The Coronavirus is causing couples planning a spring wedding to make hard decisions about how to proceed. Do they chance it and move forward? Should they postpone?
If you are in the position where are trying to decide whether or not to postpone your wedding, this article is our step-by-step guide to the postponement process.
1. Do NOT panic. No one makes good decisions if they base them on panic or fear.
2. Begin collecting information on your options. If you have a partial or full service wedding planner, this is the time to call them. If you do not have a planner, proceed to step 4.
3. When speaking with your wedding planner, ask for their advice on what they would do. Inquire if due to the current environment they or their staff would be fearful in executing the wedding. If your planner has concerns, it’s highly likely your other vendors will too. Ask your planner what your package covers in terms of postponement and rescheduling your event and understand any costs that could be incurred for this service. Ask when the last possible time is to make a decision to transfer your date (the wait and see method) or if it is better to decide to move the event now (rip the bandaid off method). Both methods have pros and cons, and neither is better than the other. Information is constantly evolving. You can also decide to wait and see for a week, and then make your decision. If you know in your gut that you will ultimately want to move your date, THE SOONER you do this THE BETTER. You’ll have more options for dates in a market that is behind saturated with fall and winter transfers.
4. Review your venue contract. What does your venue’s contract say about movement of dates? Pay close attention to whether there is a limit on the time with which your date can be transferred. Common time frames for allowed transfers are in the same year of your scheduled date (IE 2020) or within a full calendar year of your initial date (IE April 21, 2020 - April 21, 2021). Is there any language on date transfers? Language on unforeseen events? What about transfer fees?
5. Call your venue. This is the time to ask them what they are doing about your date due to the pandemic. Chances are, they will have options for you. Because you reviewed your contract before calling, you can bring attention to any inconsistencies. Most venues are trying desperately to help couples while not going out of business. Our experience has been they are allowing clients to move to any available date in 2020 with no change fee, and in some cases even move into 2021 without paying a fee. If the venue can offer you enough viable dates within 2020, they may not be on the hook to offer you a free swap into 2021 (unless things get worse, but let’s not go there yet.)
6. Collect all viable dates you would consider moving your wedding to.
7. At this point you are likely looking at a call or winter wedding. Take a moment to mourn the loss of your spring wedding. It’s okay and in fact, normal, to feel sad. You have spent almost a year planning your wedding, looking forward to a specific date. So be angry, cry, drunk wine, whatever gets you through. Then refer to step 1, and realize that you are in a situation where it's not IF your wedding is happening but WHEN.
8. Repeat step 4 but for all booked vendors. Reach out to them (ideally your planner is doing this on your behalf and keeping you updated). Let vendors know your interested in postponement and you’d like to explore date options with them. Ask them about their policy on a date change due to the pandemic (again, it’s important to ask as many businesses are putting together options that might not be listed in their contract!) Relay all dates you collected from your venue and see if any work. Recognize that your vendor might work with a team (i.e. your DJ) and accept that if your DJ is not available on your booked date his associate may be, and that will be a sacrifice you have to make to move your date. Similarly florists can do multiple events in a day, and it will be okay if the person delivering your bouquet is not the lead florist. We tell clients the biggest vendors to work to transfer over are your: photographer, videographer, planner, florist and caterer. While yes, the rest are important, the above are going to play the biggest role in maintaining a similar finished product to what you initially booked.
9. Land on a new date. Get everything from every vendor in writing. Budget for any additional costs if applicable.
10. Develop a communication strategy for guests. Ask for help on this one and have friends and family personally call all guests to let them know of the postponement and the new date. Let guests know that new information will be coming in the mail regarding the new event date. If you already sent a formal invitation, reach out to your stationer to see if you can design a new card (not a full suite) that lets guests know of the date change in writing.
11. Put your new date up somewhere and learn to love it just as much as the date you had taken from you.
13. Map out your new payment schedule. Did due dates change? Understand your options in the unlikely event you need to postpone again.
14. If you cannot find a date where all vendors are open: our first play is to always look at Sunday’s and Friday’s. You could consider holiday weekends and look at Monday’s. If you are able to preserve most all vendors but one is not available, you may need to find a replacement. Talk honestly with the vendor that cannot transfer to any of your newly proposed dates. Retainers are normally non-refundable and you’ll have to accept that as a loss. In this case the vendor loses too. They will lose the income from your wedding on the final payment. It’s a lose-lose situation, trust us. Ask your vendor who they recommend that might have your date available. Note: Some vendors are offering discounts to clients that are rescheduling due to the virus. It is worth explaining your situation and asking! Note note: In extreme situations you could look to move your venue if all vendors are available on a date but not the venue. Work with your planner on this and never give up a booked or held date until you have a solid hold on a new venue and you understand the consequences of cancellation with the current venue.
15. Refer to step 1. :)
16. If you moved your wedding to a different season (i.e. Spring to Winter), re-consider your start time. Sunset might be earlier in a Winter wedding and as such you might want a 4PM ceremony instead of a 5:30PM ceremony to ensure ample light for photos. Before making changes to start and end times, check your venue contract to make sure you aren't violating any specific start and end times. Also connect with vendors before making the formal change. For example, an earlier ceremony could mean less set up time. If your venue only allows access at a certain time (say 1PM), you might have to pay the venue to open earlier or pay your vendors for a faster turn around.
17. Prepare for a reduced headcount. Even if your wedding occurs more than 8 weeks from today, we still have limited information on travel recommendations and it is very likely you will lose some out of towners may choose not to fly.
18. If you chose not to hire a professional wedding planner at the start of the planning process, it is not too late! We are offering discounted event transfer services (pending availabiltiy). Having a seasoned planner step in and help you during this time could be worth its weight in gold.