Postponing our wedding a whole year is not something that Les or I would ever have anticipated happening; nor was a global pandemic, for that matter. The two-or-so days after we made the official decision were actually pretty busy for us. We had to confirm the new date with each of our vendors, obtain new contracts or amendments, sign and send them out, and cancel and then re-book the house we rented for our wedding party. Because these elements were things that we had slowly booked over time, I didn't fully realize how many moving parts there really were to our wedding day and weekend. It essentially felt like we planned our wedding all over again in just a day or two.
But now that things have settled back down, I do have a few things to share that we learned about planning a wedding, in general, through this whole process of postponing ours.
1. Contracts Matter
I can hear my legal professor from grad school, Gerry Muir, saying ".... duh" all the way from Boston right now. When we signed all of our vendor contracts, of course we knew that they mattered. Les's Dad is a lawyer for goodness sake. Admittedly, though, the "cancellation" and "postponement" clauses weren't ones that gave us much pause. Again, we never thought we would need to do either. It just goes to show you, though, that you can never be too careful. One piece of advice I would give to any couple planning their wedding would be to look at those clauses carefully.
Of course you're probably thinking, like we were, you would never need to reference those. But what if there's a death or illness in your family? What if you find out you're expecting? What if another pandemic or similar crisis hits? All of these are scenarios that could cause you to want to postpone, or move up, your wedding. Pay attention to how much money you stand to lose if that happens. Take note, too, that most vendor contracts say if they aren't available for your new date, in essence it becomes a cancellation and you'll lose your deposit and any additional payments made. If you do need to consider moving your wedding, reach out to your vendors first to find out their availability. This might impact your decision to do so, again based on how much money you stand to lose. We began reaching out to ours the minute we learned that our new date was even a possibility. While we waited to hear if it was actually available, we were able to communicate with each of our vendors to learn what their policy would be if we did decide to postpone. This way, we had peace of mind that we could move forward with our new date, and our vendor team, once we heard back from our venue.
2. Book Vendors who are "Human"
What I mean by this is, first and foremost, is to choose your vendors based on more than just their work. Examples of weddings they have done in the past is likely what will draw you to them, but it's important to get to know them as people, too, not just as a business. That might seem kind of silly, but these are people who are not only going to be present during the most important day of your life, but they're going to help shape it. Whenever possible, meet with them in person or at least over video chat, rather than just over the phone. You want to be comfortable with the investment you're making, and comfortable enough to ask the questions that you have about their work, their services, or their contract. Asking questions shows that you care about them and their business practices, too.
In working with our vendors to postpone our wedding, reading blog posts and articles written by other wedding vendors, and hearing about acquaintances going through the same process, it's been really interesting to learn what the response has generally been from those in the wedding industry. It's obvious why vendors have to include a cancellation or postponement policy in case you suddenly decide you wanted to get married in December rather than June because you had a sudden revelation about a winter wedding. But this pandemic has been unprecedented for vendors and couples alike, and the majority of what we have experienced and read is that if a new date can be agreed upon by both parties, then all deposits and payments will be transferred because this is no one's fault. It's been really uplifting to experience this "we're all in this together" sentiment expressed almost unanimously, and find that businesses have been willing to waive or adapt their policies in acknowledgement of how hard it has been for couples going through this. It builds good will and an assurance that working together will be a positive experience for everyone involved. That "human" side, we learned, has become really important to us. Having vendors that we know genuinely care about us and our experience makes us that much more confident in working with them throughout the next year and a half and on our big day.
3. Consider what's most important to you
At the outset of the wedding planning process, whether yours will involve a postponement or not, consider what matters most to you in terms of elements of your day. This is helpful especially in terms of setting a budget. Decide what you're willing to spend a bit more on, versus what you can cut back on. Maybe you have always envisioned having large, luscious flower arrangements EVERYWHERE, but having a live band was never something you felt like you needed; put more money into your flower budget and save some by booking a DJ.
In postponing our wedding, we essentially had to revisit those priorities once more when weighing which vendors were willing to work with us on re-booking (thankfully all but one), what money we were potentially leaving on the table, and what element(s) of our wedding day we didn't want to compromise on. For us, the most important factor quickly became having our wedding at Misselwood. We fell in love with the venue when we first moved to the North Shore, and I knew I would be heartbroken if we had to find another venue as a result of the pandemic. That's a huge part of why we chose to move our wedding; as I wrote previously, Misselwood's calendar was almost entirely full for 2021, and we got incredibly lucky that our new date became available again. I wasn't willing to risk not being able to get married this September, and then not being able to get married at Misselwood in 2021. Plus, the team there has been incredible at checking in on their couples and offering solutions. There's that "human" aspect again. Once we knew we had Misselwood secured for next year, we found an incredible new team of photographers and the rest of our original vendor team thankfully fell back into place.
This notion of considering what's important also came into play when we started to consider whether or not to elope this fall. I wrote this in my previous post when we decided to postpone, but it made me realize how important the notion of waking up on my wedding day and being married in front of our friends and family was. I didn't want to lose that experience or feeling.
Most importantly, keep in mind that what is most important to you and your fiancé on your wedding day isn't necessarily what's most important to another couple. Don't get caught up worrying about if you should have this element or that element at your ceremony or reception because you've see it at other weddings. Similarly, don't be self conscious about how you choose to allocate your budget across vendors or features of your wedding; if you want that drone videographer (heck yes we do), book him, and maybe do without hand-lettered stationary. If you've always wanted to rent a vintage car for your exit, spring for it, and cut-out an hour of photography. Chances are that an element you chose to save on might be a splurge item in someone else's wedding, and vice versa— and that's more than ok.
Focus on what matters most to you and your partner, and how you've always envisioned your wedding day together. It's no one else's but yours.