Planning A Wedding During A Pandemic: Every wedding planning journey has its twists and turns. To make sure your path is as smooth as possible and to help you keep an eye out for tiny potholes and giant roadblocks, always follow the advice of your local health guidelines and the recommendations set forth by the CDC. The state of the pandemic can change quickly, but by staying informed, you can make it to your destination—wedded bliss—without a hitch.
Being faced with the decision to postpone your wedding comes second only to actually needing to postpone it until further notice. And, if you just had to make that decision, you’re understandably feeling sad and maybe even angry. After all, you’ve already spent months or even years planning for the event. We really get it.
First things first: It’s perfectly OK to spend some time grieving for the day you envisioned that’s now on hold. Now is the time to practice all the self-care you need—whether that’s with some relaxation and deep breathing, indulging in your favorite foods, venting to anyone who will listen, or all of the above.
Once you’re ready to face your inbox and voicemails, you can start to let your vendors, wedding party, and guests know your plan moving forward.
Remember, Zola is here to support you as you navigate this stressful time. We know how difficult a decision like this must be, no matter the reason why. To help you navigate, here is some general guidance for postponing a wedding.
As you adjust your plans, refer to our printable checklist to make sure you cover all of your bases and stay on track. Take in what helps, depending on your personal situation, and be sure to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if there’s anything else we can help you with.
Weddings require a lot of planning on everyone’s part, so the sooner you let everyone know what’s happening, the better. Your priority should be to let everyone who was planning to be a part of your wedding know including vendors and wedding parties. Your bridesmaids and groomsmen especially can offer support as you confirm the date change with the rest of your guests.
You’ll need to reach out to your venue, vendors, and any suppliers who are involved with the wedding and let them know what’s up. This team of people is unique to you and is going to help you the most when it comes to basic logistics. Together, you can work out a plan for rescheduling and discuss the financial implications.
If you’re using a wedding planner, they may be able to help with some of these calls and emails or provide a list of everyone you need to talk to. They can also help you read through and navigate the vendor contracts you had in place.
As you reach out, keep in mind that your vendors are, oftentimes, business owners. A postponement will impact them, as well. Understand that everyone will need to work together to find the best possible solution for all parties. Be polite and professional as you explain your situation, concerns, and request for guidance. It’s fine to email the vendor initially but plan to set up a time to discuss on the phone, in person, or via video chat, if possible.
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 you haven’t already, talk to your inner circle first to let them know you’re postponing. This includes both your immediate families and wedding party. You can use these important people in your life as a “working group” to come up with a new date, depending on when works best for everyone’s schedules.
If your parents or others are financially involved in your wedding, you can also use this time to discuss the numbers and how the change in date may impact the budget. Be understanding if they don’t have additional funds to help cover all the changes. Continue to express your gratitude for whatever assistance they can offer.
Next on your checklist is notifying your guest list. You can notify guests in a few different ways. An individual phone call to everyone might not be practical, but you can send a mass email or text. (This is probably the easiest and safest bet for reaching everyone if your wedding is soon.) You can also bulk notify guests via your Zola app and/or wedding website.
You can use the following template for your guests:
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]
Your contracts and arrangements will all need to be updated to accommodate your new date, so take time to review them thoroughly. Your wedding planner may be a huge help when reading your vendors’ contracts.
Your guests may have already made travel or other arrangements they will now need to cancel or reschedule. In addition to simply letting them know the wedding is postponed, offer support where you can.
If you are able to negotiate any cancellation or reimbursements for hotel room blocks, let your guests know how they can go about getting their money back. Pro Tip: Send them a contact if you have one so they can reach out directly instead of calling a hotel chain’s general number.
Not all your original guests may be able to attend your new wedding date and that’s OK. Try to be as understanding as possible of your guest’s concerns and schedules without stressing yourself out more.
Postponed weddings are more common than you’d think—lean on your partner and friends for extra support if anyone gives you a hard time.
Did you take out a wedding insurance policy when you first started planning? Now is the time to take it out and review the terms.
Some items to look out for include:
Once you have a better idea of what may or may not be covered, you can reach out to the insurance company and ask to speak to your agent there. Explain the circumstances and inquire what (if anything) will be covered.
Your vendors likely have a policy outlined in their contract regarding postponed weddings, and understanding all of your vendors’ expectations is the first step to changing your date. Vendors will try their best to help you, but ultimately may not be available on your new date. If that’s the case, you probably won’t get your deposit back.
Some vendors may also charge a fee to change your wedding date. They’ve put in a lot of planning and there’s plenty more required to prepare for a whole new date for you. In other cases, you may be moving your date to a new season or weekday which may affect the cost of their services.
Now that you’ve looked over your contracts and notified everyone involved in your plans, it’s time to officially choose your new wedding date and finish up planning. We’ve included this printable guide of questions to ask your vendors everything you need to know.
Your first call should be to your venue to see what dates they have available for your wedding. Once you and your partner choose a few dates, call your other vendors and ask their availability and discuss their rescheduling policies further. If a vendor agrees to a new date, make sure you have that confirmed in writing along with how the new date affects your previous agreements.
There’s a good chance that rescheduling will cost you more than your original agreement, so keep your budget updated as you call. Read the fine print on your contract and try to negotiate when you can—just be polite and fair, keeping in mind what they’re going through as well.
Before you change your date, be sure to clear the new date with all of your vendors—just because your venue can make it work does not mean that your photographer, florist, or caterer will be available. You may need to make some tough choices and find a new vendor or two, which may result in a lost deposit. It’s a good idea to prepare your budget knowing that two to three vendor deposits may be lost.
When all of your vendor contracts are updated, you officially have a new wedding date. Congratulations! It’s time to send change the dates to your guests and let everyone know to start planning. Be sure to update your wedding website and app before you send physical invitations to avoid any confusion.
To get the message out quickly, you can announce your new dates on social media. Post your new wedding date on your story or send directly to your guest list with these social media story templates.
Once your new date is chosen and your vendors are confirmed, it’s time to arrange new travel plans. Generally, hotels are pretty accommodating and you probably won’t owe any fees to change your booking—though you will be charged or lose your deposit for a cancellation. If you had a hotel block for your guests, you’ll want to review that contract for your hotel’s specific guidelines.
If you planned any air travel then adjusting your dates may be more costly. If you purchased flight insurance this should be a relatively smooth process. If not, you’ll likely have to pay a fee to reschedule your itinerary. The sooner you get this addressed the cheaper it will be, and depending on the situation some airlines may be pretty flexible.
If you need to postpone your wedding but don’t want to delay your actual marriage, you have backup wedding options that will allow you to keep your date and party later. City hall celebrations, adventure elopements, and micro-weddings are all ways to have an intimate and special ceremony.
If you are up for it, do something just for you and your fiancé on the day your wedding was to take place. Some options include picking up cupcakes in your wedding cake flavor, spending the day relaxing together with your favorite movies, or taking a walk or drive to the spot you got engaged or had your first date.
Remember that whenever or wherever your wedding ultimately takes place, it will be beautiful—and your loved ones will be there to support you. Until then, try to soak up being engaged to the love of your life for just a little longer.