Darling readers, we can’t deny we’re living in a tricky time. It feels as if the ground is shifting beneath our feet under our feet and it’s hard to know what might come next.
We know that lots of you are facing up to the realities of postponing your weddings and truly, our hearts go out to you all. We send you all so much love and strength to get through everything these next few days and weeks.
Please, please, if you haven’t done so yet, and your wedding is due to take place anytime between now and June (at least June), contact your suppliers as soon as possible and open up the conversation. If you have a wedding planner, start with them. If not, then start with your venue and photographer.
We’re also here to give you practical advice and, if you’re looking at a pause on your wedding plans or if you looking at re-arranging, I implore you to read the article below, written by real bride, Emily Dunn, who has this week postponed her own wedding.
We are so very thankful to Emily for so kindly sharing her experience. Emily is a member of our precious closed Facebook group for brides, which I personally invite you to join if you haven’t yet. The group is a safe space for brides only – no suppliers or adverts. We believe you need a place of your own. There is so much in Emily’s words below to digest and absorb and so much practicality and positivity – I truly hope this will be a useful read.
To Emily, and everyone else facing this situation right now, we love you so much.
Emily, do you want to tell us a little bit about your situation (when your wedding was planned for, how long you’d been planning for and the rough details of the day in terms of numbers etc.)
Tom and I had been together just over three years when we got engaged in December 2018, it was a total surprise and exactly how I imagined it would be! We live in the Midlands but I grew up in Cornwall, my parents still live there and it’s where Tom proposed. As the first of three daughters to get engaged my Mum was beside herself with excitement and planning started straight away.
We wanted to get married in Cornwall in the Spring, so a date of 21st March 2020 was set. It would have also been my Grampa’s birthday and we were getting married in the same Church that my Grandparents got married in.
Invites went out to 120 guests about six months before, we planned a church ceremony followed by a marquee in the grounds of a beautiful manor house near my hometown. We had some guests from America, some from Europe and then lots travelling from all over the UK. On the Tuesday after our wedding we were then flying to the USA for a two-week honeymoon.
When did you first start to think that you might have to postpone?
COVID-19 had been around for a few weeks, but it wasn’t until about two weeks before our wedding date that we started to really feel that it could have a major impact on our wedding. About 10 days before we started preparing ourselves to see some of our guests unable to travel or attend, but at this point we had to just keep going with our preparations and put in place extra hygiene measures to keep our guests and suppliers safe.
Travel restrictions had started coming in and, whilst they didn’t yet affect our honeymoon, we knew that it was probably only a matter of time before we would be cancelling that. On Sunday afternoon the announcement came that travel was being stopped between the UK and USA so our honeymoon was off.
On Monday morning I emailed some of our bigger suppliers to find out their position on the situation and what steps they were taking, and based on all the information we had at the time it was still all systems go for the weekend. We were waiting for more details from the government’s COBRA meeting on Monday afternoon, and we were expecting that gatherings above 500 couldn’t go ahead, so were hopeful we would still be OK.
I had just got home from work to watch Monday’s press conference and as the new information and advice from the government came in, I knew that it was probably all over. Tom runs a business, so he was still at work, watching the conference with his business partners and preparing to update their staff and put their plans into action. We dropped each other a quick text and then I waited for Tom to get home to talk about it properly.
If you are concerned about your weddings plans due to global disruption, please visit our resource for brides & wedding suppliers
Who did you talk to first? What was their feedback?
As soon as Tom got home we discussed how we both felt about it and what our options were – can we still go ahead? Do we want to go ahead? Do we cancel altogether or postpone? Do we keep the ceremony with just our family and cancel the reception? We then phoned our key suppliers in the venue and caterers, and then spoke to our families. We also spoke to our insurance company to see what, if any, advice they could give us.
Our families both supported whatever decision we came to and our suppliers were incredible, they were on the phone with us late into the evening and wanted to do what they could to help us. The insurance company were not so helpful but the whole situation was a complete unknown to everyone.
What made the decision for you in the end?
Because the information from the Government had come in so late on Monday we knew that we couldn’t, or shouldn’t, make any rushed decisions that night but we had decided between ourselves what we wanted to do, and that was to postpone to a later date. We had already been feeling anxious about asking people to travel and after the latest information we didn’t feel comfortable about it at all, even though, officially, social gatherings hadn’t been banned.
