As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep across the world, I know these are stressful and uncertain times to be planning an event. Are you deciding to postpone your wedding due to coronavirus? Read on for everything you need to consider before you make a decision.
First, I’m sorry this sucks so much. I’m here to help you navigate this process. It’s important to know that you don’t have to decide everything in one day. Your wedding wasn’t planned in a day, so rescheduling doesn’t have to be planned in a day either. This is a process.
Second, I implore everyone to stick to government and CDC guidelines and mandates. It’s important to comply with these and keep in mind the health and safety of everyone during this time.
First, it’s okay to feel emotional about postponing your wedding.
Before you start, know that it’s okay to mourn the wedding you thought you were planning. It’s totally okay to feel upset and grieve it. Feel that and take some time there, but don’t unpack there. Don’t land and stew in that grief forever. You will get married and no matter what the day looks like, you will be marrying the love of your life and that’s going to mean everything, I promise.
Should we postpone or cancel our wedding? What to know before you decide
As a wedding vendor, I would ask you to not cancel your wedding. Many times, retainers you’ve paid can be moved but not refunded, even due to something like coronavirus.
For many vendors, that up-front retainer covers many of the up-front costs before your wedding. For example, planners do 95% of their work before the wedding. Some vendors may be able to work with you on refunds if you cancel, but it’s important to be flexible and remember that this is no one’s fault and we are all living through it together. Remember that many of your vendors are small businesses. They aren’t corporations with large stacks of cash and investors. They’re small human-owned businesses.
Rescheduling or re-imagining what this day can mean for you and your partner doesn’t mean that your wedding is ruined. Just because plan A may not go right doesn’t mean plan B can’t be equally amazing, just different.
Sticking to government guidelines & what that means for your wedding
I’ve reviewed government plans to re-open the economy, and though there are no specific dates, the overall sense I’m reading and hearing from the industry is that large events will be one of the last things to return to “normal” mostly for health and safety reasons. COVID-19 is incredibly contagious so this only makes sense from a public health perspective. We all want our friends and family to be safe and healthy, no matter what.
Even if events are allowed to continue, there may be social distancing or other guidelines in place that venues have to follow by law or for safety reasons. For instance, there may be masks required or only a certain number of people allowed in the building. For many, this is not how you envisioned your wedding. And that’s valid.
This doesn’t mean your wedding has to be postponed or cancelled at this time. It just means that it’s not a bad idea to be thinking about a possible plan B if you need to use it.
Developing a plan B: being proactive, not reactive
When deciding to postpone your wedding due to coronavirus, the most important thing is to be proactive rather than reactive. Being proactive and having a plan does not mean you will have to invoke that plan. It means you don’t have to react and become more stressed than necessary if you are forced into a decision. Remember, we want to be proactive, not reactive. When it’s time to make a decision, you’ll know. And you’ll feel more equipped to move forward because you’ve already been thinking through a new plan.
Are you deciding to postpone your wedding due to coronavirus? Questions to ask yourself
You probably never predicted this would happen to your wedding. Me either. Who would? But before you make any type of decision, there are some questions that you should discuss with your partner. There are no wrong answers, only what you and your partner feel is the right thing for you, and you should think about them and discuss. Everyone feels differently and everyone has different situations. I’m happy to work with you on any decision you feel is right for your wedding.
1. If you keep your date (and it’s legal to do so), are you okay cutting your guest list down if necessary? Possibly to 50 or less guests?
2. If you keep your date, are you okay with having your wedding if older folks or immo-compromised people do not want to come or others can’t travel due to bans?
3. Are you okay with possibly getting a non-Saturday reschedule date at your venue? Can you be flexible with your date and your vendors?
4. If it is legal and possible, can you possibly hold a small ceremony on your original day with a small group (possibly 10 or less) and postpone the reception if you had to? Or just have your small ceremony and do the big wedding later? How do you feel about that?
5. Ultimately, do you want to continue with the wedding you’ve planned or are you willing to be flexible in order to get the most important things to you? What are the most important things that make your wedding YOUR wedding?
What if we want to get married no matter what?
