What to do if You Have to Cancel or Postpone Your Wedding

No one likes to talk about the possibility of canceling or postponing a wedding, but the fact is, sometimes that’s just what happens. Besides a change of heart, couples may have to cancel due to things happening that are out of their control, such as a global pandemic, natural disasters, illness, or bereavement. Likewise, the couple could decide to forego the formalities of a wedding. If you and your partner are facing a situation in which you’ll likely cancel or postpone your wedding, you’re about to learn that there’s a lot to do. But don’t worry- the wedding professionals at Griffin’s Weddings have put together this list to help you know where to start, how to handle each situation graciously, and who to turn to for help. 

Will You Cancel or Postpone?

This is the first of many decisions you’ll make as you look ahead. Deciding to cancel altogether, whether due to a change of heart or other extenuating circumstances, is more likely to result in the loss of deposits and the inability to return dresses and decorations. On the other hand, if you choose to postpone, your vendors may be willing to hold your deposit for your future date. In the face of a world-wide pandemic, some couples are choosing to act much like their predecessors in wartime- holding a very small ceremony to make the marriage official, then planning a reception or larger celebration for the future. In some cases when catering or flowers have already been prepared or paid for, couples are choosing to donate to local charities, hospitals or other organizations that can benefit. 

Outdoor wedding image

Notifying Vendors

  • Check your policies. As your first order of business, make sure you know what is covered and what isn’t for your particular situation. If you have wedding insurance, start there. Then move on to each vendor’s contract. Learn about their policies in the event of cancellation or postponement before calling. 
  • Be honest. Once you know your vendor’s policies, give them a call. Be upfront and honest with them about your situation, but be ready to lose your deposit or even incur a fee for changes. Depending on the reason for your changes, however, your vendor may be understanding and willing to work with you. 
  • Timing matters. The sooner you can let your vendors know that you need to cancel or postpone your event, the better. Consider the situation from their business’ standpoint. They may have already ordered materials or ingredients, turned down other business and blocked out time for your event. While many have an “Act of God” clause in their contracts, most do not accommodate for a change of heart. 
  • Be flexible. If you’re just postponing to a new date, certain things still may need to change. Different flowers will be in season in the fall rather than the spring. Your bridesmaids’ dresses might need to be a different color. Talk to your vendors about how to change your plans to fit the new season within your budget and be ready to think outside the box a little. What develops might just pleasantly surprise you!

Notifying Guests

  • Start with those traveling. For anyone who may have booked a flight, a rental car, or a hotel, it’s important to prioritize them as soon as you know your plans have changed so they can begin rearranging their own plans. Some airlines offer credit on future flights, and hotels can sometimes offer refunds or future credit. If you booked a block of rooms, talk to the hotel right away to save your guests one more thing they’ll have to do. 
  • Be polite but be efficient. True etiquette in this situation calls for a formal announcement that the wedding has been canceled or postponed. However, if time does not permit the printing and sending of formal announcements, a well-worded email or text to all guests will suffice. Keep it brief and to-the-point: “Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so regret to announce that the wedding of their daughter, _ to _ will not take place.” There will be time to pour over the details later with those closest to you, but for now, work on informing everyone as quickly and politely as possible.
  • Know when to return gifts. If your plans are being postponed, it’s okay to keep wedding gifts you’ve already been given. If you’re changing your plans to include a super-small ceremony and no guests, it’s polite to offer to return gifts (say, from your bridal shower a few months ago). Often guests will insist that you keep the gift anyway, in which case, simply accept and write a lovely thank you card. However, if you’ll be completely canceling the wedding, be sure to return gifts (even those that have been personalized). 
  • Don’t feel the need to explain. It’s often tempting to want to make your reasons clear, but trust that these will come out over time. You’ll inevitably confide in your closest people, and they will help you explain to extended family, friends, and co-workers. At this time, however, you’re full of emotions and have a lot on your plate. You do not owe anyone an explanation or a long discussion. 

One final note of advice: enlist help in getting through this transition. No doubt, whatever the reason for you to cancel or postpone your wedding, you’re going through a slew of emotions right now. Ask for help from a trusted bridesmaid, sibling or friend. Get your list of vendors and guests together, go over it with this one individual, and let them have the reigns. They’ll contact you if they need to. In the meantime, take a few deep breaths, give yourself permission to feel all of it so you can heal and regroup. Rest. If you have other questions or need help, talk to the floral experts at Griffin’s Weddings about how to make the smoothest transition possible during such a difficult time. 

Option B: Don’t Wait…Go Virtual!

Canceling your “Big Event” doesn’t mean it can’t still happen. With virtual streaming platforms such as Facebook Live, you can still have a wedding and have your guests share in the experience of it, too. Just have a dedicated computer or phone-person to stream the event. Whether it’s in a courthouse or your backyard, get everybody in attendance to dress their part, decorate with gorgeous flowers and table settings, grab your beautiful bouquet, and walk down an aisle of rose petals. Make sure the ceremony is recorded as well for you to keep and treasure, and when everybody can finally get together, then you can celebrate your nuptials with a big bash.

For help in creating the picture-perfect virtual wedding with stunning, fresh flowers (a must at all kinds of ceremonies!), contact Griffin’s Weddings to help you make the day you get married extra special.