The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has impacted all areas of our lives – from the everyday to once-in-a-lifetime events. Just take a look at our other pages on finance during coronavirus. Following Boris Johnson’s announcement on 23 March 2020, all weddings have been banned under the new restrictions put in place. There is no news yet of when these will be lifted. If you need to cancel or postpone your wedding because of coronavirus, what do you do now?
Here are some possible next steps.
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Contact your venue and suppliers
Your first port of call if you need to cancel or postpone your wedding will be to contact your venue and suppliers to discuss your options.
The good news is that most suppliers are being flexible about rescheduling. They understand that this is a difficult situation for many, and they still want to retain your business. Therefore, you may find that they are more willing to reschedule than to refund you.
Thinking about rescheduling?
- Firstly, see if you can shift deposits along. Basically, talk with your venue and suppliers about whether you can carry forward money you have already paid.
- Secondly, you may find that you are able to reschedule at no extra cost if you pick a date later this year. However, venues may be unwilling to book too far ahead, because they can’t afford for all their potential revenue this year to back out. So be prepared for an additional fee if you do decide to push your wedding into next year.
Thinking about cancelling?
Now that the government has stopped all social gatherings, including weddings:
- You should be able to get a refund for parts of your wedding linked to a specific date, for example for your venue and the registrar.
- The Church of England has said it will refund all couples wanting to cancel their wedding because of coronavirus.
- Your wedding suppliers may be willing to give you a refund; however, they may fund it through their own insurance – which may, understandably, take some time.
However, goods not linked to a specific date – like the wedding dress – will be different and potentially non-refundable.
Talk to your wedding insurer
If you have wedding insurance in place, it is best to talk to your insurance provider about what will be covered if you cancel or postpone your wedding because of coronavirus. Every policy has different wording and conditions. For most, the government’s announcement will mean they are covered, as venues will have to close as a result.
However, some policies do not cover ‘force majeure’ – an unforeseeable circumstance that prevents someone from fulfilling a contract, which coronavirus will qualify as.
If you think you will need to claim through your insurance policy, it is a good idea to start as soon as possible. This is an ever-changing situation, and insurers are constantly updating their approach.
When making a claim, make sure you have all the information you will need to hand. For example, you’ll need evidence of why your wedding has been disrupted and proof of all the costs you have already paid and are contractually due to pay.
One other tip: if you still have payments to make towards your wedding, consider using your credit card for them. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act means that if a business were to go under, your credit card company would be required to refund you if the cost was between £100 and £30,000.
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Think about new dates
If you postpone or cancel your wedding because of coronavirus, the likelihood is that you still want to get married; you may just need to wait a bit longer. If you’re planning to reschedule your wedding, it’s best to phone your venue and registrar with some dates in mind. As you can imagine, there are quite a few couples in the same boat, so dates are filling up fast.
In terms of when your new date should be, the guidance from a lot of venues and industry specialists is to look for a date after August 2020. While the current restrictions may be lifted before then (although this is very much unknown), registrars have said they will only allow three to five people at ceremonies until at least the end of August 2020. This number includes the registrar or priest, the bride, the groom and two witnesses. And be aware that this is only for the ceremony. Depending on how the lockdown is lifted and what the social distancing guidelines are at the time, you could still find yourself unable to hold a reception for a larger number of people.
If you are struggling to secure a new date, you may need to adjust your thinking. Would you be happy to get married off season? Or could your wedding be on a weekday, instead of at a weekend?
Take a breath
Planning a wedding can be a stressful time, even without a global pandemic. If you’ve cancelled or postponed your wedding, make sure you pause and take a breath as a couple. And remember, it is OK to feel disappointed. This is not a ‘normal’ situation for any of us.