Our Wedding Is Postponed!
Guest Post by Valentina Ring, Owner, Head Planner, & Creative Producer at The Stars Inside
As this unprecedented situation around us evolves day by day, couples all over the world are navigating how to plan their weddings in a positive and practical way. Everyone’s situation is different and, like every wedding, there is no one size fits all advice during this uncertain time – however, there are some key pieces of advice that I would love to share with your readers to help them stay grounded and mindful while planning their celebration for 2020 or 2021.
It's okay to be excited!
You may be feeling like planning a wedding is a frivolous or unnecessary use of your time or energy right now, but I’m here to tell you that you absolutely should be getting excited about your wedding, if you want to.
There is no right and wrong answer here: if you feel like you need to take a pause from planning because you’re not in the right headspace, that’s absolutely fine; but if you do feel ready and enthusiastic, then that’s wonderful too.
Weddings are an embodiment of family and togetherness, and these celebrations will play a huge role in helping all of us, and society as whole, grow and recover on the other side of this pandemic. We all need happy occasions to look forward to, and making plans now to spend meaningful, real time with your loved ones when it is safe to do so is one of the best things you can do. In social distancing, togetherness and positivity are essential – now is the time to show love, gratitude and kindness to one another, and keep looking forward to life's good times. We are all affected and heartbroken by this reality – but you have every right to want to find pockets of normalcy where you can, and to protect the wedding day that you’ve so lovingly been curating.
Communication is absolutely key right now, with guests and suppliers both. My advice is to have an upfront and honest conversation with all your vendors as SOON as you start considering the possibility of postponement, and discuss options calmly and openly.
This is the time to work closely with your community to make educated, considered decisions together. Whilst none of us know what’s going to happen, your family, friends, and suppliers are all there for you to help you assess the situation day by day. The wedding industry has got your back, and is hearing you, providing a voice for you, and supporting you.
If your wedding is in 2021, I would recommend getting in touch with suppliers soon: the earlier you start securing dates and bookings with your favourites, the less you'll need to worry about their availability vanishing as a result of postponed weddings getting shuffled. It's possible that suppliers may take a little longer to get back to you at the moment, as they are doing their best so provide attentive customer service to the couples getting married in the next few months - but that doesn't mean they don't want to hear from you!
If your wedding is this year, try to be kind and understanding when speaking to suppliers about postponements and availability; be mindful that many small businesses are currently facing severe financial distress and uncertainty, and the very real possibility that their livelihoods and families might be at risk. They know this is an emergency outside of everyone’s control, and so they will be as flexible as they can be while still running their business and paying their own expenses. These businesses need to keep their finances strong and healthy, in order to be there for you when your wedding day comes around.
When it comes to your guests, I would recommend having a fun and easy-to-update website where you can keep your guests in the loop – this way they can share in the journey with you, and also not call or message you with the same questions for you to deal with.
Speak to your stationer about whether they can create something bespoke for you to notify guests digitally; most designers are offering free emergency graphics precisely for this purpose, like E.Y.I. Love Stationery and their beautiful set of free downloads.
Arm yourself with all the information and start putting contingency plans in place. If your wedding is scheduled for later this year, there is – unfortunately – still a question mark on whether it actually will be able to go ahead. Now is the time to be educating yourself about postponement and cancellation policies, about your venue and suppliers’ availability for next year, about your insurance policy if you have one, and so on. Being familiar with the small print is definitely a good idea right now, as is keeping everything in writing. If you’re feeling particularly uncomfortable or unsure about a specific situation, and amicable communication hasn’t been enough, then do seek out legal advice. The more prepared you can be for the possibility of needing to change your date, the less stressful it will be – and if you’ve already postponed once, I promise that postponing a second time is much less of a shock to the system than the first time! There are a few different variables affecting how soon you should decide whether to postpone:
If your wedding is quite small and quite laid-back, it may be easier to shuffle the suppliers and the guests’ travel than if it is a larger wedding with a larger supplier team + more elaborate requirements. Maybe you’ve already spoken to your suppliers who have told you they will let you postpone without financial penalty, so you know they can work flexibly with you to find a new date.
It also depends on your appetite for risk – I am working with some couples who simply don’t want to be in the position of stressing themselves watching the news every day, and keeping their guests in this difficult position, and would rather postpone for peace of mind. I am working with other couples who would prefer to wait until the last possible minute to make the decision, because postponing really isn’t ideal for them.
You may also want to wait to postpone until you have a clearer picture of the possible financial repercussions you may incur as a result of postponing, and also what your insurance situation is.
Plan to make a final decision with no less than one month to go, as that is when final details and payments to suppliers tend to be due. Four weeks also tends to be an important deadline when it comes to contractual agreements.
