Moving the Milestone

I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone this past week. As the coronavirus has spread in the United States, so has the need to respond to it. Here in Maryland, the government has responded with ever more tightening restrictions in order to contain the virus. What that means in my world is that many weddings—those fabulous, joyful experiences that I have the pleasure and privilege of helping create—have had to be postponed.Weddings are not life or death situations, to be sure, but they are important events in our lives. Many tears have been shed this week as couples have watched the news unfold and realized— some sooner, some later— that their wedding will not be happening on the date they planned. Worse, there’s no telling when the pandemic will be over. And so, it’s impossible to know how this is going to play out.

What to Do?

What I’ve been doing with my couples is postponing their weddings into the fall of 2020 and in some cases, the spring of 2021. And there’s no guarantee that we won’t have to postpone some of those weddings again. Until a vaccine is in place and we have an antibody test, it may not be safe for people to gather.

I’ve moved or I’m in the process of moving all of my March, April, May, and July weddings, and started the conversation with July couples. I’m not at all sure that it’s going to end there but as I read the situation, at least that much needs to be done.

One of the many things that couples are concerned about is cost. My venue, and many other venues, don’t charge for postponements in this kind of situation. We simply do what needs to be done. That’s often the case with caterers, given enough notice prior to their ordering food, materials, and supplies. This is an extraordinary situation and everybody in the wedding industry is doing all that they can to make it work for their couples and at the same time keep their lights on and stay in business.

So it’s been a week of heart-wrenching conversations. This is the first time that I have ever written this column and been in tears while doing it. The vast majority of my couples have been gracious and thankful as we have worked through this together. Still painful and takes an emotional toll on everybody. It’s a difficult situation for me, for my couples, and for everyone in the wedding industry.

What’s my advice to you?

If you have a wedding planned at any time in 2020, talk with your venue, talk with your caterer. Get the conversation started. And when I say “talk”, I mean have a phone or video conversation. This is a situation that calls for dialogue, for compassion, for understanding. We need to all work together to take care of each other.

Once you have the conversation started with your venue and caterer, bring all of your other wedding professionals up to speed. The earlier that you’re in touch with everyone, the easier it will be to move forward when you’re ready to set your new date.

Everyone involved has a common goal. We want your fabulous wedding to take place, full of all the joy and happiness and delight that every wedding should have. It may be that your wedding is delayed by a few months, or even a year. No matter. In the greater scheme of things it’s a small sacrifice, especially compared to all of the lives that will be saved in the waiting. And at some point in your life you’ll have a great story to tell about how you helped to stop the coronavirus.

David L. Egan is the proprietor and steward of the castle at Chase Court, a wedding ceremony and reception venue in downtown Baltimore.

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