If you’ve had to move your wedding (or another big event) because of the coronavirus, you’re not alone. An expert breaks down how to cancel or postpone it as seamlessly as possible.

By Brittany Loggins
May 14, 2020
Wedding ceremony aisle chairs with blue decorations
Credit: Getty Images

Whether you find yourself needing to cancel your wedding celebration due to COVID-19 precautions or other unforeseeable circumstances, knowing where to start can be a serious headache. This goes for both the logistics and the emotional impact. Between canceling or rescheduling the venue date to communicating updated info to guests—it can turn into an overwhelming ordeal pretty quickly. 

To find out how couples can face the issue as seamlessly as possible, we tapped event planner Rebecca Gardner. First and foremost, she wants everyone to know that it’s going to be OK.

“This is an extraordinary and devastating time for so many people—my heart goes out to all of our clients who’ve had to postpone their weddings,” Gardner says. 

Try to Move the Date—Not Cancel It

Unless you and your partner decide that canceling altogether is the right move for you, Gardner encourages to-be-weds not to despair and do everything in their power to reschedule. “Please postpone—don't cancel! Imagine how excited your friends and family will be to dance and drink and hug and celebrate after a long quarantine. I can't think of a more enthusiastic celebration than a P.C.W. (Post Corona Wedding),” she says. 

Beyond sentimental reasons alone, Gardner assures that moving the date rather than deleting it from the books should help you avoid losing any deposits.

If you need to cancel [any of your vendors] altogether, make the call as soon as possible. They should be more understanding, given the circumstances, and we promise (unfortunately) that you won’t be the first person they’ve had to help through this.

RELATED: Everything to Know About Wedding Insurance—During Coronavirus and Beyond

Find a New Date

Speaking of deposits, Gardner encourages you to go ahead and pay them. COVID-19 is considered an “Act of God” for most venue insurance plans, potentially giving both parties some leniency when it comes to payments and contracts. That said, be ready to stand strong for your new desired dates with the venue, photographer, and any other vendors you hope to keep working with.

“There is going to be a shortage of venues available in fall 2020,” says Gardner. “My team pushed six months of events to the fall, and we’ve yet to have a vendor unwilling to move the date.” 

Update all contracts.

Put all newly revised schedules in updated contracts with your new date. “First determine an updated timeline of deliverables with vendors, then pay your deposits promptly, and put revised schedules in writing,” Gardner says. 

Be flexible.

What if your first choice of venue is booked on your rescheduled date? Again, you may find that a lot of other people decided to push their celebrations to the same season you now have your eyes on. This is where you may have to do a little legwork to find another location. 

“If your first choice is not available, don't panic,” says Gardner. “Think of other creative venues that accommodate your number of guests—something a little out-of-the-box like a museum, gallery, a historic home, or tenting a beautifully landscaped park.”

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Handle Invitations and Communicate With Guests

One of the most unexpected factors in any wedding budget is how quickly the cost of paper goods adds up. If you’ve already had wedding invitations printed, or if it’s too late to cancel your order—don’t worry. Even if you’ve already sent official invites out, the best workaround is to let everyone know (via email is probably easiest) that a digital update is headed their way, and to please keep an eye out for it. 

“We’re using Paperless Post to alert guests that the date has changed. It's the quickest and most elegant option,” Gardner says. “Be sure to include information about the new wedding date and directions on how to transfer hotel bookings for room blocks.” 

You can go a step further for your guests and contact hotels where you've made room blocks to try to negotiate refunds for them. Again, given the circumstances, hotels will hopefully be understanding, even eager, to rebook accommodations around your future date.

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