How to Communicate Your Postponed or Canceled Wedding
Our hearts go out to every couple who has had this devastating moment in history, big miss Rona, take away their special day. We know how much time and energy you have devoted to planning your dream wedding, but unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances do happen. If you have made the tough decision to postpone or cancel your wedding, the tricky part is knowing what to do next! So we are here to help you navigate the aftermath of postponing or canceling your wedding day.
Postpone or Cancel?
This is the big question. Deciding whether to postpone or cancel your wedding can be a painful process. We all have an idea of what we ideally wanted the next two years to look like and moving your wedding day could be a big disruption in your plans. Our advice would be to be as flexible as possible in imagining what your wedding could be. You can have more than one wedding day! For example, many couples have decided to have a small courthouse weddings this year in their home countries and postpone their big wedding planned 2021 or 2022. In other situations, couples have opted to downsize for a smaller microwedding or minimony and cancel their more elaborate ceremonies.
Whatever you decide, the following stages for both are relatively the same, so here is a step by step guide to communicating your postponed or canceled wedding.
Step 1. Contact all vendors regarding postponement/cancellation policies
Your first port of call should be your wedding planner, if you have one. Being able to counsel you through the process and handle this distressing time on your behalf is what planners do. Let your planner handle the heavy lifting here.
If you don’t have a wedding planner then you will need to contact all of your vendors. Review their contracts, but also send direct emails regarding their postponement or cancellation policies.
In the contract of an event planner or photographer or any other vendor, they may mention cancellation fees or loss of deposit, but it is still important to contact them directly. This is because after hearing your situation, some vendors may be willing to be flexible and waive postponement or cancellation fees.
Top tip here is to be extremely sensitive to your vendors as you expect them to be with you. Your postponed or canceled wedding is a huge blow to them too. We have seen how Covid-19 has threatened the livelihoods of so many in the wedding industry, so do realize that the loss of your wedding is a loss for all involved. If you have a disagreement with a vendor regarding their policies, try to speak to them on the phone and have a calm, open conversation about where you both stand.
Step 2. Review any accommodation or flight bookings
If you were having a destination or cross country wedding, it is important to then review your accommodation and flight bookings for their policies. As with vendor contracts, airlines and hotels did not write their booking policies with a pandemic in mind, so it is always worth reaching out personally to get clarification on their policies. Mentioning that this is for your wedding could also help sway them to a more amicable agreement between you.
One thing to note is that hotels and B&Bs may be a little easier to negotiate with than Airbnb owners. This is because most Airbnbs are private homeowners who do not have the same insurance and protections that larger hotel companies do. Again, speak to people on the phone if you can to reach an agreement.
Step 3. Confirm a new date (if applicable)
If you are planning to postpone, then it may sound like a nightmare to coordinate all of your vendors onto a new date. Not so! You can use a conferencing tool like Doodle to select a range of available dates and allow vendors to easily mark off the dates that work for them. This completely streamlines setting a new wedding date.
Step 4. Reach out personally to guests regarding your postponement/cancellation
Now let’s talk about telling your guests about your canceled or postponed wedding. This is not easy. Most friends and family will be extremely understanding and accommodating about the change. When it comes to canceled wedding etiquette, the best thing to do is call if you can. Explain your reasons for canceling; your guests will understand.
For postponements, calling is also ideal but you’ll want to send out electronic or hard copy Change the Date cards too, when you have a confirmed new date. This gives your guests a concrete idea of when the wedding is being postponed to and gives them a chance to reorganize their year.
When notifying friends and family of your changed wedding plans, give them as much notice as possible. It isn’t always possible to halt your wedding plans months out if the reason for your cancellation or postponement was quite sudden, but do your best to keep your guests in the loop as much as possible.
Step 5. Update your wedding website
If you have a wedding website, be sure to update it with your new wedding date or a quick statement about your reason for canceling your wedding. Even though you have taken the time to contact your guests personally to notify them, it is still worth also having a notice on your wedding website as a failsafe.
Step 6. Take a break
Soooo many couples skip this step and I think, in many ways, this is the most important of all. After you have gone through the previous 5 steps to effectively communicate your postponed or canceled wedding, you must take a break. It is highly unlikely that your reason for canceling or postponing was a happy one. This whole process is pretty traumatic and can bring up a lot of emotions. Taking a break from wedding planning gives you the space to reflect and heal from what has happened. If you have postponed your wedding, decide on a future date between yourselves or with your wedding planner as to when you’ll resume wedding planning for the new date.
Step 7. Celebrate your original wedding date
Optional, of course, but it has warmed my heart to see couples celebrate their original wedding dates! Whether it be a simple breakfast in bed with champagne, or a secret escape to a cabin in the mountains for the weekend, take advantage of the time you had already booked off for your wedding to celebrate in some small way.
This process is not going to be an easy one. Postponements and cancellations never are. I hope these practical steps will help simplify this bump in the road and set you on the path to a bigger and better wedding in the future!
Olivia de Santos
Olivia is a British wedding planner, writer and founder of the destination wedding planning company Nulyweds in Portugal. She is passionate about travel, weddings, beauty, cinema, horse riding and BIPOC issues. She lives in Portugal, and is in her element exploring the country to create unique, colorful weddings.