical contact (other than people from within your household). The Government has now also implemented restrictions on gatherings of more than 2 people (except members from the one household).
Naturally, it is impossible for this social distancing to be observed within cars and therefore, the following measures should be observed if you cannot avoid having another person in your car:
- where possible, passengers should sit in the back seat.
- Drivers should set the air-conditioning to external airflow instead of recirculation.
- Make hand sanitiser available for passengers where possible.
- Drivers to wash their own hands thoroughly with soap and water or hand sanitiser regularly.
- If the driver is feeling unwell, they should cease providing private hire / commercial passenger vehicle services.
- Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces in the vehicle in which the driver and passengers touch.
Please note that this webinar was held at 11 am on March 20 and government regulations or advice may have changed since this advice was issued. Please make sure you stay on top of the most up-to-date legislation or recommendations and seek further legal advice if required.
If you would like further information about the questions and answers covered by Tania you can watch the 👉 full webinar here.
You can find the questions asked and see Tania’s answers, eg.:
- Will I need to refund deposits?
- What wording can I use moving forward to protect the deposits I receive as non-refundable?
- Is it preferable not to call it a deposit, but rather a reservation fee?
- Is there any other contract wording required to protect against such unforeseen circumstances?
- When a deposit is returned, how much of that deposit can be retained? For example, an administrative fee.
- Can you explain a bit more about what classifies as an indoor or outdoor wedding? Does this include or exclude marquees?
- Who could be held responsible for social distancing? Do celebrants need to say something legally to conduct a wedding? Is it something that suppliers are responsible for and could be penalised for? For example, a celebrant standing too close, a hair or makeup artist not distancing etc.
- With regards to social distancing, what about table setup? Is a venue obligated to set tables up 1.5 metres from one another?
- With regards to refunds particularly for cake makers, caterers etc. If a client wants to cancel and get a refund, what are your rights if you’ve already purchased things such as ingredients etc.
- How can you deal with couples who potentially might defame you online with a bad review, after not providing a refund, if they haven’t taken the option to postpone? Particularly if people had cancelled or postponed their wedding before restrictions were put in place.
- If you have already postponed or offered lots of different options, can you still retain the payment or deposit if a couple still chooses to cancel?
- To the last question – what if a couple does choose to postpone, but you don’t have that date available?
- With regards to contract agreements, does this need to be a signed contract or does it have to have a comment just saying someone agrees?
- Tables may need to be 1.5 metres apart, but what about having guests on that table? Do they need to be distanced as well or can a venue be held responsible?
- If you have knowledge of someone who is self-isolating, or should be self-isolating (for instance after overseas travel), do you have a legal obligation if you’re already aware of that and they attend the wedding?
- How can you actually talk to couples about their existing contracts and have those difficult conversations?
- Business insurance, what does our business insurance cover us for and does that include non-delivery of service due to illness or quarantine?
- Where do venues stand with regards to asking for rent relief from landlords?
- Is cancelling your own services based on personal worry enough grounds for keeping the payment or having to return payment?
- With regards to that, would you then be liable to refunds more than the contract price if you can’t deliver on a service due to illness or quarantine, and a customer then has to incur additional charges to hire someone else?
- With regards to payments and postponements again, are there different legislations if someone is postponing for 2 months out, 6 months out or 12 months out? Are there different ways you can keep deposits or payments? Or is it fair to ask for that payment at the original payment date?
- If you do have a client who is getting married in a few months times, where do businesses stand with payments and refunds, given that the date is quite far already if they then choose to postpone further or postpone a second time?
- If someone has paid an interim payment, X amount of time before their wedding, and then postpones for another 12 to 18 months, is there a requirement to return that interim payment?
- If a client cancels their booking for any reason and the Ts and Cs state the deposit is non-refundable if they want to postpone and you can’t provide the service, do you still need to refund the full deposit?
- Are there any restrictions on what is allowed for a percentage deposit to secure a date? Or restrictions on taking a majority payment to secure a deposit?
- Should I stop taking orders while all of this is happening?
The Federal Government has suggested that restrictions around public gatherings due to COVID-19 may last up to six months. As a result, many couples are not only postponing weddings for upcoming months such as April and May, but also into the winter months of June, July and August.
