Your wedding is one of the most meaningful days of your life – a declaration of the bond you and your partner share with each other, and an opportunity for you and your loved ones to celebrate.
A considerable amount of planning is done in preparation for a wedding, which is why rescheduling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic can be frustrating. But it allows you and your partner to perfect the details and introduce extra safety considerations.
If you’re in the midst of planning your wedding and haven’t had to postpone the date, you and your betrothed can use this time to reflect on any changes you’d like to make as a result of the pandemic.
No one wants to postpone their wedding. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on the world. Weddings are no exception.
A study by Hitched found that 71% of couples with weddings scheduled before January 2021 chose to postpone to later in 2021, or 2022, with most using the same venue and suppliers wherever possible. 5% chose to cancel their wedding completely.
The Office for National Statistics found that approximately 73,600 weddings and same-sex civil partnership ceremonies could have been postponed between 23 March and 3 July 2020 alone.
While weddings were able to take place in England from 4 July 2020, they could only be held with a maximum of 15 people. Guests had to practise social distancing and avoid eating or drinking. No one could sing (unless they were behind a screen) and no one could play an instrument that must be blown into.
Once the tier system came into effect in late 2020, these smaller weddings could only take place in areas placed in Tier 1 or Tier 2. They were stopped during the second and third national lockdowns, but allowed in exceptional circumstances.
Now the UK government has set out a plan for leaving lockdown, the guidelines are as follows:
This information is a lot to take in, but having a clear-cut plan for how you’ll re-organise your wedding will make the process less stressful.
Your venue should be the first point of contact. Patience is key – remember they’re likely to be dealing with calls from other couples.
Enquire about future available dates. You may need to be more flexible here. Many Fridays and Saturdays could already be booked, especially in peak season -
With this in mind, consider an off-peak time of year or a weekday for your new date. Your guests will still be able to come if you give them enough time to make arrangements, and your suppliers are more likely to be available if your new date doesn’t fall on a weekend. Bridebook predict a trend towards more weekday and winter weddings in 2021.
Ask for confirmation of the new date in writing once it has been scheduled.
Once your new date is confirmed, contact your suppliers to check their availability, including your:
If catering is not provided by the venue
Any rental companies you’re using for table linens, cutlery and decor
Like the wedding venues, your suppliers are probably dealing with a lot of calls from couples in similar situations, so be patient.
Get in touch with your photographer, videographer and band or DJ first, as they are the most likely to get booked up in advance. Other suppliers often cater for more than one event per day, but it’s still important to check in with them.
While your final payment dates will probably be moved, you might decide to pay your suppliers early if you’re able to. Any extra money would be appreciated. This is especially true for any suppliers who run small businesses and still have high overhead costs.
The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the hospitality industry, and although the easing of restrictions in June has helped, some businesses have remained closed, or missed out on their usual profits from peak wedding season.
Contact your insurers to ask whether a pandemic is covered. It probably won’t be, but every policy is different, so it’s better to confirm.
It’s disappointing to postpone your wedding when you’ve been anticipating and planning the day for so long. Remember, it’s understandable that you feel this way – your feelings are valid. Share your concerns with each other, plus close friends and family. They’ll be able to help you deal with your emotions.
You need to notify your guests of the new date as soon as possible so they have time to change their travel plans and cancel any reservations. The simplest option is to email them. Explain that you’ve decided to postpone your wedding to ensure everyone’s safety.
If, however, you’d prefer something a little more special, you can follow up with a card with details of the postponement (similar to a save-the-date card). This can be done digitally if you’d like to reduce your impact on the environment.
Only tell your guests what you know about the postponement – don’t speculate. Promise to keep them informed of any new details.
If you’ve booked a block of hotel rooms for your guests, you can speak to the hotel to find out their cancellation policy and arrange a full or partial refund. Your guests will appreciate this extra step.
Some hotels may require guests to cancel themselves, but you can still pass on the information they need in order to do so.
Share a simple, succinct message that clearly states your new wedding date.
If you think your guests may have questions about accommodation, refunds or anything else, you can create a list of frequently asked questions that explain everything they need to know.
Let the seamstress and tailor know your wedding date has changed. Reschedule appointments for fittings and alterations closer to the new date.