To get married, the number one thing you need is a marriage license. Many county offices in Michigan are not issuing licenses at this time. If you can get a license, you have some options if you’d like to go ahead and be married as planned.
- Stick to social distancing and event guidelines. Health and safety should matter in your decision.
- Livestream the event. You can share a live video of your ceremony on Facebook Live or Zoom.
- Cut a cake, have a first dance, whatever you want!
Provided I’m allowed to work, I’d be happy to photograph this for you!
Practical things you can Do After You Decide What’s Right For Your Wedding
After you think through these emotional questions, there are some things you can do at a practical level to proactively prepare and not react to the coronavirus situation:
- Examine your contracts to see what the policies are for rescheduling or cancellation. Contracts are still in effect even though there’s a pandemic. You can also reach out to vendors for their COVID specific policies, as many vendors are being more generous with their rescheduling policies during this time. For instance, mine are here.
- Contact your venue and find out what dates are open. Ask their policy for rescheduling. Some are only rescheduling weddings 30 days out. Others are allowing couples to hold dates. Go into the conversation with them with a headspace of flexibility. We all want to take care of you, but there are only so many days in the year and this year was a huge wedding year.
- Take the open dates and use this spreadsheet to stay organized. Make sure to make your own copy! Reach out to your vendors (one email is okay) and give them the dates. Ask them which they’re available for. Mark this on your spreadsheet. You’re aiming to keep your team in place so finding the day with the most agreement is best. Again, go into this with the headspace of flexibility. You hired these people for a reason, you want them to stick around!
- Decide on a plan B date (keeping in mind everything you have decided about what you want your wedding to be and your vendor team’s availability). See if the date can be held for you (it’s really vendor dependent on that. Remember, we are all trying to survive this too).
- Decide when you will make a go or no go decision. I would recommend at least 30 days prior to your wedding date in order to give yourself time to inform who need to be informed.
What Happens If We Decide to Go Ahead with Plan B?
Expect your vendors to have you sign rescheduling agreements and maybe new contracts for your new date. It’s industry-standard practice to do this and you want the legal backing of a contract for the new date. Inform them, ask for guidance on what’s next, and quickly get back to them.
Let your guests know you’re postponing. This will likely be difficult, but know that the people you’ve invited to your wedding love you and your partner. They want what’s best for you. Ideas to help you communicate with your guests:
- Catch them up on the process and let them know you’re making a decision that’s best for everyone.
- Clearly communicate the decision. Do not worry about being ashamed about what people think. If they don’t support you, they’re ridiculous (honestly).
- Explain the details you’re sure of and leave out other details. Tell them you’ll keep them informed.
This is when a wedding website works well. You can also record a short video to email to guests and post on social media, or you can send an email. Many couples are using this as a chance to send fun re-save the date cards in the mail as well. Here are some ideas! Whatever you decide to do, know that you will be supported.
What if my wedding is in the fall of 2020? Should I postpone now?
There is no way to be entirely certain of what will happen over the next few months. None of us are sure where we’re headed. The waiting and uncertainty are very difficult, I know. I feel the same way, as do probably all of your wedding vendors.
For those hosting weddings in the fall, there’s also no harm in coming up with a plan b if that makes you feel more secure and if your venue will let you hold a date. Some are allowing it and others are not. If they are not, it’s still okay to go through the guidance questions above to decide what you want this day to look like.
At the time of this writing, I don’t think there’s a reason to move your fall wedding yet, and most of your vendors will probably tell you the same. But things can change quickly in this fluid situation. This is why being proactive rather than reactive is key.
Deciding to postpone your wedding due to coronavirus: married is what matters.
At the end of the day, if you are deciding to postpone your wedding due to coronavirus, I promise I will do everything in my power to make this a positive experience as possible. I’m here for you, no matter what happens or how you decide to tie the knot. I’m here as a sounding board or for advice, as always. If you need help or just need to vent, I would be happy to chat with you on the phone or help in any way I can. That’s why I’m here.
Married is what matters. At the end of the day, a marriage is what a wedding is all about. No matter when you get married, you can always celebrate.