Postponing Your Wedding: The Best Guide

While there are plenty of resources available on how to have the ceremony of your dreams, the conversation gets a little thin when you start trying to find information on deciding to postpone your wedding and the logistics of handling cancellations. So, what should you do if your wedding can't go off as planned? Find out in this guide to postponing your wedding.

Happy couple on a bike enjoying each other after postponing wedding

Making the decision to postpone the wedding

Possibly the biggest reason for wedding postponements and cancellations in 2020 is COVID-19 (a.k.a. Coronavirus), but there are a number of other reasons you may decide that putting off your wedding is the best idea. A death in the family could mean that you need to hold off in lieu of funeral arrangements, and an illness could make it so that a treasured family member or friend can't make it to the ceremony at the scheduled date. Some couples may also decide to postpone their weddings for budgetary reasons or because they want to give their relationship more time to grow before tying the knot.

No matter the reason you're thinking about changing your wedding date — or putting it off altogether — it's a decision that requires serious consideration. You'll want to ensure you consider all sides, including how it might impact family or friends who have already spent money on dresses or travel accommodations. Also consider how long you want to postpone and how that might change your access to certain venues or vendors.

Talking to the vendors

Wedding Venue

Once you decide to postpone your wedding, the first call should be to your venue and vendors. Under normal circumstances, venues often have waiting lists, and your cancellation could open a spot for someone else. Letting your vendors know about the cancellation as soon as possible can potentially save you some money when it comes to deposits. However, if your wedding had to be postponed within just a few weeks of the date, you may be out the money, since vendors have likely already incurred expenses to be able to provide their services. 

When having those conversations, try to keep the focus as positive as possible and remember that this is a disappointment to the vendor as well, since they'll be losing out on business and revenue. If you still plan to use them once you reschedule, let them know. While it's not a given, they may be able to give you a discount or apply part of your deposit to future services.

Sending out change the dates

change the date cards

Change the date cards are very similar to save the date cards except instead of letting your guests know that you've picked a date for the wedding, the cards let them know you're rescheduling. Change the dates can be ordered in the same design as your save the dates or wedding invitations and should be as detailed as possible. If you already know the new date, include it so guests have time to plan. If you don't, it's great to include the month or even the season, such as a message that says, "We hope to see you this fall when we reschedule!" to give guests a heads up. 

You might also want to include other information such as changes to the guest list or the ability to bring a plus one if you're having to limit the number of people. If you have to drastically cut the original guest list, consider putting in a note about having a more informal party or get-together so all those who weren't able to come to the ceremony can celebrate with you at a later time.

Dealing with the disappointment

Your wedding is a huge milestone, and it's something many couples look forward to and imagine for years, so it's perfectly normal to be disappointed at the prospect of having to postpone. Be kind to yourself during this time and give yourself permission to honor your feelings and leave some space for that disappointment and grief.

Having to cancel your wedding may not be as life changing as the death or illness of a close relative or friend, but it's still a devastating blow in an already stressful and uncertain time. You may want to take a break from planning or even thinking about the wedding for a while, or you may be ready to take this time to brainstorm new ideas for the ceremony and reception. Both of these approaches are okay. Whatever helps you deal with the changes and protects your mental health is the right path forward. 

Rescheduling the festivities

Once you've made the decision to cancel and let your vendors know, it's time to start thinking about how and when you want to reschedule. Under normal circumstances, you would be able to decide on another date at your own discretion when postponing your wedding. However, because the Coronavirus is causing federal and state restrictions on travel and social gatherings, when you can have your wedding is somewhat out of your hands for the foreseeable future. The best approach may be to start brainstorming options and dates but to have a few contingency plans in case things continue to change.

While some venues may be waiting to hear about when they can start accepting reservations again, others might be willing to go ahead and schedule bookings for later this summer and forward. It's important to realize that weddings that were already booked for later in the year will probably still be on the calendar, which means you might not be able to get your original venue and may have to look elsewhere. 

Having to postpone your wedding is a big deal and depending on how far along you were in the planning process, it can also be a huge inconvenience. Do what you can to make things as easy as possible for yourself and your guests, but remember that a good sense of humor and a healthy dose of flexibility can be helpful for wedding planning and the marriage itself. When you're ready to start planning again, you can get plenty of tips from our wedding planning ideas.