Stay safe, stay indoors, and stay healthy
These are strange times and I’m pretty sure no one thought it would get to the point where the majority of us have been confined to our homes, with no idea of when these measures will end. The health of you, your family and every one of us is vitally important, so please make sure to follow the NHS guidance and only go out if you absolutely need to. Make a point of trying to eat better, or maybe workout at home if you used to be a regular gym-goer, as its thought that a healthy body means a better immune system. Above all remember: you can’t plan your wedding, much less get married, if your physical and mental health suffers unnecessarily.
Try not to stress over something out of your control
It’s worth mentioning that this is something no one wanted or planned for, and is certainly not of your making, so try to not worry too much about the impact this may all have on your wedding plans. Yes, I know this may all fall on deaf ears, but try to focus your energies on things you can control and change. Do something that takes your mind off it all. Get stuck into a boxset on Netflix, read a new book, get those shelves up in the lounge, get out and enjoy your garden if you have one. Most of all, remember you’re not trapped inside, you’re safe inside. Enjoy this time with your partner, your children, and your family.
Get in touch with your suppliers if they have yet to contact you
Now you’ve accepted that your wedding will not go ahead on the day you originally planned, it’s important to get things in motion to organise a new date. Your venue is probably contacting couples in the order of their wedding date to explain their process and procedures. Other suppliers may be contacting you too, but if you haven’t heard from them yet, it’s a good idea to get in touch to see where you stand. Knowing the full ins and outs at an early stage will make new arrangements easier down the line.
Be aware of the contracts you have and any new/updated policies
Any supplier worth their salt will have contracts in place detailing what happens when wedding dates are moved or cancelled. Some may even have a clause that covers situations where the government forces the closure of a business, but if not then your suppliers may be issuing new advice to cover the current situation. Make yourselves aware of any relevant terms and conditions, as these may have a big impact on the financial implications and practicalities of moving your wedding date. If you are unsure or in any doubt, speak to your suppliers to clarify.
Keep your suppliers in the loop with any date changes
Chances are, you booked your suppliers for more reasons than they just happened to be available on your wedding date, and would no doubt still want them to be available for your new wedding date, too. It’s important to keep them in the loop and, if possible, ask their availability around any new dates to make sure once you’ve confirmed this with your venue, that your other suppliers are also available. This is particularly important if you are moving your wedding date to 2021, as most suppliers will have to juggle postponed weddings from this year and existing/new bookings for next year. Get in there early to secure your date! If suppliers are not notified before you confirm your new date, there’s a good chance that you will simply forfeit your deposit (and maybe any extra money you’ve paid) if the supplier is not available on your new date.
The difference between cancellations and postponements
This is something you will likely come across when dealing with venues, rather than other suppliers (but not always). Hopefully, most venues will remain flexible and understanding of the situation you are in, as they are having to close for reasons beyond both your and their control. Most venues will be happy to simply move your wedding date to a point later in the year, or perhaps to 2021, with the contract staying in place and any costs originally outlined being maintained. There may in some instances be a jump in price to accommodate for the usual year-on-year increases for weddings that most venues set out, but they may waive this for you (it’s always worth asking).
However, I’ve heard of some venues opting to cancel your contract outright, keep the deposit for your original date and start afresh on a new date, including asking for a new deposit and likely a higher overall cost for the reasons mentioned before. This can mean couples being very out of pocket, and I would consider this pretty poor practice and bad customer service. That being said, venues are no doubt losing out on income as much as other suppliers are, so may be trying this tact to maintain some sort of cash flow - but at your expense!
If you really have your heart set on a venue and this is done to you, then sadly you may have to take it on the chin, as there is no set standard for how venues and other suppliers act in this situation (though you may be able to claim on insurance). On the other hand, if you will have to pay a new deposit anyway, then maybe this is an opportunity to look at alternative venues that may act in a more flexible manner and offer better customer service.
This is a tricky topic to cover, as there are no doubt lots of insurers out there who will offer many levels of insurance cover. It’s important to get in touch with the underwriter in this situation and find out what is and isn’t covered in the current situation. The chances are that if you have not taken out insurance prior to the pandemic really ramping up, then you will be covered for far less financial losses that may be incurred. The main things that may affect you financially are a loss of deposits and possible cancellation fees incurred when your suppliers are not available on a new wedding date. These may or may not be covered by your wedding insurance.
Adjusted balance payments and payment plans
If your original suppliers are indeed also available for your new wedding date and are happy to move your date and keep their prices as they are, it’s important to realise that these suppliers will, as a result, suffer a huge loss of income in the short-term. Yes, this will be compensated for in the long-term, as balances for postponed 2020 weddings begin to come in and mix with those of 2021 weddings, but having that huge loss of income may mean that some suppliers and business just can’t maintain themselves and may even have to cease trading in the meantime.
This is a time for everyone to be flexible and accommodating, and some suppliers may contact you about spreading payments out or participating in payment plans. This allows you to pay regular instalments of your balance, or spread the balance out into several lump sums, between your original balance due date and the new wedding date. This gives the supplier a steady (albeit smaller) cash flow to maintain their business, and allows you to get your balance down slowly over a longer period of time, while giving you more disposable income than if you had paid the balance in one go.
All suppliers are in different financial situations and what works for one may not work for others. Some may even request voluntary payments to go towards your balance. Please be aware that small businesses and self-employed workers are often more at risk during this period than salaried workers, even with government grants available for up to 80% of income. For the self-employed this may not kick in until June, which means another few months of little to no income after a likely low income winter season (especially for wedding suppliers).
Use social media for emotional support not legal advice
With everyone in lockdown, the strain on social relationships is real, and it’s only natural that many of you will be turning to social media, online forums and Facebook groups to chat and ask questions about what other couples are doing about having their weddings cancelled or postponed. It’s important to be aware that the vast majority of other people in these wedding groups do not have an in-depth legal knowledge, or know the ins and outs of the policies and contracts of venues and other suppliers.
To that end, it’s perhaps not overly useful to ask whether it’s normal or not for a supplier to apply certain decisions to your particular booking. Whether that’s asking for more money, being reluctant to move the date, applying strange restrictions to your booking, or generally acting in an odd way. Others will only be able to say how THEIR suppliers are behaving, but only YOU can know what the policies are for YOUR suppliers. Try not to air your grievances online to others, but instead take it up with your suppliers and find out their reasons for doing what they’re doing. It may be necessary to negotiate a little, or maybe even threaten to go elsewhere (a bit of bartering never hurt anyone, right?)
Let your guests know as soon as you can
When you have a new wedding date finalised, let your guests know as soon as possible. You can email them if you wish, to avoid having to send out new save the date cards. It’s possible you may have more, or less, or different guests than before, so be prepared for all eventualities. Above all, give your guests as much notice as possible, especially if your new wedding date is later this year.
Remember, you have more time to plan and make your wedding awesome!
It’s fair to say this is a bit of a rubbish situation for all concerned. Planning a wedding is stressful at the best of times, let alone with the uncertainty of not knowing if you can even get married this year or not. Try to focus on the positives. Having to postpone means you will have more time to prepare, more time to save, the potential to splash out on a few things you may not have considered before, and even the chance to book some suppliers who weren’t available on your original date but can do your new one. There is always a silver lining to every bad situation – you just have to go out and find it!
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