COVID 19 Couples: A Step by Step Guide to Postponing Your Wedding

I'm Sandra! Wedding Planner, Designer, Boutique Shop Owner, and Mom to two beautiful girls.

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It goes without saying that our world is currently upside down. In just a matter of days our lives have been slapped with a big fat PAUSE button leaving so many with uncertainty and worry.

Social Distancing and Self-Isolation are terms that have become a part of our everyday vocabulary – words that before all of this, were nowhere near most of our minds. As much as we’d like to put a blanket over our head and say “wake me up when this is over”,  this is our current reality.  We have to be in acceptance of what is and adapt without crumbling in the process. 

In Edmonton and all over Alberta, the current parameters around social distancing are that no gatherings are permitted for events over 50 persons.

Unfortunately, most weddings fit into this category. 

So what do you do when you’ve spent months or even years, dreaming about and planning for this day? This day, that is now in jeopardy?

First let me be the first to say, as wedding planners, we are among your number one cheerleaders. We spend countless hours planning, researching, and getting invested in your day and usually form a strong bond and friendship with our clients, so seeing you upset straight up SUCKS! On the other side of this, we are here to keep you as level-headed as possible and to fight fires, put contingency plans into place and smooth roads when they are bumpy. This just happens to be a road that even puts Edmonton potholes to shame. 

Before we get into our recommended steps for postponement, first we have 3 very important pieces of advice.

Postpone – Don’t cancel 

We know the tremendous disappointment of plans changing when it comes to something as important as your Wedding Day might be enough to make you want to throw in the towel, to say we’ll just elope and cancel the wedding as a whole. 

We’re here to say, don’t! 

 Don’t forget the excitement you and your families felt about this day before the virus threw a wrench in your plans. Don’t forget the hours upon hours you’ve spent planning and researching, meeting with vendors and selecting those perfect details. And if that isn’t enough, know that most vendors will not refund the deposits or retainers you have paid. 

 It’s safe to say that we speak on most vendors’ behalf when I say, we get it! We feel for you and we so wish we could alleviate this stress and refund the money you’ve paid us but we can’t. Our contracts aside (more on that below), from a planner perspective, we’ve done A LOT of work up to this point, but even for others there has been some work done. Your photographer may have shot and edited engagement photos, your stationer has put hours into the design of your invites or other paper goods plus potentially ordered (and paid for) the paper, and your rental company may have had to put in a special order just for you… that is in addition to all of the administration and costs of running a business. 

 Speaking of running a business, most vendors in the wedding world are small businesses; in other words, refunding every cancellation would have significant financial implications and challenges, perhaps even threaten the existence. 

 We’ll chat more about how to approach vendors when it comes to postponement below so keep reading.  

Remember why you are there in the first place

Easier said than done when everything feels upside down, we hear ya! But ultimately, why are you having a wedding? Hint, ok answer… it’s to marry your person! Everything else are just fabulous cherries on top (not maraschino cherries, those are gross). So when you’re having a moment of anxiety or anger, and those moments will come, try to remember that this WILL happen. You will marry your person, you will be surrounded by those important to you and you will have an amazing day… it might just be a little bit later.  


By no means are we medical or government officials BUT one thing that’s been made so clear (and something we believe in) is that the sooner everyone takes this seriously, practices social distancing and limits contact with others, the sooner this will be behind us… and the sooner you will have clarity regarding your wedding plans. 

For the purpose of this article, we are referring to those couples who must postpone. Because so many factors can influence the need for postponement, there is no blanket answer we can give to those wondering if they should. We have, however, been advising clients with upcoming weddings in the next 8 weeks to postpone. For all others, we are approaching it on a case by case basis but are remaining optimistic and hopeful.

Now that we got that out of the way, here are our top tips to postponing your wedding day due to the Coronoavirus.

1. Talk about your priorities.

Yep, before you do anything else talk to your fiancé about the ACTUAL priorities of your date. This could include:  

  •  The actual date – is that “” significant to you for some reason? PS: It’s totally ok if you just like the way it looks… this will be your anniversary for life. 
  • ·The venue – have you dreamed about this venue for years? Does it check everything on your list or would you be happy elsewhere? 
  • Your guest list – do you truly want everyone there or can some people be cut (sorry, dad’s second cousin’s co-worker’s dog sitter)? Depending on your initial number, this could help in getting you down to the magical 50 number, or it can help with considering a different, smaller venue.  Also, are there very important guests who are at high risk for the virus; grandparents, immunocompromised family / close friends, or key people in your life in critical infrastructure roles?  Likewise, are you expecting a lot of family or close friends travelling internationally for your wedding? If yes, you need to be even more thoughtful as to how to handle the date. 

