Coronavirus: Advice for Couples with Late 2020 Weddings
Government restrictions across the UK mean that many more couples will need to alter their plans, if they haven’t done so already. Here’s some information which might be useful to you if you’re facing a wedding postponement.
Many venues are excited to be able to reopen, even if they cannot yet host a wedding. Many couples planning will be able to view and secure a booking for their dream venue. If a venue is able to host your wedding when allowed, they will want to do so.
Many weddings across the country have been postponed. If your wedding is still due to be going ahead and you are anxious about it, we would advise that you discuss your options with your venue. Social distancing may mean that you need to reduce guest numbers or you might prefer to voluntary postpone to an alternative date.
What is a voluntary postponement?
A voluntary postponement is when you or your venue choose to move the date of your wedding rather than being forced to do so by external circumstances such as the government lockdown.
You might not be thrilled at the prospect of moving from a Saturday in July to a Tuesday in February, but for most couples, it is better than the alternative; a wedding with few guests and a limited reception.
From the experts
When you look at your photos, can you tell what day of the week it was? Does the food taste any different on a Tuesday? Do people dance differently on a Wednesday? Does the sun not shine on a Thursday? Your guests will remember your wedding, not what day of the week it was on.Alan Berg
Worried about your December wedding?
Those with weddings in December are probably feeling very anxious about whether their plans can go ahead, and how much they might be impacted by social distancing. Summer and autumn weddings were restricted and we now know that the proposed restrictions would mean a temporary halt to both ceremonies and receptions. Again, a voluntary postponement may be worth considering. At this stage, you might want to check availability and perhaps even “pencil in” an alternative “off-peak” date if your venue and suppliers are happy to. Then, if social distancing is extended or you know certain guests won’t be able to attend, you have the possibility of moving to an alternative date, without penalties.
Venues and suppliers will be really keen to get back to what they enjoy doing, giving you a day to remember. Your guests will certainly be ready to celebrate with you when receptions are permitted.
There are a few practicalities to consider, starting with the actual marriage part of your wedding! If you are planning a Church of England weddings there may insufficient time for your Banns to be read or for you to establish a “qualifying connection” with the church, in which case you’ll need to apply for a Special Licence to marry from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
For civil weddings, civil partnerships and religious weddings in other places of worship, you need to “give notice” 29 – 365 days before your wedding. Be aware that registrars are only doing essential administration. So, if you can’t get the documentation you need in time, have a celebrant lined up to carry out a symbolic (not a legally binding) wedding and complete the formalities later, as you would with a destination wedding.
Does it need to be a Saturday?
Around 150,000 weddings are being postponed, with almost every couple wanting to get married within 12 months of their original date and 50% preferring a Saturday. Many are competing for dates with those couples already planning weddings for 2021.
You may originally have booked a Saturday out of preference in 2020 but now is the time to reflect on how important a Saturday is to you. For those who work as teachers or teaching assistants, consider a Sunday or a weekday during the school holidays.
Benefits of a Sunday to Friday wedding:
- You won’t be competing for attention with sports matches, children’s activities and other weddings.
- Not everyone works Monday to Friday; Saturday is also a working day for many.
- For those who are taking time off in the week, they’ll be taking time off just to spend with you. You have their full undivided attention and they’ll be ready to make the most of not being at work!
- With so many holidays cancelled this year, most employed people will have plenty of annual leave allowance left and be happy to spend it celebrating with you.
- It’s much easier for you to secure the suppliers you need.
- Your venue will appreciate you choosing a day that works for them.
- You’ll save money by not having to pay a supplement for a prime date.
Check with suppliers, not just your venue
It is highly unlikely that you’ll be able to switch to a Saturday without additional cost. Even if your venue is available, it is likely some of your suppliers will have other bookings, in which case be prepared to lose your deposit and any other payments you have made.
If a booked supplier isn’t available for your new date
If you have voluntarily changed the date to a date a supplier is already booked for, or a peak date, it is not fair or reasonable to ask for your deposit back. Depending on the supplier’s cancellation policy, you may also be liable to pay any remaining balance.
Some may be happy to refer your booking to another trusted supplier that they regularly work with. This won’t mean that you would get your deposit back but it may mean you don’t need to pay a second deposit, and you won’t be liable for additional costs as your contract would be transferred to the new supplier.
Are extra charges for postponing reasonable?
When the very first March and April weddings had to be postponed, most venues were able to offer their couples a wide choice of dates. Prime dates quickly filled and it then became clear that May weddings would need to be postponed … and then June weddings.
Popular venues fully book every Saturday from March to October. You pay for a specific date, and if you don’t then use your date, you don’t automatically have the right to another.
If it has to be a Saturday:
If you absolutely have to get married on a Saturday, and your venue has availability, be prepared to pay a premium. An extra 25% is not unreasonable and is the amount most insurers will pay out for extra costs incurred by postponing. Some venues have the capacity to host more than one wedding in a day, and while they prefer to give you exclusive use you may be able to negotiate a better rate if you are prepared for another wedding to be taking place in another part of the venue.
Although it is unusual here, venues in some countries host a late morning wedding with a lunch reception, then a different wedding in the late afternoon and evening. If your wedding is going to be smaller than originally anticipated this could be an option for you. It’s not ideal and requires compromises from you on room decor and the ability for the venue to do a quick turnaround, but in challenging times we all need to work to find solutions.
Throughout the negotiations, however hard this is on you, it’s important to remember that unless your wedding was originally booked to take place during the period of lockdown – and you didn’t request a postponement before the lockdown was announced – it’s a voluntary postponement.
We’ve heard so many times that the current situation is unprecedented. The impact on how we live and work may be lasting, but weddings will always be an opportunity for people to get together and to celebrate.
Your wedding will happen, perhaps not as originally planned, but with the right approach and a willingness to find a solution that works for you, your venue and suppliers, you can look forward to a day that will be even more special after the wait.
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