It’s been a while since I’ve had the motivation to sit down and write a blog post. In fact, the last time I published anything was Our Winchester Engagement Shoot back in October 2019! I had a few posts brewing about recent trips at the start of the year, including a wonderful weekend in Tenby with Matt’s parents and my Hen weekend in Bath, and then, a global pandemic hit. Suddenly, we had to postpone our big day, and went from our wedding countdown, to being in worldwide lockdown.
We didn’t even start talking about postponing until we were back in Winchester on 15th March to hear our banns being read at the church we were due to be married in. Our parents came with us, and we were all determined to remain optimistic, despite the fact that the vicar wore plastic gloves and there were only about 10 members of the congregation present, sitting 2 metres apart in the pews.
Our church florist came up to us after the service, and told us nervously that her husband was in the vulnerable category, and they were both planning to isolate for the foreseeable future. My mum stoically insisted that we could do without, and she would rope in some friends for the church flowers. We went for lunch at a nearby pub, and then took the train back to London.
That week Boris Johnson announced lockdown. I was standing in the office, packing my desk away for the foreseeable future, with everyone around me hefting their screens away and emptying drawers into their bags, when the penny dropped that we might not be getting married in two months’ time. But even then, as Matt and I set up our new remote working desks in our little flat in West London, we still held out hope that all of this would clear up and we’d be back on track for May.
It fell like a string of dominos. First we had to cancel our gift registry appointment at John Lewis. Then my hair appointment to get my highlights touched up was cancelled by Toni & Guy. And finally the biggest one dropped: Matt’s stag weekend. We realised even if we could go ahead with our wedding, we would spend the run up to it plagued with anxiety and worry, instead of buzzing with excitement. We would spend it locked in our flat, instead of seeing all the people we loved.
Step 1: Reserve a back up wedding date
1. Talk to your venue
Our wonderful venue made the first move. They called us on 17th March and talked to us for a long time, discussing all the possible scenarios, and reassuring us that they would do everything we could. We decided to reserve a back up wedding date for later in the year, so we could leave ourselves time to think before officially postponing. Our venue work so closely with our caterers that they already knew the dates they were both available, so we penciled in a new autumn date. Our venue told us we didn’t even need to decide until mid April.
2. Check with the wedding party
Then we had to check with our wedding party to make sure they could all make the new date.
- Parents of the Bride
- Parents of the Groom
- Best Man & Maid of Honour
- Bridesmaids & Groomsmen
3. Contact your suppliers
Once we knew those key guests were available, we had to contact our list of suppliers beyond our venue and caterers, to check their availability for our new date, and discuss the contract terms of rescheduling.
- Church, vicar and church florist
- Florist (for venue, bouquets and buttonholes)
- Cake maker
- Seamstress (for alterations to dress)
- Hair stylist
- Grooms party suit hire
- Sound equipment hire
- Car hire for church to venue
- Taxi for venue to hotel
- Hotel (for wedding night)
4. Alert your guest list
And last but not least, we sent messages to our entire guest list to let them know that we were considering postponing, and to give them our new date.
Step 2: Commence the grieving process
Matt and I definitely went through the 5 stages of grief whilst processing the loss of our wedding, a day we had been planning since our engagement 18 months ago (not including the 10ish years I spent building my perfect wedding Pinterest boards). I think this grief was shared by everyone, everywhere, whatever their situations, for the loss of whatever plans they had, the loss of contact with friends and family, the loss of income, even just the loss of normalcy. (Here’s a really interesting article about that btw.)
I’d like to preface this section by saying that we know how lucky we are. Both Matt and I have permanent employment at companies that will not only survive lockdown but thrive from it (I work at a food delivery start up, Matt works in video games). We’ve been extremely fortunate that although a few of our loved ones are in the vulnerable category, none of them have contracted COVID-19. We have access to the internet so we can work from home and stay in touch with our friends and family. Not to mention that we have managed to postpone our wedding with ease, because of the flexibility and understanding of our suppliers.
And, although this pandemic has impacted a very important event in our life, it is a moveable event, unlike for example those who have given birth to their first child and can’t be supported by their family, or those who are missing important milestones in their education. Yes, we are lucky, but we are also human, and it’s OK to feel grief right now, whatever it is you have lost to the waste of time that is 2020.
1. Denial and isolation
The irony! We were literally isolated, and in denial about the likelihood of our wedding going ahead. We had our reserved date, but we were still waiting for some sort of sign before making the final decision. What if we postponed and then everything miraculously sorted itself out?
At the British government for reacting too late. At Boris Johnson for shaking the hands of Coronavirus patients. At Trump for being the literal worst. At anyone who is still travelling. At the neighbours for gathering outside in groups. At the public for going to horse racing events. At anyone who managed to sneak in their wedding before lockdown. At this strange twist of fate that has left everything uncertain and scary. IT’S NOT FAIR WHY US.
Maybe if we follow all the lockdown restrictions to the letter, the virus will vanish and we’ll be able to get married in May?? The danger of this way of thinking is obviously that we personally have no control over the general public. The consequence is that every time you see someone else, or a group of people, breaking the restrictions, you react to it very emotionally, because in your mind those specific people are jeopardising your wedding. This is not healthy or sustainable.
Not gonna lie, tears have been shed. There were definitely some days where I just didn’t have the energy to even think about any of it, let alone make plans (plan a, plan b, plan c….). All the possible outcomes of this situation are quite overwhelming. There are highly paid experts in the government and in the corporate world who can’t say what will happen, how can we possible figure it out?
This is happening. We can’t do anything about that. The best thing we can do is respond to the situation and focus on the positives, and remember all the ways we are lucky. Time to postpone.
Step 3: Make your new wedding date official
As soon as we made the decision, we wanted to do it immediately. We made a list of all the suppliers and divided them between us.
- Wedding insurer
- Our local church in London where our banns were read
- Our church in Winchester where we’re actually getting married
- The florist at the church
- The vicar who will be leading our ceremony
- The photographer
- Our cake maker
- Our florist
- My seamstress
- My hair stylist
- The pianist
- The hotel we booked for our wedding night
- The airbnb for the first step of our honeymoon
- Our venue, caterers and chinaware suppliers
- Suit hire for the groomsmen
- Sound equipment
- Car hire from church to venue
- Taxi service for the night
- The flights for our honeymoon
- The car hire for our honeymoon
- The villa for the second step of our honeymoon
Then we wrote an official “Change the Date” email to send our to our guest list.
Step 4: Turn the postponement into a positive
This is not easy. When your wedding countdown goes from 32 days to 200+ days, when you’ve already waited over a year, it’s hard to see the bright side.
Here’s the bright side. You can relax. You don’t have to frantically follow the news every day. You don’t have to be worrying about a wedding (worrying about a global pandemic is quite enough to be getting on with). You can take comfort in being with each other. You can celebrate your love. You can still talk about your long term plans. You can adjust your focus so you stop obsessing over yourself, and start thinking about other people in your life, how they might be struggling, and what they might need from you.
Oh, and the wedding diet can go on pause for another few months.
Thanks for reading. I tried to be as sensitive as possible in this post but if there’s any way I can improve that, please let me know. If you’re in a similar situation, I hope you took comfort from the fact that you’re not alone. Stay safe x
After 3 years of being engaged, 2 postponements, and our venue and caterers going out of business, we did end up finally getting married.