An easy, step-by-step guide on what to do and when, if you have to postpone your wedding.
That past several weeks have been a whirlwind of events, emotions and more. I’m sitting here in the shop as I have done every day for the past 15 years but so much is different too. My intern is no longer here, I moved out of my office so my husband has a quiet place to work while he’s not able to go to work and every day I’m hearing from past clients and online customers that they’ve had to cancel or postpone their wedding.
While the fear of this virus is real, and business has slowed, I’m thankful to be safe at home with my boys. I can’t help however, but to think of those sweet Brides and excited couples that I’ve worked with over the past six plus months that are now not only dealing with the reality of life with coronavirus, but also making tough decisions about their wedding.
If you are in the process of making that decision now or already have then I’m guessing that you are feeling both sad and angry, maybe even frustrated. No one knows how long this will last and when we will be able to start gathering safely in large groups again. I know that to this point, you’ve likely spent months, maybe even longer planning this once-in-a-lifetime event. I totally get it.
While it’s perfectly OK to take a little time to grieve the perfect wedding you envisioned that’s now on hold, once you are ready to face the emails and phone calls again, you can start letting your vendors, wedding party and guests know what the plan will be moving forward. Below is my easy, step-by-step guide so you know what to do and when.
Contact Your Vendors
If you’ve decided to postpone your wedding, the first people you need to notify are your Vendors. These are the people that actually make your wedding happen to letting them know right away is key.
The Coronavirus pandemic is impacting everyone so they should be understanding of your decision and will be able to help guide you through the steps necessary like locking in a date farther out.
Speaking from experience though, I ask you to be patient when trying to reach your vendors. Like me here at RC, your other vendors are likely small businesses too that are dealing with a high volume of calls and emails just like yours. In addition, they too are dealing with child care issues, working from home where required and keeping themselves, their families and their employees safe and compliant of government guidelines. They too are being impacted by the pandemic so despite your own disappointment and stress, be polite and professional because they too are struggling to move forward.
Bonus Tip: If you are using a wedding planner, reach out to them first because they may be able to help you sort through your vendor contracts as well as help you make some of the calls. At the very least, your wedding planner could help you compile a list of everyone you will need to talk to to make the process a bit more streamlined.
Speaking of reviewing your contracts, be sure to read all the fine print on all of your contracts and do your best to negotiate where you can. Just be polite and fair about your negotiating. If you are narrowing down a new date, keep in mind that your vendors may not all be available on the new date and many of them may not be able to refund your deposit.
Before you finalize a new date, be sure to confirm the new date with all your vendors. Even though your wedding venue has a date open, doesn’t mean your photographer, florist or caterer is available. Be prepared to have to make some hard decisions and accept the fact that you may need to to find a new vendor or two which again could lead to a lost deposit.
Review your Wedding Insurance Policy
If you went the extra step when starting to plan your wedding or securing Wedding Insurance then now is the time to pull out that policy and review it.
While I’m not an insurance professional, based on research I’ve done, chances are for most basic policies, this would not be covered but I understand that every plan is different and it never hurts to see what can be done to help.
Some items to look for in your policy include:
- The total amount of wedding costs your policy covers and whether or not it covers things like postponements or cancellations.
- Look for a list of circumstances that are covered that cause the need for a postponement or cancellation. Often these are things like natural disasters, personal circumstances like sickness or injury, travel cancellations due to weather, etc. You would be looking for something like global health crises…
- Also look for anything that mentions covering the cancellation or postponement of a honeymoon
Once you have a basic idea of what your policy covers, calling your agent to discuss any options would be the next step. Explain the situation and the circumstances that have caused you to postpone and ask what, if anything, will be covered.
Communicate with Close Family and Wedding Party
You’ve most likely been in contact with your close family and wedding party since all this started but if you haven’t, now is the time to let your closest people know you are in the process of postponing. Keeping the wedding party and your immediate families in the loop allows you to use them as additional help in coming up with a new date.
This is also when you’d discuss with any parents or others that are financially involved how a postponement may impact the budget. Be understanding if additional funds aren’t available to help cover all the changes and don’t forget to express your gratitude for the assistance they do offer. Remember, this isn’t easy for anyone.
Inform your Guests
While there are several ways to do this, to some degree, the way you decide works best for you will likely come down to time and budget. The easiest, but not necessarily the most effective way would be to put a notification message on your wedding website. Depending on your guests, not everyone will think to look here so be mindful of your family and how best to contact them.
Other ways to notify your guests are via a phone call, email or text, or you may want to keep things formal and send a change of date card via mail. If you like the idea of sending an email or text, we have some free, downloadable graphics you can use to make it more formal. You can find those here.
By visiting our Etsy Shop, you can also purchase fully editable change of date cards that you can either email or text or even print. Simple search “change of date” in the search box on the left, just above the shop categories. You can use coupon code: RCTRIBE20 for 20% off any of those 8 designs and you can completely edit them by changing fonts, text colors, sizes, layout, wording and more!
Help your Guests Where you Can
In addition to notifying your guests of the postponement, do what you can to help them. In many cases, your guests may have already made travel arrangements or booked their hotel room. If you have a block of rooms reserved, contact the hotel to see if you can negotiate a full or partial refund on behalf of your guests and then let your guests know what they need to do to get their money back. It may also be helpful for you to send them a direct contact rather than having them call a large hotel chain’s general number.
Remember, just like with your vendors, some of your guests may not be able to attend your wedding on it’s new date. Know that it’s OK and do your best to be understanding so as to not hurt anyone’s feelings or stress yourself out more than you already are.
Weddings get postponed all the time. It’s not every day that we are all living through a global pandemic but you aren’t the first to have to postpone and you won’t be the last. Draw on the support and love from your friends and immediate family if anyone gives you a hard time. This is a situation beyond our control.
A Few more Tips
The steps above should get you through most of the postponement process but there are a few more things to keep in mind during this difficult time. The first is to remember to be flexible and keep an open mind.
With most weddings this year getting postponed, dates farther out will fill up fast. Also, some dates were already taken by couples that set their date further out to start with. If you are having trouble finding another open Saturday, consider other days of the week. Yes, it’s less traditional but opting for a Thursday, Friday or Sunday will give you much better chances of keeping your dream venue and vendors and your guests will still attend!
The next thing is simply to remember that it is OK to grieve. Chances are, the original date you set has some significance. Maybe it was the time of year, maybe it was your grandparents’ anniversary or some other significant date you wanted to commemorate.
I’d also guess that by postponing, not everything about the perfect wedding you originally dreamed will be the same. All of this unplanned change is hard and so disappointing and your feelings are perfectly valid. It’s important though to weigh your disappointment with the bigger issues we are all facing as a country and world to keep things in perspective. It’s easier said than done, but try to focus on what you have (family, health, friends, home, etc.) and not what you’ve lost.
Finally, despite not celebrating on the day you’d planned, chances are that the date will remain significant for you for years to come. Find a small, yet meaningful way to commemorate and celebrate it together as a couple.
We can only move forward from here
This is a challenging time for all of us so remember that regardless of where and when your wedding ultimately takes place, it will be special and those you hold most dear will be there to celebrate and support you.
Until that time, focus your energy on planning your “new” wedding either exactly the same as you had before or use this opportunity to make it even better with new inspiration and ideas. Regardless of what you do, keep your head up and your heart full of hope because this wedding will happen and it will be a special day that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
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