Postponing your destination wedding? Here’s everything you’ll need to know.

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We bet that when you started planning your wedding terms such as quarantine, lockdown, social distancing or Coronavirus weren’t ones you’d have expted to become part of your every day vocabulary. The reality facing many couples is the impact that this global pandemic will have on their wedding day. We asked Donegal native Catherine Gallagher who owns Dream Weddings Budapest to put together a guide for those couples who may be facing postponing their destination wedding.


Catherine’s advice

As a wedding planner in Budapest, Hungary specializing in coordinating weddings for couples from abroad, I know first hand the dilemmas and frustrations couples are facing at the moment. It’s my job to navigate all the moving parts of the planning and the rescheduling of events, liaising between couples, their venues and vendors to find and agree to new dates. Planning a destination wedding during a pandemic can be stressful and uncertain, but it can also give you a great distraction and somewhere else to focus your attention besides the lack of social interaction and the daily talk of Covid-19.

Whether you are in the midst of planning your wedding abroad or considering it, I have compiled some tips to help you navigate the process of postponing, as well as what to expect and how to deal with it.


How To Postpone Your Wedding

Don’t stress: Hotels and venues in most cases are willing to reschedule dates. Those of us working in the industry realize how important the special day is for couples. Wedding professionals and service providers are also being as accommodating as possible when it comes to changing wedding dates.


Weigh up your options: Chat with your partner and decide what is most important for you both. Have a rough idea about alternative dates. It can be a guessing game for many couples who are deciding how far out they are comfortable rescheduling their wedding. With so many weddings and events having to adjust their dates, it would be worthwhile making your decisions sooner rather than later. The postponements of the last weeks have resulted in a backlogged Autumn-Winter 2020 season and even into 2021, so don’t delay too long!


Review Your Contracts: Examine the fine print to figure out what deposit money you would or wouldn’t be refunded in such cases as a delay or cancellation. Some deposits are non refundable and others are, so calculate any penalties you may incur. Vendors may charge a fee for postponing. Each vendor will have their own unique contract so don’t expect that if your florist isn’t charging a fee that your photographer won’t.


Check the details of your “Force Majeure” clause: The “Force Majeure” clause is a contract term that essentially states the parties agree that they will not sue each other for breach of contract if there is an event that makes it impossible or nearly impossible for the services to go forward. The typical “force majeure” clause will lay out a list of things such as  ‘Act of God’, riot, labor strikes etc.. Things that the parties would theoretically have no ability to control.

The Coronavirus and measures that countries have taken to avoid spreading it (i.e flight cancellations, quarantine etc ) should fall under the definition of “force majeure,” or “act of God”. However it may be the case that some contracts which contain it, say that certain external acts allow vendors to keep prepaid fees for example.


Contact your venue: Once you have thoroughly checked your contracts and come up with some alternative dates, you should get in touch with your venue to discuss availability. They are probably your biggest investment and the setting stone for all the other elements.


Talk with your vendors: Contact your vendors by priority and discuss new dates. They may charge a postponement if you reschedule 3-6 months past your original date or if your date goes into the following calendar year. Be clear about any fees before moving forward.


Inform your guests of any changes: Keep your guests and your wedding website updated. Inform them of any possible changes in plenty of time. They will likely need to change/cancel flight and hotel reservations. If you have already printed your invitations, try to get an insert printed with the change of plans on it.


What To Expect

Be Flexible: Fewer available dates means you will have to be flexible not just with dates but perhaps the season too. Saturday’s may likely be all booked up and your dream Spring wedding may have to become an Autumn or Winter one.


Compromise: You may find that venues and vendors have back to back weddings. This can result in days where venues are only available on a shared basis. It doesn’t necessarily mean you will meet another wedding but finding exclusivity at some venues may be more difficult especially on weekends. Photographers and videographers may take longer to complete your final photos and video due to the number of back to back weddings in their calendar.


Review your theme: If your wedding has moved from a Summer to a Winter date or vice versa, you might have to rethink your florals. Your bridal party’s attire may have to be reconsidered or altered if it is not seasonally appropriate.


Choose your venue wisely: If you haven’t booked your venue yet, try to get a venue with an outdoor space to help your guests maintain physical distance protocols if they return or are still in place. Nobody really knows what conditions will be like anywhere a year or two from now but it’s better to air on the side of caution in case we still have to deal with some degree of social distancing.


Take advantage of extra wedding planning time: You may find yourself with some unexpected extra months for planning. Use this time wisely and take a break from it all if necessary. The countless details that go into planning a wedding can mount up in the final few weeks, causing arguments and putting a strain on relationships. This situation can leave you very emotional, full of anxiety and even having nightmares but try to focus on the end goal. Your day will happen and it will be wonderful. Perhaps it won’t be your original dream but it could end up being even better. So many brides wish they had an extra few weeks to plan, use yours wisely. Ultimately it will give you more time to focus on what is important in your wedding.


How To Manage Your Wedding Budget

Don’t give up on your dream! If you or your partner have been out of work due to the virus you are probably dealing with some financial implications. It doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dream destination, you can just adjust it. Opt for a smaller or less high-end venue. Rural locations can save you money and create a picturesque backdrop.


Change things up: Things like paying for rent will take precedence over flowers for your ceremony. Instead of going “all out” with flowers, decoration or entertainment, focus on one area that is really important to you. Put as much of the budget as you can afford towards it. If you find completely cutting out one element too difficult, then make modifications such as reducing the size of your centerpieces or forgoing a dj and band for just a dj. You will be amazed how much you can save by making some small cut-backs here and there.


Have your Honeymoon, just somewhere else: Combine your wedding destination and honeymoon into one. Postpone your expensive honeymoon for now and extend your stay at your wedding destination. Do your research and get adventurous planning mini excursions in and around your location. If you are having your wedding within Europe then you can hop on a train and be in another country in no time at all. If you’re feeling really adventurous then hire a car and turn it into a road trip. That holiday inThe Maldives can wait!


Purchase event insurance & travel insurance: Wedding cancelation insurance exists but it doesn’t cover everything. In the midst of the pandemic, insurance can be impossible to buy. Wedding insurance covers things like a fire at your venue or a flood at your wedding dress shop, and sometimes the illness of a member of your wedding party. It won’t cover changing your mind about the wedding altogether. Read the small print carefully, whether you have an existing policy for your wedding or are planning for the future.


Invest in a wedding planner: If you are considering a wedding abroad it is worthwhile hiring a wedding planner. A planner can help you navigate this industry and offer you options and solutions every step of the way. It’s peace of mind knowing there is somebody at the other end. They can tell you the honest facts, and guide you accordingly. They can also help you prepare a Plan B and a Plan C if necessary.


Above all remember that weddings are joyous occasions for gathering and connecting and hopefully we will feel safe to do that again soon. It may take a while for us to get there but we are going to appreciate these moments so much more.


Find out more about Catherine and her services by vising her website or if you’d like to plan a destination wedding but don’t know where to start pick up the latest edition of North-West Brides where we’ve got a handy guide for you.