It was officially declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11th of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alas, how would this have an effect for those couples who wish to be officially declared as husband & wife? With the subsequent travel bans that began imposed around the world, the circumstances were nothing short of devastating for couples planning their big day. National guidance protocols were addressed and requested to be adhered and so all planning and scheduled events had to be postponed indefinitely. Any kind of large events, sport events, festivities, weddings and religious and various kinds of assemblies were put on pause. Several couples made arrangements in postponing their wedding ceremonies, but those who are still contemplating over what should be done, I spoke to the well-known face behind “Weddings by Shero”, Shero Meezan on what couples should do and how to face this prevailing situation.
“This has not happened before, so we have to be pragmatic and do what is best for our customers and the country. There’s nothing that we can do panicking, so first things first, keep calm and take one day at a time” says Shero on her initial thoughts of the pandemic.
The consequences of the pandemic and the impact it has on businesses is like a giant game of chess. It is imperative to mitigate the financial losses and give consumers new hope with well planned strategies. Including alternatives for rescheduling their events.
“The coronavirus has disrupted the wedding industry massively. Everyone in the supply chain from the planners, hotels, caterers to florists have incurred massive losses.” Says Shero.
Adding this to the above Shero says that “Flowers grown for specific weddings have to be discarded, vendors had to refund deposits whilst still having to pay for their overheads”
People and businesses accept that this is a global situation. Weddings that were scheduled to take place in the immediate months are forced to look for alternative later dates, which directly impacts wedding planners. It is during times like this that wedding planners are seen as a luxury, not a necessity, and such businesses are now taking this as an opportunity to grow and bounce back with a fresher approach.
With inevitable caution all businesses and brands related to the wedding industry, that’s backed by one or more weddings were told to explore backup dates, place holds on agendas and extend deadlines. “Our first response was to get in touch with our most imminent events and provide an independent listening ear and shoulder with assurance that their day will come. A little pep talk was needed for our brides especially since it is their day. Coming up with a quick contingency plan is the solution in its first instance.” explains Shero.
Since this is a global situation and as it escalated the first call on action was communicating with clients. With the obvious nature of the scenario, couples were seen as corporative by making initiatives to postpone their special day in their best interest by means of adhering to the government and WHO guidance. “It’s a special day for them and they have to make the call. Weddings are a large gathering and there is a lot of hugging involved! We wouldn’t want our couples to be exposed” states Shero.
Couples who are grappling with the unknown find the prospect of canceling a wedding rather difficult after months of planning and expenses made. It also touches the emotional aspect of seeing all of their friends and families in one place! Getting in touch with the wedding planner and related vendors who are professionals in the industry as a means of guidance in navigating in this tricky scenario is considered helpful to the couples.
“A postponed wedding may seem to be the end of the world for a prospective bride and her family however this gives an opportunity to pause and focus on the relationship and wedding plans. More time to reflect on marriage goals as a couple.” Explains Shero.
The pandemic outburst with no doubt, has made a big hit to the wedding industry, resulting in several postponed weddings, cancellations which will effect their number of requests and bookings. Neverthless, despite the economic blow planners are firm about staying in line with government standards. As a solace, Shero advices all clients that “this time gives you the chance to finesse wedding plans and décor. Go through your budget and consider how to achieve your dream wedding after the lockdown is over. should you postpone further or have a smaller more intimate ceremony. For some this may be a blessing!”
Ofcourse, during this period the couples are facing a lot of confusion and stress. Yet, the best way to move forward is to monitor the ongoing situation and do their due diligence and research.“You have to see if your preferred venue and suppliers are available and if family and friends who are planning to fly down for the wedding can make it. Weddings that work on suitable auspicious times, will need to reconsult religious scholars for preferable times.” Says Shero.
Couples who are in the ‘wait and see’ period will need to look at all possible outcomes and communicate accordingly with their guests. Some couples may have a hard time celebrating right now. No doubt that there is a psychological factor that’s playing a part right now and as a planner its important to be supportive and make the couples feel comfortable.
While the situation is unfortunate, it is important to understand that there are alternative options available. The matter of fact is that this pandemic is the first experience for many of the event planners and professionals in the industry. Apart from mishaps, emergencies and bad weather, this pandemic has a whole new set of issues and protocols that needs navigating. “This will soon pass and we are a nation that has weathered a civil war, a tsunami and other attacks. Take care of yourself, celebrate the love between you and your spouse to be.” Exclaims Shero.
The biggest piece of advice for couples is to avoid procrastinating of a backup plan. These are decisions that impact a great deal in a couples lives. Health and safety measures are imperative for the couples and guests.
In extreme instances, we need to remember that we live in an era of technological advancements. The possibility of virtual solutions for ceremonies where guests are unable to attend. Shero states that “the option of a civil or religious ceremony and to partake of the wedding festivities at a later date, maybe doable. This is popular in Muslim traditions where a simple Nikah is performed and the couple can move on with their lives. Similarly a small church ceremony or civil ceremony may work for other cultures. We do not know how long this pandemic will put a halt on our lives and especially if the couple has to move on abroad or in their careers, there might be other simpler actions.”
Wedding guests too should be kept in the loop about the next steps and it’s the couples necessity to communicate accordingly of cancellations or changes in wedding dates. While planners help in the communication with local vendors, couples are expected to make low key wedding planning and not shirk away that wedding checklist. “We encourage couples to plan full steam ahead, to continue to be inspired and seek out inspiration, and to also share their story.” Says Shero.
Finally, it is in moments like this, when the whole world is experiencing a global loss, we need to live our life and celebrate the moments that matter. “Be ready for that moment and have your plans in place evaluating your ideas for an even better wedding! Till then keep calm and keep planning!”