Here’s Everything You Need to Know about Postponing Your Wedding

Two local industry experts share advice for changing your date.

 postponing your wedding

Photo via Getty Images/Serhii Sobolevskyi

Wedding season is nearly upon us, but as COVD-19 continues to alter life around the globe, things aren’t going off without a hitch as usual for soon-to-be-wed couples. If you’re one many spring or summer brides or grooms mulling over the idea of postponing your wedding, here’s everything need to know about moving your date, according to Abby Gordon of 284 Weddings and Events and Keri Ketterer Walter of Always Yours Events.

Who should be making the call to postpone right now?

Gordon: Our April, May, and June couples have already completely postponed. We also have a bride getting married in the middle of July and we just entered into this dialogue with her. For my bride in July, I think there’s a little bit of a social stigma of, “Do you want to be the first July wedding to postpone?” But I just don’t know what the optics are of bringing 250 guests together at a time when we’ve been practicing social distancing for five months. So I think we are looking at postponing for July, too, at this point.

Ketterer Walter: I would definitely say that for dates from now to early or mid-May, you should be postponing this week. June and July, meanwhile, are such grey areas. We’re hopeful that we’ll be seeing normalcy by July, but I’ve been recommending my June clients be ready to spring into action with a backup plan as we hear more.

How do you recommend couples go about picking a new wedding date?

Ketterer Walter: The best thing to do is to reach out to key vendors. That’s your planner, if you have one, or your venue coordinator. If you don’t have an event planner or a coordinator and you’re having a tented wedding, you want to reach out to your tent provider, caterer, photographer, and entertainment. You’ll look at the available dates at the venue first, and then determine which date your key vendors are available to switch to. I would encourage people to be looking at winter at this point, because while you can reach out about the fall, fall is really booked. Also consider dates that aren’t Saturdays—look at Fridays and Sundays. I’ve really been championing the midweek wedding because that’s going to allow couples to have their weddings this calendar year and move their plans a bit more seamlessly. And guests aren’t going to think twice about it: Everybody is going to be so incredibly excited to have a celebration and exchange their yoga pants for gowns and ties.

Gordon: We have also found it helpful to create a spreadsheet to track everything. Reach out to your venue first to see the dates that are viable for you there, and then send those out to the band or DJ, videographer, photographer, florist, rental company, and all of your other vendors to see what availability they have on those dates. You’ll then be able to see what will work best right in front of you.

Should brides and grooms expect any fees or financial burden for postponing? 

Ketterer Walter: First, couples should not be expecting to get any deposits back. Those cover the cost of the work and time vendors have already put into planning the wedding, and we want to make sure that vendors are stable enough that they will be here next year. Couples should also keep in mind that there may be postponement fees for moving to a date that is past 2020. Lastly, if a vendor is going to be providing additional services, or if there’s a design change and the vendor will be spending more time to redo or alter the scope of the event, there could be some added fees.

Moving forward though, vendors are being incredibly understanding. They are the biggest supporters of couples postponing and getting dates that they’re excited about, and they want to make it as seamless and easy for their couples as possible. So overall, financially, there isn’t too much that couples should be worried about.

Gordon: We were originally hearing from vendors that they were honoring any previous deposit payments, even some typically non-refundable ones, if people were rebooking through the end of 2020. Quite frankly, I think some of that has shifted a little bit. But we have very established and tremendously valued relationships with our vendors. So in addition to servicing my clients first and foremost, thoughts about these vendors are always on my mind. I think it’s a really difficult time, and this has never been navigated before.

Should couples shifting from a spring or summer wedding to a fall or winter wedding consider making any changes to the overall look and mood of the day?

Gordon: Obviously, it’s devastating for a summertime bride who imagines herself being married outside to not have that opportunity, but you can still bring the outside inside and decorate a room appropriately. I would also say a big change that we’re making from spring and summer to fall and winter is the food: Dishes will be heavier, more like comfort food.

Ketterer Walter: I say throw the rulebook out the window. If you were planning on having a light and airy spring wedding, and now you’re having your wedding in December, you can 100 percent have the light and airy spring wedding in December.

However, in the event that you’re looking at this as an opportunity to be a bit creative, then there are ways that you can maintain your foundation but swap or add in a few little things here and there to create a design that hints at the season. If you were having a neutral color palette with greenery for a late-spring wedding, you can very easily pivot that into a “winter white” theme. Or you can add in some accent colors—such as dusty rose, burgundy, or hunter green—to deepen the palette. You could also do velvet linens or add texture to your florals.

This is a time when a lot of couples are sitting down and having difficult conversations and, through that, growing actually a bit closer together. They’re remembering that, despite everything, they are getting married, they love each other, and they’re in it together. So couples are getting excited about the idea that, if they do have to postpone, they’ll actually have a little bit more time to infuse their story into the wedding even further.

What’s the best way to inform guests of the date change?

Ketterer Walter: If you have already sent out invitations, the best way to do this is to send a postponement notification, whether that be a physical product from your stationer or an email announcement. Several stationers have really rallied to offer beautiful postponement announcements that can be sent out online free of charge. You should also include a link to your wedding website on that postponement announcement so you can keep your guests up to date on any changes.

For couples who have printed their invitations but haven’t sent them yet, you can reach out to your stationer and ask them to develop an insert with the new details to put on top of the invitation in the envelope so that you aren’t wasting the beautiful invitations that you already have.

Gordon: We have couples doing it two different ways: Some have collected email addresses and [reached out to guests] that way, which is obviously the most cost-effective route, and some of our clients have done printed change-of-date mailings. Some local vendors are also offering wholesale pricing in order to help couples get those postponement notifications out.

Any final words of encouragement for couples coming to terms with the need to change their plans?

Gordon: Remember that this is a celebration and a celebratory time. Truthfully, and this is coming from someone whose bread and butter is wedding planning, a wedding is one night. At the end of all of this, you will be lucky enough to have a marriage. Stay positive and don’t make any hard-and-fast decisions. Pertaining to the pandemic, things are changing on a daily basis. So be proactive and make sure that your vendors are available and secured with necessary payments, but then take a deep breath and maybe even a pause from planning for a couple of weeks until the city opens back up again and you can start to generate some more positivity—and positive momentum in your planning.

Ketterer Walter: The biggest thing I want people to know is that you are the story, and the wedding tells the story and celebrates it; not the other way around. The date, the time, the venue, and the guest count can all change, but the heart of the wedding and your story will remain untouched. No matter what happens, your original stunning wedding will morph into another stunning wedding. It will be remarkable no matter what happens.

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Have your own questions about postponing your celebration? A group of New England-based industry pros, including Ketterer Walter, have joined together to offer “Planner Office Hours” to couples without wedding planners who need help navigating things in this time of uncertainty. You’ll have a chance to ask questions and get advice in a one-on-one complimentary call today through Saturday, March 28. While sessions are free, the group is encouraging donations to the Boston Artist Relief Fund and Project Bread.

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