Your original wedding date will always be significant. You don’t need to do something big or flashy, but a thoughtful, tasteful acknowledgement of what this day means to you both can go a long way. Why not prepare a three-course dinner with champagne, exchange gifts, or arrange a Zoom quiz and cocktails with a group of close friends?
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and created a range of health and safety issues throughout society. We’ve all had to get used to a different way of living, from practising social distancing to wearing masks and using hand sanitiser on a regular basis.
Accessibility is also a topic that’s been at the forefront of conversation, with disabled activists drawing attention to difficulties they face in situations non-disabled people take for granted. That could be transport (disabled parking spaces, access at train and bus stations, the availability of suitable taxis), access to facilities in public buildings and to the buildings themselves (ramps, lifts, suitable bathrooms), and providing the information they need (braille, hearing loops, large fonts).
All this may well have you thinking about your wedding, and large gatherings in general, in a different way. Here’s how to plan your wedding, whilst also taking health, safety and accessibility into account.
It’s important to agree on a budget before you do anything else. Knowing what you can afford to spend will give you a sense of control and keep your stress levels down.
Have an open conversation about how much you’ll be able to save, and how much money you’d be willing to put towards the wedding.
Sometimes parents are keen to contribute to the cost of the wedding. Talk to them early on in the planning process if this is the case, so you’re all on the same page. You can then factor this into your budget.
Bridebook’s budgeting breakdown lists the average cost of each of these items.
Start by thinking about how long you’ll need to plan the wedding. A year gives you a good amount of time to get everything organised, but many couples are engaged for longer. Other couples thrive on the pressure of planning a wedding within a short period of time, although it’s not recommended with the changing coronavirus situation.
Venues can be booked well in advance, so it might be worth finding one you love first, then deciding on a date according to their availability. See below for advice on finding your ideal wedding venue.
You may have a specific date in mind already, like when you first met or another significant anniversary. There are also some dates you’d ideally avoid, like bank holiday weekends, holidays like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, and occasions when your guests are likely to have other plans, like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and any religious festivals.
If there are any guests you wouldn’t want to miss your wedding, it’s worth checking in with them to see if they have any plans around your potential wedding dates. Don’t ask too many people, or you’ll never find a date to suit everyone.
You probably know the most important people you want to invite. For the rest, the COVID-19 pandemic may have you thinking differently about how many people you’d be comfortable hosting in one room. This can be especially true if you have vulnerable friends or relatives.
Your guest list may be affected by how much you can/want to spend per person – on catering, for example.
Make a note of whether any of your guests have health and accessibility needs that you need to take into account when planning, such as mobility issues, food allergies and dietary restrictions.
Not all disabilities are visible. It’s easy to add a line to your invitations asking guests to contact you if they need any special accommodations to be made. This way, you won’t leave anyone out of your preparations and everyone will know they’ll be welcome at your wedding.
The bridal party provides valuable support to you and your partner in the run-up to the wedding and throughout the day itself. It often includes a maid of honour, bridesmaids, ushers, a best man, flower girls, page boys, and a ring bearer.
Some people know exactly who they want to be part of their bridal party. Others may have to give it some thought before making a decision.
There’s also the option to do things differently. You might decide to have a very large bridal party, or no bridesmaids, or two best men instead of one. Budget is also a factor, as you’ll need to pay for their wedding clothes and thank you gifts.
You may already have a clear theme in mind for your wedding, or you may want to do a little browsing on Pinterest first. You might not choose a theme, per se, but pick out a few colours that will be incorporated into the day, whether that’s in the flowers, decor or bridesmaids dresses.
You’ll find it easier to choose your suppliers once you know what will and won’t match your theme.
You can have either a religious or civil ceremony if you’re getting married, during which you must exchange vows. You can talk about wording with the person who’ll conduct the ceremony.
You can only have a civil ceremony if you’re forming a civil partnership. You don’t need to exchange vows, but you can if you’d like to.
A religious wedding can be held at any registered religious building. An authorised person must attend the ceremony and register the marriage. The cost of a registrar for a religious ceremony is £86.
Same-sex couples can get married in a religious building if it’s been registered for the marriage of same-sex couples, but can’t get married in an Anglican church.
