Wedding Rules Have Changed Again: This Is The Reality Of Postponing Nuptials During A Pandemic

The latest news means some people will be having to cancel for a second time this year.


by Anna Silverman |
Updated on

This morning, Boris Johnson took to the Number 10 podium to make an announcement every bride and groom-to-be with a wedding on the horizon has been dreading. Under new tougher restrictions, weddings with up to 30 guests are no longer allowed.

Since 30-guest weddings were introduced on 4 July, a number of people have decided to go ahead with the nuptials they had planned; others have rescheduled dos that were cancelled during the first lockdown. This means some poor souls will be staring down the barrel of rearranging their wedding for a SECOND time.

As someone who has already had to do it once this year, I can imagine the pain. It was around four months ago that I opened up my wedding spreadsheet, deleted ‘order place mats’ from the to-do list and replaced it with ‘reschedule entire wedding’. My fiancé Adrian and I were meant to marry on 2 May in Sussex with 130 guests present, but instead we spent the ‘best day of our lives’ discussing what colour to paint the spare room.

By April, it was clear to anyone wishing to marry this summer that the pandemic wasn’t going to let us get our way. The disappointment was palpable, but insignificant considering the state of the world.

We hastily bought wedding insurance, but an ominous line in ours is cause for concern: it doesn’t cover us if we knew, when buying it, that ‘there is already a problem that may lead to a claim.’ Hmm, define problem...

Meanwhile, my dress is stuck in an indefinitely-shut bridal shop 40 miles away. If I can retrieve it after lockdown at least I’ll have something nice to wear as I sob over the ruins of our plans. There's every chance I'll become some tragic Miss Havisham figure, sitting in the fading frock for years while I wait for the outbreak to pass.

We hope not to use insurance as we’re planning to reschedule. Yet, when it comes to postponing, we’ve been uncharacteristically – and foolishly - calm. We thought, all we need to do is pick up everything we’ve organised and dump it on a new date in 2021. Oh how naive we were back in that prehistoric period - aka a few months ago.

To our frustration, we’ve realised everyone and their dog will now be getting married next year and availability is in short supply. Picture the Black Friday sales - where adults turn feral to bite, scream and wrestle their way into shops - I fear that’s where we’re heading, but replace a widescreen TV with a registry office slot.

First up, we learnt our venue doesn’t have any weekends or Fridays free for two years. At least midweek would mean other suppliers and guests are likely to be available, right? Wrong again. As thousands of couples abandon their 2020 dates they are pouncing on anything they can get next year. A Tuesday wedding in the Shetland Islands? Ha - if you’re lucky!

We’re having the kind of wedding where everything from the tables and chairs to the cutlery needs to be rented. The company we’re hiring it from has explained they’ve already had Monday and Tuesday bookings for next year. The thought of coordinating our six or seven suppliers’ diaries, and then all of our guests for a second time around makes eloping sound tempting.

Rachael Yorke, co-founder of Hire Love – a furniture and prop hire company that styles weddings – says many venues and suppliers have been inundated with requests for 2021 and nearly all weekend slots are already gone.

Fortunately, Hire Love is prioritising couples who have had to postpone their 2020 date. ‘It was the least we could do as they've been so unlucky,’ Rachael says. When it comes to offering helpful advice and reassurance, she adds: ‘If your wedding day is on pause and you have to change the venue or the season it creates more opportunity to change things up and get excited all over again. Dust off the Pinterest boards and dream again. Seriously consider a midweek bash too, it’s a great opportunity to save some money and perhaps snap up some extra champagne.’

First up, we learnt our venue doesn’t have any weekends or Fridays free for two years.

Alex Lovejoy of the wedding DJ service Wedding Smashers warns couples away from attempting to rearrange to later this year, as the next few months are still shrouded in so much uncertainty.

‘Think about rescheduling to 2021/22,’ he says. ‘Speak with your suppliers individually and remember that empathy is needed on both sides. Have confidence that your suppliers are good people and will be more than happy to move your wedding and amend paperwork with no extra fees incurred. Try to stay positive about the situation, everyone's in it together and you will get through this difficult time and still have an incredible wedding.’

Mel de Matos owns wedding venue The Cherry Barn, which has been booking ‘plan B’ dates for all 2020 couples in 2021. She says 2021 is busy and couples might need to accept their dream date has to change. ‘My advice to couples is to talk to their suppliers and have a frank conversation about what they would like to achieve. Is it reasonable? Feasible? If not, is it possible to meet halfway?’

She says venues and suppliers as a whole have been trying to accommodate as best as they can. ‘However, if there’s something that the couple is concerned about please just have an honest conversation.’

©Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Lauren Grech, founder of international wedding planning firm LLG Events, offers some practical tips when it comes to reviewing contracts. She says brides and grooms-to-be should see what their vendors' cancellation policy/force majeure policy involve, as some venues may choose not to postpone your wedding until you are within force majeure.

‘Send your vendor team a doodle that outlines all the dates available at your venue,’ she adds. ‘Let your vendors select the dates they are available and see which dates overlap. Rebook a date that works for most of your vendors, or at least the core team of vendors you absolutely must-have. When rebooking your wedding date, update your vendor contracts to include pandemic and Covid-19 within their force majeure clauses. Your initial deposit and payments should apply to the rebooked date to avoid and minimise financial losses.’

The irony is, after meeting at university, Adrian and I have been together for most of our adult lives and could have married at any point in the past 10 years. But of course we chose 2020.

If we do manage to marry next year, there are certain elements we’ll have to reassess: shared canapes now seem like an outright health hazard. We’ve considered offering hand sanitisers as wedding favours, but want to keep panic levels low, not remind guests they could be one infected door handle away from death.

If we called it off completely, the virus could end up costing us our life savings. If it goes ahead in 2021 but some family or friends can’t attend, it would be absolutely devastating - not to mention wreak havoc with the seating plan. I guess we’ve just got to remember coronavirus is for now, but marriage is for life. If it doesn’t kill or bankrupt us, there’s always 2030.

Read More: Life and Love In Coronavirus Times


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