How to postpone the wedding

In Weddings by JoniLeave a Comment

  • Make the decision – delay, cancel or downsize
  • Talk to the venue then all the other suppliers
  • Update your wedding website
  • Contact all guests
  • Continue to let all guests know as things change
  • Decide on how to manage gifts and let givers know
  • Celebrate on the day – but differently

With self-isolation to limit the spread of the Corona virus being recommended or enforced across the world, thousands of weddings will not be able to take place as planned.  But these instructions apply to any unforeseen circumstance which makes the set date of the wedding impossible.

As a Mother of the Bride you can be a real help in the many immediate tasks that need to be done.  So here’s the to-do checklist.  Offer to do as much or as little as you can cheerfully and quickly cope with.

The choice right now (I’m writing this at the end of March 2020) is to delay, cancel or massively downsize.  The last of the choices depend on where you live.  Some areas are allowing small gatherings but many are not allowing any gatherings at all.

As soon as the couple have made the choice they need to act fast to manage suppliers and let guests know. 

Delay, cancel or downsize the wedding.  How to decide.

Most people will wish to choose a new date in the future and try to have the same wedding as they’d originally planned, on that new date.

What date to choose?

To some extent the date will depend on the venue being available.  One of the reasons to contact your venue fast is to grab one of the slots they still have left.  They may give priority to couples who have had to reschedule due to Corona virus, or they may be already very booked up.

So couples need to decide before contacting the venue if they will agree to a midweek wedding or a slightly different room or building and so forth.  But hurry up.  Even these options will soon be gone.

 Couples need to be prepared to consider other venues.   And to contact them immediately.

But how far in the future to reschedule the wedding?  At time of writing (end of March 2020) nobody, absolutely nobody, knows how long the lockdown will last.  And nobody knows if there could be further waves of infection after the lockdown is eased.

Postpone for one year exactly

Me?  I’d bite the bullet and postpone the wedding for exactly a year.  That might seem like a long time but frankly in terms of the lifetime commitment that the couple are going to sign up to, it’s really not that long at all.

One year, as near as possible to the original day, means clothes, catering, cake, and wedding theme can all stay the same.  Replanning a spring wedding as an autumn wedding is a lot of work.  And with any luck the same venue will be available in a year’s time too.

Twelve months also gives the couple, the family and all the guests time to recover from any health effects and the general financial and social upheaval the Corona virus has wrought.  And it takes the panic out of the planning too.  Instead of blindly agreeing to higher prices or booking something not quite what had been hoped for, the couple have time to get everything just as they wish.

Most couples will decide on three to six months postponement which looks possible right now.  But be aware they may find themselves rescheduling yet again.

Is downsizing a good option?

If the couple decide to hold an intimate family celebration this could be possible in some areas of the world.  But nobody knows how dangerous such gatherings might be.  Is it worth taking the risk of one family member infecting everyone else including the couple?

Even if the wedding date is some way off there’s no knowing if regulations governing such get-togethers will be tightened by then.

Yes, the wedding will cost a lot less.  But will this mean that the couple decide to have a huge party when all this is over and splurge their savings on that and the honeymoon?

Although some couples will be relying on the marriage certificate to allow them to get work or residence visas, since most borders are now closed this may not be a vital issue for some time.

Should the couple cancel their wedding?

Although the future is very unpredictable at the moment, cancellation of something as central to the couple’s happiness and stability as the wedding is probably over-kill.

Sure, they may decide to cancel until things get back to normal and if that’s the clearest choice for them then that’s the thing to do.  But they should at least pencil in a hoped-for date in the future.  There will be lots of changes, many for the worse, during the coming year and it is all too easy to push the marriage onto the back burner.  Yet being a stable unit and knowing they can rely on each other can help them get through.  And a wedding solidifies this unit and interdependency and aid.

When to contact the venue and suppliers


Take action as soon as the couple have made the decision to delay, downsize or cancel.  If the venue and your vendors haven’t already contacted you then ring them immediately. 

Have the terms of their contract at hand as you discuss the possibilities and any financial implications. Be quite clear on what you want and what compromises you are willing, or not, to accept. 

Don’t let negotiations drag on.  Venues especially will get rebooked on top of their usual forward bookings which may already be filling much of their timetable.

Check the wedding insurance

If the couple took out wedding insurance they need to contact the company as soon as possible.  Some insurers will cover extra costs or irrecoverable deposits, other will not.  The couple need to be clear of what the financial damage could be wether they decide to delay, down-size or cancel.

Update the wedding website

If there’s a wedding website this is the first place to announce any changes to the day.  It can also be a good one-stop-shop to direct guests to for any number of questions.  So set up a detailed FAQ and/or set out clearly all the decisions as they are made. 

Areas guests might need to know about include:

  • A new fixed date or is that to come, and if so, when do you hope to be able to set that date?
  • Changes to the venue.
  • Changes to any block-booked accommodation.  Have you cancelled it completely or do guests need to do that?  Is the accommodation likely to change for the new date?
  • Changes to the guest list.  If you down-size then explain why and who is affected.  Say if you will be posting a date for a party once things get back to normal.
  • Ask for help. If the couple or other guests need help this is the place to let people know what they can do.
  • What will happen to gifts, cash and registry items?  See below.