As a wedding supplier, it can be hard keeping on top of the needs of all our couples and how we can postpone weddings while still maintaining our bottom line. Of course, the message is simple: Postpone, don’t cancel. At the end of the day, a wedding later in 2020 or into 2021 is going to be better for both parties than no wedding at all.
On April 3, 2020, we ran a webinar with leading wedding industry expert, author, business consultant, and educator Alan Berg, who has been in the industry for over 25 years (in case you missed the webinar, you can view it anytime via the link our latest supplier email). He’s experienced recessions, downturns, and other tough times, and here he shares his advice on how to postpone a wedding for a couple during COVID-19.
REACH OUT PROACTIVELY
We understand that couples are going through the same uncertainty and emotions as businesses are at the moment. So, it’s important for businesses to reach out to let them know that they’re thinking about them.
To make this process simple, we suggest reaching out to couples by the immediacy of their wedding date.
For venues, Alan suggests steering the conversation rather than waiting on the couple to reach out. He recommends starting the conversation with something like this:
“LET’S GET YOU RESCHEDULED SO YOU CAN HAVE SOME CERTAINTY ABOUT WHAT TO CHANGE YOUR PLANNING TO. WE HAVE QUITE A FEW COUPLES WHO ARE ALSO IN THE SAME SITUATION AS YOU, AND OUR CALENDAR IS FILLING QUICKLY WITH THEIR REQUESTS. LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT THE CALENDAR AND LOCK YOUR DATE IN WHILE WE CAN.”
Other vendors should also reach out to couples to discuss the potential of new dates or find out about their plans.
Alan says the worst thing a business can do is wait for someone to tell them what’s happening and risk both parties missing out. The best thing to do is to strengthen the relationship with existing couples through strong leadership and empathetic communication.
HELP COUPLES SET A NEW DATE
When a business knows that a couple is going to postpone, it’s important to lock in a new date. That date shouldn’t just be something that is convenient to the couple, but that also fits in with the business’ bottom line. Venues will likely be the first contact a couple reaches out to, so it’s up to businesses to lock in a date that matches their interests and the industry.
Alan recommends not giving up the most popular wedding dates for 2021 as these are limited and in high demand. Plus, we know that most of those dates may already be taken up anyway.
It’s about talking to couples and discussing what their options are to rebook the venue.
Consider this: when looking at wedding photos, no one has ever asked: “what day of the week was that?”. Guests will have as much fun on the dancefloor, food will taste just as good, and the pictures will look the same on a Thursday as on a Saturday.
Reassure your clients that their guests will understand if they do need to pick a less popular day of the week. Normally, guests might ask why a couple has chosen a weekday wedding. But if their wedding is postponed, guests will more than likely thank the couple for still including them in their big day.
For other vendors who might be a bit later in the planning stage, this is where reaching out proactively is essential. It may be possible to ask a couple what dates they are looking at. If they’re unsure, it may be an opportunity for a business to suggest available dates.
Some couples might have already postponed their weddings to a period that is still unknown, such as September. For couples in this situation, Alan recommends discussing an additional Plan B date with them. This should again be a less popular date, so you’re not setting aside two popular dates for the one couple.
ENCOURAGE COUPLES TO MOVE THEIR ENTIRE TEAM
If a couple chooses a popular date in the wedding calendar, the chances are that some, if not most, of their suppliers will already be booked out. Couples have spent a significant amount of time choosing their vendors and putting together their perfect wedding. The emotional toll of postponing that wedding is going to be compounded if they can’t have all those amazing suppliers they already had their heart set on.
Venues, this is again where it lies to you to encourage couples to postpone to less popular dates. A couple has a much higher chance of moving their entire wedding team if they choose a less popular Thursday over a Saturday.
The reality is that a couple postponing to a weekday wedding could have a smaller headcount of guests. This may mean they spend a bit less on costs such as catering or venue charges per head or weekday rates may come into play. But at the end of the day, a smaller wedding is still better than no wedding at all.
OFFER ADDITIONAL VALUE
To encourage a couple to postpone to the date that you want them to, you may need to offer some incentives to that postponement. But, Alan says, now is not the time to be discounting. Every dollar you discount without taking something away from your service is money that you are giving away.
Offer your couples additional value instead. The additional value doesn’t have the same dollar-to-dollar impact that discounts have. But it is a great way to incentivise couples into locking in that new date.
