Coronavirus: The uninvited wedding guest. Everything you need to know.
A few months ago a normal reaction to the news that you’re planning a wedding would have been excitement and a multitude of questions about the special date, the dress and the theme. Now, you’re more likely to be met with pitying looks and questions about what you’re going to do because of that most unlikely of uninvited wedding guests… the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
With so much conflicting information doing the rounds and people stockpiling pasta and toilet roll like the apocalypse is coming, it’s hard not to panic if your wedding date is fast approaching. What will happen if group gatherings get outlawed? How will your overseas guests get here if all the flights are cancelled?
What if you get Coronavirus on the day of your wedding? And horror of horrors, what if your wedding venue can’t source any loo roll! We might be joking about that last one (hopefully!), but the key thing to remember is not to get caught up in the hype and make rash decisions about your wedding based on any rumours you might hear. Take things one step at a time. First things first, are you covered if the worse case scenario should happen…
When you did that most boring of wedding planning tasks – taking out your wedding insurance policy, we’re willing to bet pandemic wasn’t exactly top of the list of the reasons you thought you might need it. A fire at your chosen wedding venue, suppliers being ill on the day and lost rings maybe, but Coronavirus, probably not. And yet, now this fast-spreading infection, COVID-19, is probably your number one thought when you think about your impending 2020 wedding. Will Coronavirus become the most unpleasant and uninvited wedding guest ever? If the UK has to follow the measures Italy currently has in place, which means no weddings or large gatherings of people can take place until April 3rd at the earliest, then what happens to your wedding?
While we know you’ll be devastated to have to cancel the most exciting date you’ve ever had in your calendar, weddings can be rescheduled. It’s the financial side of things that is the most worrying for many couples when this is the case though. Will your insurance cover all the money you’ve already spent while planning for your big day, so that you can afford to rearrange once the pandemic has abated?
Will your wedding insurance cover cancellation because of Coronavirus?
Most wedding insurance policies have cancellation coverage that mean you will be reimbursed for any non-refundable payments if the wedding can’t go ahead for a reason beyond your control. Coronavirus fits in to this category. If the government issues a decree to say that large gatherings like weddings can’t go ahead then this is beyond your control and therefore your insurer should pay out in full. If you simply decide you don’t want to take the risk though and cancel your wedding yourself without any official announcement, you won’t be covered.
“Generally speaking, wedding insurance doesn’t cover you for guests that have to cancel flights and accommodation,” says Bernadette Chapman, Founder of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners. “It would normally cover you for cancellation if you or close family member contracted COVID-19 and you deem the wedding inappropriate to continue. If the venue is closed by the local authority, or closes due to infection or because the government issues a lock down, the reception cost is covered. It would not cover you for fear of COVID19 and deciding to cancel yourself.”
So, your first steps should be to reread your wedding insurance policy so you know exactly what you’re covered for and to keep a close eye on the news and the decisions being made in Westminster.
What is the situation if you’re getting married abroad?
Clearly any destination weddings that are due to take place in Italy in the coming weeks are very unlikely to go ahead now with the level of restrictions imposed throughout the country, plus the hundreds of cancelled flights. You’ll need to speak to your wedding insurer as soon as possible to see what your individual policy and situation means in terms of getting money back and being able to rearrange your big day once the pandemic has subsided.
If you’re planning a summer wedding in Italy or elsewhere in the world, don’t panic or add ‘order of 150 face masks’ to your wedding to-do list. At the moment, it’s best to sit tight and simply speak to your venue and various suppliers to see what their plan of action is should the pandemic go on into the summer months. If, worst case scenario, flights to your wedding are cancelled and a large proportion of your guests can’t attend, then most insurance policies will see this as grounds to cancel and offer a full payout.
What happens if you haven’t got wedding insurance yet?
If you haven’t bought your wedding insurance policy yet, now is not a particularly good time as the current climate is making good wedding insurance very hard to come by. The wedding insurance market is in crisis with many major providers like John Lewis and Debenhams suspending the sale of new policies until they have more clarity on the situation.
Some providers, such as WedInsure, are still offering limited cover, which excludes “cancellation or rearrangement due to any claim relating to travel bans, flight cancellations or government acts such as a ban on social gatherings”. This means that any coronavirus-related cancellations aren’t covered. If your wedding is quite a few months away, then it makes sense to wait until there’s more information from the government and World Health Organisation before jumping into a policy that only provides partial cover.
What should you do if your wedding is soon?
If your UK wedding is taking place within the next few weeks, try not to let Coronavirus put a dampener on the final run up and the excitement of the final weeks of planning. You don’t want to look back on the day and only remember the stress you felt about a horrible virus that may or may not have any impact on your day. That said, don’t just ignore the fact that the country is in the midst of a pandemic.
The savvy thing to do is to keep a clear head and speak directly to your wedding venue and suppliers to ensure they are still on board and happy with all the arrangements. “We have had an increasing amount of calls from couples concerned about how the virus affects their wedding day plans,” says Tina Nicol, Sales Director at The Heritage Rocks Group. “We have created a policy in line with government guidelines and given recommendations for each individual couples’ circumstances. In times like this it is important that everybody remains calm, flexible and reasonable.”
My wedding is next week, how do I ensure it goes smoothly?
If your wedding is on the horizon and mandatory quarantine isn’t in full effect, there are a number of ways you can ensure you can still have your dream wedding without it being ruined by Coronavirus.
- If you have guests who are unable to attend, consider live-streaming your event for those to see who wouldn’t want to muss out.
- Use an Instagram hashtag for attendees to use so absent guests can get in on the action.
- Speak to your suppliers, ensure that they are still available. If not, enquire to see if they have any sister suppliers that may be able to jump in on short notice!
- Ensure the venue has plenty of hand sanitizer for the tables (and for the toilets).
Honeymoon vs Mini-Moon
With 75% of flights currently grounded, there is a good chance your honeymoon may be cancelled if it’s due to happen in the next few months. Fortunately, if you are insured, you should receive a full refund due to this being a matter beyond your control.
The next best option is to look within the UK – have a mini-moon in Cornwall, Manchester or Glasgow instead! Then, when flights are back in the air, you can book your dream honeymoon at no extra cost.
Should you ask elderly guests to stay at home?
If the virus continues to spread as quickly as it has been, it might also be sensible to speak to your elderly guests and let them know that you understand their health comes first and that if they can’t come that is completely fine.
Ask your venue if they have anything they can do to help on this front too – good Wi-Fi you can use to FaceTime elderly guests into the ceremony and speeches or perhaps a hamper they can put together with food from the wedding so grandma and grandad don’t miss out? If guests have to drop out for health reasons or because they can’t get there ask your venue if they are able to allocate the spend to upgrades, additional decor or bedrooms for guests that can make it.
Whatever you (or the Government) decides to do, make sure you speak to your venue, suppliers and insurance company first, and only take advice from official channels rather than believing any of the rumours that are spreading faster than the virus itself.
Hollie is a consumer magazine journalist with over seven years of experience working in the wedding industry as Lifestyle Editor for You & Your Wedding magazine. Also a Regional Editor for Muddy Stilettos, Holly has written for Square Meal magazine, Family History Monthly, BBC History magazine and Homes & Antiques.