Note: Love & Lavender was compensated for this post by Minted.com
Wedding plans for 2020 are undoubtedly at risk of being upended due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. This is unchartered territory not only for the many couples with carefully-laid plans to get married this year, but also for the wedding vendors, accommodation providers, airlines, and other stakeholders.
We created this article to help you make a well-informed decision to either postpone or keep your wedding date. Take heart in knowing that your guests and vendors will understand whatever choice you make, and do their best to support you.
In fact, wedding industry leaders are already innovating services & products to help couples navigate towards a happy wedding day. We’ll touch on some of the support and guidance offered by one industry leader (Minted.com) later in this article.
To Postpone or Not To Postpone
We reached out to Shane McMurray from the leading stats website TheWeddingReport for a bit of context around wedding in 2020. Based on his survey conducted the last week of March into the first week of April (2020), Shane provided the following analysis:
“As it stands, I think we will likely lose between 27-32% of weddings in 2020 but gain a surge of weddings in 2021 of about 20-25%”— Shane McMurray, Wedding.report
- 26% of couples are postponing to later in 2020. Most of these are coming from April and May, but also seeing August and September weddings postponing to later in 2020.
- A small minority of couples (5.5%) are choosing to cancel altogether, most from weddings due to happen in April to June.
- 42% are holding their current date
So, what’s the best way forward for your wedding plans given these uncertain times we’re living through? The short answer is that there’s no one option that fits every couple. The four main options available are:
- Stay the course
- Keep your wedding date, but change elements (e.g., smaller # of guests or ceremony only)
- Postpone your wedding
- Cancel your wedding entirely
Choosing the best option is ultimately a decision that rests with you and your beau. Below we’ve outlined some of the key factors to consider.
How Soon is Your Wedding?
As of April 2020, the decision may be out of your hands if your wedding is due to take place within the next week or two. That’s because many jurisdictions across North America (and indeed around the world) are under a Shelter in Place or Stay at Home directive. It’s likely that group gatherings over a certain number of people are currently banned in your area.
Furthermore, many officiants have put a pause on in-person services. Couples considering a virtual wedding — where both the officiant and witnesses live stream over video-conferencing — should consult local officials or a legal advisor to determine if a virtual ceremony would be considered legally-binding.
The CDC’s recommendation as of March 15th, 2020 was to cancel any event taking place within the next 8 weeks (i.e. until mid-May). With the situation changing daily, it’s important to check with your country, state/provincial, and municipal governments for the latest updates when making a decision.
If your wedding isn’t until later in the summer or fall, you have some time before making a final decision. Importantly, many vendors don’t require final deposits until 30 or 60 days out, which also provides a bit of a reprieve. Keep reading for other factors to keep in mind.
How Big is Your Guest List?
The size of your guest list is worth considering. If you are planning a huge bash with 200 or more of your closest family and friends, you may want to consider postponing your wedding. Even when physical distancing rules are loosened, it’s possible that limitations on large gatherings will still be in place. Or, that people may feel hesitant about attending big events.
On the other hand, if you were planning an intimate celebration you may have more leeway when it comes to holding your current date.
Where is your Wedding Taking Place?
If you were planning a destination wedding, you’ll need to check on travel restrictions and advisories that could affect plans. Again, these are changing on a regular basis, so make sure you are up-to-date with the latest information.
How Many Guests will Travel to your Wedding?
As noted above, there are many travel restrictions in place due to coronavirus. There is no way to predict how long restrictions will remain in effect. If you have a lot of guests traveling to your wedding by air or from out-of-country, be aware that keeping your current wedding date may mean these guests will be unable to attend your wedding.
What About Cost?
Protecting your health and that of your guests has to be a top priority, even if it ends up costing you financially. However, weighing the options between postponing or outright canceling your wedding, consider that most vendors are likely to honor your deposit if you choose to postpone rather than cancel outright.
In the next section, we look more closely at out-of-pocket costs that you may incur if you postpone your wedding. If this is a key factor in your decision, give this section a read before making your decision.
Impact on Mental Health
We’ve looked at some of the practicalities to consider when deciding whether to postpone your wedding, but one important factor is mental health. We are all living through a highly stressful and uncertain time, and how each of us manages this reality will differ.
It’s integral that you understand what course of action will help you maintain a postive mindset and mental health. If you’re not normally a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of person, then a wait-and-see approach may simply compound your stress and anxiety.
Sit down with your true love and communicate about what feels right for you both.
Postpone Your Wedding – Part 1
Postponing a wedding isn’t as bad as it initially sounds! In this section, we’ll look at the steps to get you on your way to solidifying a new wedding date.
Step 1 – Review Vendor Contracts
Get a soothing cup of hot tea and find a comfy spot. Start by compiling all of the wedding vendor contracts you’ve signed. Take time to review the cancellation clauses in each contract and determine what costs you may incur by postponing. Budget will likely play a big role in whether or not to postpone your wedding.
Bear in mind that vendors may be open to waiving or adjusting policies, given the extraordinary circumstances. If you’ve had a good relationship with your vendor and they have a solid reputation in the wedding industry, they’ll want to keep both of those intact.
Reciprocity is at play here. Be gentle with them (their livelihood is at risk) and they’ll no doubt be accommodating with you.
TIP: Stay organized by using a spreadsheet to keep track of each vendor’s cancellation policy, the amounts, and other information!
Step 2 – Review Wedding Insurance
If you purchased wedding insurance you may be able to breath a sigh of relief. Then again maybe not. Insurance policies in certain industries have a reputation for including coverage clauses. Now is the time to review the policy and determine if coverage will apply during the coronavirus pandemic. Carefully read through the entire policy, or ask the insurance provide specific questions.
