Wedding season is upon us but unfortunately for many couples, their dream day won’t be going ahead as planned. In many cases, a wedding takes months, if not years of planning, and so dealing with the reality of the big day not going ahead as planned is an emotional, frustrating and stressful time for couples.
Couples are somewhat unseen victims of the crisis, with around 23,000 weddings taking place in Ireland every year. That means there are thousands of brides-to-be across the country who now need to reorganise their weddings and even more dealing with the uncertainty of whether their upcoming wedding will go ahead or not.
One of Ireland’s leading wedding venues, Hotel Doolin, set along the Wild Atlantic Way in Co. Clare, hosts around 100 weddings a year. Its General Manager, Donal Minihane, has been liaising with couples due to marry at the Hotel since the end of February when the outbreak heightened.
Donal says: “We limit the number of weddings we do each year to about two a week, and only one at weekends, to ensure that each couple has exclusive use of our venue for the day of the wedding and the day after if they wish. Thankfully, we have managed to reschedule all our weddings for our couples to later in the year.
“We’re right at the heart of our busy wedding season but with the hotel being closed and the majority of our staff not working until we get to other side of this, the few of us who are still working really had to rally together to sort new dates and ensure our couples knew we were there for them.
“We support with a large amount of the planning - the food, the music, the cake, the photography, the little extras – so there has been quite a lot to think about. Our priority over the last few weeks was to ensure that we could secure the same suppliers to our brides so they can have the exact wedding they imagined – just on a different day. We’re lucky to work with such amazing couples who all had great perspective on the pandemic’s effects on their weddings. They all focused on the wellbeing of themselves, their guests and our staff, and we really admire them for that.
“Our couples know that they can get in contact with us anytime! We’re working from home and are facilitating video calls. However, we would encourage any couple due to get married at another venue to reach out to us if they are having difficulty. We will do our very best to guide them through the next few weeks and ensure their 2020 wedding goes ahead if at all possible. We’ve set up virtual tours, hosted by my good self, so coming to check out Hotel Doolin is almost like the real thing.
“As a wedding venue, our popularity has grown astronomically over the last few years, especially since we dedicated our efforts to becoming a totally carbon neutral hotel. Brides of today are becoming increasingly conscious and the pairing of our idyllic views, our unique eco-barn and our sustainable-focused wedding packages is what makes getting married at Hotel Doolin so special. We believe it’s the couple’s happiness and the venue’s hospitality that brings that special magic to a wedding – and at least those things can be guaranteed to a couple, regardless of when the wedding takes place.”
Donal has shared his top tips for couples who are looking at a rescheduled wedding date.
If you haven’t yet made a decision on whether you should be postponing your wedding or not, remember that you’re dealing with hospitality experts. Event management and good communication is our bread and butter. It’s likely your venue will be in touch with you before you get in touch with them to inform you and guide you through the process, should you need to reschedule. If you haven’t heard from them, there is likely no need to panic but do feel free to get in touch to put your mind at ease. Just like Hotel Doolin, most venues will work with you to find a new date – it’s very unlikely you will be looking at a cancellation. The industry wants your special day to go ahead and doesn’t want to see you out of pocket so don’t let yourself get carried away with the ‘what-ifs’.
If you have wedding insurance, be extra vigilant in the decisions you make. Firstly, I would advise all couples who have a new date to ensure they change the date of their wedding on their policy – most insurers will accommodate this free of charge. Next, I would advise couples who don’t yet have a new date to take the lead on making a claim from their venue’s advice. For instance, if you decide to cancel your July wedding now, because you want to play on the safe side, it’s likely you won’t be entitled to a pay-out.
We’re dealing with the virus on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis, anything passed the end of May at this stage is too far down the line to make a definite call on. It’s also worthwhile warning couples that to make a claim, your wedding venue must not have an alternative date to offer you, i.e. if they offer you a date and you decline it, it’s very likely you won’t be covered.
Say ‘I Do’ to changes
As hard as it might seem now, the best thing to do for your happiness and sanity is to commit to your new date. We totally understand that you might feel a lot of your efforts were wasted but most of what you want can be recreated. If your Friday or Saturday wedding is now midweek, rest assured that weekday weddings are actually very in vogue and becoming more and more popular as time goes on. A weekday wedding may mean your original ‘most-wanted suppliers’ are now available that weren’t for your Saturday celebration. And let’s remember - all of your guests are currently in isolation and craving a social gathering so any celebration, regardless of the day, will be well-received. I would advise couples to inform guests of their new date as soon as they can so they can make the necessary arrangements work and travel wise.
Ignore the clock
When the day of your postponed wedding arrives, the best thing to do is avoid looking at the clock. Imagining what part of your day you’d be enjoying as the hours go by is a form of self-torture. Best thing to do is plan your day the day before so you keep yourself busy.
Focus on what’s to come
Don’t forget you are still going to have the wedding of your dreams! While it might still feel a little raw to not to be a Mrs just yet, but your wife or husband to be will still be worth the wait. Get back into that fun and exciting planning stage state-of-mind and it will help you to start to look forward to your wedding again.
For more information on Hotel Doolin weddings visit, hoteldoolin.ie