A civil ceremony can be held at a register office or a wedding venue approved by the local council, with at least two witnesses. A registrar must attend the ceremony and can conduct it. This costs £46 at a register office but can be more or less elsewhere.
You can have readings, songs and music at a civil ceremony, as long as none of them are religious.
Selecting your venue should be a priority when planning. It will determine when and where you have the wedding, and how many guests you’ll be able to invite. Some venues may have reduced the number of people they can hold as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Discuss what you’re both looking for in a wedding venue before you start your search. Would you like a fancy hotel, a fairytale castle, a posh country house, a rustic barn? Perhaps you’d prefer something a little different to a traditional venue? There are a lot of different options out there, so do some research together. You may stumble upon a hidden gem.
You also need to decide whether you want a venue with accommodation, and whether you’ll hire caterers or use the company recommended by them.
In this instance, accessibility refers to the degree to which the wedding venue and its services are available to as many people as possible.
Taking accessibility into account means considering things many of us take for granted, like being able to enter and exit a building, moving around a room easily, going to the bathroom, and enjoying the day without worrying about any of this. Other guests may need a carer to be with them, or have accommodations made for a visual impairment or hearing loss.
Make a list of all the suppliers you’ll need before you start your search. Most people hire:
If catering is not provided by the venue
You may also need a rental company for table linens, cutlery and glassware, and decor. Some couples like to hire less traditional extras like street food trucks and photo booths.
You could already have some suppliers in mind, especially if your friends or family have recommended them.
Once you’ve made a list, the fun starts as you compare what each supplier has to offer – check whether their style and price fits in with your theme and budget.
Make sure you’re both certain before you book and pay the deposit. That means reading the contracts before you sign them, making a note of cancellation policies, and ensuring each supplier understands what you want your wedding to be like.
Giving notice of your marriage or civil partnership simply means signing a legal statement at your local register office. This statement confirms your intention to get married or form a civil partnership, and must state details of your plans, including your venue. It costs £35 per person.
Your ceremony must be conducted within 12 months of giving notice. You need to give notice a minimum of 29 days before your wedding day.
Your wedding rings are exchanged during the ceremony. They’re a symbol of your promise to each other, one you wear for the rest of your lives. Take your time together as you select this significant jewellery. Some couples choose matching rings, or rings that coordinate.
You may see the terms “wedding ring” and “wedding band” used interchangeably, but they are slightly different in design. A wedding ring is more intricately crafted and may have exquisite diamonds set in the band, while a wedding band is simply that: a classic, expertly crafted band.
Even if you’ve had a lot of wedding-related conversations with your loved ones, you still need to send invitations, be it through post or via email. Send them around six months before your wedding day and give guests a deadline so they get back to you promptly.
Some couples like to send out save-the-date cards first, to ensure their guests keep the date free.
You’ll be able to create a table plan once everyone has sent their RSVPs. Arrange your guests by family and friend groups, then shuffle them around until you find a plan that works.
Remember to position anyone with disabilities or small children near the door. They’ll need easy access in and out of the room. Ask the venue to leave plenty of space between tables (this may also be reassuring if any guests are worried about COVID-19).
After your plan is finalised, you can think of table names and a way to display your table plan for guests. There can often be a rush as people find seats, so ensure someone is available to help any disabled guests to their table first.
Are there any songs, poems or pieces of prose that are significant to you as a couple? Consider including them in the ceremony to make it even more meaningful.
You also need to decide who will give a speech at the wedding breakfast. Traditionally, the father of the bride gives a speech, followed by the groom and the best man. However, more and more couples are mixing it up, with the bride and her maid of honour and/or bridesmaids saying a few words too.
It’s not an exaggeration to say many, if not most people are often glued to their phones. If you’d rather your guests stayed away from their screens, consider asking your guests to turn their phones off during the ceremony and refrain from posting on social media until the day after.
Writing out a schedule for your wedding day can go a long way to calm you down if you’re feeling overwhelmed. A wedding feels like a lot – and it can be – but setting it out one step at a time is more manageable.
It will also help your venue, suppliers, entertainment and members of the bridal party, and you’ll soon be able to spot if you’ve missed anything from your plans.
The run-up to the wedding will be less stressful if you have more time to finalise any last-minute details. It’s also a chance to spend some time as a couple and enjoy this meaningful period of your lives together.