Wedding postponement due to Coronavirus: The story and advice of real bride Lauren

Julia Braime

Looking for guidance concerning COVID-19 & your wedding plans? Click here

Every day may not be good but there is something good in every day.

We hate to get all inspirational quotes on you, but at these times of worry and uncertainty we are making it our mission to try to uplift the spirits and instil a level of calm.

As such, today we’re hearing directly from a real bride who has had to reschedule her wedding due to the ever-escalating COVID-19 pandemic and is here to reassure and advise couples currently in a similar situation that it is best to be proactive rather than to panic.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday night of a tighter lockdown enforcement that would rule out weddings for the coming month, at least, we put together this helpful post, which includes the steps to take to postpone a wedding as well as measures we are taking to continue inspire and empower your planning during this time of self-isolation through our #SpreadLove campaign.

As ever though, we feel there is nobody better placed to share guidance than someone who has been through it for themselves, and so we are welcoming real bride Lauren to the blog, who was due to get married this Saturday 28th March, but made the difficult decision to reschedule her wedding for 2021, as news of the UK Corona outbreak began to spread.

As a wedding industry professional herself, she is doubly well-placed to advise on the situation and although a box of Kleenex may be required to get through this post – particularly when she mentions her who will be giving her away – we are sure you will find Lauren’s honest words incredibly reassuring, calming and inspiring.

We are in total agreement with her that you CAN get through the task of postponing and it will instantly bring a level of relief and help you to regain some control. Not only that, but you WILL still have your dream day, albeit a later than originally planned, and we FULLY endorse Lauren’s call for a second hen do! Amen sister!

Can you tell us a little about you and when your wedding was originally planned for?

Lauren says

: Mark and I met six years ago and now live in Kelham Island, Sheffield. I work as a Commercial Events Manager in an art gallery and run weddings as part of my job. We got engaged in September 2018 while in Portugal. We had gone away for Mark’s 30th birthday and went to a beautiful restaurant (Canico) which is set within a cliff overlooking the beach – such a picturesque place. Mark said he wanted to get a selfie on the beach after dinner, so we went down by the sea and he popped the question! He’d managed to keep his cool the whole day and as it was his birthday, I didn’t see it coming. We started planning the wedding as soon as we got back from our holiday (although I already had most of it planned out in my head!). We set our date for 28th March 2020.

When did you make the decision to postpone the wedding and what were the main reasons that prompted you to do so?

We went away on our hen and stag dos at the beginning of February, not really thinking about the Coronavirus and how it could impact on our day. I think I really started to get worried about it at the beginning of March when there was an outbreak in the UK and everywhere you looked Coronavirus was featured. We kept a close eye on the news and as much as I tried to not let the stress take over me, it really did! I thought about it constantly and was filled with dread that the wedding we had spent so long organising potentially couldn’t go ahead.

By the time Boris made his announcement on the 16th March to implement social distancing, we just knew that we couldn’t go ahead. We have a lot of close family and friends who fall in to the ‘high risk’ category, including my 79-year-old nanna who I’d asked to give me away. Mark’s family also live in Ireland and we didn’t feel right asking them to travel over at such a risky time. After lots of tears and conversations with our families, we made the decision that evening to postpone.

What were your first ports of call?

That evening we messaged our immediate family to let them know what we were thinking, and they were all really supportive. They had all been so involved in the planning of the day and so, of course, it was a really upsetting time for them too.

We sent a few emails out to our main suppliers that night to let them know how we were feeling and to get an idea of where we stood with them when it came to postponement. By the following morning, almost all our suppliers had already replied. We set up a Skype meeting with our venue – The Beverley Barn – that morning and discussed our options with them. Once we had agreed on a date that we were able to postpone to, we then contacted all of our suppliers (photographer, caterer, florist, bridal shop, stationery designer, entertainment etc) as well as the registry office to find out if they would all be able to accommodate us on our new date. They were all so quick at getting back to us that we were able to confirm a new date that very day!

I also contacted our wedding insurance company to find out if any of our postponement costs could be covered, but unfortunately we were told that unless we had caught the virus, or a member of the team at our venue had caught the virus, we were unable to claim anything. Luckily, our suppliers have been so amazing that we’ve been able to move the majority of our bookings free of charge!

What date did you choose to postpone to and why?

We decided to postpone for a full year. Our new wedding date is Sunday 28th March 2021. Our venue gave us the option to postpone to later in the year or the beginning of the following year, but it had to take place on a weekday or a Sunday. Ideally, we would’ve liked to have kept our wedding day on a Saturday (as I’m sure most people would), however we totally understood that they are a business and having to postpone weddings / close down for a number of weeks is likely to have a huge financial impact on them too. I’m not sure if me being in the industry helped me in being more understanding to this as I imagine some couples may not be happy about having to change the day of their wedding, but I’d hate for any of our suppliers to be badly effected by all of this. Plus, does it really matter what day you get married on? As long as all of our family and friends are able to make it, that’s all that matters to us.

As we were less than two weeks away from our wedding day, we already had our spring colour theme set (burgundy and blush) and paid for so we wanted to keep our day to this time of the year. We’ve also had a lot of things engraved/printed for the wedding (dressing gowns, guest book, wedding rings etc.) so we’ve made a joke about crossing the 0 out and putting a 1!

Can you tell us about the process of postponing – what it entailed and how you felt?

It was very tough making the decision to postpone and when it hits you that your wedding day won’t be going ahead on the date you have been planning for so long, it is utterly heart-breaking. BUT you have to be proactive and start being realistic about what is happening and what you need to do to rearrange.

