COVID-19 Cancelled My Wedding. Now What?

If you’re one of the thousands of brides forced to reschedule your spring wedding, we’ve got you covered with this step-by-step guide. The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc around the world. From health scares to food shortages, loss, and life changes, it’s a scary time for everyone.

Amid the rules of social distancing and the cancellation of group activities comes the inevitable postponement of major life events. The fact that this global health crisis falls squarely in the midst of spring wedding season may seem trivial to some, but to the couples who have spent months (or years) planning their perfect union, it’s nothing short of a gut punch.

So your perfect wedding must be postponed due to the coronavirus. Now what?

If your wedding is a destination wedding, your first call should be to the location. If you’re working with a resort, most likely they will be closed to guests at this time and will be more than willing to work with you on a new date. Talk through it with your onsite contact and make the best decision for yourself. If you’re committed to rescheduling, pick a weekend far enough out that you will be less likely to have to go through this all over again. (In other words, look to dates at the end of summer or early fall. Moving a May wedding to June may be a recipe for more heartache.) If planning a destination wedding seems impossible a second time around, find out the location’s cancellation policy and make plans accordingly. If you do plan to stay with your venue and had a block of rooms booked, talk about the option of getting that same rate at a different date, and work through estimates for those dates.

Whether you’d planned to travel for your wedding or were hosting it closer to home, you’ll need to reach out to your vendors. Don’t be meek—they’re reading the news, too, and they’re expecting your call. Ask them if you can set up a time to talk about the business side of your relationship. How does this impact your contract? Your down payment? What are the options for a new date? Will you need to start the process over? Many vendors are waiving change fees and working with their couples to make this trying time as easy and cost-effective as possible. They get it. It’s not your choice. But you won’t know their current policies until you have a frank conversation about the situation. A note: these people make their living doing this. While they may be lenient and willing to work with you given the situation, they also have bills to pay. Keep in mind that they’re panicking, too, so be patient and open to what they have to say.

Now it’s time to inform your guests. Again, don’t feel bad. Every one of them will understand and, again, be expecting this.

Presumably, at this point, your immediate families will know what’s going on, but next, you’ll need to let your bridal party and your extended families know. This inner circle can advise you on a new date. Ask their availability. Find out what would be best for them. But don’t rely on that—weigh their responses against your own perfect new date and the dates given to you by your vendors.

From there you’ll need to reach out to your guests. In the interest of time management, a group email or text is totally acceptable. Be succinct in this first interaction.

“Hello, friends and family. We are disappointed to announce the postponement of our wedding due to circumstances beyond our control. We will be in touch soon with a new date and additional information, including hotel info. We look forward to celebrating with you at a later date.”

If you have a wedding website, you can remind them of the link and let them know to check there for updated information. If you were able to negotiate new room blocks while making changes with your destination venue, you can share that information in full online.

Once you’ve alerted your guests to the news, you’ll want to make quick work of getting new plans in place. Hotel rooms will need to be canceled for many and the text will let them start that process. But now they’ll need to book new ones. Once you have enough information to establish a new date, send out a card with the details. This does not have to be a new invitation but work with your invitation designer to create an abbreviated version that keeps your theme. If that’s not an option, sites like Minted.com have a number of choices and styles to create a personalized card that feels very you. You can even submit addresses and pay for postage so you don’t have to mess around with mailing. That’s one thing to check off your list.

Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up. Allow yourself to feel your feelings—this is a huge letdown, and no one will blame you if you shed a few tears. But it’s not in your hands, and it doesn’t mean your big day will be any less magical. And when your original wedding date dawns, celebrate it! Make a special dinner, open that bottle of wine or champagne you’ve been saving. Have some cake. As hard as it is to let go of your original plans, it’s important to celebrate the fact that you have new ones. Toast to the new plan, the new date, and the great things to come.

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