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Change the Date: How to Postpone your Wedding

The current coronavirus pandemic has led to entirely unprecedented, unthinkable changes for most of the world. As the virus has infected over one million people and devastated as many businesses, it has also left thousands of bride and grooms-to-be distraught at the prospect of having to postpone their weddings. The emotional and financial repercussions of having to quickly defer their long-awaited celebrations and honeymoons is not something that should be downplayed. Yes, they are doing it to save lives, and that is unquestionably the most important thing, but for couples who have been planning their weddings for months or years, having to change the date and re-organise your big day is incredibly distressing.

If you are one of those thousands of couples whose wedding plans have been affected by Covid-19, please know that your feelings of loss and disappointment are valid. While it might seem impossible to imagine now, you have not lost everything, and in a few months you will be able to have the ‘I do’s’ you’ve been dreaming of. Don’t think of this as a ‘cancellation’, your wedding is not cancelled, you’re making adjustments and your wedding day will happen.

I’ve spent this week talking with friends in the wedding industry, and the overwhelming response is how much everybody wants to help.

Try to remember that whenever your wedding ultimately takes place, it will still be wonderful and your loved ones will be there to support you. Until then, try to soak up being engaged to the love of your life for just a little more time. We’ve had a lot of our ‘something blue‘ brides extend their subscription, so that at least they get to enjoy the treats of being a bride-to-be for longer, so see if you can find a silver lining somewhere.

Take a Deep Breath, Be Flexible

Emma of Emma Newman Weddings has been here before. As a predominantly Christchurch wedding planner, she experienced a similar scenario following the Christchurch earthquake – right in the middle of New Zealand’s busy wedding season: “Take a deep breath and don’t feel like your dream day has gone. If anything, this and the quake time has taught me to be flexible.”

Keep Calm and Communicate

If you had planned to get married in the last few weeks or the next few, you will have already communicated with your wedding guests that the party is postponed. If your wedding is in the next couple of months, you will probably facing the same result – though ‘lockdown’ is currently only until the end of April, it seems unlikely we will be resuming full movement around the country or having any large gatherings allowed for some time yet.

Remain calm, relax, and communicate with your wedding guests, and your vendors. When telling your guests that your wedding is postponed, don’t feel pressured to provide them with any further information. At this stage, we all understand that the future is uncertain.

If you’re using a wedding planner, they will be able to help with this and can also help you read through and navigate the vendor contracts you had in place. Emma Newman has offered to have a no-pressure, no obligation chat, if you’re interested in having her take over some of your wedding planning admin for you.

Free Change the Date Wedding Stationery

Amanda of Be My Guest Wedding Stationery has created the most incredible free template to “Change the date” on which you can leave off a date for now, but could simply use to let friends know they won’t be celebrating with you quite so soon. Amanda has offered “if you want colours changed, or a physical copy printed, or want us to design something else for you – we can totally do that too. We are busy setting up some designs that match our existing wedding stationery (so your “Change of Plans” card can still match your existing stationery, because #matchymatchy doesn’t take pandemics off).

Talk to your close family

(While maintaining social distancing). Talk to your spouse-to-beabout what is important to you both, and when you are ready, discuss with your families and set out a plan. Emma’s advice to couples is that while a change of date could mean no other changes, if you’re changing seasons it might mean a relook at all facets from venue to catering style (winter becomes spring etc), while if your guest list will be much smaller without international guests, there may also be more to change.

Again, don’t be in a rush to set a new date immediately, as the situation both here and around the world may still be fluid for the next few months at least. If you are anxious to set a date for yoru own peace of mind, you may wish to consider a “back-up back-up date” just incase.

Emma suggests that if you need to communicate with multiple vendors, or groups of family and friends to set a new date, start a group chat to avoid back and forth emailing.

What if your loved ones can’t make it anymore?

The sad reality for some couples is that they may now have to marry without some of their loved ones present, but if this past couple of weeks have taught us anything, it’s that we can still connect with those we love without being present with them (or breaking any social distancing rules). A couple of years ago, I wrote a feature on “Watch my Wedding” – a startup company by a couple who couldn’t have all their overseas relatives at their wedding, and so instead created a wedding streaming video service. There’s never been a better time to think about having a small wedding, but sharing it with loved ones all over the world. “When planning our wedding, we experienced first-hand just how difficult it is when loved ones can’t attend your wedding –  we decided to stream our ceremony so we could still include them.However, after weeks of researching the best way to stream our wedding, we just couldn’t find a solution that was both affordable and reliable. That’s when we decided to create our own software and hardware solution.”

Want to have a smaller wedding now?

Some couples may now be looking to down-size their celebrations, which again will take some careful communicating. Wedding guests will understand if you choose to have a small celebration, or an elopement now to be followed by a bigger party later on.

The Covid-19 crises has impacted the financial stability of many of us, so if you want to relook at your budget, there may be ways to keep costs down, whether that’s changing wedding venue, guest list or catering for instance.

Crucial to some of these decisions will be the contracts you have with vendors. While all wedding vendors in New Zealand are doing their best and want to help you, many small businesses have been impacted by the crisis as well, so be patient and kind when trying to change your plans. Re-look at your vendor agreements and consider how best you can move forward with a slightly different day, if that is how you wish to proceed. Be understanding – if deposits are non-refundable and a vendor is unavailable for a new date, you have to understand that they did not decide to not do your wedding. I know that they will help as much as they can – this is a hard time for everyone involved.

Think about what you really want

The silver lining to a postponement is that it gives you longer to plan, and the perspective to think about what’s really important to you both. I’ve always emphasised how important it is to plan a wedding that really reflects you personally.

Remind yourselves what your engagement (and wedding) is really about. Plan a wedding that’s just right for you, however small and simple. I suggest reading The life changing magic of Wedding Planning!

Celebrate your “Wedding Day” anyway

If you can, and you feel good about it, do something just for you and your fiancé on the day your wedding was to take place. Right now, our options are pretty limited #lockdownlife – but even if it’s as simple as going for an afternoon walk and talking about your future plans, or having a glass of wine at the time you would have otherwise been toasting your nuptials, try to mark the occasion in a special way.

Remember, you’re not alone – read these wedding stories of others who have had to postpone their weddings.

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