Should couples cancel or postpone weddings due to the coronavirus?

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Dates were saved, vendors were booked, wedding countdowns began – and then the coronavirus hit.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically disrupted daily life around the world, and there’s no clear answers to what the future may bring. Now, couples engaged to be married in the coming year are faced with heart-wrenching decisions regarding whether it’s best to postpone, cancel, continue or adjust plans for the big day.

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For those seeking guidance, insight and inspiration, industry expert Jeffra Trumpower spoke with Fox News about how couples can move forward during this trying time, and how a new hotline can help.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically disrupted daily life around the world, and there’s no clear answers to what the future may hold.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically disrupted daily life around the world, and there’s no clear answers to what the future may hold. (iStock)

Trumpower is the senior creative director at WeddingWire, an online global marketplace that connects engaged couples with local wedding professionals.

HOW DID THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK START?

FOX NEWS: During the ongoing outbreak, what should engaged couples consider in deciding whether it’s best to cancel or postpone their nuptials?

Trumpower: Instead of canceling altogether, we recommend that couples work with their vendors to find a common date in the future, and postpone if possible. This could save costs for both the couple and the vendors alike.

Couples engaged to be married in the near future are faced with heart-wrenching decisions: Is it best to postpone, cancel, continue or adjust plans?

Couples engaged to be married in the near future are faced with heart-wrenching decisions: Is it best to postpone, cancel, continue or adjust plans? (iStock)

It’s OK for couples to feel disappointed or upset and to acknowledge their feelings and understand they are valid. We encourage couples to voice them to us, their wedding planner, to their partner, or a close friend who can help with the coping process. No matter what phase of planning they are in, couples are encouraged to reach out to our experts at 833-998-2865, help@weddingwire.com and help@theknot.com.

FOX: According to your data, there are 845,000 weddings scheduled worldwide from March through May, while new guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise postponing or canceling gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks. (The president had advised congregating in groups no larger than 10.) What are some options for couples who still want to tie the knot during this March to May timeframe?

Trumpower: In these unprecedented times, couples are turning to the advice of both the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) to limit group gatherings and therefore postponing their weddings. We at The Knot and WeddingWire recommend that all couples adhere to these guidelines until further notice.

As of March 16, the White House recommended canceling or postponing in-person events that consist of 10 people or more throughout the U.S. If couples are interested in alternative arrangements for their original wedding date in the near future, we recommend they comply with government regulations and keep any celebration intimate, with less than 10 people for the next 15 days and less than 50 people for the next eight weeks, in accordance with the CDC.

With that said, we’ve seen couples embrace their original wedding dates in a variety of ways. From having a ceremony with just the two of them and postponing their receptions until later in the year or on their first anniversary, or having a small backyard ceremony with just their immediate families, or celebrating with a special bottle of wine or candlelit dinner in their own home. If couples opt to hold a small and intimate ceremony or elopement [now], they could involve guests virtually, through live streams or through social media.

"Instead of canceling altogether, we recommend that couples work with their vendors to find a common date in the future, and postpone if possible. This could save costs for both the couple and the vendors alike," Jeffra Trumpower of WeddingWire said. 

"Instead of canceling altogether, we recommend that couples work with their vendors to find a common date in the future, and postpone if possible. This could save costs for both the couple and the vendors alike," Jeffra Trumpower of WeddingWire said.  (iStock)

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FOX: What advice do you have for people who are unsure if they should proceed with their bachelor/bachelorette party, bridal shower, engagement party, or other wedding-related celebratory event during this time?

Trumpower: Much like our recommendations surrounding upcoming wedding celebrations, we recommend couples follow the guidelines of the CDC, WHO and federal government when making decisions regarding wedding-related events. These organizations recommend not traveling and postponing gatherings with over 10 people.

We understand it can be difficult and upsetting to cancel or postpone these events, but the couple’s safety and that of their friends and family should be the top priority amid this global health pandemic. Many travel and accommodation companies are offering the opportunity to reschedule bookings that are impacted by COVID-19.

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FOX: Why and when did Wedding Wire and The Knot launch the 24/7 hotline?

Trumpower: On March 13, The Knot and WeddingWire partnered to launch a free 24/7 hotline to help couples during this unfortunate time.

Upon calling the hotline, wedding experts on our customer service and events teams will answer any questions they might have surrounding their weddings. The hotline offers couples a safe space to ask for advice from the industry’s leading experts, as well as a place for them to vent about their frustrations and be reassured that everything will be OK. When the team is not live to answer calls, a voicemail prompts people to leave questions and we'll get back to you within 24 hours (most likely before then).

The response has been incredibly positive, with our experts receiving over 1,000 calls from couples in every stage of wedding planning since Friday.

Dates were saved, vendors were booked, wedding countdowns began – and then the coronavirus hit.

Dates were saved, vendors were booked, wedding countdowns began – and then the coronavirus hit. (iStock)

FOX: What are some of the most popular questions people are asking via the hotline during this unprecedented, trying time?

Trumpower: Overall, most couples are looking for guidance as they navigate working with their wedding planners or vendors to postpone their wedding to a later date. Otherwise, some couples have been asking questions about communicating changes with their guests while others are simply looking for a reassuring expert that can offer them advice and talk things through as they deal with this unfortunate situation.

No matter where a couple is in their planning, they can call us to help answer any of their wedding-related questions.

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FOX: Whatever couples ultimately decide to do about their wedding amid the ongoing outbreak, how should they best proceed with communicating with guests?

Trumpower: We suggest couples inform their guests as soon as they make a decision about their wedding. The best way to keep guests informed is by updating their wedding website with a short and to-the-point statement.

It may even be worth pulling together an FAQ section on the website, as guests may have a lot of the same questions regarding a rescheduled date, how to handle canceling accommodations and more.

When it comes to accommodations, we suggest the couple offer as much support to their guests as possible, as many of them may have booked airline travel and hotel rooms. We encourage couples to connect with their wedding planners, if they have one, who can potentially help negotiate a cancellation or partial refund to guests.

Through the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, a couple’s top priority "should be their safety, and the safety of their guests," said Trumpower.

Through the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, a couple’s top priority "should be their safety, and the safety of their guests," said Trumpower. (iStock)

FOX: How can wedding guests be sensitive to and conscientious of the engaged couple?

Trumpower: We’ve heard so many stories of wedding guests rallying together to support engaged couples during this difficult time, whether that’s offering to help with planning an alternative celebration at a later date or just offering words of encouragement. We encourage guests to be patient while the couple navigates a “plan B” with their wedding planner and vendors, and understand this isn’t an easy process for a couple to go through.

A couple’s top priority should be their safety and the safety of their guests, so while it may be an uneasy feeling to know you may need to alter travel arrangements, know that the couple is keeping you top of mind as they think through their options.

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FOX: Looking ahead, what should engaged couples keep in mind during the ongoing outbreak as they plan and prepare for their wedding day?

Trumpower: This is an emotional time for the wedding industry – for couples, guests and wedding professionals. We are here for all of you. If you’re an engaged couple who is thinking through your alternative plan for a later date, it’s OK to be disappointed, stressed and upset.

We encourage you to understand these feelings are valid and talk to us via our hotline, your planner or close friends and family about your feelings.