COVID-19, sometimes referred to as Coronavirus, was first confirmed in the United States in January, but it didn't take long to be the number one topic of conversation and news. Since then, it's affected nearly every aspect of life, from what businesses are open to how close you can be to someone in the checkout line. However, these guidelines on social distancing and restrictions on gatherings have also created a huge issue when it comes to weddings.
With venues closing, vendors having to pause their businesses, and travel no longer recommended, many people have had to postpone their weddings. If you're one of those couples who have had to accept that the wedding can't go off as planned, here are nine tips to help you get through this challenging time.
1. Be flexible
The changes COVID-19 has brought to society are unprecedented, and the truth is that no one really knows how to handle this time — including vendors and wedding locations. While postponing your wedding seems simple enough — just move the dates, right? — you might find that when you go to reschedule, the new date you want isn't available.
If you were hoping for a summer wedding, you might have to take December, and a Saturday afternoon wedding might end up happening on a Wednesday evening. If you don't want to have to wait another year — or even two — to get married, you'll have to be flexible on some aspects. Of your big day. And remember that it's an option to wait. If you've dreamed of a spring wedding with a pastel palette your entire life or you absolutely must get married in your partner's childhood church, pushing the wedding to 2021 could be worth it.
2. Consider going digital
Some couples affected by the ongoing crisis have opted to do the ceremony online and livestream it to friends and family. That being said, even if you don’t want to do your ceremony online, related events, such as bridesmaid's proposals — can continue digitally.
If you want to ask your BFF to be by your side when the time is right, you could still make it special by mailing her a bottle of champagne with a note on the outside that says to FaceTime you before opening the box. You may also be able to take advantage of online ordering for things that aren't date-dependent, such as supplies, favors, and decor items.
3. Communicate as much as possible
While it's normal to want to wait until you have all the details to talk to guests, the more you can keep them in the loop, the better. As soon as you know the wedding is going to be postponed, let everyone know. It's tempting to put up a banner on your wedding website or send out a mass text or email, but a personal touch goes a long way during times like these. If at all possible, call your guests personally to let them know the wedding has been postponed. If you have a large guest list, consider enlisting family members or the bridal party/groomsmen to help out.
4. Ask if deposits can be negotiated
Under normal circumstances, when you postpone your wedding, you forfeit your deposit. But because COVID-19 related cancellations are forced, it might be worth trying to negotiate. Look carefully at your paperwork to see if there is specific wording around cancellations and refunds, and it never hurts to ask. Many vendors are losing a lot of business with the restrictions on social gatherings, and they may be willing to hold your deposit and put it toward your new date rather than risking another cancellation.
5. Decide if you need to adjust the guest list
Depending on your circumstances and what happens with your reschedule, you may find that you need to take another look at the guest list. Maybe you're being forced to go to another venue because your first pick doesn't have anything available on your new date, and that means you can only invite 100 guests instead of 300. Or maybe your job has been affected by the closures and you need to make budget cuts to the wedding that mean no plus ones.
If any of this is the case, make sure to let guests know when you send out change the dates. If you have to uninvite people, briefly explain why, and consider scheduling a get-together after the wedding for everyone to celebrate.
On the flip side, you may want to extend invitations to friends and family who had to RSVP "No" to the first date. If they weren't able to attend due to a scheduling conflict, they may be happy to be a part of your big day now.
6. Start thinking about a new date
Once you postpone the wedding, the decision-making isn't done. While it may seem counterintuitive to pick out another date just as the first one's been cancelled, the bottom line is that everyone is having to postpone, and that means the next few months are going to book up fast. It might be helpful to have a few possibilities that you're okay with. If your second choice isn't available, you can move right to the next without having to rediscuss.
7. Send out change the dates
Once you have all the details on the postponement and new date settled, it's time to send out change the dates. These postcards are surging in popularity right along with the number of cancellations and are basically another version of the popular save the date card. They're quick and easy to send out, and they let your guests know as quickly as possible that things are changing. They're designed to give guests the initial heads up for planning purposes. You'll still need to follow up with guests personally and send out more formal invitations once you get closer to the wedding.
Having to postpone your wedding for any reason is stressful, but when it's because of a pandemic, it adds a whole new level of chaos. While you're working to get everything straightened out and a new date lined up, consider more tips and ideas for planning your wedding from our archives.