At this point in time, we’re all sitting at home wondering how much more COVID-19 will be impacting our everyday lives in the months ahead. In the interest of the health and safety of our community, we’ve already seen many of our normal everyday activities suddenly grind to a halt. Many couples have had to make the sad decision of cancelling or moving their wedding, bringing the wedding season from its busy summer heights to a very abrupt end.
One such couple- Lauren and Andre- initially weren’t too concerned about the virus, and were only at their wedding venue in Tassie’s north west having final meetings with their photographer and florist in early March. After waking up two weeks ago and reading the news, Lauren went into full panic mode.
“The gravity of it all really set in when we started to get replies to my email from guests saying they had decided to cancel, including Andre’s best mate who had a two week old baby. That’s when we started to have a conversation about if we needed to postpone the whole thing.”
“I sent an email to our suppliers giving them a heads up that we might potentially postpone. They were all very appreciative. I feel like I have built relationships with them after communicating with them about the wedding for one year and I really feel for the hit this will have on the industry and small businesses.”
“We talked about how guilty we would feel if someone got sick and were worried about some of our older friends and family. In the end, I think what threw us over the line was thinking about the priority for the wedding and that was to celebrate our marriage with loved ones. It wasn’t really about the act of getting married itself, but the thought of not having some of our closest family and friends there was too much to bear.”
Lauren and Andre picked up their wedding bands this week and after informing their guests of their decision, and celebrated with wine they’d saved for the wedding. Not quite the celebration they were hoping for, but feeling grateful that they’d secured a new date in February 2021 with all but one of their original suppliers.
Are you in the same boat? Or perhaps your putting your wedding planning on hold? Here’s some advice from some of our favourite Tassie vendors to help you out over the coming months, and some tips on how you can support the local wedding industry.
Reschedule, Rethink, Relocate… NOT cancel
The most supportive thing you can do for the industry is to postpone, rather than ask directly for a refund by cancelling. Many vendors have been encouraging couples to rebook at a later date, even suspending new bookings to make sure this can happen. One of the scariest things is that we won’t know when normality is going to return. If a wedding is booked for winter and spring with interstate guests, vendors are suggesting that couples postpone.
Celebrant ‘love hustler’ Tim Grimsey says it’s important for the industry to be flexible, patient and understanding, but there are also plenty of options for rethinking your wedding as long as it follows the social distancing guidelines. “Consider downsizing to a small group of guests, live streaming, eloping now and partying later!” Unfortunately, this does mean that hugs are on hold.
Understand your contractual obligations to your vendors, and theirs to you. These are extremely unusual circumstances and most businesses will be open to negotiating fees, deposits and payment plans. The best thing that you can do is talk to your vendors early- they really are true professionals, and are willing to help.
An intimate family affair… Image: By the Wilde
Some vendors have already flagged that 2021 dates are filling up given the amount of postponements from this season. Why not look at a Friday night wedding, or a mid-week wedding? Or opt for something small and intimate instead. Getting married is about celebrating your own special love. Your guests will (or certainly should) understand if you decide to not have the big wedding you originally thought you would.
“Move forward with creative ideas that can be uplifting and accommodating rather than negative. You can still be married!” says celebrant Merren (Cinta.CelebrateLove) reassuringly. Share, listen, and be inspired by other options out there. Many Tassie vendors would still be thrilled to help you plan a downsized backyard surprise wedding, or an intimate elopement for when the time is right again. Use this opportunity to think about what is really important to you, and get creative!
Support our island creatives
The biggest thing you can do to help the many sole-traders that make up the local wedding industries is hire them! Send some flowers to a friend for their birthday from your florist. Book in a family portrait or engagement session with your photographer. Leave your make up artist a great google review. Buy a gift voucher for a Tassie hideaway to perhaps use on your anniversary. Investigate your local restaurant’s takeaway options. Keep checking in with your local network and offer your support to those who may be struggling.
Some vendors have been so generous to donate services free of charge for clients who are dealing with such disappointing and stressful times. For example, Hannah from Blossie stationary (@blossie.com.au) has been creating digital postponement notices for her clients to send out to their guests, to ease the pressures that they are facing.
Continuing to show your support to these creatives is incredibly valuable in times like these. “If a vendor has gone above and beyond your expectations, let everyone know about it! Write a review, share a post, interact with social media posts” said Ed from Ed Noel Photography. There are so many ways to continue to spread the love, despite the physical limitations now imposed upon us, and every little bit of support helps these businesses.
Be mindful of further disruption
Did you know that many wedding gowns are manufactured overseas- particularly in China? Delays from forced shutdowns in these countries will have a flow on effect to the number of gowns we stock in Tasmania. Most gown orders require a 6 month lead time even in normal circumstances. Little White Boutique in Launceston has already announced that they are making all floor stock available for brides who may be impacted by these delays. We may see many boutiques quietening down over winter, but it’s worth checking to see if they will open for private appointments. Keep this in mind if you had your eye on one of these international labels, but don’t forget we also have plenty of seamstress services in the state that could help you design your dream dress! Check out these from our Online Directory here.
Little White Boutique in Launceston
The most important thing in difficult times is to BE KIND. To others, but also to yourself.
Hair Stylist Amanda Joy urges her clients to stay safe and healthy. Her advice is- “No matter what, remember you are loved and you will get married and will have a beautiful wedding. Stay strong and know that no matter what we have got your back and will do anything to support you where we can.”
Many vendors have already been overwhelmed by the support of their clients through this time. “Some clients have expressed concerns for the business and staff, which is so lovely as they consider cancelling one of the biggest events in their lives”, says Katherine Green from Peppermint Bay. “As always we will do whatever is in our power to help you with your wedding. We are working with couples to re-book as soon as possible.”
Besides venues, many wedding suppliers are mums, dads, students, and full or part-time workers in another industry. The next 6 months for many of these sole traders in particular is going to be very scary and it may force some to shut up shop completely, or move out of the industry. It’s not easy cancelling a wedding, but people all over the world are dealing with the many serious impacts of this virus, and it’s important to remember just how lucky we are. Be conscious of the faces behind the business, and the families that they support, and lets all cross our fingers that we’ll be able to come together to celebrate normally again soon.