With stay-at-home orders and business closures being extended recently, more couples are facing the reality of having to reimagine or postpone weddings they've been planning for months. Trying to reschedule or rearrange a wedding in the span of a few weeks can be overwhelming. Here are the steps I use to help couples manage it all.
Before you begin, gather everything you'll need. You probably already have your cell phone in your hand, but grab a notebook and pencil too. You'll be processing lots of info from many sources and writing things down can help keep it all organized. While you're at it, grab some snacks or your favorite drink. Oh, and don't forget your future spouse.
Side note: if you're prepared enough to have already bought wedding insurance, you're probably prepared enough not to need the following advice. Check with your insurance agent to find out what they'll need from you to file a claim. Keep that info in mind if you follow the steps below.
1) Find out what current gathering or event restrictions exist in your area or in the area where you plan to marry. Check with local and state governments directly. News outlets sometimes miss details that may be important for your decision-making process. If there are expiration dates on restrictions, be sure to take note of those but keep in mind the restrictions can be extended beyond those dates. If you haven’t filed for your marriage license, find out when you’ll be able to do so. Government offices may only provide online services or temporarily suspend services.
2) Determine the most important parts of your day. List them in order of importance, starting with non-negotiable items. You can have as few or as many items on your list as you like. They can include having extended family and friends with you to celebrate, keeping your original date any way you can, or having the venue, photographer, or cake you just can't give up. Don't forget to list things you're willing to change or give up altogether, like trading that huge reception for a smaller, more intimate one, or getting rid of that donut wall cuz you don't want to eat four dozen leftover donuts (or maybe you do).
3) Check the rescheduling or cancellation policies for your booked vendors. Contact them to see if they are making exceptions or allowances for clients affected by the pandemic. Be sure to check for “force majeure” or “act of God” clauses as they may affect your vendor’s rescheduling or cancellation policies. Consult with an attorney if you have questions about your vendor contracts or feel like your vendor isn’t honoring their contract.
4) Now it's finally time to reschedule or reimagine your wedding. Use the list you created in step two and the information gathered in step three to guide you. If your date is very important, consider having a very small ceremony that satisfies the legal requirements of a wedding on your date, then have a big reception or anniversary party later. You can live-stream the actual ceremony or even recreate it for all your guests later. If having your friends and family present is important, work with your vendors to find another date that most, if not all of them, are available.
5) Inform your guests of any changes that affect them such as date changes or scaled-down ceremonies or receptions. Decide if you want to share that information by phone, social media, email, or mail “postponouncements” (yeah, they're a thing now). Be sure to update your wedding website if you have one, but don’t rely on it as the only way to inform your guests. If you’re postponing your wedding by more than 1-2 months, be sure to give guests a way to update their RSVP too.
6) Determine if you want or need to change any of your wedding details, such as seasonal decor, wedding party attire, etc. Especially consider updating wedding party attire if you're moving a summer wedding to autumn or fall. Make a plan for renting or buying new decor or attire. Many vendors may be closed for in-person services but you may still be able to contact them by phone, email, or even video chat. Consider selling or donating decor and attire that you no longer need if you can’t return or exchange it. Notify your venue, caterer, baker, bar supplier, and linen or decor supplier if you reduce guest counts.
Now that you have this guide to help you, remember that all of this is a process. It took months to plan your wedding. Don't expect your wedding to be reimagined or rescheduled in one or two days, or even a week. Enlist trusted family and friends to help you with some tasks, like contacting vendors or notifying guests of changes. Even if your wedding looks different than you planned you're still marrying the person you love, just like you planned.
I am offering additional help to couples whose weddings have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic at no charge. Because of restrictions in place by local and state governments, all my services will be provided virtually. For more information about how I can help, please contact me at planning@carboncreekevents or call/text 620-231-4359.