covid-19-queenstown-wedding-planning

Covid -19 Queenstown Wedding Planning (updated 8/4/20)

If you’re here reading this blog post, then chances are the giant wrecking ball that is Covid-19 has ripped a gaping hole in your Queenstown wedding planning.

First things first, I feel your pain!  Planning a wedding is stressful enough at the best of times.  Planning a wedding in the midst of a global pandemic is next level!  If you need Covid-19 Queenstown Wedding Planning info or advice, I’m here for you. Even if you just need somebody (who gets it) to vent to.  Even if you have booked another photographer. Give me a bell.


Right, now let’s move on to the current situation in NZ and what it (probably) means for your wedding and what to do about it.  Buckle up, here we go!

Tip: if you just want to skip to the “What do I do now?” section, scroll down to the “MY COVID-19 WEDDING PLANNING TIPS FOR COUPLES PLANNING A QUEENSTOWN WEDDING” section.

Disclaimer

I don’t have all the answers for you re Covid-19. The reality is nobody has all the answers and we all have to wait and see how the situation develops and do our best to deal with a very difficult situation. The information in this blog post is mostly based around reading and condensing the helpful info on the NZ Ministry of Health’s website re Covid-19. I will attempt to keep this blog post as up to date as possible.

Contact Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453 if you begin to feel unwell. The symptoms of COVID-19 are cough, fever, and shortness of breath.

For all non-health related questions, call 0800 Government (0800 779 997).

THE COVID-19 SITUATION IN NEW ZEALAND AS OF 8 APRIL 2020


We have a total of 943 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and have had 1 death.  
At this stage, the number of daily new confirmed cases has started to drop so it seems as though we might be flattening the curve of Covid-19 in NZ.
NZ is currently in a nation-wide Covid-19 Alert Level 4 which the government introduced at midnight on Wednesday 25 March.

WHAT IS COVID-19 ALERT LEVEL 4?

Covid-19 Alert Level 4 means the NZ borders are closed to anybody who isn’t a resident or citizen of NZ.
People are asked to stay at home as much as possible and keep a minimum 2 metre distance from everybody except those they are self-isolating with.
You are allowed to leave your house for occasional exercise but aren’t meant to drive anywhere except to go to the supermarket for food, the pharmacist for medicine and other essential services.

  • Everyone to stay at home except those providing or utilising essential services (supermarkets, pharmacies, medical)
  • Businesses closed except for essential services (eg supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics) and lifeline utilities
  • Mass gatherings cancelled
  • Public venues & educational facilities closed (e.g. libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, amusement parks)
  • travel severely limited
  • major reprioritisation of healthcare services.

WHAT IS THE LIKELY FORECAST FOR THE COVID-19 SITUATION IN NZ?

ALERT LEVEL FORECAST

At this stage the NZ government is indicating that we won’t leave Alert Level 4 until the 4 weeks is over, ie at midnight on 24 April.  At this point, I think it’s likely the government will re-assess any reduced alert levels area by area rather than nation-wide.

Because the “Southern” District Health Board (which includes Queenstown) has by far the highest number of confirmed cases nation-wide, I fully expect Queenstown and the “Southern” DHB will stay at Level 4 longer – possibly an additional 2 weeks.  
At a guess, I’m expecting most of NZ will stay at a minimum of Alert Level 3 for an additional 2 weeks, ie ending around 8 May.

After that, we may reduce again to Alert Level 2, which means our borders are open to visitors but likely with a mandatory 14 day self-isolation period.  
I think it’s likely that there may still be a ban on travel to NZ from the worst-hit countries at this stage (like the US, Italy, France, Germany and the UK) and we will likely stay at Alert Level 2 for several weeks, which might take us through to the end of May.  Ie by early June we might be able to allow visitors into NZ without the mandatory 14 day self-isolation period.

THE FINANCIAL IMPACT OF COVID-19

There are already millions of people out of jobs around the world but many of them are receiving some form of government support.  But that support can’t last forever and some of those jobs aren’t coming back. At least, not any time soon.
So, I think it’s safe to say that for the next year at least we are all going to have less money to spend.

THE EFFECT ON THE QUEENSTOWN WEDDING INDUSTRY

Income has effectively stopped for all Queenstown Wedding Venues and Vendors.  Many of us may not have any new income from wedding work for months. And even when NZ does leave lock-down, destination weddings to Queenstown are likely to not happen in any significant numbers until the end of the year.
This could all mean a lot of Queenstown Wedding Venues and Vendors fighting for a piece of a much smaller pie.  Some Queenstown wedding pros will leave the industry entirely, some will attempt to boost their income with another job/income stream.
Many overseas couples who have booked a Queenstown wedding in the next 6 months may be forced to either marry at home or postpone their wedding up to a year.  However, if they cancel they will likely forfeit all their deposits, so they will have even less money to spend on their local wedding.
Kiwi couples who had booked an international wedding will likely be in the same boat – cancel or reschedule.
This could mean an increased number of weddings in 2021 and a scarcity of local vendors to service them.

