How to Graciously Cancel or Postpone your Wedding

While no one wants to think about making major changes to one of the biggest events in your life, sometimes life happens and unforeseen circumstances lead to the decision to cancel or postpone your wedding. You may be facing such changes due to a natural disaster, illness, bereavement, or a world-wide pandemic. In any case, these changes will affect a lot of people: your wedding party, guests, and vendors, to name a few. It can be difficult to navigate the responsibilities involved in cancelling or postponing a wedding. That’s why the wedding professionals at Conklyn’s Weddings have created a checklist for you to follow, ensuring that you don’t forget anyone and can hopefully salvage at least some of the expense already incurred. 

Will You Cancel or Postpone?

This is the first major decision you’ll make once you see the need to change gears. If you still want to gather friends and loved ones together, but the timing simply isn’t working for you, postponement is the way to go. You’ll still have some work to do to rearrange your plans with your vendors and guests, but many vendors may be willing to work with you to reschedule, especially if the change is due to circumstances out of your control. Many couples are choosing, in the face of a global pandemic, to still have a very small ceremony with just a few witnesses, then postpone the gathering of friends and relatives for a later date. However, if you’ve decided to fully cancel the wedding altogether, you’ll want to notify everyone quickly and efficiently. You’re more likely to lose deposits and will need to return gifts, so be sure this is the path you want to take before making this decision. 

Outdoor wedding image with trees no people

Notifying Vendors

  • Check your agreements. Once you’ve decided to postpone or cancel your wedding, start the process of “undoing” your wedding by checking all policies. If you have wedding insurance, this is the best place to start. What’s covered, what’s not? The same applies to travel insurance for destination weddings and honeymoons, then move on to the individual contracts you have with each vendor. 
  • Be honest and upfront. Vendors will appreciate your honesty and will work with you to apply their policies to your situation. If you’ll be postponing to a later date, discuss this possibility with them- you should be able to apply your deposit to your new date, especially if you’ve notified each vendor in enough time.
  • Timing matters. Consider each vendor’s business from their perspective. They’ve ordered ingredients or materials, blocked out this time and turned down other business for you and your big day. The sooner you can let them know of any changes, the more chance they’ll have to stop orders, replace your business and fill that time slot. Your circumstances matter, as well. Many vendors have an “Act of God” clause in their contracts that free you from responsibility when circumstances are out of your control. However, if your cancellation is due to a change of heart, you’ll probably be responsible for all lost business. 
  • Be flexible. If you’ll be postponing to a later date, consider the changes that may need to occur. The same flowers won’t be in season in November that you were planning for your May wedding. A different style of bridesmaids dresses or color palette for your entire decor could change. Talk to your florist, decorator and boutique about making cost-effective changes and start thinking outside the box. 

Notifying Guests

  • Start with travelers. Guests planning to fly, rent vehicles or needing hotel accommodations should be among the first you contact, as they’ll have major changes to make as well. On that note, talk to the hotel about canceling or rescheduling the block of rooms you reserved. This may save your guests one more step in their job of cancelling plans. Some airlines offer credit toward future travel instead of canceling entirely. 
  • Make a wise etiquette decision. While formal etiquette would dictate mailing formal statements, similar to wedding invitations, to notify guests that the wedding will not occur or will occur at a later date, this process could be costly and timely. If time is of the essence, a personalized text or email will suffice and guests will appreciate your haste in helping them rearrange their plans. 
  • Know when to return gifts. If you’ve chosen to cancel the wedding entirely, it’s appropriate to return gifts, even the personalized ones, along with a thank-you card. If a would-be guest insists that you keep the gift, simply accept kindly and thank them. 
  • Be clear and be brief. Your statement that the wedding will be postponed or canceled does not need to be involved, nor does it require explanation. There will be time to explain your reasons to loved ones, friends and family members. For now, a simple statement like, “The parents of _ announce that the wedding of their daughter to _ will not take place.” 

A final word of advice if you find yourself canceling or even postponing your wedding, no matter the reason: ask for help. Find your maid of honor or other bridesmaids, a sister, mother, or close friend who are glad to step up and help. This is a hugely emotional decision and should not be handled alone. Make a list to prioritize the tasks to be done and print it off for a friend to handle. Be flexible with changes that have to occur and do everything you can to keep yourself calm during such difficult circumstances.    

Crescent Bridal Bouquet

Crescent Bridal Bouquet     

Or…..Don’t Cancel – Go Virtual!

If the love is still there and it’s events out of your control which is causing you to postpone or cancel your wedding, then know there are other options available. 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 Conklyn’s Weddings to help you make the day you get married extra special.