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The one thing that’s guaranteed about life? Nothing is guaranteed. That means all sorts of unpredictable things that you can’t plan for are lurking around every turn—including your wedding. While no couple ever wants to, sometimes all that unpredictability means you might have to postpone your wedding because, well, something has come up!
There are so many reasons a wedding date might be changed, from a natural disaster impacting the venue to a family emergency requiring your immediate attention. And these events aren’t always last-minute: A major hurricane could mean finding a new venue altogether, or a global pandemic could prohibit international travel and impact everything from the wedding venue to your date and guest list.
So what should you do if this happens to you? First, it's important to tell people you’re changing the date as soon as you know it must be done. "If you know you are postponing, the most responsible thing to do is tell your guests right away," says Stefanie Cove of Stefanie Cove & Co. "I suggest an email to get them the information as soon as possible."
Meet the Expert
Stefanie Cove is the founder of Stefanie Cove and Co. She is based in Los Angeles and specializes in planning weddings and social events around the world.
Below, our experts share how to break the news and get back on your guests’ calendars. Because when postponing a wedding, it's important to let your loved ones know that you'd still love them to join you—just on a different date!
First, Consult Your VIPS
Speak to your families and wedding party as soon as you know the date will change. If relevant, start first with whoever is footing the bill for some or all of the festivities as they should be involved in helping you choose a new date. From there, call other immediate relatives and any bridesmaids or groomsmen to share the news and involve them in the decision-making if their calendars are a priority for you. Of course, you’ll want them all to be there, but know that a change in date could also bring with it a change in your lineup.
Inform Your Guests
Whether it’s weeks or months before your big day, the more notice you give your family and friends, the more likely they'll be able to join you to celebrate. Cove recommends e-mailing guests as soon as you know that the date is changing. When you do share the new date (or say it's TBD), feel free to keep the reasoning brief or leave it out altogether. That said, if you'd like to explain more, you can let guests know that unforeseen circumstances have caused the change, or add a line about “unanticipated damage from the recent storm” or “an illness in the family.” No need to go into more than that—those who need to know will be in the loop already.
In special circumstances, Cove suggests giving some background as to why you made the difficult decision. "I would say that you recognize what is happening in the world currently and, because of that, you have decided to postpone your wedding," she says. "And that you hope everyone will be able to celebrate with you on TBD date."
Mail An Official Announcement (Optional)
While Cove suggests an as-soon-as-possible e-mail approach, know that you do have another, more traditional option—and that's to send a more "official" announcement card by mail. "The more elegant and appropriate way is to print a paper that announces the change,” says Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York, a custom stationery studio based in New York City. “It’s still your wedding and it’s still formal so send a beautiful card.”
Meet the Expert
Ceci Johnson is the founder of Ceci New York, an agency that specializes in luxury invitation design.
That said, Johnson says this announcement does not need to be another formal invitation. The wording you use should depend on your style, the situation, and the message you want to send. However, no matter what you say, Johnson says the announcement should match the look and feel of your original save-the-date or invite (i.e. don’t send a big black announcement card if you sent out a bright tropical save-the-date!). "You want to keep it in in the same happy vein with graphics and event branding to communicate that this is not an alarming matter,” she says. Below, she shares advice for the most popular situations.
When postponing or changing wedding plans, Johnson says to keep the card light, positive, and informative so it does its job. “You don’t need to explain why you’re changing the date,” she says. “Just announce the new date and info.” Along with the date and location, sample wording might include:
- Please mark your calendars with our new wedding date. We’re excited and can’t wait to celebrate
- We changed our date and can’t wait to celebrate
- Save our new date!
In special circumstances, Johnson suggests following the same protocol as Cove mentioned, printing announcement cards with wording such as:
- In lieu of the situation, we’re changing our date so we can celebrate safely
- Due to unforeseen circumstances, we decided to elope and we’re changing the date of our wedding celebration
If you do a printed formality, Johnson says the announcement card should be the first message that guests receive about the change of plans. "Wait for the cards to go first, then follow up with guests to make sure that everyone got it," she says. "You want the printed paper to have an effect first!” Taking this approach will limit your communication in the long run, according to Johnson. “It will save you from having to answer why and what happened," she says. "When you text people, they naturally want to have a conversation with you."
Update Your Website
If you're using a wedding website to keep guests informed, add a note on the homepage about the change of plans. As you nail down a new date and logistics such as accommodations and room blooks (if different), continue to update the website to keep guests in the loop. As rearrangements are made, they'll surely appreciate the extra effort and direction.
If your wedding is being postponed because of a reason beyond your control, Cove says, "Keep calm and don’t panic! This is out of our control and everything will be OK—it's not worth making yourself nuts, very little is."
In fact, in times such as now, it's even more important to remember the end goal: You'll be marrying your partner surrounded by your family and friends. "At the end of the day, as horrible as this situation is, remember that it is more important to celebrate when your loved ones feel safe and happy," she says. "When you are able to celebrate with your family and friends, it will make everything that you have been through so much better!"