In the midst of COVID-19 we as industry professionals are called to flex our expertise and creativity to rally around our couples, change the course of multiple weddings, and guide each of our couples through changes in plans and postponements in this uncertain territory. Since last week, I personally have been pivoting my couples’ scheduled spring weddings and I've proudly watched the members of our industry rise up and do the same across the whole world. And, all the while, we're keeping our emotions and worries about our own small businesses in check so we can focus on those emotions of our couples who so desperately need our strength and experience at this time.
With that said, I'm here today with the leaders of Aisle Planner to help you take actionable steps to help your clients maintain control and comfort during this fast-paced uncertain time. Right now, knowledge is power, proactivity is your secret weapon, and you're an integral part of your couples’ support system. As you pivot, being methodical, transparent, and organized will help you maintain control and level-headedness. And here's the good news—you already have tools at your fingertips that you can put to work to help your clients feel informed and make decisions, as well as help promote creativity as your their wedding visions change a bit!
Below are five steps we can implement in Aisle Planner to help us be proactive, maintain control, and be calm through COVID-19:
1. Create a "Plan B" Note: As couples begin to determine if their weddings will need to be postponed, inboxes will be flooding with updates on dates of availability and updates on those dates that've been taken. A great way to prevent added stress is by tracking these dates in Aisle Planner for your couples. Create a “Plan B” note in the Notes section of Aisle Planner. For each and every vendor on the dream team, list out their dates of availability during the target postponement months. At the very top of this note list the most “optimal” dates where all or most vendors are available and can swiftly pivot. Direct your couple to consistently check this document as they begin to determine if they need to postpone. As vendors email to update you on dates changing, keep this note updated and send a notification to the couple letting them know that dates have been updated. The goal with this strategy is to keep your couple constantly in the know of who's available and understanding their new date options from a “bigger picture” standpoint. This document will help you to make a swift decision on which date to postpone to, all while keeping your vendor team in tact as much as possible, which will create a streamlined change.
2. Create a Private "Cancellation and Postponement Clauses" Note: Create a private note for yourself in Aisle Planner in the Notes section called “Cancellation and Postponement Clauses” with each and every cancellation and postponement clause from each vendor contract on your couple’s vendor team. The idea here is to allow you to see all of your clauses in one place so you can easily make recommendations and decisions, and swiftly move your client to Plan B knowing if there are any postponement fees, rules to abide by in order to meet postponement qualification (ie: must postpone within 365 days from the original date), etc.
3. Turn the Wedding Website Into a Communication Hub for Guests: To keep your couple’s guests in the loop and prevent your couple from being inundated with emails, texts, and phone calls that increase their stress level, update their wedding website (whether hosted on Aisle Planner or elsewhere) to include the following wording on the cover page, in the accommodations section and in the schedule of events section:
"In light of COVID-19/Coronavirus, please continue checking this wedding website regularly for updates to our schedule of events. We sincerely hope to have our wedding as planned with our family and friends. At this time, we are cautiously optimistic and planning to proceed as scheduled on ____________. With that said, we will keep you updated on our plans should we need to consider postponement to a later date."
If postponement is ultimately required, update the wedding website dates, times, and accommodations information as soon as possible to ensure guests are aware of changes. Let your guests know with a postponement announcement from your stationer, whether it be a physical mailer or an emailed postponement.
Also, consider updating the wedding website to include information about maintaining good health conditions at the celebration with verbiage such as:
"We kindly request that if you have recently traveled to high risk areas, knowingly have been exposed to the virus within 21 days of the wedding, or are experiencing symptoms that you refrain from attending the celebration and attend from afar. For our guests who are 60+ years old and those with underlying health conditions/weakened immune systems, we ask that you take extra precaution and carefully consider attendance."
And finally, consider adding the following information:
- All vendors on the vendor team who are feeling ill or have traveled to high risk areas will not attend.
- All vendors will wash hands regularly in warm soapy water and wear gloves when setting up and serving food.
- Signage will be in restrooms reminding everyone to wash their hands for 30 seconds in warm soapy water and dry thoroughly. Hand sanitizer will be available in restrooms, by bars, and at entryways.
- We will plan to keep good social distance whenever possible. At this time “air kisses” are idyllic! We request guests do not share entree selections, glasses/cocktails, utensils, napkins, and straws."
4. Update Aisle Planner ASAP: This sounds like a no-brainer, but swiftly updating your plans in Aisle Planner will maintain momentum and help your couple feel more in control—they'll no longer feel vulnerable and in limbo. If it's determined you must postpone, update the date, venue (only if needed), update the Contacts section with the revised contracts, and update Budgets if needed along with new payment due dates. This step will go a long way in helping your couples breathe a sigh of relief!
Pro Tip: Check out this three-part article series where we’ll take you through the tool divisions and provide style tips on how to use the AP tools in innovative ways to enhance your business. Here's part 1, 2, and 3!
5. Get Creative in the Design Studio: If your couple’s wedding season or venue changes, the couple might request updates to their design to accommodate! You'll want the couple to feel excited about this opportunity. As an example, if the season is changing such as spring to winter and your color palette includes whites, soft neutrals, and green, you can easily tweak the palette to winter white, neutrals, and greens that are deeper in tone for a winter fete. Consider adding in textural elements such as snowberry into floral arrangements, pale blush or champagne velvet into table linens, etc. to keep the romantic color palette in tact while bridging the gap between the seasons. You can visually show these tweaks to your couple in the Design Studio and wow them to further confirm that their wedding will be stunning no matter when the celebration will take place.
I encourage you to put these actions into practice to better help you navigate with ease, and I promise you that everyone will benefit! And remember, you're moving mountains and making dream weddings become a reality for couples. You're amazing. You've got this!