The world is a different place than it was a week ago. Last week we all thought this would blow over, and now we are all facing virtual house arrest to keep ourselves and each other safe from the outbreak. But what does that mean if you were planning an event? You might be a bride thinking 'Do I have to cancel my wedding?' or a charity desperate to know if your fundraiser can go ahead.
There is obviously a lot that we still don't know and that will become clear in coming weeks/months, and the government and World Health Organisation are the only source of official information. But whether or not you have to cancel your event due to a ban or some such, or you want to cancel your event as you and your guests have concerns about safety, here are the 4 steps to take to figure out where you are.
1. Check your contract and deadlines
Depending on what your event is and when, your contract with your venue and other suppliers will have details on cancellation and circumstances surrounding it. Contracts can be horrible confusing and lengthy documents so to save time, search for the terms Force Majeure (which is French for "superior force") or Acts of God. This should take you to the right section. Then, once you have re-familiarised yourself with the framework...
2. Check your insurance
Every policy differs here, and of course a lot depends on the government legislation at the time of your event and whether or not events are banned or just advised against. Which have put together a really handy article on 12 of the biggest wedding insurers and how policy holders will be affected, you can read it here
If you paid for anything with a credit card that also gives you a layer of protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, more info on that here.
3. Talk to your suppliers
Everyone is in a tricky spot right now, the photographers and florists and venues and bands and caterers are all just as worried as the brides and grooms and charities and companies and individuals who were hosting. It might be better for everyone to postpone instead of outright cancel. Postponing could save you money as you won't get hit with a cancellation fee and it will also ease your state of mine and that of your suppliers. Communicate with each other and try and find a way to still all come together for event in months to come. Also consider the mental impact of cancelling compared to postponing, and how having a date in the future to still look forward to will make you feel rather than an empty abyss of occasions.
4. Talk to your guests
Your guests will all have questions about your event and once you have gone through the above steps and figured out the way forward, now is the time to communicate it with them. You might want to send a holding email to them in the meantime with a line like 'we are closely monitoring the situation as it unfolds and will be in touch soon with more details, thank you for your patience'.
Everyone understands the climate we are in, and will have compassion. If you postpone and have a new date, ask everyone to save it in their diaries pending further information and then try to relax whilst we all wait and see how things pan out.
Remember that the best places for information remain the government website and the World Health Organisation. I am personally trying to avoid the media as it is sending everyone into a bit of a panic spiral which is not helping anyone. If you have an event coming up and are now unsure what to do, I'm happy to chat to you so please feel free to get in touch and I'll help if I can. Check out other ways I can help on this page.