We’re living in uncertain and unprecedented times. Currently, the coronavirus is changing the way we live, the way we work, and the way we interact with each other—at least for the time being—and things are continuing to change rapidly.

This is a stressful time for everyone. But if you’re in the midst of planning your wedding, it can feel extra stressful—and, if your wedding or wedding-related events are right around the corner, you probably have a lot of questions.

We’re here to help you navigate this evolving situation and support you every step of the way. Here, we’ve answered some of the most common questions we know are on couples minds so you can figure out how to move forward during this difficult and crazy time.

Should I cancel or postpone?

The most pressing coronavirus-related question on every couple’s mind right now is whether to move forward with the wedding or cancel and/or postpone your wedding to a later date.

First of all, it’s important to note that there’s no “right” answer to this question. Deciding whether to move forward or cancel your wedding is an extremely personal decision; it’s important for you and your partner to consider all the variables and make the right decision for you and your wedding.

Some of the factors you’ll want to consider include:

  • Timing. If your wedding is planned for fall or winter 2020, there’s time to see how this situation evolves before deciding what to do. But if you’re planning a wedding in the next few months, the need to make a decision probably feels much more pressing. Here’s what we know: currently, the CDC is recommending canceling or postponing events of 10 or more people for the next eight weeks.
  • Location. Is your wedding location near a coronavirus hotspot? Is the city where you’re planning to hold your wedding under any restrictions (like the “shelter-in-place” order in Northern California)? If so, holding a wedding in the immediate future might not be feasible.
  • Travel. The CDC is recommending people avoid non-essential travel. Countries are closing their borders. Airlines are cancelling flights. If you have a lot of people traveling for your wedding (or you’re planning a destination wedding in a foreign locale), the logistics of getting there may prove challenging, if not impossible.

So, should you cancel? It truly is a personal decision between you and your partner. If your wedding is planned for the next few months, it’s important to understand how the coronavirus and the restrictions that are in place could impact the festivities—and, more importantly, the health and safety of you and your guests.

How do I talk to my vendors—and can I get refunds?

If you do decide to cancel or postpone, you’re going to have to start a dialogue with your vendors to figure out a plan to navigate the situation.

The key to these conversations is empathy. Obviously, you want your vendors to have empathy for your situation and to work with you on a solution. But it’s also important for you to have empathy for their situation, as well. Vendors rely on events for their livelihood, and with weddings and other events being cancelled or postponed left and right, they’re also in a tough position.

First, send your wedding vendors (including your venue, photographer, florist, caterer, and anyone else who was working on your wedding) an email to schedule a time to chat. If you’re not sure what to say, feel free to use this template:

You can use the following template as an initial email:

Dear [Vendor Name],

We are reaching out because we have made the difficult decision to postpone our wedding, set to take place on [date]. We recognize we had a contract in place with your team to provide [service]. We’d like to set up a time to discuss next steps and alternative dates you may have available. Thank you for working with us during this challenging time, and we hope to speak soon.

Sincerely, [Couples Names]

If possible, try to schedule a video conference with your vendor to start the conversation about postponing your wedding. Talking these things out face-to-face is always easier—and because in-person meetings aren’t recommended right now, a video conference is the next best thing!

What To Discuss

When you do get in touch with your vendors and let them know you’re going to cancel, explain your situation, listen to their situation, and work together to come up with a solution. That might mean forging a new contract, postponing their services to a future date, or agreeing to part ways.

The big question is, of course, whether you’ll be able to get a refund. And the answer? Every situation is different. Look through your contract. Depending on the terms, you might be able to get a partial or full refund. If you postpone your wedding to a future date, your contract might allow you to move the vendor’s service to a new date for an additional fee.

Go through the fine print, put on your negotiating hat, and work with your vendor to come up with a solution that works for you both. With everything going on right now, most wedding vendors want to do everything they can (within reason) to help and support their clients. Just talk to them and see what you can work out.

How do I tell my guests?

You’ll also need to tell your guests if you’re postponing your wedding. With everything going on right now, your guests are going to understand where you’re coming from and why you’re pushing the wedding to a later date (and, in some cases, will be relieved they won’t have to travel).