Contact every guest, twice

Not everyone looks on the wedding website so use it more as a place to direct people to for the latest news.

But everyone needs an email explaining the current situation and whether the wedding has been delayed, down-sized or cancelled.

Make these emails short and cheerful.  Everyone has a lot to deal with both emotionally and in their daily life and finances so don’t add to their worries with a sad message.

Here’s suggested text when you have set a date in the future


Owing to current health regulations we’ve had to postpone our wedding

Please change the date to [Date] [Time, Venue ]

We’ll be updating our site regularly with news and information and answers to questions [wedding website].

We’re so looking forward to celebrating with you.  So keep safe.

Here’s suggested text when the wedding is cancelled or the new date is unknown

Owing to the current health situation we’ve had to postpone our wedding.  We’ll be setting a new date as soon as we can/we’re going to wait until the future is clearer before we decide on a new date for the wedding.

Until then please check our website as we’ll be updating it regularly with news and information and answers to questions [wedding website].

We’re so looking forward to celebrating with you when life gets back to normal.  So keep safe.

Here’s suggested text when the wedding is downsized

Owing to the current health situation we’ve decided to celebrate our marriage with a very small group of our closest family members.

We were so looking forward to seeing you at the wedding but we know you will understand why we have changed our plans.

Once the future is clearer we’re hoping to have a party with all our original wedding guests so until then please check our website as we’ll be updating it regularly with news and information and answers to questions.

Keep safe and we’ll see you soon.

Keep in touch with family and other guests

An email is just a change the date notice.  Every guest should also be contacted by phone.  They may have made expensive arrangements to come to the wedding or have purchased a gift so a personal call is important.

The person closest to the guest should be the one to make the call, it doesn’t need to be the couple in every case.  Mothers and fathers should get involved so that the task is completed as fast as possible yet allows guests to have a short time to chat if they wish. 

It’s a good time to check on everyone’s health and to give them your good wishes too.

Several phone calls may need to be made between the change the date announcement and the wedding so keep that list of numbers and emails ready to hand.

What do you do with gifts if the wedding is postponed or cancelled?

If gifts have been purchased through a wedding gift registry then the first thing to do is to check with the registry how long they will hold your gift list. Some close a list after a year.

For a postponed wedding it is usual to keep the gift but the guest should be thanked individually as soon as the date has been changed. Whilst thanking them for their thoughtful gift you might wish, in these unusual circumstances of the Corona virus, to add ‘we’re living in difficult times so please cancel your gift for the moment if you would prefer.’ This is because we can’t be sure who might be in financial difficulties during the lockdown.

Anyone who has pledged a cash gift should definitely be given the opportunity to cancel it if they wish to.

Physical gifts that have been delivered to the couple should not be returned. Simply thank the giver when you notify them of the change of date.

Money or gifts towards a honeymoon fund are treated as other gifts unless the honeymoon is completely cancelled. In this case the giver should be told of the cancellation and asked whether they wish to cancel the gift or if they will give the couple the OK to use the gift for something else. All honeymoon gifts are in fact kept as cash in the registry. To understand how this works see the post on choosing a wedding registry.

If the wedding is cancelled with little hope of it being scheduled in the following 12 months then the giver should be thanked. Explain that they can cancel their gift (or tell you how they want it returned). Some people will want you to keep the gift or cash so don’t close that possibility. Obviously extra thanks are in order for that generous gesture.

Celebrate on the day

That wedding date has been so important for so long.  So make sure the couple celebrate it.  This may need a bit of creative thinking in some cases.  Use Skype to get some of the guests involved.  It can still be a memorable day with lovely photos to look back on and hopefully laugh about in years to come.

They can share the spirit of their special day on social media and their wedding website and accept everyone’s congratulations.  Some people may even wish to send gifts. 

So whether it’s waving from their balcony or getting dressed up and having a romantic dinner together at home, make that original wedding date special.

Getting help

Let’s not forget that there will be couples who are essential workers during this difficult period.  These people will be very tired and very busy.  And there will be couples who catch the virus and get ill.  In addition there will be couples who find it emotionally difficult to set about replanning what might have taken them a year to put together.

In these cases if the Mother of the Bride, with help from the Mother of the Groom and key members of the wedding party, does not have the time or opportunity to make all the arrangements necessary then why not consider getting help from a wedding planner or consultant?

Constance Taylor, of Mrs T Weddings, a wedding planner based in the UK, is offering a free phone discussion with couples who need someone outside the family to talk to. 

‘It’s a very upsetting time when you have to postpone or cancel a wedding’, she says. ‘It can help to just have someone to talk things through with. What are the options? What do they have to do next? I’m not involved as family or a friend so I can lay out the alternatives impartially. It’s important that couples agree on decisions so they can move forward.

Often that chat is all that’s needed. But if the bride for whatever reason can’t manage the planning then a wedding planner can organise all the details relatively painlessly.’

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