Postponing your Wedding due to C-19
This is the article I hoped I’d never have to write…but then someone ate something nasty in a live market in China and BAM here we are in full UK lockdown.
Couples I have spoken to that have already postponed feel that after the initial disappointment of the day they had been planning for not happening. The overwhelming emotion is a relief. Relief that they have taken back control and are no longer watching the news and wondering what if…
I have researched the heck out of the internet to bring you advice on all sorts of different scenarios so buckle up and keep reading.
Should I Postpone My Hen Do or Stag Do?
For the last three weeks, and possibly even for a month or two more. Boris Johnson has announced that we must only go out for essential items and limit all social contact outdoors to groups of two people or people from the same household only. This extreme measure is likely to be extended beyond the 3-week point. Even when these heavy restrictions have been lifted, we may still need to be following social distancing rules, which unfortunately rules out hen and stag dos.
If your hen or stag do is booked within the next two months and is taking place in the UK, Europe, the USA or any of the other countries currently on lockdown or with closed borders, I would recommend looking into postponing if possible. Even if borders are reopened and lockdown is lifted, restaurants and bars may still be restricted within the next couple of months.
While it’s best to try and postpone the trip, check your travel insurance policy to see if you are covered in the event of needing to cancel due to government restrictions to give yourself peace of mind.
If you’re determined to party (and let’s face it, we could all do with something to look forward to right now!) why not arrange a virtual celebration using the Houseparty app in the interim? You can play games, dance to the same music and catch-up over a gin, all from the comfort of your own home. Winning.
What is your best advice for couples thinking about cancelling or postponing their wedding?
Firstly, don’t be too hasty. The current climate is changing quickly so take some time and give yourself the space to make educated decisions. If your wedding is in the next couple of months, then you may feel the pressure is on to change your date and plans. If your wedding is towards the end of the summer into the autumn, then carry on enjoying wedding planning with one eye on the current situation.
What should couples consider before postponing their wedding?
If your wedding is fairly soon but falls outside of the current lockdown period, the below action plan is the best way to decide if you need to postpone.
Work out from your guest list the ‘must-have’ VIPs, whose attendance is essential to you on your big day. Out of those VIPs, how many are over 70, fall into the vulnerable categories or are having to travel from afar and therefore might not be able to come?
Would you need to postpone the wedding to have everyone there from that list? Contact your venue, what is their current policy on postponement and how much time do you have to make that decision?
Contact your wedding insurance company and see what the situation is if either you or your immediate family get ill or if the Government’s ban on social gatherings is extended.
Check all the terms and conditions and contracts that you have with all your suppliers and write a summary of each of their postponement and/or cancellation policies in one document.
What should the first step be when it comes to postponing?
Contact all your suppliers and make them aware that you will come back to them with a new date as soon as you can.
Think about your options
If your wedding falls outside of the lockdown period, you may have the choice to get legally married on your original date and then have a big party with all your loved ones on your first anniversary, next year.
If you can’t get married legally with your loved ones there, don’t worry. Celebrants are an amazing alternative and create beautiful meaningful ceremonies that they can involve everyone. They can be outside, there are no restrictions on what you say or sing and the service is completely personal to you both.
Did you know that you do not have to exchange rings in your legal civil ceremony? You could always save that for the ceremony with your celebrant later on.
Will all venues have the same policies and how should couples work with their venue?
All venues are working to different policies set by the powers that be. You may find that a family-run venue is more lenient than a large chain, or a venue that is used to dealing with corporate bookings may not change their stance for weddings even though the mental and financial cost has larger implications. They also have much larger overheads so they need to make sure this is still covered if a large number of their wedding bookings are postponed. Everyone is learning as they go and policies are changing each day, hour by hour.
If you are struggling to reach a compromise at all, reach out for extra support from a mediator or seek legal advice.
Look at your minimum numbers with your venue (or caterer) and make sure that is in line with your new guest list if you have had to change that at all.
Once you do have a potential new date with your venue, go back to your suppliers and start to look at which of those are available and happy to change the date. Wedding suppliers are all coming together to support each other and you, they are invested in your day and will be as fair as they can be to accommodate this forever changing and uncertain situation.
Don’t forget, once you have a new date, inform your wedding insurance company and check when you gave legal notice to get married as you may need to do it again.
What can couples do to make the process easier?
Check back on any orders you have made online – has everyone got the materials they need to deliver your product and on time? Have they needed materials from China or are they self-isolating and can’t get to the post office? Find out what the alternatives are.
Go back to your stationer and ask them to design (or do it yourself) a picture that you blast out to everyone on WhatsApp/social media/email with regular updates. One may say ‘We are looking to postpone our wedding, and will come back to you soon with a new date’ or ‘Our wedding will now be on 14th October 2020, more information to come soon’. Many suppliers are offering free designs for “Our plans have changed’ or ‘Save the New Dates’ (myself included so contact me if you’d like one).
Get a wedding website, if you don’t have one already. It makes it easy to create FAQs that all your guests can look at rather than have them keep asking you.
Look at ways to involve guests that can’t be there. Live stream your ceremony to relatives and friends who are at home. Ask your photographer and/or videographer to do a very quick edit on a small part of your day that you can send to non-attendees quickly.
Get an illustrator to come and capture the day, creating beautiful pieces of art that you can share with friends and family who can’t be there.
Should I Postpone My Destination Wedding?
Like honeymoons, this depends entirely on where and when your wedding is taking place. If you’re planning on getting married in Europe, including destinations such as Italy, Spain or France, in the next couple of months you will need to contact your venue, suppliers and/or wedding planner to figure out next steps. A wedding booked for the next month or so will likely need to be postponed as these countries are on lockdown.