MY COVID-19 WEDDING PLANNING TIPS FOR COUPLES PLANNING A QUEENSTOWN WEDDING

TIPS FOR OVERSEAS COUPLES PLANNING A QUEENSTOWN DESTINATION WEDDING

If you are an overseas couPle and you’re planning a destination Queenstown wedding any earlier than June, your best options in my opinion are…

  1. Postpone for a minimum of 3 months (ideally 6+)
  2. Cancel the Queenstown wedding and get married locally (if you haven’t booked a significant amount of vendors or your venue)
  3. ElopE in Queenstown instead of doing the big wedding thing.  Eloping means you can potentially still get married even if social distancing, 14 days self-isolation upon entry to NZ, limits on public events etc regulations are still in place.  You may still be out of pocket if you cancel a venue/multiple vendors but you will save on the rest of the wedding.

TIPS FOR KIWI COUPLES PLANNING A QUEENSTOWN WEDDING

If you’re a Kiwi couple and you’re planning a Queenstown wedding any earlier than mid-May, your best options in my opinion are…

  1. Proceed with the wedding.  But realise that many international guests may not be able to attend.  (You could always rig up a Skye feed for them – I think we’ve all got used to doing things remotely/by Skype these past few weeks!).
  2. Postpone for a minimum of 3 months.
  3. Cancel the Queenstown wedding and get married locally (if you haven’t booked a significant amount of vendors or your venue)
  4. Elope in Queenstown instead of doing the big wedding thing.  Eloping means you can potentially still get married even if social distancing, 14 days self-isolation upon entry to NZ, limits on public events etc regulations are still in place.  You may still be out of pocket if you cancel a venue/multiple vendors but you will save on the rest of the wedding. Eloping also means you can get married on a weekday if you want, greatly reducing availability issues with key vendors.

If you’re planning a destination Queenstown wedding in July or later you may be able to proceed with your wedding more or less as planned.  However, understand that not all of the guests you are expecting may be able to attend..

BEFORE YOU POSTPONE YOUR WEDDING

Talk with all the major players about the possibility of changing the date

  • Your fiance
  • Close friends and family
  • Your bridal party

Check any new potential wedding dates

  • Keep in mind December to March is peak wedding season in Queenstown and availability and cost will be at their worst.
  • Make sure there are no major events or public holidays that might conflict and make booking travel/accommodation etc difficult and expensive.
  • If your new date is in 2020 you may have consider a week-day wedding.  Many venues and vendors will be booked up for every weekend in 2020 and there will be a lot of other couples out there trying to reschedule to a 2020 weekend.

After you have a new date in mind, it’s time to touch base with your venues and vendors.

  • Before you do anything, re-read each venue and vendor contract so you know where you stand legally.
  • Even though you’re stressed, be kind in your dealings with people – everybody is hurting because of Covid-19
  • Make sure the venue/vendors are healthy/operational
  • Ask them what the situation is (ie contract, deposit, payments etc) if you reschedule your wedding.  Especially check re price increases if the new date is in a different financial year and any fees for postponement.
  • Ask them what the situation is if you cancel your wedding.  (And what if you are forced to cancel your wedding because of government Covid-19 regulations (ban or limit on meetings, social distancing, self isolation etc).
  • Ask them what the situation is if you need to significantly reduce the size/value of the Package you booked (less guests at reception, less hours of photography coverage etc).
  • Ask them what the situation is if they can’t provide the service/product booked due to illness (should be covered in their contract)
  • Communicate to them any possible changes in your plans (ie date change,  less guests, less budget, cheaper package etc)
  • Check if Covid-19 will impact their pricing, the type of service they can provide etc (eg staffing issues for venue, vendor doing non-wedding work to pay the bills may have less availability than normal)
  • Ask them if there is a cut-off point for any of their services/products (eg the latest date your florist needs to place orders for your flowers)

STEPS TO TAKE WHEN POSTPONING YOUR WEDDING

  1. Contact your wedding planner (if you have one) and let them know.
  2. Confirm your new wedding date with your venue and vendors.  
  3. Make sure you spell out the date in full including the day of the week and the month in a word format.  Ie Wednesday 8 April 2020. Having the day in there and the month in word format makes date mistakes at either end less likely.
  4. Check if all payments for the old date are transferable to the new date
  5. Double check if there are any postponement fees or date change fees.
  6. Check how the new date affects your payment schedule.
  7. Ask each venue and vendor to send you an addendum contract confirming the new date and release of the old.  Once you sign, make sure they countersign and confirm your new date in writing.
  8. Cancel any Venues/Vendors who can’t do the new date.
  9. Review the cancellation clause of their contract.  
  10. Notify them of the cancellation and ask them to confirm in writing.
  11. If you have wedding insurance, ask if it will cover any cancellation costs.
  12. Ask them for recommendations for similar venues/vendors you might be able to book.
  13. Notify all guests, bridal party and friends and family of the new date/details.
  14. Send “Change the date” cards.
  15. Create or update a wedding website.
  16. Notify everybody via social media and email.
  17. Check if your marriage licenses will still be valid or will need renewing.
  18. If you do have wedding insurance, make sure you let them know the updated date and details for your wedding.
  19. Go over all the details for your wedding.  This is an opportunity to change anything you want to change so you might as well make the most of the opportunity.

Phew!!  Hopefully this all makes sense and you find it helpful.  Hang in there – you can do this! If you need any info or advice, you can reach me here.

Take care, Patrick.