Welcome to a world of wedding ramblings.
Here you'll typically find an array of topics from fun, inspirational posts to a more thoughtful perspective on something topical.
There's no particular order or continuity to my blogging (sorry!) I just share my thoughts with you as and when they come to me. or I need to get something off my chest.
If there is anything in particular you'd like my take on then just let me know!
If I’m honest, I’m not too sure where to begin with this. I’m still trying to get my head around how one virus can have such monumental effects on the entire world, and at such pace. It seems completely mad, and yet here it is, happening in front of our eyes, so we can do nothing except adapt and ride the wave, together.
I’ve thought about whether to write this blog or not, but considering a) we are now all feeling the affects one way or another and b) that my couples put such faith in me and my advice, especially at the moment, it only seems fair to be honest about how this situation is impacting me, my couples and the industry in general.
Like many, I first heard of Coronavirus around January time. Naively it now seems, it didn’t concern me, it was in China and I had no plans to go there. It appeared so far away.
As the virus began to spread, I still wasn’t concerned. It was just the flu right? What’s the worst that can happen?
Life went on as normal, I continued to finalise wedding plans for this summer, with my first UK wedding scheduled for 26th March and first Italian wedding booked for 19th April. Final prep for a very busy season was in full swing.
On 1st March I travelled to Spain with my partner, parents, sister and mother-in-law to do some wedding planning of my own. We had 4 blissful days, staying at our wedding venue, enjoying our menu tasting, I had my hair and make up trials and we met with our florist and celebrant. Our plans really stepped up a notch, but more than anything Alex and I really valued the time with our family, in a place that meant so much to us. I’m so grateful for the timing of that trip.
We knew the virus was spreading to Europe, but it still felt so far away. Apart from seeing a few ‘dramatic’ people (or so I thought) in the airport wearing masks, we were untouched and our plans were unaffected.
We left feeling so excited for our upcoming wedding, and felt our family had really brought in to our dream wedding in Spain.
As we arrived at the airport to come home, I received a text from a Sky News journalist (which also explained the numerous missed calls I had throughout the week) asking my opinion on how COVID-19 was affecting wedding planning. I deleted it instantly, already believing the media was worsening the situation and quite honestly I did not want to be a part of that. Plus at this point, I was genuinely seeing no affects so there really was no story.
By the time we returned, Coronavirus was prevalent in the north of Italy, but that’s okay I thought, I don’t have any weddings there. They’re all further south. At this point, things still felt calm.
Monday 9th March. Italy goes into lockdown, like the whole of Italy (WTF?!) Instantly things change.
By now my phone is ringing constantly, and my inbox is filling up. Understandably, couples are concerned, and as their wedding planner, it is my job to step up, reassure them and provide solutions, should the worst happen and their wedding can’t go ahead as planned.
At this point we enter The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. A rollercoaster involving all three that peak and trough at different times.
I’ll start with some middle ground. The Bad.
1) This is unprecedented.
Photo credit: Brandy Jackson
Perhaps this should be seen as good thing, I don’t know, but this has never happened before. Not to this degree. So none of us really know what to do. This is the first time we have found ourselves in this situation. Initially, this was just a problem in Italy, so constant conversations begin with my Italian partner planner and suppliers as we try and figure out how to navigate the restrictions together. What can we do? What can’t we do? What can go ahead? What can’t go ahead? Will we have to keep guests a metre apart at a wedding, how on earth will that work? The questions were endless.
2) The levels of uncertainty
As a wedding planner, it is in my nature to problem solve and always have the answers. In this situation I don’t, and that’s hard.
The levels of uncertainty are so high. No one knows how long all of this will last. Couples will ring me and ask if they should consider postponing their wedding. For some this is easy, their weddings are in the coming month or two and we really have no choice, but for the weddings later this summer, the honest answer is I just don’t know.
Of course with my problem solving head on, even in these times, I am doing what I can to ensure my couples know all of the options available to them, I’m having discussions with venues and suppliers about postponements/reschedules so we know where we stand but like everyone, I am speculating when it comes to timeframes and how long we can expect this to continue.
3) The knock on effect
As it stands, I have had no cancellations, only postponements, which is great but this will have a knock on effect across the industry. So many weddings from 2020 are being pushed to 2021 and whilst it’s amazing these weddings can still take place, it means 2021 availability for venues and suppliers is going to be limited, as is my own capacity to take on more weddings.
Right now, this isn’t a priority. The primary focus has of course been to manage the weddings in the immediate weeks and do what is necessary for them, but at some point the affects of this will be felt.
My advice to any couple considering a wedding in 2021 is to get your plans initiated sooner rather than later to ensure you can secure the date, venue and suppliers that you wish to have.