Ultimately, we have a responsibility to our guests and suppliers, we did not want to put anyone at risk and have a duty of care to keep everyone safe. Whilst we knew some guests would still want to attend, we definitely didn’t want anyone feeling any pressure to come, or uncomfortable about being there on the day.
From a personal perspective, a lot of guests that we wanted to celebrate with wouldn’t be able to attend and it would not have been the day we had planned and dreaming about for so long.
Practically, where did you start postponing your wedding?
On Tuesday morning we first contacted our venue, caterer and marquee company, to discuss the practicalities of postponing the wedding. All of which were happy but there were still a few details to be ironed out in terms of covering costs they’d already incurred and finding a new date, but we got their agreement in principle. We also go them to share their availability for later in the year and early next year.
We then followed up with other suppliers such as the generator, loos, band, make up, hair, outfit hire etc. and again all in principle were more than happy to move our booking to a new date if they were available.
After that we then contacted all our guests. As we were planning to be Cornwall for a long weekend we had hotels, restaurants, salons and pubs booked so our parents both helped cancel those bookings and contact family guests.
From first confirming with our venue to cancelling all our bookings, it probably only took us about an hour and a half.
What was the reaction from suppliers?
Our suppliers have been nothing but amazing. Every single one has done everything they can to help us. We gave them three days’ notice and they have gone above and beyond with their support, some waiving late cancellation fees or delivery charges and some going even further.
Our caterers are going to cook two portions of the main course and pudding that we were meant to be having on Saturday and they’re surprising my parents this weekend with a meal delivery along with a bottle of wine. And my florist is sending my Mum and me a bouquet of my wedding flowers.
What was the reaction from guests?
Even before we cancelled this weekend our guests have been incredible, many dropping us messages to check how we were doing in the build-up. One of my friends lives in Germany and she had changed her flight to Monday morning to ensure she wasn’t caught in travel restrictions – but now she’s stuck here! Everyone has been very understanding and shares in our disappointment.
As someone who’s ‘been there’ – if anyone else is about to start the postponement process, what tips can you give?
Make timely but not rushed decisions. Hopefully most people will have a bit more time than we had, but despite there only being a few days until our wedding we’ve made sure we’re completely comfortable with our decisions and haven’t rushed into anything. At the same time, we’ve ensured we haven’t left suppliers waiting and been swift in our actions.
Work with your suppliers. Be completely honest with your thoughts and feelings, share your worries and concerns, and listen to theirs. They are all running a business at the end of the day and will be nervous about what the next few weeks and months brings. Neither of you will have ever had to deal with a situation quite as surreal as this, so be understanding of each other. It’s in both of your interests to work together to get the best outcome.
Look closely at your finances. Even if all your suppliers agree to move your booking to a new date, many will probably have costs that need covering – for example my florist had already ordered my flowers and the caterers had put deposits on hire equipment – so be prepared for this.
Be flexible and work out what your priorities are. If you want everything exactly as you had planned, you may have to wait a little while longer to ensure all your suppliers are available. If you want to get married as soon as possible you may have to be flexible with some suppliers and possibly spend a bit more money.
Make a plan. Tom and I sat down and agreed who would contact who to ensure continuity with suppliers.
Don’t take it out on each other! Planning a wedding can be stressful at the best of times so take a deep breath and work it out together.
Have you set another date?
We’re now working towards a date in October, we’re just waiting for one more piece of the puzzle to come together and hoping that this horrible time is behind us by then.
A slightly left-field one now, but it’s a practical question – what are you doing with all your ‘wedding stuff’ that you must have at home?!
We had been getting a lot of our wedding orders sent to my parent’s house to save us having to bring it all down with us, so they are storing it for us! Most of our ‘stuff’ can be rolled over to the new date, with the exception of our order of service, which will need a new date printed on it, and flower girl dresses and shoes, because they will have outgrown them!
A friend of mine described planning a wedding like building your own helter-skelter and when the day comes you’ve just got to jump on and enjoy what you’ve built – no matter what it looks like – we’ve just been given a bit more time to build ours, so hopefully it will be even better!
How do you feel now that you’ve postponed?
The past couple of weeks have been the most anxious time of our lives and as soon as we made the decision to postpone and started talking to suppliers all that anxiety went away.
A lot of things get put into perspective and whilst a wedding is one of, if not the biggest thing to happen in someone’s life, we have a lot to be grateful for.
In a funny way it’s actually brought us even closer together.
Brides, couples, we hope those of you facing postponement take solace from this. We will be sharing more information in the coming days.
Please take care.