On Sunday, March 29th, 2020, President Trump announced that the U.S. would be “extending our [social distancing] guidelines to April 30 to slow the spread” of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
Two weeks ago, Amarvelous Event published a post on How to Livestream Your Wedding Amid Coronavirus Social Distancing. That article highlighted many different platforms to livestream from, as well as some tips and tricks for how to safely go ahead with a marriage during a social distancing order.
However, perhaps livestreaming your nuptials isn’t for you. In today’s post, we’ll be discussing how to postpone your wedding or change to an elopement due to a pandemic.
Coverage and Flexibility: If you’ve been planning your special day and just can’t envision it any other way, then don’t be afraid to pull the plug and go for a full postponement! First, consult with a professional. Call your wedding planner to see if your contracts or wedding insurance cover a scenario such as a pandemic or government-issued executive order. If your venue or vendor contracts have a clause that covers you, then they will likely assist you in finding a new date, and sometimes at no additional cost to you. If your insurance has a clause that covered you, then perhaps a portion of your monies lost can be reimbursed through the insurance company. However, be understanding if the contracts don’t cover you, and be prepared to pay additional fees for any changes made.
Speak With Your Venue: If they are closed for business, then they are most likely allowing all affected couples to select a new postponement wedding date. If this is the case, then have these conversations as soon as possible. Their schedule for 2021 may already have many dates selected, and if you are just one of their many 2020 couples affected by this pandemic, then you are all competing for the few dates available. To put this into perspective, there are only 53 Saturdays available a year, so if the venue already confirmed many 2021 weddings, then you may be limited, and you may not be able to have a Saturday wedding after all. You may need to be flexible and switch to a weekday or Sunday. And if you were interested in a particular date because of the number (such as Sunday 02/21/2021), then those unique dates may also be filling up quickly.
Announcing to Guests: Being that this is a huge change from original plans, you’ll want to give notice of the change as soon as possible. Announce the change to immediate family and bridal party members. It would probably be best to do these over video or voice phone calls to be more personal. Then move on to informing the rest of your wedding guests. You can do this via call, text, email, your wedding website, or social media. Tip: If you make personal phone calls to everyone, it will give you the opportunity to check in on folks and see how they are doing during the virus and social distancing.
Digital Announcements: I know a bride that made a really funny postponement music video with her fiancé that explained the world we live in today, all the stress they are going through, and why they decided to postpone. When they posted it to social media, it nearly went viral. It’s pure gold. So if you or your fiancé have a passion for film, editing, or photography, then you can create a video notice instead of paper. It’ll take some time to conceptualize the film, actually film the clips, and edit, but we have plenty of time on our hands these days. Added bonus is that guests will love it, and it’ll be free versus buying additional paper options.
Paper Invites: You can follow those communications with a formal mailed postponement notice, or just move ahead with sending invites for the newly selected date. Minted has added a brand-new offering on their site specifically for save-the-dates for postponements. They have a full page of nice postponement invite options to choose from that will match the original invites you selected or perhaps already sent out. I have also seen couples send out kitschy COVID-19 postponement cards (followed by a formal second invite). These can be super fun with photos of the couple with masks, Corona beer bottles, or even toilet paper. I am sure you can think of a dozen images that would make your guests giggle upon opening the card. Hey, we’re making lemonade out of lemons over here. Might as well be cute while we do it. Minted and other paper invite companies have had sales to help out couples who are going this route.
Date Stamped Décor: All is not lost when it comes to pre-designed décor items you have already purchased with your initial wedding date on them. Utilize these printed materials (welcome signs, programs, menus, etc.) by hiding the old date. You could put a new date sticker over the old date, cover it with a different sticker (custom logo, flowers, geometric shapes), cut off the date, hide the date with a frame or matting, or even hide it with foliage. Or, leave the old date and make it something that you can laugh about with guests. Everyone knows that you postponed, so no secret there. Maybe you and your fiancé get a photo pointing at the old date on a welcome sign. That could actually be really cute. Point is, don’t waste money on reprinting. There are so many workarounds, and reprinting or redesigning can be very costly. Work with what you have.
