Here’s Everything You Need to Know about Postponing Your Wedding
Two local industry experts share advice for changing your date.
This story was updated on 5/1/2020 to better reflect the current advice around postponing weddings.
Wedding season is upon us, but as COVID-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, summer, or even fall 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: At this time, every 2020 wedding on our event calendar has been postponed. Most of our clients have postponed for a full year and are re-booking in 2021. We are encouraging our clients to abide by the current government mandates, which are still fairly non-specific [when it comes] to private social events. However, it is our assumption that gatherings will be limited in size on an ongoing basis.
Ketterer Walter: It truly varies case by case, and each state has its own policies about reopening, which makes this question a challenge to answer. [In late April], New England governors put forth preliminary information introducing phases of [reopening]. With that said, it appears that weddings in May, June, July and August should be moved now, if they haven’t been already, as celebrations over approved guest counts will not be allowed. We might see weddings of 25-30 guests (plus vendors, bringing us to 50 people total) able to take place in the middle to the end of August of this year, but again it depends on how each state does with their reopening. Couples hosting early September weddings with more than 50 guests should begin thinking about their backup plans at this time in case their states have not successfully completed the 50-person-per-gathering phase by the time of their weddings. Late September and October couples should also begin discussing plan B so they have that in their back pocket in case it’s needed in the future.
How do you recommend couples go about picking a new wedding date?
Ketterer Walter: With it being hard to pinpoint exactly when normalcy will return for each state, I recommend couples reach out to their vendors to discuss all of the date options available to them in the later part of 2020 and 2021. Create a spreadsheet with all viable date options and list which vendors are available for each date to help you make the decision easily. It’s in every couple’s best interest to keep their vendor teams intact as much as possible to ensure their day and vision unfolds in the way they envisioned, no matter what date they ultimately choose. Planners and vendor teams are working around the clock to reschedule dates and maintain the integrity of these celebrations. At this time, availability is limited for 2020 weekends so we are highly recommending that couples look into weekday weddings in the late fall and winter if they [hope to get married in] 2020. For couples whose weddings have large guests counts and require quite a bit of travel, moving to 2021 likely makes more sense. Keep in mind that, in New England, many of the popular Saturdays and weekend dates in May, June, and September 2021 have already been booked by couples who started planning their 2021 weddings earlier this year; being flexible and open to all months and days of the week in 2021 is ideal when considering rebooking.
Gordon: At this time, new dates are dictated by availability. We are matrixing venue and vendor availability for our clients to help them to choose a date that offers them the easiest shift and allows them to re-contract with their already-selected vendors and re-apply any deposits paid to date.
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.
Getting married? Start and end your wedding planning journey with Boston Weddings' guide to the best wedding vendors in the city.