The C.D.C. is recommending that all gatherings over 50 guests be cancelled. The President has requested that we avoid collecting in groups of more than 10 — and that could change tomorrow. We are now in a Public Health Emergency.

The newly coined term “social distancing” is now a part of our vernacular. But you’ve planned your dream wedding in a few weeks! Or a couple of months!

So what do you do? Arkansas wedding planner extraordinaire Amanda Reed of Amanda Reed Weddings shares her top tips for helping you un-plan your wedding — and the steps you can take now to recreate it all again for a later date.

What To Do if Your Wedding is Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic

The absolute first thing you have to do is take a breath. Everyone around you is affected by this in one way or another. But it’s a waiting game right now. There is so much that remains to be known — and things really are changing on a daily basis. Don’t do anything drastic before gathering the proper information. This is out of your control and not worth making yourself crazy over!

So, considering this information, start by communicating with your vendors and asking the following questions regarding postponement:

1. What dates are possible for you to shift the full event to? What dates are absolutely out?

Understand that all the vendors you’ve hired might not have your first picks available.You may have to consider a Friday or Sunday — or look at dates 9-12 months away. They’ll move mountains to be available for you — but sometimes things just don’t work out!

2. What financial implications are there — i.e, if we were to continue this weekend, but with a smaller group, what does that look like? If we do change the date, how does that change costs?

Vendors know you don’t want to reschedule any more than they do! But be aware that there could potentially be additional costs associated with moving an event, especially if you’re within a certain time frame. Flowers and food may have already been ordered. Perishables are hard costs that will have to be re-ordered. It’s not your fault, but it’s not theirs either! Consider that each vendor had your date specifically held for you — maybe even turned away multiple other weddings — and giving away another prime date could be very difficult for their scheduling.

3. If we were to move to a date you are NOT available, what course of action will you take? Will you lose deposits? Will there be balances due?

Most vendors will happily refer others who have similar styles, especially in a situation like we are currently facing.

4. When do you need a final decision?

Time is of the essence. There are many people in the same boat right now and the likelihood of being able to pull together as many of your selected vendors decreases with each additional wedding that is rebooked. Getting a deadline from vendors will help to ensure you keep as many vendors intact as possible.

5. Any other pertinent information that will be helpful in our decision-making process.

After gathering these details, confer with your VIPs like immediate family and your wedding party. Of course, you want them all to be there, but know that a change in date might bring with it a change in your lineup. You might even consider moving forward with a very small ceremony now (think elopement!) on your original date and moving the reception to a new date so you can give yourself a little breathing room. What feels right to you?

Once you’ve selected the new plan of action, let all of your guests know you’ve made a change — this can be a call, text, email, even a printed card sharing new details you have secured. Many stationers are helping clients out right now by printing these cards for minimal costs. The more notice you can provide your guests, the more likely you are to have many there with you to celebrate. Don’t forget to update your website, as well, and continue to do so as hotel blocks and logistics are updated.

After all is said and done, the best thing you can do for the people who have helped you create (and recreate) your dream wedding is to refer them to other clients. Write a glowing review on social media channels. Consider tipping generously. Shout their praises from the rooftops! It’s hard to imagine it now, but we will survive this, and be stronger because of it!

Lastly, stay positive. It’s important to remember why you’re doing this in the first place. As terrible as this situation is, there will be even more cause to celebrate when the dark coronavirus cloud isn’t looming over all our heads!

Now, go wash your hands.

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