Thinking of calling off or postponing your wedding?  With Coronavirus or COVID-19 looming over us all, The Center for Disease Control advises all weddings should be postponed through mid-May. (Read more )  You might just want to cancel your wedding reception altogether and elope, at the daunting thought of re-arranging all of your plans, contacting all of your vendors, and considering all of your guests’ schedules.  But do not despair, it can be done.   Here is a checklist for postponing or even cancelling your wedding.                        


Before you start calling your bridal party or family guests, make sure your venue has alternate dates available.  If you are cancelling rather than postponing your wedding, see if the venue will refund part of your deposit.  Check your contract.   If you have wedding insurance, get in touch with your insurance broker immediately. The deposit may be covered by the insurance policy.   

If you prefer a postponement rather than cancelling your wedding, the dates the venue has available will dictate how you proceed.  Consider a Friday, a Sunday or even a Wednesday, which was the customary wedding day in old England, thus the name.  If the wedding venue has no possible dates later on in the year, either ask that they hold your deposit until you’re in a better position to set a new date, or as the case of one of our couples, select the same week-end exactly a year later.

If you cannot find a date that works with the venue, as was the case with one of our clients, we made some phone calls to other wedding venues in the same area and found a great spot that had the new date available.  While the original location was, at first, unwilling to refund the deposit because of the cancellation, with a little gentle prodding and reminders that “we are all in this together”, they did refund half the deposit to our client.       

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Every vendor, from the photographer to the caterer, will have different wedding cancellation policies, so review all your contracts to see where you stand and how to proceed. Deposits are typically non-refundable, but given the seriousness of a situation like a pandemic or hurricane, many of your vendors will be flexible and understanding. They want you to have a perfect wedding day and should be as helpful as possible to move their date along with yours. 


Seriously, the stress of moving your wedding date, after months of painstaking planning, on top of dealing with a pandemic like Coronavirus, requires a fortitude you might be better off delegating.

Give your planner a list of everyone she needs to contact – from your vendors to your guest list.  You probably already have an Excel spreadsheet of guests’ names and contact info, but if not put this together for your planner.  You could also enlist a friend to do all this with you, asking her over a glass of wine or two (or three given the circumstances), but be mindful that this is a BIG ask and could jeopardize your friendship. 


As soon as the venue has a few alternate dates, or you have decided to cancel the wedding completely, you or your planner MUST inform all of your vendors immediately.  You want to keep everyone in the loop and as informed as possible knowing that they want to be helpful and accommodating.   The community of wedding suppliers is a very tightknit one, and we really are a “let’s make it work” bunch of optimists. If you are cancelling don’t expect a refund, but under the circumstances the more honest and caring you are with each vendor, the more positively each will respond. 

Be sure any date changes or cancellations are made in writing, with a follow-up call to discuss.  Speaking to each vendor personally can make a huge difference how they respond to the crisis.  Keep in mind that these are mostly small businesses who are dealing with many clients in the same situation.    



In an ‘Act of God‘ like the Coronavirus, a hurricane or earthquake, vendors will try to find new date that works with you and your venue, or offer a partial or full refund. Some have an ‘Act of God’ clause in their contracts that means no payment is required in the case of a fire, flooding or extreme weather.

If it’s a death or a severe illness, vendors will generally be as understanding as possible; we immediately refunded a bride who had to cancel due to the sudden death of her fiancé. If you are cancelling your wedding because of a change of heart or break-up, that is when vendors will be less understanding and stick to the legal terms of their contract. 

Remember that your vendors agreed to your original date and turned down other jobs to work with you, so cancelling or postponing your wedding is a financial hardship for them as well.    



Once you’ve settled on a new date, first contact your most important family members and bridal party to be sure they are in fact on board. Then contact all of your guests, via email and a new Save the Date reminder card or evite.  If the rescheduled date is pretty close to the original date,  do make phone calls to make sure the majority of the guests can still  come, though my younger staff tell me an email is just fine (I think about grandpa who doesn’t check his email but twice a year). 

Update your wedding website as well.  If you have decided to cancel your wedding, please do not feel obliged to explain or go into detail.  It is your duty to inform – that is all.  

Regarding wedding gifts – in the case where you have postponed your wedding no worries.  In the case of a calling off your wedding, but you are still getting married, also ok to keep the gifts.  However, if it’s truly a breakup, etiquette is this: RETURN THE GIFTS!