Firstly, we spoke with our venue about what dates we could postpone to and asked them to ‘hold’ the new date in their diary while we called round and emailed all other suppliers. When speaking with suppliers, we asked them to ‘hold’ the new date too. We made sure that we didn’t confirm any dates, sign any new contracts etc. until we were 100% sure everybody was available on our new date.

Close family and our bridal/grooms party were the main guests we ran the date by. Once we had the go ahead from them and the rest of the suppliers, we were able to get the new date in the diary.

We also had to contact hotels, house rentals and taxi companies to either cancel or rearrange with them too. Those were the companies we contacted a day or two later as it’s all quite overwhelming and we felt it was more of a priority to confirm with our venue and bigger suppliers first.

The hardest phone call I had to make was to the bridal shop – Emily Bridalwear – as I was meant to have my final fitting the day after we made the decision to postpone. One of the girls answered the phone and I couldn’t even speak, I just cried to her down the phone. I’m not sure exactly who I spoke to, but she was so lovely and reassured me that everything was going to be OK and that I will still get to wear my dress. A big thank you to them (and sorry for the sniffly phone call)!

What were the main challenges and what was the feedback/service like from your venue and suppliers?

AMAZING! Our venue and all our suppliers have been incredible, we couldn’t have wished for better service from any of them. They have all been so understanding and supportive which has made such a tough time that bit easier. We wanted to get everything rearranged as quickly and smoothly as possible and although they are also going through a difficult time too and are trying to rearrange lots of couple’s weddings, they got back to us so quickly.

Emma from SALT + INK Stationery has even offered to make us some invitations for our new date free of charge!

Shout out to all our other amazing suppliers not yet mentioned too: photographer: M & G Photographic; catering: Yorkshire Wedding Catering; styling: My Pretties UK; musician: Eleanor Grace; DJ: Wedding Jam and makeup artist: Coco Rose Beauty.

Our main challenge was trying to get through to the registry office. On a normal day they are already extremely busy, but during a pandemic when hundreds of couples from their area are trying to rearrange their wedding, it made it that extra bit harder to get through. Even still, we left a message and they got back to us within a few hours!

How did your guests react to news that you’ve had postpone the wedding?

Our close family and friends were understandably very upset for us. Our families had helped so much with the wedding that they were gutted that it couldn’t go ahead when we’d planned. They were so supportive and reassured us that we had made the right decision and wanted to do anything and everything they could to help.

We put a text message together to send to all our guests and sent that out after we had rearranged the new date. We didn’t want to send this while we were still in the process of postponing as we were already dealing with lots of phone calls and messages and felt this would’ve just added to the stress.

We contacted everybody pretty quickly after we’d rearranged (I think it was that evening) as we had already had a few messages from people saying they were thinking about us and asking if we were still planning on going ahead, so we wanted to let people know as soon as possible.

We were overwhelmed with how lovely everybody was. Our guests were so supportive with a few saying how much they respected us for making the decision to postpone to protect our loved ones.

I was a little worried about sending the message as so many people had booked travel and accommodation for the wedding and I was worried about them losing out on money, but not one of our guests mentioned this to us, everybody cared more about how we were than anything else.

Have you also had to rebook a honeymoon and, if so, how did you go about that?

We hadn’t booked our official honeymoon as we were going to look at doing this later in 2020. We had however booked a minimoon – two nights at a spa in the Lake District followed by two nights in Edinburgh.

Mark contacted the hotels to ask if we were able to cancel and receive a refund, however we were told this wasn’t possible.

As the Coronavirus outbreak has got worse and more restrictions have been put in place across the UK, we have recently been contacted by the travel company we booked through to inform us we’re now able to receive a refund or rearrange to another date within the next year.

It doesn’t look like we’re able to receive a refund for the train tickets we had booked, but we feel so lucky that we’ve been able to rearrange the majority of our wedding free of charge that we can take the hit on that.

What advice would you give to couples having to postpone their weddings currently?

If you’re feeling stressed and full of dread (like I did), don’t just sit on it for weeks until you’re in a position where you can’t think about anything else other than ‘what happens if we can’t have our wedding?’ Speak with your venue and suppliers to put a Plan B in place. Find out what their T&C’s are and any procedures they have for postponing weddings.

I wish we would have done this sooner as I think we were just hoping that it was all going to blow over, but unfortunately it isn’t. It’s better to be in the know about where you stand rather than being rushed in to making decisions when you don’t have all the information you need.

Don’t forget about the smaller suppliers too – makeup artists, hairdressers, car companies etc. Make a list of everybody you need to contact and work through them one by one. Also, the registrars – do not forget about them!

I know that we’re going through a really uncertain time at the moment and it doesn’t seem fair that this is happening to us, but just remember so many other couples are also going through this too and although it won’t be on the date we originally planned, we will still get to have our big day!

How do you feel now having postponed the date?

Honestly? Slightly relieved, I think. I had got myself so worked up about our wedding and whether it could happen or not, that now knowing it isn’t happening until next year has helped me come to terms with it.

Of course, it’s still really upsetting that we won’t be getting married for another year. I’m not going to deny that I’ve had a little cry a few times since we’ve postponed and that it makes me sad that we won’t be getting married this weekend. I think about how this week was meant to be and how it is at the moment, but there’s so much happening in the world right now that’s there’s no way we could’ve had our wedding this weekend (I mean, Boris has cancelled them all!).

We will get our wedding day and what a celebration it’s going to be after all this is over! Plus, I get to have a second hen do now! Surely that’s allowed?!

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