Moving on, to what I am also experiencing. The Ugly.
1) The tears
Both mine and those of my couples.
I have had couples cry down the phone to me. This is hard. Completely understandable but I hate that I can’t change the situation for them. I have worked with my couples for a long time, and I care. I can make arrangements to reschedule of course, but that doesn’t help them with the huge amount of emotional investment that goes into planning their own wedding. It’s hard for any couple having to make a postponement decision, but for some there are instances of terminal family illness that mean the initial wedding date was so important. This is nothing other than heartbreaking.
Photo Credit: Cecelina Photography
Then there is me. For most of this I have been so positive, and have genuinely felt that, up until this week when there have been times when it all gets too much. Speaking all day, either in email or phone, and trying to remain positive about Coronavirus, a situation with such an uncertainty and disruption is draining.
I really am happy to do it though. I want to be there for all of my couples and I want to be able to make them feel that little bit better in a circumstance so out of all of our control, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t mentally tough.
There is only so much a person can take and when it’s impossible to get away from in your work life, the media, and in your personal life it’s a lot.
The flip side of this is that generally a good cry and a chat helps. We are all in the same boat and it’s important that we know that. Each time I have a ‘mini-meltdown’, I feel better and instantly feel more positive, ready to take this thing on all over again.
Lesson Number 4: It really is okay to cry.
2) My own wedding
As well as dealing with 13 client weddings in 2020, I also have my own in August. I am trying to tell myself this is still a long time away, especially when you consider the pace at which things are changing, and on a good day I really do believe that, but ultimately who knows.
This brings crazy levels of anxiety, but at least I can truly say I understand how my couples feel. I really do get it. Having your wedding taken out of your control, and facing the prospect of postponement SUCKS.
3) Financial Concern
I am a self-employed business owner in an industry that is taking a massive knock. If I didn’t worry about the financial implications of that I wouldn’t be human.
When this all started, I was still seeing plenty of enquiries come in for 2021, for Italy and also for Spain, my newest offering, so this was particularly exciting. As I write this, enquiries for next year have come to a halt, and from speaking with other planners I am not alone in this. I understand, of course I do, aside from the virus itself, people are now starting to worry about their own job security and it seems plans are on hold, for the time being at least.
I can only hope this is short lived, and life returns to normal sooner than we think.
Of course amongst all the fear, chaos and uncertainty, there is actually so much to be positive about, and this is what we should hold on to, so I’ve saved the best ‘til last. The Good.
1) The Community Spirit
The community spirit in the wedding industry has been nothing shy of AMAZING.
Photo Credit: Cecelina Photography
Venue and suppliers have been wonderful, so I take this as an opportunity to say thank you. Everyone has been flexible, of course no one wants to loose business, but they also understand what the couples are facing. Everyone I work with has done what they can to reschedule without penalty, transfer deposits to the new date and where possible keep rates and terms the same. I cannot explain how much easier this attitude has made things.
As well as the direct venues/suppliers that I work with, there are my industry friends. Social media can be a negative place at times and right now it’s not always healthy, but there is also a huge amount of support for one another going on. People lifting each other up, offering advice and just generally being there for a chat.
There is an enormous sense of ‘we’re all in this together’ and it’s so reassuring, especially when you’re a small little business like me, and spend most of your working days on your own. It’s good to know there are people out there who have your back and are all in the same boat.
A few weeks ago, the thought of having to reschedule just one wedding would have filled me with fear, and yet all at once I, like everyone in the world of weddings, was faced with my entire season being turned upside down, and yet I’m coping.
I feel in control (as much as you can be in an ever changing environment), know what needs to be done to move forward IF weddings need to be moved, and can see the light at the end of all this (most of the time!)
It’s hard, and we’re at the beginning of a very bumpy road, but I know now that I can do it.
3) I have THE best clients
The thing that has totally shone through all of this is how amazing my couples are. I cannot thank you all enough. You’re faced with a situation that is so stressful, emotions are heightened, there is the fear of financial loss and the wedding you have been envisaging for months if not years is at risk, and yet throughout it all every single one of you has been so lovely and totally understanding.
During this time, a number of you have even checked up on me. Asking how I’m doing, sending me wishes, apologising for the extra stress (as if it’s somehow your fault?!) and it’s at a time when I would expect to be at the bottom of your priority list.
Without meaning to gush, I truly am so grateful to work with such amazing people, you are making a tough time that little bit easier and I promise I am doing everything I can to ensure you can have the wedding that we have worked so hard on.
My overriding bit of advice…Remember, together, we got this!
Photo Credit: Tell Your Story Photography