Monday, March 23, 2020

The Wedding that Didn't Happen

We had planned to get married Saturday, March 21st, but cancelled due to coronavirus, specifically, our concern for the older members of our family (fortunately, there are many of them) and the various recommendations, orders, etc., requiring seniors to stay at home in California, advising Americans not to gather in groups larger than ten, and requiring restaurants to close.

The transactional attorney in me had seen the likely need to cancel on the horizon and reviewed each of our vendor contracts in advance so as to understand whether we should preemptively cancel or allow the government's action to force the vendor to cancel on us. In almost all cases, the termination provisions in the contracts worked such that waiting for the vendor to cancel minimized our financial loss. So we waited. Here are the results:

  • Chapel and chair rental: full refund of our deposit
  • Officiant: no fee involved since the officiant-to-be was the groom's brother
  • Photographer: no charge*
  • Musician: full refund of deposit (contract explicitly provided for cancellation and refund in the event of an epidemic)
  • Restaurant: no charge (contract provided that restaurant would charge us $2,500 if we cancelled our dinner for 20, but because they cancelled first due to a government order that shut down the restaurant, there was no charge)**
  • Flowers: we ordered a bouquet and boutonniere from Farmgirl Flowers, who wasn't able to process our order cancellation because the company chose to staff customer service with a skeleton crew after San Francisco issued its shelter in place order; customer service was not taking any phone calls; by the time customer service replied to my cancellation request by email a few days later, they indicated our bouquet and boutonniere had already shipped and therefore we would not receive a refund, but a credit for a future purchase
  • Wedding license: our application fee was just $21 since we had completed a marriage counseling class at M's church, but it looks like we will need to re-apply because you only have 90 days to get married from the date that you file your application and pick up your certificate
  • Invitations: we used Paperless Post because we planned the wedding quickly, so we're only out of pocket $10.50 on invitations
  • Wedding bands: we'll hold on to M's wedding band for use when we eventually marry; at my insistence, I'm not getting a wedding band because I discovered M is making payments on the engagement ring
  • Groom's updated dress uniform and shoe rental: we're out of pocket here as M had to buy an updated set of medals and a new dress shirt and pants, and his rental shoes arrived at the house before the wedding was cancelled, however, we assume we'll use all of this when we eventually marry and he'll just need to re-rent the shoes
  • Bride's dress and shoes: we're out of pocket here as my dress (which I don't like, but chose as the best of the available options given that we planned the wedding so quickly) cannot be returned because it had been hemmed
* Our photographer didn't collect a deposit from us because we were booking her for just two hours. I asked whether we could make an arrangement to pay her some amount now for photos to be taken later and she declined because she has a day job that will keep her afloat. Still, if the world is still upside down in two weeks, I plan to circle back to her and make the offer again just in case she needs help.

** We understand that many restaurants are struggling to survive and plan to eat our first meal out post-pandemic at this particular restaurant.

We are one of a great many couples that have had to cancel or postpone a wedding this week. I use the word "cancel" here because, at this moment--after planning and unwinding a wedding all in the span of less than 30 days--I have no appetite to plan another wedding. Seems more likely we'll just get married at a courthouse. Time will tell.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Getting Married (or Not) During a Pandemic

Two weeks ago, an opportunity to get married at a venue that we love opened up. We jumped on the opportunity and managed to plan a small (~20 person) wedding and dinner for our family members to attend. The planning was going as smoothly as could be expected:

  • we used Paperless Post invitations because there wasn't enough time to print high quality invitations (the part of me that adores fine stationary was a touch heartbroken about this)
  • we found a photographer 
  • we tried to find a harpist, but ended up with a violinist and cellist to play at the ceremony
  • we ordered a bouquet and corsage 
  • we found a restaurant near the venue to host our group (after a few restaurants closer to downtown laughed at our inquiry because they were booked to the brim due to SXSW--of course, now that SXSW has been cancelled, these restaurants have circled back to us)
  • my family found flights and hotels located outside of downtown and closer to the venue (his family lives in town or within driving distance)
  • he updated his dress uniform to reflect his current rank
  • I found a great pair of shoes and a mediocre dress (a three-week planning period wasn't enough to order a real wedding dress)
And then SXSW was cancelled, the work conference in California that I should have been at this very moment was cancelled, and the US reaction to COVID-19 escalated.

None of our vendors have cancelled on us, as of yesterday, some family members began notifying me that they'd cancelled their travel plans and wouldn't attend. Ironically, the guests at highest risk (late 80s and 90s) appear to be the least concerned.

It seems like everything could change in an instant. I'm not confident that the wedding will actually happen.