Additional value could include offering an additional service such as personalised vows, or extra products such as monograms or decor features. Think outside the box to see what you can offer for your business. If you’re unsure, industry groups and networks such as the exclusive Weddings industry Facebook group could help with ideas.
AVOID LOSING YOUR CLIENT OVER AVAILABILITY
Alan suggests reaching out to couples who might be postponing to find out what their plans are. If you don’t and they pick a date you’re not available, you risk losing that client.
You can avoid that sticky situation by reaching out to your couples to offer suggestions and see what their plans are. If you can’t get onto the couple but know their venue, we suggest reaching out to that venue to see whether they’ve locked in a new date.
You should already have a relationship with couples who have booked your services, so use that relationship to connect. Encourage them to look at different days of the week. Let them know that you’re happy to put a Plan B date aside. Make suggestions of when you are available if they are having trouble setting a new date.
As Alan says, people do business with other people. Let them know that you are thinking of them and that you are here to help.
Depending on how well you know them, you can even touch base with them without an ask just to see how they are going. If you know your couple well, consider sending them a gift for what would have been their original wedding date. Remind them of how amazing their wedding will be when the time does come.
Couples will remember how you treated them throughout all of this, so consider how you want to be remembered.
REVISE CONTRACTS AND DISCUSS FINANCES
Once a couple has locked in a new date, it’s time to look at the logistics. The first thing Alan suggests doing is to amend your original contract or agreement. It isn’t just the date that has changed but timeframes for service, delivery and payments. Secondly, you may need to update the materials that need to be changed due to the new date.
You can also consider asking for an additional deposit. It may seem like walking on eggshells asking for more money in a situation that is out of everyone’s hands, but remember Alan’s favourite advice:
IF YOU DON’T ASK, THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS NO.
This will come down to how you communicate and the relationship you have with a couple. You don’t want to sound like you’re in trouble. It also depends on how soon the wedding would have been. If a couple who were going to get married in April or May postpones, they would have been paying the full amount over the next month or so anyway.
Ask them whether they’d be willing to put an extra deposit down or discussing a payment plan ahead of the day. This won’t impact the total amount they pay at the end of the day, but it could help your business during this quiet period.
The worse they can say is they can’t afford it now, and you continue with your original plans. Or they could agree, and you have a little extra cash to tide you over.
People latch onto positive messaging and run away from negativity. Alan says to be positive about the day to come in all your communications with couples.
We’d also like to add: Don’t be afraid that a couple will cancel their wedding entirely. Less than 5% of all couples are cancelling weddings completely, with most postponing weddings to late 2020 or into 2021. Some couples are even going ahead with restricted weddings (max 5-people) and will then celebrate their reception later.
Rather than being a victim to your couples, be a positive guiding light for them. Provide advice. Make suggestions. Be proactive. Your couples will thank you for it, and your relationship will remain strong because of it.
As Alan says, the wedding industry is a recession-resistant industry. Couples might not be getting married now, but they still want to have their wedding in the future. 2021 is set to be a big year for weddings all around the world. And that’s something we can all be positive about.
COVID-19 has devastated the events industry. As I talk to other event professionals, I hear statements like, “when this is all over, people will throw parties bigger than ever before” and, “we’re going to be working Thursday through Sunday this fall to cover all the rescheduled weddings.”
While I applaud the optimism, I think we’re woefully unprepared for what lies ahead. The sinister reality is that many of us risk going out of business if we don’t make drastic changes effective immediately.
There are three elements you must understand when developing a business continuity plan to get through the current crisis:
- Timeline for recovery
- Financial runway
- Strategic changes
UNDERSTANDING THE TIMELINE
I believe many event professionals have an unrealistic timeline of when they will go back to work. Government officials could reopen the economy as soon as early May (though I think that is unlikely).
However, large social gatherings will likely be limited until we have a widely available vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Even if celebrations are allowed sooner, we must factor in a downturn in bookings due to the health risks and financial impact on our clients.
Experts have stated that we can expect a vaccine to be ready 12-18 months from now. While I certainly hope we can get back to work sooner, we should have a plan in place if that doesn’t happen.
That plan starts with understanding our financials.
CALCULATING FINANCIAL RUNWAY
If you have not already done so, you need to calculate your current monthly expenses – both business and personal. You want to simulate how much cash you would need to last you the next 6, 12, and 18 months, giving you a model for optimistic, average, and pessimistic scenarios.
