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What To Do If You Have To Cancel The Wedding

Updated: Mar 27

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Contact Planners & Vendors

Contact vendors as soon as you can to reschedule your wedding party.

The first thing you need to do if you are planning on postponing your wedding is to immediately contact your wedding planner and/or vendors involved. The sooner you are able to do this, the sooner you will be able to reschedule your wedding with minimized costs. Your planner should negotiate new terms for you with your vendors. If you do not have a planner you will have to work with each vendor on a case by case basis. Andres suggests a minimum runway of 3 months of postponing to give time for all parties involved to properly plan and prepare. The next step is figuring out a new date that works with the venue, florist, catering, etc. Andre reminds brides that those who have canceled first will have first dibs on the next available dates so be patient and flexible with all parties. “Vendors will have multiple clients re-booking so there may be some overlap. If the vendor is not available for the new date, see if they have someone within their company or a freelancer they can hire before you find a new vendor,” suggests Andre.

Riawna Capri, co-founder of Nine Zero One Salon and In common, had to last-minute postpone her wedding she had been planning for over a year and a half. Her international wedding was set to be in Mexico and it wasn’t until ten days before the wedding that she and her partner decided to cancel. “Moving forward with a wedding during this time just didn’t feel right,” Capri said. “Our wedding was the week before stay-at-home orders had been placed so we were able to go down to Mexico with our wedding planner to work things out with the vendors for a future date in 2021.” Capri credits being able to postpone her wedding to the following year by showing appreciation, kindness and flexibility with the vendors. “We were very thankful we could receive credit for a future date with most of our vendors- the only vendor we weren’t able to get a refund or credit for was the florist,” Capri explained. She advises other brides to find common ground with vendors and planners to make things work for all parties for a future date.

Communicate With Your Guests

Even if you don’t have a new date for your wedding, the moment you decide to cancel or postpone your wedding notify your guests immediately by email, phone or text so they can cancel any travel or accommodations. Once you have figured out a new date notify your guests, but do expect a smaller guest list. “There may be guests who have been affected by the pandemic in irreparable ways so it will be common to expect a lot more “no shows” or declined RSVPs as people will be more budget and health-conscious for the months following the lift on the stay-at-home mandates. You should check on everyone and be sensitive and compassionate to each person’s individual circumstance before you invite them (again) to your wedding,” Andre says.

Capri kept in contact with all of her guests via email even before she had officially postponed her wedding. “We had guests slowly start to decline their invitation even before Coronavirus was on the top of everyone’s minds. Initially, we had decided to keep the wedding date as is so we emailed all of our guests confirming it was still on along with the safety precautions we would be taking,” she says. It wasn’t early March when the pandemic had started to become a national emergency that Capri and her partner decided to postpone the wedding. “Once we decided to postpone the wedding we emailed everyone letting them know we were pushing it back to 2021. Thankfully, the hotel allowed all of our guests to use their nights for our future date. For all of those who are postponing their weddings, I am positive that it will be an even better celebration than originally planned as everyone involved is going to be even more grateful and appreciative of the celebration,” she added.

Something else to think about when it comes to the best interest of you and your guests is ensuring sanitation practices. Besides ensuring that your vendors have integrated safe sanitation practices, you may want to create your own surveillance or sanitation practices such as providing hand sanitizer for all of your guests, checking fevers, or even spacing seating at tables.

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Can You Get A Refund?

This will vary depending on the vendor and their policies. Many vendors have introduced more flexible policies since the outbreak. Keep in mind your deposit or retainers will typically be non-refundable. “The reason these are non-refundable is because the event space or vendor reserves that date to work with you instead of taking on another client to work with,” explained Andre.

She adds that wedding vendor contracts were not written with this type of crisis in mind, “So while some couples feel they should get their deposits back because the wedding can not take place on the original date, wedding vendors did do the work required to book the client to begin with and this can not be overlooked. While couples are potentially cancelling one event, wedding vendors are having dozens if not hundreds of events cancelled putting most of them in a very difficult position. Some vendors will not make it through this time.”

Andre advises couples to leave their deposits in the hands of their vendors as they work on rescheduling for a future date. Some vendors may be able to work out a partial refund while some vendors will issue a postponement fee. “At Melissa Andre Design Co. we haven’t billed anyone a fee to rebook at a later date, but I understand why some vendors need to do so. It’s simply not feasible for many businesses to be out of work for several months, continue to pay their overhead, and then also complete the wedding service without an additional fee. A Florist may have already ordered and paid for your blooms from the farm and those blooms may have already been grown. These costs have already been spent regardless of whether the wedding takes place or not so it’s likely that most florists will need to bill in addition for situations like these,” Andre explains. “A service-based business like photography may be slightly more flexible since they tend to pay their photographers based on the number of projects they complete. Venues on the other hand have to maintain their venues whether or not events take place in them so often times venues may need to bill an additional postponement fee.”

If you find yourself in a tough situation with a vendor negotiating cancelling or postponing your wedding you may be able to use the theory of impossibility if you gt legally involved. “When there aren’t any force majeure or cancellation clauses that are favorable to your position, your non-performance of contract can be defended by the contract theory of impossibility.

Keep The Ceremony, Postpone The Party

If you are keen on getting married on your set date, you don’t have to cancel the actual wedding ceremony- just the party. Social distancing ceremonies have become trendy since the pandemic has occurred. Pictures of ceremonies with less than ten people wearing masks and standing six feet apart have flooded the news. Andre has seen weddings that are taking place over Zoom with just a bride, groom, and officiant (standing 6 feet away) while others are having an intimate dinner with less than ten people whom they are already isolating with. County’s are now processing marriage licenses online and via mail, check your local county site for the most updated information.

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