Considerations for Changing your Wedding Plans

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

Regarding the current unknown status of our lives I’ve heard many theories on how “life as we know it” will be over, norms will change, and society will evolve. Will the handshake disappear? Will Zoom meetings be more common than in-person? Who knows. I’m not buying that hugs to say hello, high fives at sporting events, or playing at the park is really gone forever. However, I’m not naive enough to ignore the fact that for the immediate future, things will be different. And some of those “things” will likely include events and large gatherings.

Event professionals like myself don’t have any magic, exclusive information. We don’t have a direct line to Dr. Fauci. But, it is in our DNA to respond to the unknown with calming action and direct problem solving. I live for the moments when I can think quickly on my feet, put out a fire, and keep on walking as if nothing ever happened. Luckily, in our current situation, there isn’t necessarily any quick thinking. We have time to digest what’s going on, feel ALL the emotions, and assess the options to make a decision that is best for you.

If you have a wedding that is scheduled for this summer, there’s no telling what the rules will be at that time (hence my need for Fauci’s cell number). Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to start thinking about what Plan B could look like if you need to alter your plans.

1. Close your eyes. What does your wedding look like?

I don’t necessarily mean the actual look, as in the flowers and colors (although that is going to be important in just a moment), but more so, the vibe, the guests, and the feelings. Is it all about the two of you? Are you surrounded by your closest family and friends sharing good food and laughs and happy tears? Is it an absolute party with a full-blown dance party?

2. Now, what does your wedding actually LOOK like?

Are you holding a huge bouquet full of your favorite flowers? Is it a beautiful Spring day with trees freshly budding? Is your cocktail hour outside on a sunny patio? Are the table linens light pink to perfectly match your garden theme? Are there palm leaves in the centerpieces to give off a warm beachy feel? Or… do you not know? Are you wondering if you even have a theme? You don’t mind what the flowers look like, what’s going on with the temperature, or the type of centerpieces you have as long as they look nice.

3. How do you feel?

Keeping in mind what you just envisioned your day to look like, how strongly do you feel about keeping it that way? Some couples have planned a wedding that includes 250 guests, dancing all night long with friends and family they’ve grown to cherish throughout their entire lives, late night snacks, an after party, and more. Other couples, are less concerned with those details. Either way – if you are focused on what your wedding looks like and how it is celebrated, or if you aren’t worried about the decor or having a specific atmosphere – YOU ARE NOT WRONG. There is no wrong way to celebrate a marriage.

4. Do you have a “but” or an “and”?

If your answer to step #3 was something along the lines of feeling let down or disappointed, that’s understandable! Of course you are! The big question is, what comes next?

  • I feel let down… but I know I don’t want to delay getting married.

  • I feel let down… but I’m ok restructuring my wedding.

  • I feel let down… but the details aren’t that important to me, I just want to get married.

  • I feel let down… and I don’t want to re-plan my wedding details.

  • I feel let down… and can’t imagine cutting my guest list at all.

  • I feel let down… and would be extremely disappointed if I couldn’t have my dream celebration.

It’s possible that multiple of the above statements ring true for you… that’s understandable, too! But unfortunately, Plan B isn’t going to be decided for you. Only you and your fiancé can make this decision. Follow your heart. Which is most true for you?

5. What now?

You know what you want, what you don’t want, and how that makes you feel… great. What now? The timing of when you’ll have to decide on whether you should alter your wedding plans depends on a couple factors. If your wedding is scheduled to be in July or sooner, it’s possible that there will be mandated event sizes. For your sanity and a courtesy to your guests, a decision soon will be best. While you may be inclined to “wait and see” or “hope for the best” I encourage you to consider the prompt in #4. If you will be devastated to alter or cancel your original plan, that safest option is to postpone until a later date when you can have the wedding you really want – even if that means taking a chance on your wedding date receiving the all-clear to gather as normal. Another factor to consider is when you want to get married and when you want to have your wedding? Again, there is no right answer. Do what feels right for you. This is your love story and you can write it however you want.

Consider the consequences

Before feeling comfortable with your Plan B, you need to understand if there are any implications for altering your original plans. Review the service terms of your venue and all vendors. Reach out to them to ask if they have advice or recommendations for moving forward with your date and how they will handle a cancellation or date change if you choose to go that route because of COVID-19.

6. After understanding your restrictions, here are possible Plan Bs:

I feel let down… but I know I don’t want to delay getting married.

If you are ready to marry your person right now and don’t want to wait, investigate options for doing so! Reach out to your local courthouse to see if they are marrying couples or reach out to ordained professionals who have social distance ceremony options available. NOTE: If you are considering a virtual ceremony, you should reach out to your courthouse first to understand if this type of ceremony will be legal. In many cases, a virtual ceremony is not legal and rather a temporary symbolic event. Then, you can have your dream reception at a later date when you know it will be safe to party.

