A statement Regarding Covid-19 from Ashley Nicole Affair
In efforts to address the ‘elephant in the room,’ I wanted to touch base with our couples, vendors, and following to let them know the safety precautions that we are taking, as well as what we do know about the quick turning events in the industry. What I can tell you is we are aware that everything is continuing to escalate faster than we could have ever imagined. One month ago, I remember checking out of a hotel and looking on the television in the lobby and pay zero attention to the quarantined cruise ship. I cannot even fathom how much that news broadcast rolled off my shoulder. I cannot even fathom that within 30 days, it would be taking out so many businesses, lives, and leaving us with the hardest decisions to make. This virus is now forcing us to shut down and it's even harder to stay optimistic when we are in the industry that is centered around a mass amount of people who are always celebrating.
The way that we are trying to approach it is in a situation that leaves everyone as happy as they can be, but also our number one concern is always going to be the safety and health of our couples and their guests. We understand that this is the most anticipated day of your life and only happens once, we don’t think anyone deserves to have that experience taken away from them. We also hope that you can understand that we are just as devastated as you are and are unexpectedly struggling. We still have a roof that we need to keep over our heads, we still have medical bills, private paid health insurance that costs us much as our mortgage, and tiny mouths to feed. It is so disheartening to hear that fellow industry vendors are facing so many cancellations that they are given backlash for retaining the deposit - remember, the 20-50% deposit is now them figuring out how to live off of a payout of 20-50% of their anticipated income.
Corporate companies are having to face laying off employees, severely cutting their hard working employees pay, or begging their employees to take unpaid leave. Not everyone who works for a corporation is being taken care of as much as an employee of Disney and we can safely say that most of them are facing a financial crisis.
Let's talk about what we do know...
The situation is changing daily. It is hard to give any updates because things are happening so quick that we have to come up with solutions, as quick as possible. I have been told you can purchase wedding day insurance, the only one still taking clients is Event Helper, but it does NOT cover pandemics. I would speak with an attorney or a licensed specialist if purchasing wedding day insurance is something that could offer you additional coverage for your big day.
As of right this second, in the city of Austin and most neighboring cities - ALL weddings, social gatherings, etc. are banned if your guest count is over 250.. If you choose to continue to have your wedding despite the ban, you could face a misdemeanor, fine, or up to 180 days in jail. We expect this number to reduce drastically and all events to be halted, in attempts to spread the COVID-19. In Williamson County, they are now enforcing the 50 guest count or less rule at all social gathering. Now the president is suggesting that for the next two weeks, we keep our social gathering circle to under 10 people for at least two weeks. This is going to continue to change by the second, until we can quarantine and contain this pandemic. We heavily encourage you to implement social distancing into your daily lives. Continuing to host a large gathering is putting lives at risk. Staying at home is saving lives right now and NO social gathering is worth the sacrifice of someone's life.
What we are doing for YOU:
When it comes to rescheduling or cancelling your wedding, this is going to let you know how we fit into the bigger picture. If you purchased partial/full service coordination, your package does come with contract review and we are happy to review contracts and figure out where you stand with your vendors. For the month of coordination brides, we do agree that this is falling under the “month before” category, but we recommend that you read over each contract that you have in place with your vendors and contact them directly about how they are handling rescheduling and cancellation. I wish I could say that we are all on the same page, but vendors products & services are so black and white - a florist has ordered flowers, and a caterer has ordered food, yet a coordinator or planner has provided a service. It is hard for all of us to align in our brides and grooms favor, but we are still trying. Please understand that a photographer's cancellation policy is going to be completely different than a catering company's cancellation policy; especially when a company has overhead product and deadlines on that.
If you choose to reschedule, I cannot say that we speak on behalf of everyone, but when it comes to Ashley Nicole Affair we are happy to postpone your wedding to a later date, if our team members are available at no charge if your wedding falls during the shelter in place; that being said, your wedding day may not be the team that were assigned to you initially. We train our coordinators/planners to operate the exact same in every wedding situation and you will be immediately connected with your lead coordinator. In the meantime, you will always have Ashley remaining in constant contact with you, up until the day of your event. If you had a final walkthrough already, we will reschedule another one at no charge with your lead coordinator present at the venue closer to the new date, if requested. Nothing will change from now until your date and your services will be handled by one of our top professionals. A new contract will be sent over for you to review and sign. We will make this a ridiculously flawless transition.
The fine print: Please be mindful of the postponed date that you are considering. We have a VERY busy fall schedule and are no longer accepting weddings on 9/26, 10/10, and 10/17 are close to having a few other no exception/blackout dates. The summer is going to be your best bet, as that is where us vendors have the most open availability.
If you are choosing to cancel your wedding, we are asking that you reach out to Ashley individually. All deposits are non-refundable. Remember that we are here to work for you, in your favor, and make sure that we do our best to fulfill our contract that we both signed and agreed upon the terms. More than 30% of our work has already been done upfront and we feel that we are giving our couples the benefit of the doubt by refunding more than we can afford. All cancellations will be in order of when they are received, rather than in order of wedding dates; unless noted otherwise. Refunds have the chance of being non-refundable if force majeure is enforced by a national lockdown.
We are asking that all of our couples, employees, vendors, and guests remember that hygiene, safety, and good health continues to stay our top priority. To prepare ourselves from spreading the illness, we will do whatever we can as a precaution and will prepare you with changes before they happen. We are doing what we can to not be the problem, but to be a part of the problem's fix - we are cancelling most face to face meetings, walkthroughs, and any type of situation that puts us in a situation where the virus could be spread. We apologize for any inconvenience, sadness, and troubles that this has brought your way. We are sad for our couples. We are sad for our friends in the industry. We are sad for our families. We are sad for the smaller businesses and just as sad for the bigger businesses. We are sad when we have to reschedule a wedding. We are sad when we find out someone else has been laid off.
We urge you to PLEASE follow the instructions and suggestions of the government, CDC, and any higher authority. The quicker that we can quarantine, close down, and cancel life momentarily, the quicker we can get back to stimulating the economy. WE are the one who are refusing to change our behaviors and patterns and people are unnecessarily DYING. If you are afraid of your healthy self getting the virus, that is not the problem. In America, we have 45K ICU beds; in a MODERATE outbreak 200K Americans will need intensive care. Doctors are facing an ethical dilemma by having to choose who they are able to keep alive. WE ARE NOT PREPARED TO BE ONE OF THOSE COUNTRIES.
We will do everything in our power to make sure that we will bring as much support, happiness joy, and help to the situation. We ask that you take a look at the bigger picture and do your part as well.
"From this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part." Let's pursue every measure & safety precaution we can, until we exhaust ALL resources so we can to make sure that no wedding has to end in the spread of COVID-19 and death do us part.