The Ultimate Guide to Postponing Your Wedding (COVID-19)
Nobody ever predicts that they’ll have to postpone their wedding. But unfortunately, life isn’t always fair, and things can go wrong that are beyond anyone’s control. Sometimes it’s travel problems, illness, a venue being double-booked, or financial worries.
At the moment, the coronavirus pandemic is putting a halt to weddings all around the world. More people than ever are having to cancel their celebrations, or postpone them to a later date. This is an unprecedented situation that nobody was prepared for, so it’s OK to be confused.
If you were due to get married in 2020, you may be forced to reschedule your nuptials amid the virus outbreak. This guide will explain exactly how to go about postponing your wedding, and all the steps you have to take. We’ll also explain which refunds you are and aren’t entitled to.
This guide is also applicable if you’re postponing your wedding for a different reason, such as illness or personal problems.
Should I Postpone My Wedding?
As of mid-March, large gatherings are currently banned in the UK thanks to COVID-19. Unfortunately, this includes weddings. Registry offices, Church of England churches and private wedding venues are closed until further notice.
Your wedding day may be the most important day of your life, and having to cancel or postpone it is an extremely difficult decision to make. But right now, getting married isn’t possible. Until the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control, it’s not practical.
If you were planning to get married later in the year – for example, during the summer or autumn – you may wonder whether you’ll have to postpone or not. At the moment, nobody knows when weddings will be allowed again. The government have stated that large gatherings won’t be reintroduced until July 2020 at the earliest but it may not happen until much later than this, depending on how soon the rate of infection drops.
Even when weddings are allowed again, you’ll initially be limited to a small number of guests. It’s likely that we’ll be asked to socially distance, remain at 2 metres apart from others whenever we’re in public. It’s unknown how long this will last for.
If you’re due to get married at any time in 2020, you should consider postponing. Contact your venue first, and ask their advice. They’ve probably been thinking about this too, and will be able to offer you guidance.
How to Postpone a Wedding
Postponing your wedding isn’t fun, but sometimes it’s inevitable. Try to remember that you will be married, even if it takes a little longer than you expected and that’s the most important thing.
Whatever the reason you’ve chosen to reschedule your big day, you must go about it properly. There are several steps you need to take to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Everyone involved in your wedding, from guests to vendors, needs to be informed about what’s happening.
Here are the proper steps to take in order to postpone your wedding.
Contact Your Venue
The first thing you should do is contact your venue directly. They’ll probably have been expecting you to call, as nobody can get married for the foreseeable future. They should understand your decision and act courteously towards you after all, this isn’t your fault.
With the help of your venue, compile a list of new potential dates, for 2021 or beyond. Understandably, they may be struggling to reschedule all of their 2020 weddings, so you may have to be flexible. You can decide on the final date once you’ve spoken to your vendors and suppliers.
Your venue should allow you to transfer your deposit over to the new date. Be aware that you may have to pay a little extra if you’re rescheduling your wedding for a more popular time of year.
Inform Vendors and Suppliers
Next, contact any and all vendors, suppliers and services that you’ve booked for your wedding so far. This may include:
• Wedding planner/coordinator
• Entertainment (musicians, DJs)
• Transport (wedding car, minibus, taxi service)
• Wedding cake baker
• Photographer and/or videographer
• Wedding day hair and makeup artist
• Rental companies (for groomsmen’s suits, tablecloths, chair covers, marquee, crockery, décor, etc)
• Lighting designer
• Officiant (if this wasn’t provided by the venue)
They should all be willing to transfer your booking and deposit over to a new date. Find out from each of them whether they’d be able to transfer your booking to any of the new potential dates.
Unfortunately, you may lose some money, as you may struggle to find a new date that works for every single supplier. You’ll likely have to prioritise – for example, choose a date that works for your florist, even if it means you have to book a different hair stylist.
If you cancel your booking with a vendor, they don’t legally have to refund your deposit. You may find that they’re willing to be flexible, on account of the current situation. But be considerate, remember that they’re losing out on work.
Notify Your Guests
Once you have officially postponed your wedding, and settled on a new date, it’s time to let your guests in on it.
