Getting Married During a Pandemic: What You Need to Know

Published: May, 28 2020

For most of us, we feel the disruptions of COVID-19 primarily in our regular daily lives. But for couples planning on tying the knot, the novel coronavirus has thrown a wrench into what should be an exciting time—planning their wedding. If you’re part of a couple that has either had their original date thrown into question by the pandemic or one that is trying to navigate through the uncertainty of when this will all end before picking, here’s what you need to consider:

Your own preferences

This isn’t a right or wrong issue, but one of what feels right to you. Does the idea of waiting to say your vows fill you with despair? Or are you most upset by the notion of walking down the aisle without your loved ones physically in attendance, including those who might have to travel long distances? In the first case, you may well want to have a small, socially distanced ceremony soon, with a party later. In the second, it probably makes more sense to postpone the big day until 2021 or later, when it is more likely that COVID-19 will be under control and/or treatments and preventatives will have been identified.

The rules governing what’s allowed in your area

The summer of 2020 should have been a busy season for happy couples. Instead, depending on what state you live in, the summer has seen closures of all kinds of businesses and restrictions on large gatherings. Keep a close eye on state and county guidelines in the area where you plan to have your wedding, because these may dictate whether or not your event can be held as initially planned. If you’re hoping for a date relatively soon, keep in mind that these guidelines can change fast, depending on current case conditions. Beware, though: if things are really shut down, your county may not be issuing marriage licenses. Be sure to check.

Communication with your vendors

Did you already have a date picked and deposits put down, but now you’re having to consider modifying or postponing your big day? Keep an open line of communication with your vendors as you try to modify your dream. Your caterer, photographer, florist, etc., know what you’re dealing with, because all of their clients have been hit with the same challenge. Try to be flexible as you consider your options and know that your new wedding will likely not be exactly the same as what you originally envisioned.

The terms of any contracts

If you haven’t booked specific vendors yet, make sure you review their policies for canceling or postponing an event thoroughly before you sign anything. Will you be able to get your deposit back, or can you get credit on a future event if you move your date? If you’ve already signed contracts, review them to know what you’re entitled to, but keep your expectations reasonable. Many businesses that rely on weddings as a mainstay are hurting now. Vendors will likely try to be as accommodating as they can to retain your business, but smaller vendors in particular may not be able to offer refunds on deposits if you cancel completely.

The bottom line is that a wedding should be a time of joy, not an occasion for regret. Whether you choose to postpone until your family and friends can gather or rethink your vision to a ceremony that can be held safely now, preserving your health and the health of your loved ones is the primary goal. After all, no matter what your wedding looks like, the real payoff is many years of happy married life together.