Next, calculate your total expected income over the same periods. Please do NOT include any revenue from booked events, as the assumption is that you won’t be able to service them until we have a vaccine available.
Finally, calculate your cash flow by subtracting your expenses from your income above. If your cash flow is positive, you’re in good shape. If it is negative and you do not have enough savings to cover the difference, you will need to cut expenses and secure additional funding.
You should cut any non-essential expenses and sell assets, including things like:
- Dining and entertainment
- Unused subscriptions
- Office space
- Extra vehicles
- Unused equipment and personal belongings
- Home improvements/renovation
EVOLVING YOUR BUSINESS
Hosting in-person social gatherings while social distancing is impossible, so we may not be able to serve those events in the near term. It’s challenging; many of us have spent our entire careers working events. Bringing people together got us into this business in the first place.
So what can we do instead? I’m seeing people respond to the pandemic in one of two ways:
- Kill time waiting for the world to return to normal
- Accept the situation as our new reality and adapt accordingly.
I hope you’re in the latter group.
To adapt, we must start by understanding what problems exist today; what is currently in-demand? Then, we can look at what resources and skills we may already have to solve those problems. For example, some entertainment companies are helping to facilitate corporate events virtually.
For some people, adapting may involve getting a job doing something unrelated to our event work (for me, it’s writing software). And that’s completely okay. We must think long-term and not let our pride get in the way of doing what’s best for ourselves, our families, and our communities.
Whatever you need to do, know that you’re not alone. The entire industry is going through a painful time, and it’s okay to talk about it honestly.
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DID YOU SEE THE HOTEL QUARANTINE PARTY?
Some might say, restrictions aren’t a reason to celebrate. Then perhaps an end to force quarantine is!
Tonight a party in one of the hotel’s being used to house Australian returning from overseas.
The Sofitel in Sydney has set up a DJ in the courtyard, so guests could mark their final night that the hotel.
I bet that was one happy party!
The guests are all exhausted from all that dancing and singing on their balconies and out their windows at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth. They say it was a lovely end to what’s been very long isolation due to COVID-19!
For them, around 400 guests are in mandatory isolation here at the Sofitel 55 limb 55 of them, this is their final night, and the remainder will be released over the coming days. Someone said: I feel like I’m a Golden Retriever that is being stuck in a room and hasn’t been out of going on a walk. This party was just to release all the energy from over 2 weeks!
What a lovely taste of togetherness for people who have been alone for so long, and also an excellent reminder to all of us of what we can look forward to when this is all over.
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As distressing as the moment may be, it is essential to try to remain calm. I know it’s not easy… I get my heart was broken (really!) just thinking about the months of preparations and expectations of all the couples who were about to walk down the aisle! But, if possible, don’t let that situation discourage you!
Couples with dates scheduled until September should postpone the wedding before they are forced to do so at short notice. From you now on, it seems to me that things can be settled more peacefully. Take advantage of this week to talk to your suppliers and understand how they are facing this situation, what options they offer. It’s not in anyone’s interest that marriages don’t happen! Everybody loses out! And from what I have been talking and following, the market is united and showing flexibility.
If you hadn’t hired a consultant, maybe it’s time to look for one. The advice can help you to reorganise everything in the best possible way, both because of the experience and because of your network of contacts.
How to choose a new date?
What I’ve been reading is that the peak spread of Coronavirus would be April and May, but only the weather will tell if the forecasts are right. If I were you, I’d reschedule in the middle of the second semester… October, November December.
What could happen is that you can’t reschedule the exact same team you hired for the first date at such short notice. And so the suggestion from many companies is: look for alternative days to Saturday. The chances that all your suppliers, whom you had chosen so affectionately, will have a Thursday, a Friday or a Sunday free are much higher than having a Saturday. If that possibility exasperated you, I could assure you that I’ve been to very lively weddings during the week and on Sundays! Remember that people will be there to celebrate you no matter what day!
What about an international destination wedding?
The whole world is facing the same problem! Likely, international suppliers will also be flexible for postponements. However, it may be possible that your guests will still be afraid to plan a trip in the second half of the year, as these plans usually need some advance notice.
Here, I see two exits:
– postpone the date, keeping the chosen destination – and perhaps resize the party to a smaller number of guests;
– moving the party to Australia – which may cost more, I know. Still, it is an alternative for those who want to have everyone present.
