Photo: Jamie Stockum Photography
Your special event is a memorable life moment. And although the times we’re in today feel a bit uncertain, I hope you’ll find confidence and peace in knowing that I’m here to help you manage your reception every step of the way. Whether it’s through a proactive planning approach or working through next steps on the unforeseen, celebrating you and your guests is top on my list. I encourage you to read my insights on planning through the current state of the Coronavirus in this post. Please bring any questions or conversation to me on this topic in the weeks ahead and let’s keep this party safe and pretty.
It’s important to maintain regular and transparent communication with your guests. If your upcoming event is scheduled to take place in the next 8 weeks, it is likely on the top of many guest’s minds, especially those who have planned travel to attend. And the safety of you and your guests is the first priority, so it’s critical to stay up to date with latest CDC and WHO regulations.
There’s a lot to consider, when reviewing the CDC safety guidelines, and the State of Ohio’s orders. As of March 12th, private receptions are exempt from the Ohio ban and with this is mind, be sure to communicate with your guests about the associated risks of the situation and hold respect for those who are not able or choose not to attend.
Contact All Guests
The communication around your event should be clear and honest. It’s surely not your responsibility to inform guests of regulations and protocol, but it is in best practice to communicate (whether that be through phone or email) that you recognize what is happening around the world and that this may impact the ability for you to hold your event. Be sure to keep the communication simple and share that you are considering all of the options and will share more information around the event as soon as possible.
Mail an Announcement (in lieu of postponement)
This action is optional, but certainly in good taste and etiquette. The design of paper invitations should be the same as the original stationary. You need not share specific details as to why the event has been postponed, but you should include the rescheduled date.
Language around the rescheduled date can also remain simple. Positive messaging can include “Save Our New Date” or “We have changed our date, and can’t wait to celebrate”. Surely, you may wish to reference the Coronavirus and choose to include a brief statement that reads along the lines of one of the following introductions, “Due to unforeseen circumstances…” or “In lieu of the situation…”.
Update Your Website (in lieu of postponement)
Ensuring your emailed and paper communications mirror your website is a great way to emphasize consistency around your event. Guests are likely to review the lodging accommodations and tourist attractions on your website as they prepare to change their travel plans respectively. The extra effort by the host to update this information will be appreciated by guests.
Remain Optimistic (in lieu of postponement)
You’re likely hosting a celebratory event and a postponement, although inconvenient is due to something that is completely out of your control. Being mindful of this additional stress without allowing it to cause grief, will help you prioritize your to-do list and your adjusted timeline. This may actually serve as an opportunity to fine tune some details that you now have time to focus on. When the rescheduled date arrives, you and your guests will be ecstatic that the day has arrived, that the uncertainty has passed, that everyone is safe and happy, and that you have the opportunity to share a special life moment all together. This will all make your occasion that much more treasured and memorable!
Create a Plan B
Policy and Contract Review
Reviewing the contracts of your venue and vendors will allow you to better understand their postponement and cancellation policies. Use this time to consider whether refunds are permitted should a vendor no longer be available for a new event date, to review whether additional costs for service will be required of those vendors who are able to commit to the rescheduled event date, and to clarify whether vendors will enforce a postponement fee due to the nature of current events.
You have options when considering your back up plan. A postponement offers less financial risk when compared to cancellation. Your vendors may hold more forgiving policies (if any at all) surrounding a postponement. The plan to postpone will ensure the safety of traveling guests and any guests who are considered at-risk. Many of your well-planned event details will remain the same and you and your guests will be able to enjoy the celebration safely and stress-free – The day will be more tender and precious because of it!
Decreased Guest Count
If a postponement is not an option for you due to a desired location, venue, or the availability of a very important guest or family member, you could choose to decrease the size of your guest list. Hosting 50 or less guests is a very popular option due to the current (and uncertain) state of the Coronavirus. Cordial communication to all attending and non-attending guests is required, but the intimate celebration with family and close party attendees that mean the most to you will still be truly beautiful. LIVE streaming the event is a inovative and intentional way to include guests who can no longer join the event, and many hosts are maintaining their optimism by holding a separate reception for all guests at a later date.
For those hosting a destination or international event, travel compliance is essential. Federal travel bans may make it difficult or impossible to hold the event at its original location and moving the event to a domestic venue is worth considering until the circumstances become more clear.
Many vendors require the client obtain Event Liability Insurance. This form of insurance is typically modestly priced, can be purchased through an independent provider, and often available through your existing home insurance provider. The most common requested policy covers 1 million dollars in liability and may include but is not limited to vendor bankruptcy, inclement or emergency weather, and the illness or accident involving the host or an immediate family member. Obtaining event insurance whether it be due to cancellation or day-of accident, is valuable both fiscally and mentally. With many things out of your control, insurance may just be the peace of mind you need before hosting your next big occasion.