Every year, hundreds of brides-to-be flock to the Cayman Islands for the wedding of their dreams, but what to do when your plans are wrecked by a global pandemic?
While some Caribbean countries are talking about reopening their borders to tourists as early as June or July, the Cayman Islands is taking a cautious approach and the anticipated reopening of local borders on 1st September is looking increasingly unlikely because of the increasing scale of infection in our largest visitor market, the US. For the time being, the destination wedding business in the Cayman Islands is not optimistic about returning to business as usual until 2021.
Meanwhile, for the foreseeable future, the only people getting into the Cayman Islands are Caymanian, permanent residents, work-permit holders or foreign homeowners. All are quarantined for a minimum of 14 days upon arrival. Obviously this is not going to work for the Grand Cayman destination wedding business, and the global lockdown has been devastating for couples in the midst of preparation, and for local wedding vendors and planners.
The prospect of having to cancel a wedding is hard: It takes months of planning and it’s a huge expense. Turning to the pros for guidance will help navigate an otherwise tricky scenario. If you have a Caribbean wedding planner, talk to them. They might have dealt with similar situations in the past or they’ll have advice that’ll make you feel like you don’t have to cope with everything on your own.
if you don’t have a Grand Cayman wedding planner, contact your venue and vendors to find a backup date that works, and a deadline for when you need to decide by. Get it all in writing and have a timeline for when you need to make critical decisions. Make a deposit if needed to reserve any backup dates, making sure that it can be applied to both current or postponed events.
Across the Cayman Islands, there are wedding planners, florists, venues, caterers, photographers, DJs and rental companies all trying to sort out how to support couples and their guests under fast-changing public health rules, or prepare for next year. Flexibility and good planning are going to be necessary for everybody concerned. Here are a few important pointers:
Look at Your Contracts All the vendor you’ve hired will have their own rules about postponing or canceling, so it’s vital you read the fine print in your contract before getting in touch. Most important is the contract you have with your venue, as most will have a rescheduling clause that could help you avoid major cancellation costs.
Wedding Vendors Have Already Been Paid. Now What? Wedding vendors are generally being considerate and sympathetic with date and venue changes. If you plan to postpone your wedding, most vendors are ready to reschedule. If you plan to cancel your celebrations, tell your vendors as soon as possible and come to a mutual agreement regarding the refunds.
Whether to Cancel..? Cancellation is a worst-case scenario. In many cases, you will lose your original deposit and the vendor will have to decide if they are going to give part of a non-refundable deposit back due to the special circumstances.
…Or Postpone? Due to the severity of the pandemic lockdown, some vendors are allowing date changes without an additional fee, but be aware that dates for next year may come with additional rate increases. Postponement will also put significant pressure on the 2021 wedding season, with potentially double the number of couples looking to tie the knot, so competition could be fierce.
What Should Be My New Wedding Date? This is the question on everybody’s lips. The situation continues to change with regards to Covid-19 in the Cayman Islands as well as the outside world and while nobody can predict the government’s plan for the next three weeks, never mind the next three months, the best advice is to hold off, and only begin planning a wedding after the lockdown is lifted. With the September reopening date for the Cayman Islands already looking unlikely, starting to plan for anything before October would be unwise.
Small Wedding, Big Reception Consider changing to a small, private ceremony in your home town, following local rules on social distancing, then throw the Cayman Islands reception of your dreams at a later date when restrictions are lifted and gathering in large groups is again safe. Planning a wedding reception for a future date can also be the best way to continue to work with the vendors you’ve already hired, as your deposit and payments could be used towards the new event.
It’s stressful enough to plan a wedding without a global pandemic throwing everything into chaos. So much time and effort went into something that you thought would be happening in the next couple of months. Feeling disappointed or frustrated is normal. Take support from your family, friends and your partner as you make difficult decisions about what to do next.