Ask the Expert: COVID-19 Wedding Questions!

Bridal Guide Editor-in-Chief Diane Forden responds to your wedding questions and provides expert advice on what to do if COVID-19 affects your big-day plans.


bride and groom on swings

Photo Credit: Third Eye Photography

Update: April 7, 2020

Q: I’ve had my dress for a year and will need to store it for another year because our wedding was postponed. What is the safest way to store it so it doesn’t get damaged or discolored?

A: Great question considering that you've already had it for a while and will be wearing it next year. It's essential to have your dress professionally preserved for another year by a dry cleaner with experience in how to do so. I would take your gown to the dry cleaner and have them thoroughly check it for any stains even though you haven't worn it yet. It may not require cleaning but they will have the right packaging materials that guard against any yellowing or other damage to your gown's fabric. Acid-free paper or muslin is used to wrap the gown which is then placed in an acid-free box. 

After you pick up your boxed gown from the dry cleaner, be sure to store it at home in a cool, dry area and keep the box flat. And try to avoid the temptation to open the box or handle the gown! Keep the box out of direct sunlight, too, which can yellow the fabric.

To find a dry cleaner ask your bridal salon for recommendations in your area and do some investigating online. Ask married friends for dry cleaners that they have used, and check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure the dry cleaner has a solid reputation.

Before your wedding day bring the boxed dress back to your dry cleaner to have it professionally steamed and pressed. And best wishes in advance for a very happy 2021 wedding!

Update: March 31, 2020

Q: We have a cruise booked for mid-September going around Italy, Should we just cancel?

A: Considering the devastating effects of Covid-19 on Italy, It's certainly understandable that you are concerned. Hopefully, by September the virus will have peaked, be in a downward curve, and Italian cities once more open to tourists. (I’m guessing that your cruise ship will dock at a coastal Italian city or two.) But trying to make such a prediction at this point is nearly impossible. Keep monitoring the news and guidelines on the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO (World Health Organization) websites. And refer to your cruise ship’s news updates and policies as well. If conditions in Italy haven’t improved much by early August, and you do decide to cancel, find out what your cruise ship’s cancellation policy is. Most cruise ships will allow a cancellation 30-days before departure date and offer credit toward a future booking. Good luck and I hope one day soon you and your new husband will be sailing on a fun, relaxing cruise! 

Q: My wedding is May 1, should I change the date and if yes, to when it’s convenient?

A: Considering that the Federal Guidelines for social distancing have been extended to April 30th, I would advise postponing your wedding. You don’t want to put your guests at risk and many of your vendors may be closed throughout April making it more difficult for them to guarantee they can provide you with what you need on May 1st. If you do postpone, be sure to read all of your contracts carefully to find out what the cancellation/postponement policies are for each vendor and reach out to them immediately to discuss options. Many brides and grooms are postponing now so it may be difficult to get a date you want in 2020 unless you are flexible and will consider another day. Take a deep breath and just know that one day this will be behind you and you’ll be dancing with your fiancé at your wedding surrounded by family and friends. 

Q: We were supposed to get married in April and rescheduled to the end of August. We will need to send out new invites but what do I do about RSVPs? And do I have to invite guests who already declined the April wedding due to Covid-19 fears?

A: I’m so sorry you had to postpone your April wedding but it was a wise decision considering how uncertain everything is, and let’s be hopeful that by August everyone will be happily celebrating with you and your groom. Yes, you do need to send out new invitations and if you haven’t already, send an email blast to guests (even those that cancelled due to Covid concerns) letting them know that you have postponed your wedding to August. Also update your wedding website with new information. You do need to get RSVPs so you know how many tables, place settings and meals are needed at the reception. In light of how Covid-19 has so disrupted weddings, it’s OK to send your guests digital save-the-dates followed by digital invites to save on having to spend even more money on stationery. And ask family members and your bridal party to pitch in to follow-up on RSVPs by phone or email. 

Q: Our elopement package isn’t until October 17, should I consider cancelling? When do we make the call?