Did I mention staying flexible? ;)
My advice would be to try to take the situation as lightly and flexibly as you can. The news and guidelines are changing daily, and the more nimble you can be with your plans, the less anxiety and pressure you’ll experience. If you’re postponing, definitely look at weekdays instead of weekends, and off-season dates instead of peak summer dates, so that you’re more likely to be able to move all your plans smoothly and for your suppliers to be more accommodating. One way to be less prey to the changing news is to separate the part that gets you married (the ceremony) and the part that requires many people to be in the same room (the reception).
If it makes you happy, why not elope, just the two of you so you can have a really intimate, meaningful celebration sooner - and then plan to have the party at a later date when all of this has settled?
By taking this choice into your hands, you can feel more in control of the marriage itself, and focus on the things that really matter to you. You'll also be less worried of the effect your wedding will have on guests' safety, and feel more present and mindful on the day of the ceremony.
Ultimately, it's all about what is right for you and your community: don't feel pressured into doing something because everyone else is! Try to use this as an opportunity to reprioritise what matters most to you, and create an experience you're even more excited about sharing with your loved ones when the time does come.
Have the right team on your side.
The most important thing you can do for your own peace of mind is to make sure you surround yourself with an expert, trustworthy wedding team whom you know understand your situation and are there to support you moving forward.
Having an amicable, honest, and respectful relationship with your wedding suppliers has never been more important - you may both be dealing with very difficult consequences of this epidemic for months to come, and you'll both need to be patient and understanding with one another.
If you don't have wedding insurance, don't beat yourself up about it - many people didn't! But definitely purchase that once insurance companies eventually open up applications again. And if you don't have a wedding planner, I would highly recommend looking into that at this stage if you think your budget may allow for it. I know it may seem biased for me to recommend that as I'm a planner myself! But honestly, we're here for you - if you needed help with anything else in your life, you wouldn't hesitate to contact a specialist, so why treat your wedding any differently?
We are here to guide you with all the practicalities and legalities, give you expert advice, champion your interests with all your suppliers, and create an experience you will love looking forward to; if you do end up moving your wedding date, we can support you in reconfiguring, rescheduling, and renegotiating. Having said that, if you don't feel that working with a planner is right for you or your budget, don't worry - all the suppliers in the wedding industry are banding together to be there for their couples. Reach out to them for support, and head to social media and online for valuable resources - most wedding blogs are offering advice pieces on multiple useful topics, like this one from Love My Dress
Practice Self Care.
If you are planning your wedding for later this year or next year, or working hard to reschedule your plans – make sure you are looking after yourself, so you can stay motivated and strong.
Staying mentally and emotionally well at this time is vital and I encourage you wholeheartedly to try to find a little time every day to care for you and your loved ones. Think about what makes you happy, and what helps you center your thoughts: it might be a few minutes of breathing or meditating, it might be a creative hobby, it might be some mat exercises in your living room, or just taking time to expose yourself to nature, read a book, or listen to a podcast.
Mute your phone notifications for a while, explore the present moment, and notice the ground beneath you.
To keep strong, sharp and focussed as you work through the challenges, make sure you’re eating well and keeping up with your normal routine as much as possible too.
As you plan, keep your eye on the end goal, and try to use your energy positively and productively. Make this period of self-isolation feel productive if you can, and take breaks from wedding planning too - keep to your routine but introduce new, fun, rewarding things centred around self care.
Try changing your mindset: it's not about what you have to do, but rather what you GET to do. Make a note of things you're grateful for each morning, and think about what you can do today to have something new to be grateful for tomorrow. I would also recommend trying to limit the time you spend reading or watching the news - pick just one (trusted) source to check at a specific time each day. Don't trust speculation on social media and remember that journalistic language is more concerned with being sensationalist than with being considerate. Stay alert, but don’t let the news overwhelm you with negativity. Remember that your friends, family, and suppliers are there for you and you will get through this together.
I hope this has been helpful for you, and a source of positive and calm. If you would like to connect with me, ask for any advice, or work with me, I would love to hear from you – you can find me on my website, my Instagram profile, or reach me directly at my email address at email@example.com.
Valentina Ring The Stars Inside
A note from Susanna.
I met Valentina a few years ago when we worked together on a styled shoot in England and I was immediately impressed with her professionalism, capability under pressure and sense of style. She kindly accepted my invitation to offer some words of advice here on how to tackle wedding planning for the uncertain calendars of 2020 and beyond. Although this advice is offered in the time of a pandemic, I feel sure it will prove to be evergreen.
Valentina describes herself as 'Londoner by address, Italian by blood, and explorer by spirit.' And what better combination of characteristics to help us plan the next romantic grand adventure?