Tell your wedding party what’s going on first. Call up all of your bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers and anyone else directly involved in your wedding (including the bride and groom’s parents). They’re the most important people, so you have to be sure that the new date works for them.
Next, tell the rest of your guests.
There are two ways to do this, and you should do both:
• Update your wedding website with the new date. Include information for your guests pertaining to cancelling/rebooking hotel rooms and transport, if applicable.
• Send out Change the Date cards, otherwise known as wedding postponement cards. This way, your guests will get the message even if they haven’t checked the wedding website.
You don’t have to tell your guests the reason why you’re postponing your wedding, unless you want to.
Unfortunately, you may find that not all of your guests are available to come to your wedding on the new date. You can reduce this risk by scheduling your wedding as far in advance as possible.
Cancel Hotel and Honeymoon Reservations
If you have blocked out any hotel rooms, or booked any accommodation for yourself or any of your guests, give them a call as soon as possible. Explain the reason why you’re having to cancel your booking, and they’re likely to be fair with you.
Depending on the hotel’s individual policy, and how far in advance you’re cancelling, you may be entitled to a full or partial refund. Alternatively, you may be able to transfer your booking over to the new date. Remember to help your guests out if they booked any rooms themselves.
When it comes to honeymoon reservations, you may or may not be able to claim a refund, depending on where you’re going and how you booked. If you booked through a travel agent, discuss it with them.
Contact Your Wedding Insurance Provider
If you have bought wedding insurance, contact them and tell them what’s happening. You have a couple of things to discuss with them:
• Moving your wedding insurance over to your new date. Most providers will be happy to do this if your new date is within 24 months of your original one.
• Finding out whether your insurance plan covers losses attributed to virus pandemics. If so, you may be able to recover some of the costs associated with rescheduling your wedding.
Read through your insurance contract thoroughly before you make the call. That way, you’ll have a good grounding on your rights.
If you didn’t buy wedding insurance the first time round, now is a good time to think about purchasing it for your new wedding date. But be aware that anything to do with the coronavirus likely won’t be covered by any new insurance policies.
Start Planning for Your New Date
Allow yourself time to grieve the loss of your original wedding date. You’re allowed to feel upset and angry, as this entire situation is out of your control.
But when you feel up to it, you can start making plans for your new wedding date! Start researching suppliers to replace any bookings that you couldn’t push back.
If you’ve rescheduled your wedding for a different season, feel free to play with your wedding theme or colour scheme. For example, you might switch to some cooler tones if your wedding will now take place in winter.
The good news is that if you’ve already bought supplies for your wedding – such as your wedding dress, decorations and accessories – you can simply keep them tucked away until your new date. The only things you’ll need to replace are wedding stationery, and accessories embellished with your wedding date. Although, you could still use these if you like (to pay homage to your original plans).
As your new wedding date approaches, remember that you may have to give your Notice of Marriage again. Notices of intention to marry are only valid for a year. Telephone your local council for advice on this.
Can I Get a Refund For My Wedding?
The tricky thing about the COVID-19 pandemic is that this is new territory for everyone – not just you, but your venue, vendors, and wedding insurance company. Nobody’s had to deal with a situation like this before. You may need to have several discussions with your suppliers and venue to come up with a plan that works for everyone.
The easiest thing to do is to postpone your wedding until a specified date in the future. If you settle on a new date with your venue and suppliers, they should be able to transfer your deposit and plans over to the new date. You won’t lose money, and they won’t lose business: a win-win situation.
You’re entitled to a full refund from your venue and vendors if they cancel your booking. But if you’ve made the decision to cancel your wedding completely – or cancel a vendor order, because they aren’t available on your new date – things get murkier.
As a general rule, if you opt to cancel your booking without rescheduling to a new date:
• Your venue and suppliers don’t have to refund your deposit.
• Your venue and suppliers may still charge you the full amount for their services – depending on how soon your wedding was going to be. They’ll have to demonstrate that this money will cover actual losses.
• Your wedding insurance likely won’t cover any money that you’ve lost.
Read your contracts thoroughly, as they’ll contain cancellation policy details. Seek legal advice if you’re unsure.