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7 Things to Keep in Mind if You're Wedding Planning in the Covid Era

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Now that in-person weddings appear to be back (check local laws for what’s OK), there are some pre-Covid traditions that are probably sticking around: There will be cake (gluten or gluten-free). There will be awkward small talk with a distant cousin or two. And there will be at least one stinker of a joke during speeches.

But when it comes down to actually putting the celebration together, Covid-19 may have shaken up a few things. Couples thinking about weddings these days may have to add some new to-dos or to-think-abouts to their wedding checklists. If you’re among the couples who are making wedding plans, here are some things that could help you navigate post-Covid nuptials and still say “I do.”

1. Expect competition for wedding dates and locations

Right now some couples are facing a bit of a date crisis: 47% of couples polled by The Knot at the end of 2020 said they moved that year's wedding receptions to 2021. On top of that, a slew of other celebrations like graduation parties and major milestone birthdays were rescheduled, too.

This could mean steep competition (well, steeper competition) for certain wedding locations, venues and vendors. Being open to smaller gatherings, alternative venues and playing around with dates – weekday wedding, anyone? – could help with your wedding plans, and you may even save money by taking the road less traveled.

2. Read your wedding insurance closely 

Wedding insurance isn’t new, but Covid may have couples looking at it a little more closely. There have traditionally been two types of wedding insurance. In a very over-simplified nutshell, one type covers costs for things that could happen at the wedding (think property damage, liquor-related incidents) and the other provides coverage if you have to cancel your event.

If you are booking a block of rooms for guests, keep an eye out for any fees you may need to pay.

Early in 2020, Covid-19 was new, and in insurance parlance, “unforeseen.” However, things look a little different in 2021, so be sure to see what “reasons” for cancellation are covered in the policy you’re considering, and to find out what’s not.

Spoiler: Don’t be surprised if Covid isn’t on the list of covered reasons. Even with these caveats, cancellation insurance could still protect your funds (but sadly, not your wedding day) if unexpected things happen like severe weather, a vendor doesn’t come through or if the venue is shuttered. Some venues may even require you to get liability insurance.

3. Budget for wedding cancellation or rescheduling fees 

Weddings can require a village to pull off, and it’s one that can include different venues, caterers, florists, photographers and musicians (among others). Each of these partners you're hiring may have their own cancellation or rescheduling policies and fees. Like wedding insurance, vendor contracts may also have their own list of “reasons” they’ll accept for cancellations or postponements, which could determine how much money, if any, may be returned to you. (Check your contracts for all the details on this.)

Also understand that a new date could come with a higher price for the same service depending on the vendor (again, check the contract). Bottom line: You may need to pad your wedding budget to cover these possible fees or losses.

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4. Tell wedding guests about possible fees 

Adults on your guest list are probably familiar with things like hotel cancellation policies and travel insurance. Even though some places may have relaxed their cancellation policies in 2020 and part of 2021, they may not have stayed so easygoing. It could be helpful to remind guests about any sort of newer Covid - or other cancellation policies the hotel may have. It won’t make guests love the policies but at least they’ll know what to expect when they confirm their reservations. 

If you are booking a block of rooms for guests, keep an eye out for any fees you, the wedding couple, may need to pay. It's possible that you may have to foot the bill for unused rooms if bookings fall short, for example. See if you could also be on the hook if you cancel your wedding or if other forces (like Covid or bad weather) cancel it for you. 

5. Consider a smaller wedding 

This one may be hard to swallow if you’re part of a sizeable ride-or-die crowd: Consider a small or smallish wedding. Downsizing the party could hurt some feelings, but from a cost perspective (hey, weddings are expensive) it could be cheaper to shut down or postpone a smaller wedding than a larger one.

If it’s of any comfort, cutting the guest list was a task couples had to tackle even before Covid; these days, however, potential guests may not really be surprised if things are scaled back and Covid’s the excuse.

6. Have scalable back-up plans

Before Covid-19, a low-key backup plan for a wedding could have been handing out fans if things got too hot at an outdoor wedding or holding the reception under tents so the party could continue if it rained. 

Now, backup plans could mean budgeting for anything from providing wedding-themed hand sanitizer and masks, to having a backup wedding in place that includes good lighting, a backdrop you and your partner like (any home office can be a beach) and, local laws permitting, an officiant who can hear your vows remotely.

7. Remember to enjoy it

It can be easy to get lost in the details and worry about everything that could go completely wrong when you get married. The reality is things could go wrong, no matter how solid your plans are (something that was true even before Covid hit).

A worldwide pandemic could turn the world upside down leaving you to cobble together backup wedding plan Z, for example, or kids could ask questions while you’re exchanging vows (both true stories). Unexpected? Yes, but this is small stuff, especially when your most important person is next to you.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Articles on this site were commissioned and approved by Marcus by Goldman Sachs®, but may not reflect the institutional opinions of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions.