What to do if you have to cancel or postpone your wedding

24 Mar 2020

If you are considering cancelling or postponing your wedding plans due to the Coronavirus pandemic, take heed in this expert advice 

Image: Photos by Lanty via Unsplash

As of March 23, weddings and other social events will be banned indefinitely until the Coronavirus spread subsides.

We speak to Nina Beer, wedding co-ordinator and owner of Occasion Queens, in this time of crisis to glean her expert knowledge in helping couples whose weddings have been affected. 

What is your best advice for couples thinking about cancelling or postponing their wedding?

Firstly, don’t be too hasty. The current climate is changing quickly so take some time and give yourself the space to make educated decisions. If your wedding is in the next couple of months, then you may feel the pressure is on to change your date and plans. If your wedding is towards the end of the summer into the autumn, then carry on enjoying wedding planning with one eye on the current situation.

What should couples consider before postponing their wedding?

If your wedding is fairly soon but falls outside of the proposed lockdown period, the below action plan is the best way to decide if you need to postpone. 

Work out from your guest list the ‘must-have’ VIPs, whose attendance is essential to you on your big day. Out of those VIPs, how many are over 70, fall into the vulnerable categories or are having to travel from afar and therefore might not be able to come?

Would you need to postpone the wedding to have everyone there from that list? Contact your venue, what is their current policy on postponement and how much time do you have to make that decision?

Contact your wedding insurance company and see what the situation is if either you or your immediate family get ill or if the Government's ban on social gatherings is extended.

Check all the terms and conditions and contracts that you have with all your suppliers and write a summary of each of their postponement and/or cancellation policies in one document.

What should the first step be when it comes to postponing?

Contact all your suppliers and make them aware that you will come back to them with a new date as soon as you can.

Think about your options

If your wedding falls outside of the lockdown period, you may have the choice to get legally married on your original date and then have a big party with all your loved ones on your first anniversary, next year.

If you can't get married legally with your loved ones there, don't worry. Celebrants are an amazing alternative and create beautiful meaningful ceremonies that they can involve everyone. They can be outside, there are no restrictions on what you say or sing and the service is completely personal to you both.

Did you know that you do not have to exchange rings in your legal civil ceremony? You could always save that for the ceremony with your celebrant later on.

Will all venues have the same policies and how should couples work with their venue?

All venues are working to different policies set by the powers that be. You may find that a family-run venue is more lenient than a large chain, or a venue that is used to dealing with corporate bookings may not change their stance for weddings even though the mental and financial cost has larger implications. They also have much larger overheads so they need to make sure this is still covered if a large amount of their wedding bookings are postponed. Everyone is learning as they go and policies are changing each day, hour by hour. 

If you are struggling to reach a compromise at all, reach out for extra support from a mediator or seek legal advice.

Look at your minimum numbers with your venue (or caterer) and make sure that is in line with your new guest list if you have had to change that at all.

Once you do have a potential new date with your venue, go back to your suppliers and start to look at which of those are available and happy to change the date. Wedding suppliers are all coming together to support each other and you, they are invested in your day and will be as fair as they can be to accommodate this forever changing and uncertain situation.

Don’t forget, once you have a new date, inform your wedding insurance company and check when you gave legal notice to get married as you may need to do it again.

What can couples do to make the process easier?

Check back on any orders you have made online - has everyone got the materials they need to deliver your product and on time? Have they needed materials from China or are they self-isolating and can’t get to the post office? Find out what the alternatives are. 

Go back to your stationer and ask them to design (or do it yourself) a picture that you blast out to everyone on WhatsApp/social media/email with regular updates. One may say ‘We are looking to postpone our wedding, and will come back to you soon with a new date’ or ‘Our wedding will now be on 14th October 2020, more information to come soon’.

Get a wedding website, if you don’t have one already. It makes it easy to create an FAQs that all your guests can look at rather than have them keep asking you. 

Look at ways to involve guests that can’t be there. Live stream your ceremony to relatives and friends who are at home. Ask your photographer and/or videographer to do a very quick edit on a small part of your day that you can send to non-attendees quickly. 

Get an illustrator to come and capture the day, creating beautiful pieces of art that you can share with friends and family who can't be there. 

But whatever happens, remember that this is all temporary and eventually you will get to marry the person you are in love with. It may not be on the day, month or even year you thought, but it will happen - and that is what is truly important. 

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