A: I wouldn’t feel pressured to decide just yet. We are still six months out and things might improve by then. That said, you are not alone in feeling anxious and uncertain and if it gives you and your fiancé more peace of mind to reschedule than do so. Stay in touch with your venue and their wedding coordinator and read your contract carefully to find out what their policy is for a cancellation or postponement and how soon they would need to be informed. Also check with your airline if you have flights scheduled to see what the cancellation policy is and if you can get credit for a later flight. If you do decide on a later date, see if your deposit or any fees you’ve already paid can be transferred to your postponed elopement. I’m hoping you won’t have to reschedule your elopement and wish you the very best! 

Q: My wedding is in October but the businesses putting it together are closed--when should I panic?

A: Even though most businesses are closed you should still be able to contact them via email. So many businesses have been adversely affected financially and want to do what they can to assure customers that they are accessible. Find out when they would need to place the final order for your wedding and the very latest date can give them for a postponement, if necessary. At the same time discuss their cancellation/postponement policies, see if you can transfer deposits to a new date and get dates when they would be available for postponement. 

Q: At what point does the force majeure clause in a contract come into play?

A:  Force Majeure (a French phrase meaning “superior force”) is also referred to as “overwhelming circumstances” or an “act of God.” In other words, many vendors/sellers include a force majeure clause in contracts to protect themselves from having to fulfill their contractual obligations should there be a natural catastrophe (floods, hurricane, lightening, fire, tornado, blizzard) an act of war, or an act of government. It may also include a disease, epidemic and pandemic such as the one we are experiencing. Please read your contracts carefully to see if any of your vendors have a force majeure clause and get in touch with them immediately to discuss the details further and when they would enforce it. 

Q: My wedding is May 12 and I live in New Jersey. We are unsure of whether to postpone now or should we wait?

A: Hello, fellow Jersey Girl! As you know, New Jersey is considered a hot spot since we are a densely populated state and the corona virus can be more easily transferred. As of this writing (March 30) Governor Murphy has not established an end date for state guidelines that ban gatherings for groups of 10 or less. This is a tough call but it may be wise to postpone your wedding so you and your groom have some peace of mind. We simply don’t know what the status of Covid-19 will be in May and if the cases might still be accelerating. Also, many of your guests may decline to attend fearful of putting their health at risk. As heartbreaking as it is to postpone, you will want to make sure you are all safe and that all of the people you care most about will be able to join you at a later date. Good luck and just know you are not alone in having to make such a difficult decision. 

Update: March 24, 2020

Q: Should I postpone my Spring/Summer 2020 wedding?

A:  As Covid-19 continues to disrupt our daily lives it’s difficult to know where we’ll be in the foreseeable future. And naturally, many of you are left wondering what to do and whether or not to cancel your weddings in the upcoming months. As of this writing, March 24th, 22 states have shelter in place directives and are limiting gatherings of 10 or more people. The positive news is that after two months of lockdowns in China they are set to end the Wuhan lockdown on April 8 and are lifting restrictions in other areas. The hope is that if we maintain our own stay in place directives the virus curve will flatten and states will end their lockdowns. My best advice for [May/June/July] brides is to monitor your states’ policies and directives daily. If in mid-April the virus is not under control in your state and the shelter in place directive might extend for another month or two, you may have to consider rescheduling your celebration for a later date.

For those August brides and later, consider doing the same: Monitor the situation daily and if you feel that circumstances in your state are unchanging by the early summer you might want to reschedule as well. That said, we at Bridal Guide are here to help. Please reach out to us with your questions and share your experiences with us. We are so sorry that for many of you, your wedding plans have been disrupted and your destination wedding and honeymoon plans cancelled. You are not alone and we are here for you. Stay safe and stay well. And for those who have already postponed your wedding just know that one day soon you will be marrying your best friend and partner for life surrounded by all your loved ones. That is what is most important. Best of luck to all of you!

Q: Should we purchase wedding insurance now that our wedding has been postponed?

A:  Hopefully, by August the effects of Covid-19 will show signs of diminishing, the restrictions put in place by many states will have lifted and you can enjoy celebrating with your family and friends without worry. Before you purchase any wedding insurance, you should know that policies do not cover a global pandemic. I would recommend that you call insurance brokers and ask if they are still offering policies and if so, find out what is covered. Make sure you have a list of questions to ask and that the insurance broker is very specific about what is and what is not covered. You may still want to purchase insurance to cover other categories but it’s doubtful that the policy would cover a cancellation due to the virus. Good luck, and I hope you are celebrating your marriage surrounded by family and friends in August!

For more tips on how to postpone your wedding, click here