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.
A wedding day puts the spotlight squarely on the happy couple. But a postponed wedding pulls back the curtain on just how many people are involved in the celebration, including, of course, the guests.
If you received an invitation to a wedding this spring, you most likely recently heard from the couple with their plans to rethink their big day. After showering them with all the love and reassurance they need right now, guests then need to consider their own wedding logistics. You know, their plans for travel, accommodations, possible clothing rentals, gift-giving, and details of a change the date.
To help you, the wedding guest, we put together an un-do list of things you may need to update or otherwise change now that the wedding is postponed. Here’s what you need to know.
Yes, and do it now. Airlines are showing rare flexibility for flights booked before March for travel before June. In most cases, you can transfer your flight to a later date (any fare difference will be due or refunded) or transfer the cost to air miles.
Generally, airlines are stating that rebooked flights must be taken before December 31, 2020, or within 12 months of the original date. For totally new trips, airlines are waiving cancellation and change fees and offering deals on many international routes—so there’s no risk locking in a rate now. Music to the ears of destination-wedding guests.
Car rental companies, too, are responding with no-fee changes and cancellations (with some date restrictions) on pre-paid bookings. “Pay later” reservations have existing flexibility to change the pick-up date and location at any time, though the existing pricing isn’t transferable.
Pro Tip: Don’t leave it until the last minute to rebook. Airlines and travel providers are inundated with change requests, so expect a slower turnaround to email and chatbots, plus longer wait times for a representative on the phone.
First, check the couple’s wedding website (if available) for any updates. If they used a room block service to confirm your lodging, they may be able to cancel or rebook everyone’s accommodation in one go. If you personally booked a hotel or home rental, now’s the time to check the cancellation terms and get in touch with them directly.
The big hotel groups are universally waiving change fees and, as an incentive to rebook, offering deals on even high-season rates for reservations made in April 2020. For reservations made online, the advice is to contact the website’s customer service teams for case-by-case consideration. Expedia, which owns Hotels.com, is making it simple and offering a full refund or travel voucher for most stays scheduled to begin before April 30, 2020.
If you booked with Airbnb, first check the date you made the reservation. Any trips booked on or before March 14, 2020, with arrival dates between March 14 - May 31, 2020, can be fully refunded, including service charges. Reservations made after March 14 are not covered, except in the case that the guest or host is sick with COVID-19.
If the couple has a website, keep an eye out for all the new info about timing and travel. If they have a comments wall, consider adding a note of encouragement and excitement. It will give them the boost of support and reassurance they need right now, and encourage other guests to do the same.
If they don’t have a website, note the RSVP date and give them a generous window to share the updated details via email or in the mail. If it’s a destination wedding and you want to lock in a flight or hotel deal, get in touch with the couple directly, just remember to lead with all the excitement for the new wedding date!
Or, since most hotels and airlines are offering flexible cancellation on any new reservation made in April for travel through the end of the year, you can also book now and change later.
Two thoughts here: If you already sent the couple a gift, there’s no need to buy a new item for the new wedding date. Especially if you purchased from a gift registry. Gift cards hold their value and experiences are vouchers for future dates decided by the couple. So there’s no risk of them missing a specific event.
If you haven’t yet bought a gift, check the couples’ wedding website for any updates to the registry. Longer-term postponements (we’re noticing couples rebooking for the same weekend in 2021) might mean new items that weren’t available when they first created the list.
We’re also seeing couples add charitable funds or requests for support of businesses dear to them. But there’s no wrong time to buy a gift—your loved ones will be grateful for the boost amid the replanning.
The best question. We have lots of ideas. Simply being there to listen to your loved ones as they work through this huge upheaval is an incredible gift. Just remember to share both empathy and excitement. The latter is easily lost at the moment, so remind the couple of the love and celebration that’s at the heart of their big day.
The postponement is keeping everyone safe, and the new wedding date is putting a huge, happy bright spark on everyone’s horizon. And there will be dancing. So. Much. Dancing.
On a practical note, offer to field questions from guests or vendors, or be the go-to person for one part of the wedding. Can you help to research new hair stylists or DJs? Are you close to the venue and can help organize walk-throughs for any new vendors? Can you wrangle the guests into a surprise Zoom party or Facetime?
A note of “I’m here for you” is even better with an addition of “... and here’s how I can help."