Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How Airlines May Affect Your Wedding

Think the airline cutbacks won't affect you? Consider the following: the other day I was talking to a friend of mine in the industry who relayed the following stories. A couple getting married here in Vermont lost HALF of their wedding guests coming from California because their guests flights were cancelled the day before the wedding. There was no way and no time for them to find other flights. Out of 175 guests, there were something like 80 that couldn't come. A terrible situation for all involved, and there's no recourse. But, this may be a good time to check into wedding insurance to see if it would cover something like this, particularly if you have a lot of out of town guests coming and depending on airlines to get them here.

One wedding planner, Kawania of Howerton+Wooten Events, LLC in Maryland/DC area suggested and advised the following:

"1) Sit down with the hotel’s general manager and explain what happened. They may not get out of the fees all together, but the hotel may reduce it given the circumstances.

2) If the bride and groom get a sense that ½ of their wedding guests’ flights are going to be canceled early on, then they should let the all of the vendors know about the situation ASAP. Even though the issue is somewhat close to the wedding date, there is a slim chance that the hotel may be able to recover some of their money with new hotel reservations.

3) F&B – When it comes to the venue, bakers and/or caterers, it may be next to impossible to recoup the money lost because you only fed ½ of your wedding guests. These vendors order their ingredients based on the F&B guarantee – which is a minimum 72 hours prior to the event – And most of the client’s guests may not know about the travel delays until approximately 36 hours prior to the event. Going forward: Tell the venue to cook all of the food and allow a shelter to pick up the portion that is not going to get eaten. You may be able to get a tax right off. Check with the venue/caterer first since so many of them will not allow you to donate your uneaten food anymore.

4) Insurance – I think that insurance is going to be key going forward. Encourage your client to proactively work with their insurance agent for coverage. Especially, if they are planning a destination wedding and if most of their family members live in a second-tier city.

5) Other vendors – What happens if the photographer cannot get to the venue because of an airline cancellation? Do you still have to pay him?"
Adding on to Kawania's thoughts, if any of your vendors are coming from out of town and are taking a flight- be sure to discuss what would happen should they not be able to get in to town because of a cancelled flight.

My friend's second story was a bit brighter, and a great alternative idea to flying- one couple with guests scattered across the United State had arranged for a Winnebago to bring her guests across country. As they are travelling from one coast to this one, they are picking up family along the way, splitting gas costs and basically having their own party along the way. They don't want to risk flights being cancelled last minute.

So, today's moral- if you have guests flying in, be prepared that something like this could happen. Check into wedding insurance to see if you would be covered by something like this, or encourage your guests to come earlier if possible, so in case their flights are cancelled, they might have time to find another. Or encourage a different method of transportation.

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