 It’s ok if these priorities do change again once some answers on some of the below trickle in, however having those in the back of your mind will be important for your ultimate comfort. 

2. Review your Contracts: 

Most vendors have a cancellation and / or force majeure clause in their contract.  Ensure to review each contract in detail so that you have a baseline understanding of any potential implications. 

3. Contact your Venue & Vendors: 

Locally, within Edmonton, our wedding vendors have proven to be nothing but amazing and understanding, not only to couples but with each other.  Everyone truly wants to assist as much as possible in a trying time, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask about postponement. 

Some questions to ask: 

  • Date availability – check on alternate open dates with your vendor team. If you still want to get married in 2020, you may have to compromise and get married on a weekday, in particular, if you want to keep your entire vendor team together – trust us, your guests will understand.  
  • Postponement and deposit transfer – yes, even if the contract says that the deposit or retainer is non-transferable to another date. This is something nobody could have predicted and most vendors truly want to be of assistance and still continue to work with you. 
  • Clarification and understanding of financials associated in case of cancellation with that particular vendor. 

4. Reconcile:

Keep track of the following for each vendor, ideally in a handy dandy spreadsheet: 

  • Alternate available dates ** don’t forget to check in with family and wedding party as well.
  • Fees paid to date
  • Cancellation cost – can you fully cancel the contract without financial impact, or is there a financial cost associated with backing out of the contract?
  •  Any other important notes

Then, pour yourself a big glass of vino and discuss. You will have to weigh vendor availability and the finances associated with the potential of cancelling with one or more. If all are available on the same date and it works for you, then consider yourself lucky and start the next step. But, if not this is where it might get a little bit tricky. Consider who your most important vendors are but also the financial impact of cancelling with those that may not.  

 An Example: 
Your wedding is scheduled for May 16, 2020. 
Your photographer is someone you have been Insta-stalking for years, she’s the and you are in love… no you’re OBSESSED with every single image you’ve ever seen her produce. Her contract says that in case of full cancellation the $ 3500 deposit you paid to hold the date is non-refundable. You have also confirmed this with her through conversation. She is only available on August 29, 2020. 
Your venue on the other hand is a nice hotel but you’d be just as happy with another. So far you have paid them $ 18,000 and as per contract, cancellations made within 90 days of the wedding will be subject for full fees. After you contact the venue, they let you know that due to the circumstances they are willing to allow postponement for any date within 12 months of the original wedding date with no financial implications – all funds will be transferred towards the new date. No funds will be refunded in case of full cancellation. They have many dates available, however August 29 is not one of them. 
 In this case you have to decide…. is the photographer and the experience you hope to have with her worth more to you than the $ 14,500 difference you’d end up losing if you cancelled her and stayed with the venue. 
For this, we can’t give you an answer – we can only provide you with options, but ultimately you and your fiancé have to know your priorities and budget flexibility. 

5. Confirm

Once you have your date set, confirm the change of date and any other applicable contractual alterations with your vendor team. Ensure to receive addendums or new contracts to review and sign.

6. Communicate with your Guests

 Send out change of date announcements with a request for RSVP confirmation to your guest list. This can be communicated through email or through a beautiful paper branded to your wedding – if you’re in Edmonton, Wedding Design by Anika is your gal for this. 

7. Get to Work

  • Book any additional vendors, whether they were outstanding initially or you have lost through the postponement. 
  • Confirm design and décor – make any necessary adjustments to design caused by decrease in numbers, venue or floor plan change, floral variety availability, décor rental inventory adjustments, etc. 

8. Back on Track 

  • Finish off your planning process, draft your production schedule and timeline
  • Confirm details with vendors, wedding party and other important stakeholders

9. Get Married!

It sounds like a lot, and it is! If you have a Wedding Planner, they will greatly assist you in all of the steps, particularly 2-8 where the real work takes place. If you didn’t have a full service planner working with you, consider hiring a planner to help you in a partial or hourly planning capacity to assist with this busy and stressful period. 

I will leave you with this final thought that I also shared in an interview with City News

“ Love can’t be cancelled.
One day these are the stories you will tell….”

— Sandra Cassios


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