Some instances where your insurance may cover you include:
- Cases where your absence is involuntary (e.g., you are under a Shelter in Place order);
- A vendor/officiant cancels, which forces you to change your plans;
- Cases where the venue is no longer available; or
- Cases where the functionality of a venue has changed since the booking
Step 3 – Contact Wedding Venue
Unless you’re super flexible on the venue for your postponed wedding, a first task should be to contact your current vendor to discuss alternative arrangements. Determine future availability and make sure each party is clear about the associated costs of postponement. Ask if the venue will honor your deposit and the 2020 rate that you were quoted.
Step 4 – Contact Other Vendors
Once you’ve narrowed down your new date options, it’s time to contact the rest of your vendors to find out if they’re available. As with your venue vendor, you’ll need to discuss costs associated with postponing and come to an agreement on pricing for the new date.
There’s a chance you may not find a date that works for all your vendors, so start by contacting you ‘absolute-musts’ to find out which date(s) they’re available and work from there.
Step 5 – Decide on a New Wedding Date
In addition to vendor availability, you’ll want to connect with close family members, your wedding party and other guests you consider VIPs to determine their availability. Once you’ve complied all the necessary information, go ahead and pick a new wedding date.
Postpone Your Wedding – Part 2
Now that you’ve got your new wedding date confirmed, it’s time to move forward with a new timeline and plan.
It’s important to let your guests know as soon as possible about any changes in your wedding plans so they can adjust their plans too.
Be mindful that some guests may have already booked accommodation or air. Many airlines and accommodation providers have implemented generous cancellation policies in light of COVID-19. Any information you can put together and communicate to guests regarding these cancellation/refund policies will be appreciated.
Our partners at Minted.com have created a great guide on how to communicate changes to your wedding with your guests – definitely worth a read!
Here are some key ways to communicate wedding plan changes to your guests:
1) Wedding Website
If you already have a wedding website, you can create a section on your homepage or an entire dedicated page to communicate updates and pertinent information regarding your new wedding date.
If you haven’t yet created a wedding website, now is the perfect time to do so. Minted offers a wide variety of free wedding websites that are both easy to set up and user-friendly.
2) Email Guests
Email your guests to advise them of changes in plans, as well as direct them to your website for further details. If using a digital address collector for your stationery (like the one Minted.com offers), you should already have all your guests’ emails on hand to send out a mass email.
3) Wedding Postponement Cards
Sending paper stationery for weddings is a time honored tradition. Consider a change-the-date (or swap the date) card to keep guests informed of your new wedding date.
Here’s a couple designs we love that fit many wedding styles:
Perhaps you’ve already sent a save-the-date card, or additional stationery isn’t in your wedding buget. By all means, adjust accordingly and try to contact everyone on your guest list by phone or email.
However, if you haven’t yet sent save-the-dates, guests could appreciate a thoughtful postponement card sent through the mail. It may just lift spirits and have you looking forward to your new special date.
Continue Planning Your Wedding from Home
If you’re under a Shelter in Place or Stay at Home order and have spare time, why not use it to up your wedding planning game? Spend a few hours adding bells and whistles (or maybe a video!) to your wedding website, shop online for your bridesmaids’ gifts, create some DIY decor items, or make a giant batch of jam that you can store and gift as wedding favors on the big day.
It’s so important to stay in tune with how you’re feeling during this crisis. Planning a wedding in normal times is stressful enough, so be kind to yourself if you’re feeling overwhelmed, sad, frustrated, angry or any other normal emotion. Take things one day at a time and reach out to friends and family for support – that’s what they are there for!
Keep Your Wedding Date
You’ve weighed the options and decided the best course of action is to keep your current wedding date. With that decision made, here are some tips on how to best move forward.
Stay up to date on the most current directives from local public health officials and travel restrictions that could impact your guests. Make decisions accordingly.
Be Prepared for Possible Postponement
No matter how well you plan for a 2020 wedding, postponement may happen anyways. “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst” seems like a fitting adage for these uncertain times. It could be hard to accept the reality that you may end up having to postpone your wedding anyways.
Help ease your mind. Take a proactive approach by creating a Plan B in case you need to postpone.
Communicate with Guests
Even if you’re not changing any of your wedding plans, your guests are probably waiting for the latest word on your big day. Post updates on your wedding website and send an email to let guests know that you’re going forward with your original plans.
Check out Minted.com’s excellent guide on communicating with wedding guests during Coronavirus for more suggestions.
Implement Enhanced Hygiene Plan
Social distancing, sanitation stations, and plenty of ventilation. It may not sound sexy, but an enhanced hygiene plan is the way forward if you’re going ahead with your wedding this year. Your guests will feel more comfortable knowing that you’re making extra efforts to keep them safe.
Offer Alternative Ways for Guests to Celebrate
Some guests may not be able to attend your wedding. That doesn’t mean they can’t help you celebrate!
Consider ways to include absentee guests on your big day with ideas like:
- Plan to live stream your ceremony
- Ask guests to send along a fun video greeting or ‘toast’ to play during the reception
There are tons interactive ways to include guests who can’t attend. Put on your creative hat!
Love in the Time of Coronavirus
No matter what decision you take with respect to your wedding, know that your guests will understand and support you. These are not easy times, which makes it important that you and your beau go easy on yourselves. Beyond planning your wedding, take time to celebrate your love and continue building a life together!