March 18, 2020
These are trying times. I’m writing this from my studio in Los Angeles, California, and while we don’t currently have an official shelter-in-place order in effect where I live, many communities in my state do. In Los Angeles, we are into the third day of a 16-day city-wide shut down of restaurants and other eating and entertainment establishments. The CDC has also recommended the cancelling of all gatherings of more than 50 people. These orders have effectively shut down the event industry. This situation not only affects those of us who work in this industry, it affects my clients and their families as well, most of whom have spent the better part of the last year (or longer) planning what should be a joyous event.
But the purpose of this post isn’t to bemoan the current state of things. I instead want to look forward to the future and provide some advice for planning or rescheduling your event after this Covid-19 Coronavirus shutdown.
What To Do If Your Event Was Cancelled Due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus Shutdown
Reach Out to Your Venue
Work with your venue to reschedule your event for a date later in summer or fall. Cancellation policies in your contract will prevail, and at most, you may lose a deposit. However, the CDC recommends that those organizing large events create flexible refund policies, so hopefully venues will do the same to accommodate their clients since this situation affects everyone. From what I’m reading in some of my industry groups on Facebook, venues are being accommodating and are working hard with their clients to reschedule their events. That’s good to hear.
Speak with Your Vendors
For vendors who ordered supplies or already produced work on your behalf, they should be paid. Their contract terms will dictate payment terms, but from what I’ve heard, most will work with clients to figure out how to recreate the experience at a future date. Because our industry is effectively shut down right now because of the Covid-19 Coronavirus, most event industry vendors I know will be eager to work with their clients to make the best out of a difficult situation.
I have a client whose wedding was cancelled. It was supposed to take place on March 15th. On the Friday before, they had to cancel it because the father of the bride showed signs of Covid-19. I had already prepared all the print work (menus, seating cards, and signage). I’d already been paid, but I am sensitive to the situation. There is a lot we can reuse, but some things were printed with the wedding date on it and will need to be reprinted, so I will offer to reprint those items at my cost once my client decides on a new date for her wedding. I can only hope the rest of her vendors will be as accommodating. No need to add to an already stressful situation.
Communicate with Your Guests
Let your guests know about your plans to reschedule your event, whether it’s a bar mitzvah, a wedding ceremony, or other celebration. There are many ways you can do this: via email, via an online invitation website such as Paperless Post or GreenVelope, or with a printed Change the Date invitation. Invitation Maven can help you design your notice to inform your guests of your rescheduled event using whatever method you choose.
I have another client whose wedding was also scheduled for March 15th. They did not cancel, but two days before the wedding, they did significantly reduce the size of their event, choosing to limit it to immediate family and close friends only. They communicated this last-minute change of plans to their guests via Paperless Post.
If Your Event is Beyond the Covid-19 Coronavirus Shutdown Period
As of March 15, 2020, the CDC is recommending that events with more than 50 people be cancelled for the ensuing eight weeks, which means events through about May 10th should be cancelled. But no one knows if this eight-week period will be extended. As many weddings and bar mitzvahs that were cancelled during the Covid-19 Coronavirus shutdown, many more are in a state of uncertainty because their dates are beyond this initial eight-week period, and no one knows what will happen as things are fluid and changes happen quickly. I have several clients currently in this situation, and they are hesitant to move forward with their plans in case things change again.
If you have an event scheduled for May, June, or July, or even for sometime in the fall, the best things to do right away if you haven’t done so already is speak with your vendors and then communicate with your guests.
I have already reached out to each of my clients with events during May, June and July. Two are moving forward with their invitations, and two are still unsure. One thing I am offering to these clients is to print what I’m calling a Contingency Card that they can include with their invitations. This Contingency Card will include information in case the event has to be cancelled or postponed. We will also include a line on the RSVP card asking for contact information from each guest so that my clients can reach out in case there is a change in plans. I am doing this at no charge. It’s important to make this process as stress-free as possible for my clients, so including this gift is a simple way I can help.
Need Invitations for a Rescheduled Event?
If you must or think you might have to reschedule your event because of the Covid-19 Coronavirus shutdown, or have an upcoming event scheduled for this summer and aren’t sure if it will take place, Invitation Maven is offering a free Contingency Card for all clients (current and new), and will assist in any way we can. Please reach out to us at [email protected] or call us at (424) 666-1796.
You can read more about large events from the CDC here.