As most of you know, I’m about to become a 2021 bride. Planning a wedding comes with its own set of challenges and stresses. However, planning a wedding during the third wave of a global pandemic, is something else. In my instance, after delaying our plans for two years, the show must go on.
Here are some tips and tricks that I learned while looking for a venue during a pandemic. These are some of the hidden costs of planning a COVID-19 wedding, so ask all the right questions when planning yours.
The five hidden costs of planning a COVID-19 wedding:
A sanitisation fee:
One would think that venues are purchasing sanitiser in bulk and placing them throughout the venue, as per government regulations right, and that the costs would be covered within your venue hire fee? Wrong. Some venues are charging a standard R15 sanitisation fee, per guest. This covers sanitiser for guests to use throughout the venue, sanitising of common areas throughout the venue, as well as the waiters/barmen and cashier’s disposable gloves and masks. If you have 50 guests, this could be an additional R750 that you never planned on spending.
Lanterns/helium balloon release:
Did you want to release some levitating airships at your wedding for that perfect Instagram shot? While you’re welcome to do so at most venues, barring you complete the following criteria. If your venue is close to an airport, like mine is, (Avianto), most venues in the Muldersdrift area of Johannesburg are. You need written permission from the local airport that you can set off these ‘floaties’ on your special day. This can take anywhere from 6-weeks to 6-months to get permission for, so start applying as soon as you get engaged. Avianto is upfront and very clear about what they do and do not allow on their premises which helps a heap with planning.
If you are in an area close to a lion park/ wildlife sanctuary / by open fields of dry grass, you will need written permission from them too – and no, the venue does not have their details. All floaties need to be 100% biodegradable and if you go the lantern route, you will also need to have a water tanker on standby, so that should (on a rare occasion), a veld-fire break out as a result of your lanterns, it can be put out quickly. Yes, you guessed it, you are responsible for this cost too. These airships are limited to fifteen. In my opinion, the juice is not worth the squeeze. P.S. fireworks are simply not allowed at most venues as it is council law. A clean-up fee is charged for these floaties too.
Here comes the bride:
Do not make the mistake of assuming that your venue hire fee means you can start your wedding at a convenient time for you. Most venues dictate a start time of 3pm or later. If you would like to start earlier, you need written permission from your venue. Keep in mind COVID-19 curfews. If there is a 9pm curfew, this means that your wedding needs to end at 8pm so that guests and staff can get home before the government-imposed curfew.
So, if your wedding is ending earlier than expected, I would request an earlier start time. Please also ask if there is a time limit on the chapel usage. I am getting married outside, in an amphitheatre but there’s even a time limit there. All ceremonies need to be kept to 30 mins or less. Personally, I am happy with a quick 20-minute service but some people may want something a little longer, so do ask the question to your wedding coordinatior.
Should your wedding date change for any reason (COVID-19 restrictions incl), some venues charge an admin fee/ a cancellation fee. Even if this move is out of your control and because of government restrictions. These can cost about R5000 in my experience, so ask your venue what their cancellation/move in date policies are, with regards to COVID-19 restrictions.
Despite paying your DJ, photographer, marriage officiant, a small fortune, you still need to cater for them at the wedding. If there is a person limit of let us say fifty pax, this number needs to include your waiters, bartenders, and suppliers When catering for your suppliers, you cannot simply order in some pizzas unfortunately. You need to order them the same meals, hello R550 a head! Unless of-course your venue is prepared to offer something different? Please also enquire about Kosher / halal meals if needed, as some venues charge as much as R2k per person for these meals. Some venues insist on you using their suppliers, if you do not, they charge an amount of around R5 000* to use their kitchen. *Based on the venues I interviewed for this piece.
These are a few of the hidden costs that I came across, while planning my wedding. I hope this helps you plan your wedding a little easier.
P.S. I’m getting married at Avianto, and working with a venue who has been around for so long, and who is so professional, makes a word of difference as they’re super upfront, which helps a lot.