You’ll want to deliver the news to your family, friends, and inner circle personally. Give them a call or hop on Facetime and let them know you’re postponing the wedding for now. As soon as you have clarity on when you’re going to reschedule, they’ll be the first to know.

For the rest of your guests, it’s totally appropriate to send a mass text or email. You can also send out a message to your entire guest list through your Zola app and/or your wedding website.

To notify your guests via the Zola app:

  • Open your app and navigate to Guest List
  • Select the envelope icon on the top right
  • Choose how you’d like to send your message

To notify your guests via your Zola wedding website:

  • Open Guest List on a desktop
  • Check ‘Select All’ (the box next to the headers for your Guest List)
  • Select ‘Bulk Actions’ and then ‘Send Message’

There’s no need to write a novel or over-explain yourself. Keep the message short and to the point. If you’re not sure what to say, try the following template:

Dear Friends and Family:

We have made the difficult decision to postpone our wedding [due to ... if you are giving a reason.] We will keep you updated regarding our wedding details. We are looking forward to celebrating together.

Love, [Couple Names]

If your wedding is scheduled in the near future, it’s important to get the word out ASAP so guests can adjust their plans accordingly.

What about my wedding shower and bachelorette party? Should I cancel those, too?

You might have other fun events like your bridal shower or your bachelorette party on the calendar in the coming weeks and months.

Making the decision to cancel or postpone these events can be just as challenging as making the decision about the actual wedding. And again, while it’s important for you to make the right decision for you, it’s also important to weigh all the factors at play. You want to make a decision that keeps you and your loved ones safe.

If your shower or bachelorette party is scheduled sometime in the next few months, the same logistical challenges—like travel hang ups and limiting gathering size—will apply. So, if you were planning on a destination bachelorette party or a bridal shower with 50 of your closest friends and family members, having those events in the immediate future might not be realistic (or safe).

What can I do instead?

Fortunately, there are alternatives! Many airlines, hotels, and travel companies (like Airbnb) are waiving change and cancellation fees, so you may be able to postpone any travel-heavy events (like your bachelorette party) without incurring any fees.

If you’re set on having your bridal shower, consider dramatically cutting the guest list and keeping it to 10 people or less. Alternatively, if you don’t want to exclude everyone, get everyone together on a video call and host a virtual bridal shower (complete with cocktails, of course!). If you’ve already purchased decorations or party favors, shelve them until you’re ready to reschedule.

Chances are, you’ve been looking forward to your bachelorette party, bridal shower, and other wedding-related events for a long time. So if you’re feeling sad, angry, or upset that you have to postpone, be compassionate with yourself. And try to remember that while these events might not be happening now, it doesn’t mean they’re not going to happen at all.

Will I have to cancel my honeymoon?

This is such a tough call—and we wish we had a definitive answer for you. But again (we know we sound like a broken record!), the best way to navigate the situation and make the right decision for yourself, your partner, and your trip is to consider all the facts.

Travel right now is hard; not only is the CDC recommending people avoid non-essential travel, but many countries are closing their borders and imposing strict travel restrictions. So, if you were planning on an international honeymoon, you might not even be able to gain entry into your destination.

That said, you might be able to postpone your honeymoon with minimal effort (and minimal costs). If you have travel insurance protecting your trip, review your policy. Chances are, you have coverage that will allow you to change or cancel your trip given the current circumstances. But even if you don’t, as we mentioned, many airlines, hotels, and travel companies are waiving change and cancellation fees—so you may be able to cancel or postpone your honeymoon without adding on a ton of additional costs.

If your honeymoon is months down the line (think summer and beyond), you may want to wait things out and see how the situation unfolds. Hopefully, these travel challenges are only temporary and won’t impact future travel.

We’re here to help you through this

If you have a wedding in the near or distant future, we’re here to support you through the entire process. And if you do have to postpone your wedding, we can also promise that it’s going to be just as beautiful and joyful as you imagined—just at a date a little later than you expected.

Have questions? We’re here to help. Get in touch at support@zola.com.