Canceling vows due to coronavirus? Wedding planners say ‘stay calm’

Couples planning to get married this year are faced with a more difficult proposal — whether to postpone or cancel their wedding plans.

Concerns for the health and safety of family and friends during the coronavirus pandemic caused Teah Hale and her fiancé, Nicholas Klegin, both of Dayton, to rethink their April wedding at Rhinegeist Brewery in Cincinnati.

The couple is scaling down from more than 100 guests to a small family wedding closer to home and will hold a reception at the brewery later in the year.

“I’m really sad. I’ve been planning this day for over a year,” Hale said. “But in the end, the only thing that matters is that we get married.”

So what kind of advice do wedding planners have during this uncertain time?

Kathy Piech-Lucas, a Dayton and Cincinnati area wedding planner for 16 years and publisher of the Perfect Wedding Guide, says she is advising her clients to take a deep breath and begin a conversation with their wedding professionals and vendors if they are considering postponement.

“I would encourage couples to remember that wedding professionals are small business owners, and we are in the same boat that they are,” Piech- Lucas said.

“We want to keep the economy strong and the best way to do that is to talk with that team you have engaged for the most important day of your life and work out what we can do. Can we reschedule it? Can we postpone it until fall?”

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

“I think they will find that many wedding professionals — given everything that's going on — will allow payments to be applied to a new date.”

In an average year, the Dayton Art Institute hosts 40 to 45 weddings, one of the important revenue drivers for the institution.

Credit: Brenda Pottinger

Credit: Brenda Pottinger

Due to the pandemic, museum officials say they plan to help clients reschedule a date. If they are unable to find a new date, couples will not be charged for cancellation.

“The DAI is a place where wedding memories have been made for decades. We are doing everything within our power to accommodate the couple’s celebrations on the dates scheduled or by helping to find a date later in the year,” said Michael R. Roediger, director and CEO of the Dayton Art Institute.

“This is a day-by-day situation and our events team is the best in the region. Whether the wedding goes on or is postponed, I know they will do everything possible to make it special. Above all, we want our guests to be healthy and safe."

Credit: Brenda Pottinger

Credit: Brenda Pottinger

Hale said the Rhinegeist Brewery and her wedding vendors were able to accommodate her change of plans and she offers advice for couples. “I’d say keep your head up and roll with the punches. It’s all going to work out even if it’s not the way you envisioned it.”

Piech- Lucas predicts many weddings will now take place between August and December. Fridays and Sundays, usually considered “off days” for weddings, will become booked and many couples will “go the justice of the peace route” and have a celebration later.

“There are couples that worry that this day they envisioned for their entire lives is just going to disappear and that, I don’t think, will happen.”

The Perfect Wedding Guide has set up a Facebook page, for couples who need guidance about what to do should the coronavirus impact their weddings.

“Just stay calm. At the end of the day a wedding is about exchanging vows in front of friends and family. That's what a wedding is, the rest of it is a party,” Piech- Lucas said.

“If you and your fiancé can get through a coronavirus pandemic, you can get through anything.”

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