Colors: Don’t worry about colors not fitting in with the newly selected season. Perhaps you were planning a summer wedding and are now postponing to winter or spring. If you selected a very summery color, think of ways to make it work. It’s more work and expense to change all the bridesmaids and groomsmen outfits than it is to add in another color to your color board that will help everything look the season. Say coral was your initial summer bridesmaid dress color, and you planned to have dried citrus mixed into your florals. You could easily have the same coral dresses and infuse either a burnt orange or cranberry shade into other aspects of the day and it will give the coral a warmer feel. Think of changing rentals that may not have been locked in place yet such as linen selection, ties for the groomsmen, and florals. Maybe in that scenario you cut the dried citrus fruits and instead have cranberries mixed in with the flowers. Just think of your original color, pick a hue in the same color family that is a little darker (for winter) or lighter for spring/summer, and add that to your color palette.
Accessories: Don’t worry if originally purchased dresses were cut for summer with sleeveless or strappy. Add a scarf or shawl on top, and it will warm up the ladies. Going with the tip above, you could have the scarf be in the darker shade to join the dress and scarf with the new floral selection. Or go with a faux fur shawl to practically warm up the dresses.
Celebrate Your Day Regardless: Just because you changed your date doesn’t mean that you can’t still do something just for you and your fiancé on the day that your wedding would have been. You could order cupcakes from your baker in your wedding cake flavors, buy some nice flowers for the house, relax together and play board games or watch your favorite movie, or if possible visit the spot you got engaged or had your first date.
There could be a whole slew of reasons why you no longer want to have the big day and decide an elopement is right for you. A few that I have thought of are as follows:
- Considering these never-before-seen circumstances, maybe all of your vendors are providing refunds. This would be dependent on the contract language as well as the kindness in their hearts. But if you are lucky enough to have this as an option, then this is the easiest out because it is at no loss to you.
- Maybe most of your vendors are giving you refunds, and the minor sunk costs are still a better pill to swallow than the cost of the whole wedding.
- Maybe sometime during the planning process, you and your fiancé looked at each other and agreed that this was no longer the day you wanted. It somewhere along the way spun out of control into this vision that was other people’s, not yours.
- Maybe the stress is eating you alive and you just can’t handle it anymore. You are beginning to think your mental health is more important than this single day.
- Maybe COVID-19, or the loss of a significant family member or friend, or another big life event has caused you to feel differently about the big public wedding.
- Maybe by the time this quarantine is over, you are going to be craving a vacation so badly that you want to bump all wedding funds to the most epic elopement and honeymoon vacation of your dreams.
Whatever the reason may be, don’t forget that this is YOUR DAY. You will never make everyone happy, and sometimes you just gotta do you. The goal of the day is first and foremost to marry your soulmate, and all you need to accomplish that is you, an officiant, and one witness. Follow your hearts with this one.
Contracts: You’ll definitely want to verify those contracts and speak to your vendors. Cancelling may be more challenging to do than a postponement. Think of how some of these vendors may have already put hours into planning for your wedding. If you cancel on them, then that doesn’t change the fact that they have already worked those hours and should be paid for it. So you wouldn’t get a full refund of the fees paid.
Announcing to Guests: You’ll want to again personally inform immediate family and your bridal party, then follow with a notice to all remaining guests. You can do this in any of the ways listed above: video or voice call, paper invites, digital videos, etc.
Future Plans: You could go ahead and do your intimate elopement ceremony and then later down the road host a full-on party. Really, that call is yours. Maybe you go low-key with a backyard BBQ, or maybe you do a full-on hall rental. But you can elope now and worry about all the rest later after COVID-19. No need to send out immediate invites with new dates. Just don’t worry about it for now. Enjoy the excitement of eloping and going against the grain!
Ultimately, this day is supposed to be about you and your fiancé. Remember that whenever or wherever your wedding ultimately takes place, it will be perfect for the two of you. Until then, try to soak up being engaged to the love of your life for just a little longer.
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