Uncategorized, wedding planning

Your Guest Communication Plan for Postponed Weddings due to COVID-19

StephRose_MMP_Bayview_005We received lots of questions after we published our Guide to Postponing Your Wedding Due to COVID-19. Many questions were about how to communicate with your guests about the postponement. At Stephanie Rose Events, allowing the couple to be present at their wedding and your guests’ experience is our number one priority. Your guests’ experience starts well before they walk into your ceremony – it starts with your communication, your save the date information, your wedding web site, your invitations, even how guests are treated as they check in to your recommended hotel can affect the guest experience.

Communicating with your wedding guests about your postponement is important. Remember, your guests’ lives have been turned upside too. They may be worried about traveling to your wedding, may be experiencing a loss of income, or just be worried about gathering in large groups. They will be happy to know that you are thinking about their well being and relieved to know there is a plan. People worry about uncertainty, so communicating your plans with your guests, even if you don’t yet have a new date, will be welcome.

If you are postponing your wedding, there are two possible scenarios:

  1. You have selected a new wedding date.
  2. You have decided to postpone your wedding, but have not yet selected a new date

In both situations, communicating with your guests is important. You do not need to wait until you have a new wedding date to communicate with your guests.

You have selected a new wedding date

If you have already postponed your wedding and selected a new wedding date, your guest communication plan will focus on communicating your new date to your guests.

  1. Update your wedding web site. The easiest and quickest way to update your guests is to update your wedding web site with your new date, location and any other details your guests need to know. Guests can then be directed to your wedding web site to stay up to date on any changes. Email your guests with a note about your decision to postpone your wedding and a link to your web site.
  2. Send change the date cards. Similar to save the date cards, change the date cards simply inform your guests that your wedding date has changed. There are lots of creative options for change the date cards on Minted and etsy Check with your stationary designer for options as well.
  3. Send (or resend) your invitations. If you have already sent your invitations, especially if they included an RSVP card, you will need to resend them. A new date may change some guest’s ability to attend, so asking for a new RSVP card is reasonable. If only the date has changed, but the locations and details have not, you may be able to collect the RSVP information electronically without resending new invitations. If your wedding date and location has changed, we recommend sending new invitations and RSVP cards reflecting the new information. If you have not yet sent your invitations, you will design them with the updated date and information and send them as usual.

Suggested wording for change the date cards or emails

Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 (coronavirus), we are taking every precaution to make our wedding safe for our guests. We have decided, to postpone our wedding until [date]. Please check our wedding web site [URL] for updates. More information and new RSVP cards to come. Thank you for your understanding and support. We cannot wait to celebrate with you!

You are postponing your wedding, but have not yet selected a new wedding date

If you are postponing your wedding, but have not yet selected a new wedding date, your guest communication plan will focus on communicating your postponement decision to your guests.

  1. Update your wedding web site. The easiest and quickest way to update your guests is to update your wedding web site with a note that your wedding is being postponed and more information will be coming. Guests can then be directed to your wedding web site to stay up to date on any changes. Email your guests with a note about your decision to postpone your wedding and a link to your web site.

Suggested wording for postponement emails

Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 (coronavirus), we are taking every precaution to make our wedding safe for our guests. For this reason, we have decided to postpone our wedding. Please check our wedding web site [URL] for updates as we work to find a new wedding date to celebrate with you. More information to come. Thank you for your understanding and support.

Once you have a new wedding date, follow the guest communication plan above for communicating your new wedding date to your guests.

If you have any questions at all about postponing your wedding, we are available via emailtext or phone. Stay safe, sane and kind.

wedding planning

A Guide to Postponing your Wedding

Kristin_april2019_35Wedding planning is stressful enough without a worldwide pandemic. The effects on the wedding and hospitality industry are unprecedented. We are working closely with our couples to make decisions about when to postpone your wedding and if you need to postpone, how exactly to start.

First, it is OK to feel stressed, disappointed, frustrated, even angry about postponing your wedding. You have been pouring your heart and soul (and your money) into your wedding planning for months. It is completely normal to have all the emotions right now. So cry, yell, eat a pound of chocolate – whatever you need to do to get those negative emotions out.

When you’re ready to discuss your wedding plans, the entire wedding industry is here for you. And you are in good hands. As an industry, wedding vendors are the best at being flexible and remaining calm in sticky situations. We thrive on finding solutions quickly. As wedding planners it’s our job to proactively plan for disasters and to mitigate them before they appear. I have rescued weddings with mishaps ranging from lost rings, broken shoes, flooded venues, severe allergic reactions, fist fights, drunk family members, missing children, you name it – I’ve fixed it.  Global pandemic? We’ve got this. Trust me, there is no one better equipped for weathering a global pandemic than wedding pros.

When should I postpone my wedding?