I feel let down… but I’m ok restructuring my wedding.

Of course, you’re sad that the event you planned for the past year is not going to come into fruition the way you hoped. But, if you are ultimately comfortable with changing the dynamics if that mean you get to keep your date, there’s a couple options to consider. If your wedding is currently scheduled for the summer and you want to create a Plan B that consists of having your wedding as soon as possible, consider a micro wedding. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on micro weddings… aka my newest obsession, and no, not because of social distancing compliance. Micro weddings are typically anything smaller than 50 guests. With the possibly of mandated event sizes, micro weddings are a safe(r) option. Because of their small size, your options are larger. You have more budget to spend on elaborate food, music, and other add-ons. Another option for restructuring your wedding is postponing to another season. If your wedding is currently scheduled in summer and you want to create a Plan B that consists of getting married asap but cutting down the guest list to create a micro wedding doesn’t meet your needs, consider postponing your wedding to another season like fall or winter. If you postpone to a different season this year, here are 3 things to consider: 1. Dates for 2020 are already very full so finding a date that all of your current vendors have available may be challenging 2. The status for event gatherings for the remainder of the year are unknown 3. Changing the season of your event may require changing things like the type of flowers, type of bridesmaid dresses, and other themed elements.

I feel let down… the details aren’t that important to me, I just want to get married.

You’re flexible, great! Since you’re willing to alter your plans, pick the next best option: marriage now, reception later; marriage ceremony only, the rest of your lives will be a celebration; postponing to a relatively soon date with a micro wedding; postponing to a date later in the year and switching up the season of your wedding.

I feel let down… and I don’t want to re-plan my wedding details.

I get it. You worked hard. You battled tough decisions between your fiancé, you nitpicked shades of gray, you shed some tears over the future in-laws, it’s been a long road and now you don’t want to go through it all again. If you’re feeling this way, I. GET. IT. I’d probably be in this boat if it were my own wedding. But please, tread lightly. Do not make your decision, or even decide on a Plan B, out of spite or anger. This situation isn’t fair but don’t let COVID-19 win. If you find yourself unable, unwilling, or unwanting to re-plan your wedding you have 2 choices: 1. Cancel 2. Reschedule to the same month next year. If you want to cancel and you are truly at peace with that decision, no one should stop you. But, if you feel like you want to cancel because the stress of re-planning is too much, the next easiest (and likely most economical) thing to do is to reschedule your wedding for the same month next year. This will require a little bit of re-planning as you’ll have to reach out to all of your vendors a secure a date that they all mutually have available, then notify your guests of the new date, but the work is minor compared to the alternatives.

I feel let down… and can’t imagine cutting my guest list at all.

The truth is, none of us know what the future will bring. Will event sizes be mandated through May? July? October? January?? We truly don’t know, and I caution you not to Google anything. There are many articles out there that predict everything from very soon to…. very far. If your guests’ attendance is the most important aspect of your wedding, you should consider rescheduling to 2021. It’s a tough decision and I get that, but remember, this is only your Plan B. You don’t have to commit to this right now but when your wedding is within a couple months and the future of event size is not looking too bright, you may need to make the difficult decision. Could you risk unnecessarily postponing your wedding? Maybe. But weigh your options - unnecessarily cancel but all your guests are safe to attend OR wait to make a decision and be forced to cancel with possible lost money the daily stress of the unknown.

I feel let down… and would be extremely disappointed if I couldn’t have my dream celebration.

I feel let down… and can’t imagine cutting my guest list at all.

Your emotions are high. Some days… gosh, some minutes… you feel angry, another minute you feel confused, another you feel inconsolably sad. Nonetheless, you are anxious about what COVID-19 is going to throw at us next and what the impact will be on your special day. Altering your plans brings tears to your eyes because you have a passionate vision for how your marriage is going to be celebrated. While couples like you have complex emotions, your decision is easy. Reschedule. Reschedule your wedding for the same month (or as close as possible) next year. You are similar to the response, “I feel let down… and I don’t want to re-plan my wedding details” but the large difference with you is that cancelling is not even a question. The party will go on! Albeit, not without some really sad days, your plans will remain untouched and be carried out just as perfect as you originally planned.

7. Love isn’t cancelled

So cliché, right? Sometimes I want to punch that little meme when I see it reposted 100 times on my social feeds. BUT IT’S TRUE! It is so stinking true! Whether you find yourself being more comforted than ever by your finance or if you’re more frequently butting heads while making these extremely tough calls, you love each other. You wouldn’t be here reading this post if you didn’t. This is your love story. Every plot has a challenge. COVID is the villain and we sure as hell are NOT the damsels in distress. We’re going to create a Plan B and act on it if we to with peace of mind, preparation, love… and a day or so loathing in comfy clothes watching Netflix.

For more resources on postponement planning, click here.

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