We’re 6 weeks into quarantining at home – how is everyone doing?
Yeah, me too.
But as of May 1, Washington State finally has a plan for reopening – and for allowing weddings to go on! Here’s an article with more details.
Basically, Washington will be reopened in 4 phases. You can see the full phases in the article linked above, but here’s a summary as they pertain to weddings:
Phase 1: No gatherings allowed, non-essential businesses (like wedding photographers!) are still shut down. Starts the week of May 4.
Phase 2: Very small gatherings (5 or fewer people in addition to your household) are allowed, some businesses allowed to reopen. Wedding vendors may be included in this list. Starts no earlier than June 1, may be delayed.
Phase 3: Small gatherings (50 or fewer people) are allowed, all businesses are reopened with social distancing measures in place. Starts no earlier than June 22, may be delayed.
Phase 4: Large gatherings are permitted, with some social distancing measures in place. Starts no earlier than July 13, may be delayed.
What does this mean for weddings and wedding photography? It gives us the earliest possible date we’ll be able to have – and shoot – weddings again. Now, these dates are estimates based on coronavirus data, and if the numbers don’t go down, they could definitely be extended. But for now, here’s what we know:
You may be able to elope after June 1. Phase 2 will allow gatherings of 5 or fewer people in addition to the people in your household. That would allow for a small elopement.
You may be able to have a small wedding after June 22. Phase 3 allows gatherings of 50 or fewer people. If your wedding is under that number – and that includes yourselves, your guests, your wedding vendors and any venue staff or additional people – you may be able to proceed! Planning to elope during this phase? Check out my Elopement Special for intimate weddings.
You may be able to have a larger wedding after July 13. In Phase 4, gatherings over 50 are permitted, with some social distancing. Your big wedding in August may be safe!
Keep in mind that again, these dates are not firm – they are the earliest possible dates for each phase and can (ok, most likely will) be delayed as the data comes in. But for those of you in with events scheduled in June and early July, it gives you some clarity about what won’t be permitted at that time.
With that said, here’s what I’d recommend to couples with weddings coming up this summer:
Weddings before June 22: Postponing is most likely your only option at this time. Even small weddings won’t be permitted, unless you want to restrict it to 5 people total. What IS possible at this time is getting dressed up for an intimate couple’s session, just me and the two of you – that will most likely be allowed after June 1.
Weddings between June 22 and July 13: If you expect more than 50 people, you are required to postpone. If you expect less, your wedding may be possible but you’re in a gray area. I advise continuing with your plans, but talking to your vendors about a back-up date just in case.
Weddings between July 13 and July 31: Proceed with caution. Smaller weddings are likely safe at this point, but larger ones could be in danger if Phase 3 is extended. Again, continue to plan but think about back-up dates as well.
Weddings after Aug. 1: Unless the recovery plan is severely delayed or we have a second wave, I’m hopeful that all weddings will be safe at this point. If you have a lot of guests who are at danger from COVID-19, or a lot who are traveling from out-of-state, you may want to consider rescheduling so they can attend at a later date. It’s always a good idea to research a back-up plan.
If you’re concerned about having a wedding at all this summer, it’s totally your choice to reschedule. It’s best to get started now – many vendors are already giving up prime dates next summer to rescheduling couples so you’ll need to get in early to grab the date you want. You can see my available dates here.
Lemonade Photography’s Coronavirus Policy
I want to do everything I can for couples whose weddings are displaced by Coronavirus. Here are my policies for rescheduling and cancelling your wedding:
Rescheduling: Clients who reschedule their weddings due to coronavirus are permitted to transfer their contract to a new date in 2020 or 2021 with no additional fees. The non-refundable retainer you paid at booking will be applied to your new wedding date, and final payment will be due 10 days before the new date. Rescheduling clients will have first pick of available dates; check my availability calendar here.
If I am not available on your new date, I will seek an associate photographer to cover the wedding in my place. If no photographer can be found, it will be treated as a cancellation. I encourage all clients to check my availability calendar and get in touch early to avoid scheduling conflicts.
Changes: If you decide to downsize your wedding or change to an intimate elopement, you may transfer your non-refundable retainer to cover the cost of photographing the new event. Clients are liable for any excess costs if the value of the new package exceeds the value of the retainer.
Cancelling: If you choose to cancel your wedding without rescheduling, I will refund any money paid to me in excess of your retainer. Retainers are non-refundable in order to cover liquidated damages and any work incurred before your wedding date, including but not limited to travel, meetings, planning time and engagement sessions. You may still apply your retainer to a future wedding, photo session or gift certificate, or transfer it to another person.
As we all know, this is a rapidly changing situation. I will keep this post updated as new info comes in. It’s my hope that with careful management, this outbreak will be under control soon and we’ll all be able to get back to the joyful business of photography! Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or concerns, or even if you just need to vent about all this craziness! I’m right there with you.