We are closely following the CDC, California State, and local mandates about gatherings during this COVID-19 outbreak. The CDC and White House have banned gatherings of 10 plus people through March 31, while gatherings of 50 plus are banned through May 11. Some local cites, like Del Mar, CA have banned events through May 31. We are advising our couples with wedding dates through May 31 to postpone their weddings.

If your wedding date is in June, we are advising you to hold tight until the end of March and see what the revised mandates are from the CDC and State. However, if you are anxious and stressed and about your June wedding date and feel like you absolutely have to take immediate action, then move forward with your postponement plans – the wedding industry will support you.

How do I postpone my wedding?

If you are postponing your wedding, you will need to communicate with both your wedding vendors and your guests. Let’s talk about the vendors and logistics first.

1. Your Wedding Planner

If you have a wedding planner, connect with her now. She will be able to handle all of the rescheduling, payment details, changes in vendors (if necessary) and be able to advise you on how to handle guest communication. If you do not have a wedding planner, follow the steps below to postpone your wedding. If you are feeling overwhelmed at tackling the postponement process yourself, connect with a local wedding planner for help.

2. Your Wedding Venue

Your wedding venue should be your first phone call when postponing your wedding. You will need to talk with them about changing the date and any financial restrictions for a date change.

Availability – When discussing postponing your wedding with your venue, you will want to inquire about dates that are available after the restrictions on gatherings are lifted. The Fall is the most popular season for weddings in San Diego, so most Saturdays in August, September, and October may already be booked. Consider holding your wedding on a Friday or Sunday for more options. When this social distancing period is over, your wedding guests will be so happy to celebrate with you, that the day of the week won’t matter at all! Ask your venue for a few date options so you can check them with your family, wedding party, and your wedding vendors.

Deposits and Payments – If your original wedding date is within the window of the CDC and/or local gathering restrictions, you should be able to move your wedding date without financial restrictions or losing your deposit. (We can’t guarantee this, but this has been our experience with the venues so far). If your original wedding date is not within the gathering restriction window, you may be charged a fee to change your date. If you choose to cancel your venue altogether, and your original wedding date is not within the gathering restriction window, you will most likely lose your deposit and possibly any other payments made so far. You will need to read your contract with the venue and talk with them to learn their policies during this time.

3. Your Wedding Vendors

Once you have some new options for your postponed wedding date, connect with your wedding vendors for their availability. You will want to check with your vendors who can only do one wedding at a time – your officiant, your DJ or band, and your photographer and videographer – before your other vendors. (Florists, bakeries, rental companies, transportation vendors usually manage more than one event per day, so they will have more flexibility with their availability) Hopefully, most of your vendors are available on the alternate dates provided by the venue. Many other couples are in the process of rescheduling their weddings at this time, so don’t get frustrated if one of your vendors is no longer available. Most wedding vendors will be willing to refer you to another vendor who matches your style, energy and budget if they aren’t able to make your new wedding date work.

The same information about deposits and payments listed above for venues applies to your wedding vendors. If you need to cancel your contract with a vendor because they are not available on the new date, you may lose your deposit. Read through the contract you signed and talk with that vendor. Much depends on how much work has already been done and if items have already been ordered for your wedding.

4. Your New Wedding Date

Once you find a new wedding date that works for your venue, your family, wedding party and most of your vendors, you will want to lock in that date! You will want to read and sign a contract amendment for your venue and each vendor with the new date, cancellation policies, and revised payment schedules (if necessary).

Once your venue and vendors are set, it’s time to let your guests know about your new wedding date. If you have already mailed your invitations, send an email with the new details as soon as possible. Then, you can either resend RSVP cards or set up a form on your wedding web site to collect new RSVP information.

If you have not yet mailed your invitations, send a quick change of date email or card (similar to your save the date information) and then get to work creating your invitations to reflect the new wedding date.

Also, note if you already received your marriage license from San Diego County, you will need to get a new license within 90 days of your new wedding date. The license for your original wedding date is only valid for 90 days.

5. Your Wedding Planning

Social distancing does not mean your wedding planning needs to stop. Lots of your wedding planning can be done online and through zoom calls and emails with your vendors. Florists and rental companies can create style sheets for your wedding. DJs and bands can create play lists and share videos. Officiants can help with your ceremony order and your vows. Photographers can create shot lists. Do as much virtual planning as you can during this time. Schedule your in-person meetings like tastings, fittings and engagement photo sessions now so that those dates are locked in when the social distancing restrictions are lifted.

6. Your Peace of Mind

Most importantly, take care of yourself and your family during this time. Your postponed wedding may not be exactly the same as you originally planned. But you will still marry your best friend and create a beautiful life together.

If you have any questions at all about postponing your wedding, we are available via email, text or phone. Stay safe, sane and kind.