Wedding plan B
Updated: Apr 21
It's a weird time to be planning a wedding. You've already paid your vendors and picked your menu. You sent the invites, you're working hard on your seasonal decorations. Then covid-19 struck out of nowhere and if you were planning on getting married in April, May or June, you might not be anymore.
I don't want to jump into the practical side of this and not touch on the emotions you might be feeling if you have to pivot and reconstruct your wedding plans. It's devastating and I am sorry for your loss of a dream. You are allowed to grieve. You are allowed to be angry. This is a terrible surprise. You've lost something precious to you. Your sadness is important.
WeddingPro says 96% of couples aren't cancelling their wedding, which is an astoundingly high number! Take hope in that! 65% of couples are postponing to a later date and finding some creative ways to celebrate.
For brides, one of the most difficult parts of wedding planning is picking the vendors. If a bride has to postpone the wedding date, an easy way to take some re-planning shortcuts is using the original vendors and trying to find a free date they all have in common. It can be a fairly straightforward process but it's easy to overlook something when also dealing with very heavy feelings of disappointment or anxiety.
Here's the advice I've been sharing with clients when they are evaluating what to do next. As a wedding photographer, I'm often the first vendor clients reach out to with a plan change since the photos are a sentimental product of the wedding day.
I have a Q&A workflow for you to follow so you can make some quick decisions and form your perfect plan B.
1) Do you want a huge wedding with lots of people?
a) I really want a massive celebration of my love.
b) I'd rather just get married and start life, I don't need a huge gathering of people.
-Call your venue first. Find out if there is a fee to move your wedding date. Ask what other dates you can move your wedding to later this year. Consider a Friday or Sunday wedding (Rates are often lower these days anyway).
-Call your caterer second. It's hard to change bulk orders of food and desserts so ask what they can do to change your date or put what you've already paid toward a future reception or party at a later date.
-Call your photographer and videographer third. Ask them if they are available for your new prospective dates and if there's a fee to switch dates. If they aren't available personally, ask them if they have a trusted associate they work with who can shoot your wedding, and if they can then edit the material their associate shot. It's MUCH easier than cancelling a contract, and odds are, you won't lose your date retainer fee that way if they're still doing work on your wedding.
-Call your florist. Ask about the process to change the florals you already selected (chances are, if you're now getting married in late 2020, a lot of the florals you picked may not be readily available in a different season of the year.
Ask yourself if you want to keep the original wedding date, or move your wedding sooner since you just want to get married and start life together.
If you want to keep your original wedding date, call your photo/video vendors and ask what it could look like for them to serve you at a much smaller ceremony.
If you want to move your wedding date sooner, make a list of 5 things that are must-haves for you to feel like this is still your wedding day (Is having a wedding dress non-negotiable? Are rings an absolute must? Is a photographer non-negotiable?), and focus on getting those things done in time.
According to WeddingPro, of the 96% of weddings that are postponing, 40% of the couples are getting married before their reception.
2) Do you want to say your vows and be done with this phase of life?
a) No, I want to have a proper party later on.
b) I'm over all this planning. I don't want to plan any follow-up party.
If you want to have a big party, change your date now. Don't put it off. Get your date contracted. There is going to be a SURGE of weddings when this is over and there aren't going to be many available vendors or dates to choose from. I myself am already maxed out for the end of the year due to weddings rescheduling and can only take ONE more wedding for the entire period of September-December. Even if I have dates technically "free," the behind the scenes workload per wedding is anywhere from 20-40 hours and I don't want to get hopelessly behind in editing and deliver wedding galleries 6+ months after the wedding. Schedule your new date now.
If you just want to go for it and not deal with any more planning, awesome! You're going to get married and it's going to be incredible. I am so happy for you. What a bright spot for you in the middle of all of this!
3) What kind of follow-up party do you want?
No matter what, call out-of-state family and friends asap who are coming to the wedding and let them know what you're thinking. If they cancel flights early enough, they can probably keep flight credit and they will thank you for communicating with them early on.
A huge trend starting up is known as "microweddings" which are tiny wedding ceremonies with the couple, their parents, and the closest loved ones of the couple. They typically occur on the original wedding date, or on a date even sooner than the original wedding date if the couple just wants to tie the knot! #Microweddings are happening in fields, forests, orchards, and all sorts of other places. Often a reception or even a full wedding and reception follows the #microwedding.
If a microwedding seems like the perfect expression of your love, reach out to your vendors and ask them if they can serve you with your modified wedding plans. For example: If you want to say your vows in a small ceremony in field on your original wedding date and also have a full sized wedding later on in the year, find out if your photographer is free on those dates and how a new contract can include your extra dates of service.
In the midst of all this planning and replanning, don't forget to let yourself be sad. This isn't how this was supposed to be. I'm so sorry your elderly relatives might not get to see you say your vows. I'm sorry your best friend might not be able to come from out-of-state to stand by your side. I'm sorry you're probably losing some money from this. I'm sorry you've been planning your wedding day your whole life and now have to fall in love with a whole new wedding plan. I sincerely think your new wedding will be just as lovely, or lovelier than the first one, because you are walking through a trial and the relief and joys you'll experience when you finally reach your new wedding date will be surreal.
It's time to fall in love with your new plan. Try to add in some extra special details so you can get excited about your new wedding! A lot of people are taking this chance to save up a little bit more now that they're pushing the wedding off a few months. A lot of people are putting a little extra money in to the dream dress they originally decided not to get for budget reasons. A lot of people are putting a little extra money in to get a wedding video to reward themselves for their patience and give them something extra special to look forward to. Maybe you can get that special honeymoon that you couldn't justify before.
One thing is for sure: the excitement everyone will have when they can finally come together again will be such a beautiful reward.
Happy planning, everyone!
(Disclaimer: I am not suggesting violations of shelter-in-place or breaking social distancing. The standards for safety and covid-19 change daily and are different all across the world so this is meant to be a general piece to help couples sort out their priorities as they plan or re-plan their weddings.)