Likewise, if you were planning to get hitched in the USA within the next month or so you will likely need to postpone as the country is currently on lockdown and the end date for these measures is unclear
If you’re getting married elsewhere, you will need to check the current FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) for UK nationals travelling to your destination and discuss whether or not you will need to postpone with your wedding planner or venue. It’s also key that you check in with your suppliers and ensure that they are able to make the new date once you have it approved by your venue.
Even if you postpone until later in the summer, some social distancing measures may still be in place and the elderly or more vulnerable may still need to limit travel and social contact. If that is the case, read up on how to live stream your wedding so that they can still feel involved from afar.
Finally, as soon as you have a postponement confirmed, you need to get in touch with your guests and inform them of your decision. Your guests will need plenty of notice so that they can get in touch with their own travel providers and accommodation and postpone or cancel their bookings. An announcement on a group email is the ideal way to do this or consider setting up a wedding website to keep guests informed.
Should I Postpone My Honeymoon?
This depends on where and when your honeymoon is taking place. The FCO advises against all but essential travel. This is because of the fast progression of the situation with Coronavirus throughout the world and the short notice countries often give before closing borders. As the situation currently stands, if you leave the country you run the risk of not being able to return or having your trip severely disrupted.
Airlines have dramatically reduced the number of daily routes on offer and some countries have closed their borders altogether, making it impossible to travel there. Many countries across Europe are now on lockdown, meaning travel to and enjoying a holiday there will be impossible for the time being. The USA has also closed its borders to travellers from the UK and the rest of Europe for a temporary period of 30 days that may be reviewed and extended.
If your honeymoon falls within the next two months, I would strongly suggest that you get in touch with the company you booked through or your hotel and airline directly and find out the situation at your destination. If travel restrictions are in place, you will need to cancel or postpone the trip. If your trip has been cancelled due to a government decision to close borders or put the country into lockdown, your travel insurance should cover this but it’s always best to double-check your individual policy.
If your honeymoon is booked for the summer, you may still be able to go as planned but it will depend on the rules and restrictions still in place at your destination. I recommend keeping up to date with the daily updates from the International Air Transport Association and the FCO, and contacting your honeymoon provider for advice.
If you do need to postpone your honeymoon, many airlines such as BA and Virgin are offering date changes, often at no extra cost. Hotels should also be keen to help you change the date in case of a lockdown or closed borders rather than cancelling altogether. If you can postpone, you shouldn’t need to claim anything on your insurance as your trip will still be going ahead, just at a later date.
When Should I Postpone my Honeymoon Until?
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to say. The European Union agreed to shut the borders of its states with immediate effect on 17th March for a period of 30 days, after which they will review the situation again. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland joined the EU in closing their borders during this period. So, if your honeymoon is taking place shortly after the lockdown period in one of these countries, the best thing you can do is closely follow announcements from the European Commission. It may be that lockdown periods will be extended or social distancing measures will still be in place, making it difficult to enjoy a honeymoon in one of these countries.
If you’re travelling to the USA, the situation is very similar and the country is currently prohibiting travel from the UK and Europe for a minimum period of 30 days. Updates can be found on the US Homeland Security website and I suggest following this closely to find out when you may be able to travel again.
If you’re honeymooning in Indonesia, you will need to follow the updates on the Indonesia Travel website as they’re currently restricting travellers from the UK and there is no clear suggestion of when this will end. The Guardian reported on 24th March that many Britons are stranded in Bali as many stopover destinations are not allowing travellers from Indonesia through and airlines have informed travellers that they may be stuck for a period of up to three months. So, if you’re planning on honeymooning in Indonesia, I recommend postponing any trips for at least three months or until travel restrictions at all stopover destinations have lifted.
The Maldivian government have banned all cruise ships from entering and docking in the Maldives for the foreseeable future. If you’re planning a cruise you will need to get in touch with your provider and find out when the restrictions are likely to be lifted and when they plan to reschedule the postponed trip. There have been cases of COVID-19 in the Maldives and the situation is likely to change quickly, so we recommend getting in touch with your airline or tour operator for the latest local advice. As it stands, you may still be able to travel to the Maldives within the next month and beyond but it will depend entirely on your honeymoon provider, airline and hotel. It’s also worth noting that the UK Government are currently recommending all but essential travel.
For all other countries, we recommend checking the latest individual updates from the FCO.
I know it’s frustrating not having a clear answer but hopefully, by following the advice of both the UK Government and the local authority at your destination closely, you will soon be able to select a new date for your honeymoon with confidence.
Could I Book a Mini-Moon in the UK Instead?
A UK-based mini-moon could be a solution for couples looking for a getaway in the interim, but it all depends on the UK Government’s restrictions changing over the next few weeks.
The UK is currently limiting all but essential travel and has closed all non-essential shops and facilities, including hotels and spas. This measure was put in place on 23rd March for a minimum period of three weeks, meaning that mini-moons cannot be booked for this period as we are all being advised to stay in our homes.
As it stands, we can’t be certain that even if the lockdown ends in three weeks that social distancing rules may still be in place, making it difficult for places like hotels, restaurants and spas to reopen. However, resources such as Airbnb could prove useful in providing a safe hideaway for couples wishing to escape together for a few days – it’s currently at the host’s discretion and properties are still available to book during the spring.
If you fancy a hotel stay or spa break, you’ll probably be best waiting until June onwards. Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated on 19th March that he hoped we would be able to “turn the tide” on the situation with COVID-19 in the UK after 12 weeks of social distancing measures.
If you’re unsure and would like more guidance, get in touch with the hotels or resorts you wish to mini-moon at and ask them for their advice on booking a trip.
But whatever happens, remember that this is all temporary and eventually you will get to marry the person you are in love with. It may not be on the day, month or even year you thought, but it will happen – and that is what is truly important.