We’re in the midst of a pandemic, and sadly a lot of folks have already answered the question “Should I cancel or postpone my wedding because of coronavirus?” (answer: yes) and are now moving on to this even harder question: “But HOW!?”
This post has some factors to consider in your decision about whether to cancel or postpone your wedding, but the vibe seems to quickly be shifting to CANCEL EVERYTHING… bridal showers, bachelor parties, the wedding, everything.
That in mind, here’s our step-by-step guide about how to announce that you’re canceling or postponing your wedding and associated events — we’ve even got copy & paste wording suggestions, and templates you can use for emails or wedding websites…
1. Talk with your family immediately
These are your closest folks, and even if they haven’t been part of the planning process, chances are they’re as excited about the wedding as you are… and they’re going to be as disappointed as you. If you get any push-back, here’s some wording you can use to hold your boundary:
I know you’re disappointed, and we are too. Our top priority is protecting the health of our immediately family and friends, and this is the decision we think is best for us. We hope you can support our choice.
2. Communicate with your guests as soon as possible
We’re all watching this situation closely, and chances are that your guests have been wondering what’s going to happen with your wedding. We recommend covering all your bases and reaching out by email and following up via phone if you don’t hear back from someone.
There are lots of cute wedding postponement templates available, but here’s some sample text you can use in your emails or on your wedding website, if you’re postponing or canceling your wedding:
Dear family and friends:
We’ve been watching the coronavirus situation closely, and out of concern for the health of our loved ones, we’ve made the painful decision to cancel our wedding. This is a potentially lethal situation for certain people we love very much. We want them to be able to attend our wedding, and so we will wait until its a safer time. Sending you all love and wishes for good health.
Now isn’t the time to get into the discussion about whether you’re rescheduling or postponing. Keep the messaging short and simple.
If you don’t hear back from folks via email, you may want to follow up via phone just to make sure people got the message. This may be too large or painful a task for you to handle all by yourself, so see if your friends or family may help you make the calls.
3. Talk to your vendors about rescheduling first before you cancel completely
Once guests are taken care of, start contacting your vendors. Phone is your best bet, but you should also email.
- First, ask each vendor about their rescheduling policies. Canceling completely can be very expensive, so explore rescheduling options with vendors if you can.
- If your vendors aren’t able to accommodate rescheduling (remember: most vendors are tiny family businesses, and everyone’s struggling with major financial set-backs from this pandemic — your cancellation could be their biz’s bankruptcy), you’ll need to look at your contracts carefully to see each vendor’s policies about cancellations. Some vendors will give you a return of a portion of your deposit if you pull out by a certain date.
This much is true: The closer you are to your wedding day, the less likely it is that you’ll get money back. If you do have to cancel completely, accept that most of the money you’ve already paid will not be coming back. Unfortunately, the longer your vendor holds the date for you, the less likely they are to re-book that date once you cancel. Again, your wedding vendors are small businesses that are being hit hard by this pandemic — everyone’s human, and we’re all struggling.
In addition to phone calls, it’s smart to also communicate in writing to ensure that vendors will not try to bill you for any more than you’ve already paid them. Here’s a sample wedding cancellation email you can send to vendors, with sections you can edit about deposits and cancellation windows.
Dear [Vendor name],
This message is to notify you that I am [canceling/postponing] my wedding on MM/DD/YYYY, due to concerns about coronavirus. I understand that my $XXX deposit for your services is nonrefundable. As required by our contract, this notification is more than [X weeks] prior to the event. My understanding is that no additional payments are required.
Thank you for your help,
Who to Notify:
- Ceremony venue
- Reception venue
- Planner or day-of coordinator
- Any other vendors you may have contracted
Cancel all travel plans
Don’t forget to cancel all honeymoon flights, hotel accommodations, etc. Airlines are being generous with cancellations these days, but it’ll depend on what kind of ticket you bought, when, and their specific policies. If you bought trip insurance, check to see if Coronavirus is covered.
The wedding dress question
If you’ve already purchased your wedding dress, you can decide to either keep it, alter it, sell it, or give it away to a wedding dress charity. Some bridal shops may be willing to sell your wedding gown for you as an in-store sample.
Return the gifts (or don’t)
Though there are no hard and fast rules in the case of weddings canceled for pandemics, we’re pretty sure that no guest will be demanding their gift back.
We recommend you return the gifts you can, and keep anything that might be helpful.
Leave this decision for the last step since it’s really the least important.
Recognize your grief and allow yourself leeway. While taking the time to grieve the disappointment, use the pandemic as a reason to stay in… Socially distancing is smart, but don’t let it isolate you from your support network. Call your friends and family — and your therapist, if you have one.
Practice self-care: Stay hydrated, stay active if you can, sleep as much as you need. Canceling a wedding is fucking depressing, and a pandemic is deeply frightening. This is a scary time. Stay safe out there, friends.