How to communicate the postponement to the guests?
The invitations have already been delivered, and everyone is already scheduled for your wedding? Well, there’s no way, the message needs to reach everyone’s ear. I don’t see a single or ideal solution for that. If you feel uncomfortable giving the news, you can hire an RSVP service to call each guest and communicate. If you prefer to do this in a more personal way, you can divide the list between you + groom + parents and together make a phone task force.
If you prefer to communicate with guests digitally, it is worth using Whatsapp, to ensure that everyone receives the information. In essence, I don’t see a more effective digital means! You can make a (home) video together to send. You can create artwork or simply write a message. I was asked about posting on Facebook. I don’t like that option. I think the message should be sent individually.
And then, how to communicate the new date?
You know, I’m all for printed invitations! But in that case, I don’t think it’s necessary to have all that paperwork again – unless you make a point, of course.
In my opinion, you can email and WhatsApp a digital artwork just like the original invitation with the new date, or, as I suggested before, record a video to inform you. At this point, the tone will be different, much more joyful, and your guests will undoubtedly be so happy with the news that they won’t call about not receiving a formal printed invitation.
And in the case of those who have the invitations ready, but did not send them?
I’ve received a lot of questions about this from people who have their invitations in their handwriting, for example. What to do in that case?
If the guests don’t know the date of the wedding, I don’t see the need to communicate… If you had sent a save the date, yes, it’s a worth warning.
About whether or not to make a newly printed invitation, I’d leave that decision to you later. I’d expect to see what other costs you’ll have on account of the postponement. At the end of the day, is there any money left over for an invitation? Make a new one. No money left? Send the invitation online.
Remember, it’s all over now!
I could make a list of much more unpleasant reasons to postpone a wedding… While we’re healthy, we have no problems! So the main thing now is to make sure we’re not the next victims of the virus!
Coronavirus vs. Marriage: What’s to decide and get ahead of planning during the quarantine
As I said before, wedding planning does not need – and should not – be frozen during the quarantine period! Not for those who have postponed the wedding, not for those who were already scheduled for 2021! Take advantage of these days at home to get organised, research and get rid of tendencies. You will be able to reflect on details more calmly, and many suppliers are doing service at a distance, so you can solve a lot!
Here, we suggest a list of things you can do at this time:
If you weren’t well organised, now is the time! How will the payments look from now on? What extra costs will you have? Are you getting budgets from companies?
A perfect guest list means: well organised by category of friends, with all names spelled correctly, with all contact information filled in, among other things. Take the opportunity to check if yours is 100%, okay!
Hardly anyone could imagine a similar situation, and there is merely any clause in the contracts about it. But other unforeseen events can happen during the preparations, so it is always essential to have well-made arrangements. How are yours? Do you need to review them? We have a post with 28 tips to make sure you don’t miss the deals that are worth reading!
Hire an advisor
As I mentioned, advice can be fundamental at this time to help you reschedule everything, find alternatives, and reassure you! If you don’t have that help yet, we recommend great professionals.
Now is an excellent time to put together a selection of the photos you make sure to have on the big day! In the various weddings we have posted, you can notice angles you like, wedding rehearsals you find cool … look for references! And also think about the details you make sure they are photographed, who are the people who can not miss in the album … However experienced the photographers are, having a list of photos you want is super important! The photographer is not obliged to guess that you made a point of having the napkin holder clicked, that your godmother had to be in the album, that you always dreamed of a photo taken from above in the church nave, etc. So, take this moment to think about it, fondly!
Enter the page of each one of them, then click on the weddings on the site, then check out their Instagram page. Analyse if you like the colours (treatment) of the photos, the style of the images, the angles captured… these are the first steps for you to hit the vital day record (which, as I always say, is what remains!!). The same goes for the choice of the videomaker. And then you can schedule online appointments to meet the professional and feel if there is empathy!
At this point, listening to music helps a lot! And if you haven’t picked a few occasional songs from your wedding, how about taking the opportunity to do so now?
And in the Music posts category of our site, there are several DJ playlists to play on the dance floor!
How’s your reference folder? If it’s empty, it’s time to fill it up. If it’s full, it’s time to filter it!
Yes, because a valuable exercise is to separate the weeds from the wheat, that is, to separate what is beautiful only from what is fair and matches the place.