Dispatches from the Ballroom - COVID19 Re-Opening Edition
Good Morning Everyone! Whether you are an engaged couple whose wedding has been caught in the COVID net, or you are just starting your planning journey, we all share the anticipation of venues and vendors re-opening their doors. Today's blog entry will give some updates and advice on where the Orlando area stands with regard to that topic. We will also throw in a discussion about navigating this unknown territory when it comes to postponing your date or making changes and cancellations with vendors. Let's sail ahead, shall we?
First and foremost, venues and restaurants are working hard all across the city to re-open. Whether that is happening now in Phase 1, or is being planned for implementation once we reach Phase 2, varies from place to place and is up to individual ownership.
What is important to remember for couples, no matter where you are in the process, is that these venues and vendors desperately want to be open and to serve you in the most normal way possible. They have to do it safely and within the guidelines set by the state, and walk the tightrope between existing clients needing to postpone their events, and existing clients who were already booked in those later dates before the pandemic.
This balancing act is being seen most often with clients facing change fees and non-refundable deposits when trying to change dates. The vast majority of venues and vendors we work with have been feverishly adjusting calendars to accommodate the needs of those couples rescheduling due to COVID-mandated closures, without requiring a "change fee".
For those weddings, the only fees have typically come when changing from less-busy days of the week to the highly coveted Friday/Saturday/Sunday window. These days already cost more simply due to supply and demand, so the change fee in those cases is really just the difference in cost that was always there.
Where couples can expect to encounter potentially unwelcome news is when trying to cancel or reschedule on dates that the venues or vendors are able to work. Most contracts we see have non-refundable and non-transferable clauses for the deposits paid by the couple. While this may seem arbitrary and punitive, it will help lower the stress level for couples to consider why these are in place. When a contract is signed, that vendor will no longer take additional work that day, to focus on the client's needs. The deposit/retainer fee protects them against business they cannot then book, and often covers the expense of supplies they must purchase for that wedding.
The same holds true for the non-transferable clause in most contracts, it is in place to keep the venue and vendor from being harmed by the loss of business they could have booked in a particular time slot. None of these business are trying to extract money from their clients, but they must protect themselves so they can stay in business to serve their clients.
We will finish by looking at the current guidelines for safe business operation that are in place and being practiced by most venues and vendors. For indoor event spaces, there can be no more than 8 people at a round table that is 6-foot in diameter. All tables must be 6 feet away from other tables around them. Sanitizing stations have been added throughout the properties, and store-fronts for any vendors that have them.
Dance floors for events are being discouraged due to the issues with maintaining social distancing requirements. If couples really want one however, they should check with their venue, and be prepared to order a larger size if needed to comply with regulations.
Some vendor-specific details are also starting to emerge as businesses re-open. DJ's and Entertainers are working on ways to maintain social distancing while still taking the traditional music requests. Ask your DJ if they will allow requests by text, or if there will be disposable papers that guests can fill out. Hair and makeup artists are generally going to wear masks to protect their clients and themselves, especially with masks being difficult for the clients to wear themselves.
One venue, Historic Dubsdread Ballroom, has been quick to put out a sheet with new guidelines, and a few novel ones bear mentioning. They will require attendants at all buffet stations instead of guests self-serving, and all employees working will wear masks and disposable gloves unless requested not to do so. Dubsdread is also offering a bathroom attendant service, if couples wish to give their guests extra peace of mind that the facilities will be disinfected throughout the event.
Thank you for checking out today's blog, we are all eager to get back to work and give all of our clients the amazing, stress-free weddings they deserve. As we ease into this new world and way of doing business, remember to reach out to your coordinator and vendors with any questions you may have, and know that they are busy trying to help everyone get back to some sense of normal. Please take a look at our main blog page to see all our other posts, and get in touch with us if you have any questions about them or the services we offer! See you back here soon for more!