With changed plans come new dreams
As we approach the end of 2020, it’s surreal to look back on how much has changed as the world continues to fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. As an organization offering event insurance for weddings and other special events for over 15 years, we at Markel Specialty have seen and heard a lot, but nothing compares to what we’ve experienced in 2020. With our event insurance coverage, we have spent much of the year trying to highlight how those in the wedding industry have adapted and what couples have been doing to reimagine their plans and manage postponements. Most recently, we highlighted stories from couples who decided not to wait to exchange vows and found other ways to make those moments special and meaningful.
In handling event cancellation claims, we noticed a significant amount of wedding venues and vendors that were willing to pivot for their customers. Oftentimes, this came down to a good faith gesture by both the venues and vendors to work with their customers and seek out meaningful resolutions to postpone the event to a later date.
One aspect of so many event cancellation claims this year is the resulting inventory of wedding dresses and accessories that have been retained as salvage from claims. Almost all of the wedding, bridesmaid and flower girl dresses collected are brand new. We typically donate these and other wedding items at the end of each year to a worthy cause. This year, we’ve chosen to split the inventory and donate to two non-profits: Brides Across America and Wish Upon a Wedding.
“A typical Markel donation is anywhere from 1 to 5 dresses each year. We have never seen anything like what we are experiencing with all of the weddings cancelling due to COVID-19,” said Executive Underwriting Officer, Personal Lines, Jeff May. “With the multitude of brand new dresses and other wedding items we received, we know Brides Across America and Wish Upon a Wedding will use these items to make wedding dreams come true for couples in need.”Brides Across America
Brides Across America is a nonprofit organization that honors military and first responders by gifting weddings and wedding gowns. Since its inception in 2008, Brides Across America, in collaboration with bridal salons and designers has donated more than 25,000 wedding gowns and 26 weddings.
“We continue to dream big and spread more love around the world, one dress and one wedding at a time. Several new initiatives will enable us to expand our mission by creating person- and couple-specific directed giving opportunities, including gifted weddings, financial support for specific couples and the ability to honor a loved one through directed giving,” said Terry Brumley, Director, Global Relations, Brides Across America.
Given the unusual year, Brides Across America has adapted and expanded its efforts to meet new challenges and circumstances.
Brumley added, “Building on our mission, we are sharing the love to include frontline healthcare workers of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to give back to those who are risking their lives to keep us safe.”Wish Upon a Wedding
Wish Upon a Wedding is a nonprofit that grants weddings and vow renewals to couples who are facing serious illnesses or life-altering circumstances.
“It is our hope that our couples show up to a day that was perfectly created for them but where they didn't have to do any of the work,” said Lacey Wicksall Eldersveld, Programs Coordinator, Wish Upon a Wedding. “We bring on board a full-service team of wedding professionals who generously donate 100% of their time, talents and resources to making our couples wedding wishes come true!”
For Wish Upon a Wedding, not only has it been a difficult year being in the wedding industry, but because of the nature of their couples' circumstances and particular vulnerabilities, they have had to be especially mindful of how wishes are granted.
“While our wishes are always small, intimate gatherings, we're being extra vigilant about numbers and safety right now,” said Wicksall Eldersveld. “In 2019, we were thrilled to be able to grant 20 wishes. This year, we'll grant 5.”
Because the organization relies solely on donations from its wish granters, they have been aware of the fact that vendors have been hit hard this year, too, so expectations and requirements have shifted.
Wicksall Eldersveld added, “As always, we are so thankful for our wish partners and are continually blown away by the incredible generosity that they extend to us – even in the midst of a pandemic.”Interested in helping?
“Weddings are a huge investment, and it would have been a shame for all of the dresses and wedding décor to sit in a back room somewhere,” said May. “We wanted to work with organizations that directly gave back to those in need – especially important this year.”
You can help too. Both Brides Across America and Wish Upon a Wedding accept monetary donations, and with #GivingTuesday, a national day of generosity, and Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s the perfect time to support both organizations in their missions:
- Brides Across America is participating in this season’s #GivingTuesday, and any donation made to Brides Across America will help them continue gifting wedding gowns to our United States Military, first responders and 2020 frontline healthcare heroes. Every donation makes a difference. To learn more, including how you can donate, please visit www.bridesacrossamerica.com.
- Wish Upon a Wedding is currently running a social media campaign leading up to Giving Tuesday. The goal is to share positive stories from its supporters, past wish recipients and vendor wish granters using the hashtag #WhyIWishUponWeddings. The hope is to show the positive impact that wishes have on people in an effort to draw their attention to Giving Tuesday. To learn more, including how you can donate, please visit https://one.bidpal.net/wuwgivingtuesday2020/.
*Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated, the underwriting manager for the Markel affiliated insurance companies.