Practical guide to postponing your wedding during Covid19
If you’ve been one of 579,000 (as of 7th May 2020) people that have visited our extremely popular article on Your wedding and Corona virus you will hopefully have found it very useful, if you would like a recap of the situation, the contracts, legal and CMA position then please check it out. Today we are going to focus entirely on the practicalities and best practice steps to moving your wedding to a different date.
Rule Numero Uno – don’t start off on the wrong foot, look to to engage with, work with and understand your suppliers so that they can understand you. Sending your suppliers a blanket copy and paste email potentially mis quoting CMA policy that may or may not fit your situation is only going to cause friction, check out our article above for the reasons why.
Its also important to understand the reasons to postpone, which ones are valid in relation to Covid19 and which ones perhaps less so albeit still emotionally challenging.
- Government restrictions confirmed as affecting your date prevent your venue or your wedding from being able to proceed – This is the core and most valid reason for a postponement and the one we will assume in this article (its worth noting that one potential restriction may be guest numbers, if restrictions limit your numbers but allow your wedding to go ahead then most venues and suppliers will expect to proceed which is correct, you may need to speak to your suppliers in detail if this affects your wedding)
- Future expectation of postponement for example asking to postpone an Oct wedding now in May when there is no guidance as yet from government – whilst tempting and there may be other factors, and venues/suppliers are likely to ask to wait for further guidance or as a situation outside of Covid apply their standard terms and conditions.
- In the future you may find yourself looking to postpone because while your wedding is allowed to go ahead, assuming restrictions are lifted you have vulnerable guests or a proportion of guests unable or even unwilling to come – Its difficult to have to say but guests dropping out last minute is pretty normal and whilst some of the drop out will be predictable, and to an increased level this isn’t really a valid reason to insist on a postponement in addition you may still have to pay the minimum numbers of this was part of your venue hire agreement.
- Sadly its also true that a small minority of couples have or are using the current situation to make changes that would otherwise be considered “buyer remorse” for example having booked a photographer, they subsequently find someone else they like better and attempt to request a full refund, cancellation due to Covid. Clearly this isn’t acceptable, if you find yourself in this category then just be honest with your suppliers and explain why you would like to cancel.
OK so first and foremost when do you make the decision to postpone, as irritating and uncomfortable as it is if you have a venue based wedding the consensus of opinion is to be led by your venue and wait for them to advise that the wedding will need to be postponed, if you are planning a wedding on your own property or private land then speak to your wedding planner as you will need to take a different approach to the one outlined here.
Having reached the point where your venue has advised that they are unable to proceed on your original date you may find the following steps a useful guide.
Remember you picked your suppliers presumably because you wanted them, and that shouldn’t have changed, also remember your agreements with your suppliers are entirely separate to but equally as important as your venue, and both you, your venue and your suppliers all have a responsibility to work together to migrate the wedding to a future date, but this is often easier said than done and can be a logistical nightmare.
- Start by writing a list of your suppliers and working out which ones are a priority – by priority we mean logistically critical & high value so typically this would start with venue/tent company, caterer, celebrant or registrar etc.
- Establish a list of potential dates you could ideally move the wedding to, note one date isn’t a list nor is it acceptable. ideally you should as a rule of thumb aim to provide at least 6-8 alternative dates as a starting point.
- Write an email – putting every single supplier on copy for a wedding could result in a logistical nightmare, no different to trying to communicate with each one separately – the risk here is that you spend a week negotiating a different date with critical suppliers then attempt to demand other less critical suppliers must adhere to that one date, if they can’t commit to that date you will likely lose out any deposits (see our previous article)
- Your email should first be sent to all your critical suppliers that you have identified in the steps above, each one should be on CC so they can all see and chose to reply to all or reply individually. start your email by noting that due to the restrictions in place your wedding clearly can not go ahead as originally planned and that having chosen all your suppliers for their strengths and ability to work as a team you would like to investigate moving the wedding to a future date. Go on to suggest your list of dates but be clear that you are also open to alternative suggestions of dates.
- As your venue and suppliers respond and we are assuming a positive response you should quickly establish a core number of dates perhaps 3-4 that become viable?
- The next step is to again email the core suppliers noting the narrowed down dates that all have provided availability for and noting that you now need to reach out to your secondary line of suppliers.
- Forward the above email on to all your remaining suppliers noting that you would like to retain your booking with them but at a future date due to the restrictions in place preventing your wedding going ahead. provide the narrowed down list of dates, noting again one date isn’t a list nor is it acceptable asking your suppliers to confirm availability.
- At this stage you may strike gold and clearly have one date all your suppliers can manage, the reality is that you may not ever get to that point and it may result in you having to cancel one or two suppliers. However you now have 10% of the problem you originally started with by following this protocol.
- As quickly as possible confirm the chosen date with each supplier, the next step is then communicating the new wedding date to your guests.
Now it maybe you want to take an alternative route, and one such route would be to CC all suppliers in at the very beginning, this is perhaps the method your suppliers would prefer so they know all your dates early enough but will give you a lot more work with emails going backwards and forwards and keeping track of who can do what dates with what requirements may become a mammoth task
All the above is irrelevant if you have a Wedding Planner as they should already be handling all of this for you, assuming you don’t have a planner and if all the above sounds great but you just cant or don’t want the hassle of having to handle it then now is the time to speak to a Wedding Planner about obtaining assistance, most planners like ourselves will offer bespoke services to accomodate the needs of the client.
RandFWeddings have been planning weddings since 2004 and with many media appearances are considered wedding industry experts. RandFWeddings have won many awards, are also awards judges, wedding industry tutors at Diploma level plus sit on the standards board for the Wedding industry ombudsman (CCWE) and are members of the National Association of Wedding Professionals and the Association of British Wedding Businesses.