A startling number of wedding couples are wondering: Should I cancel my wedding or honeymoon because of Coronavirus? In March each year, approximately 80,000 US couples get married, and at least 75% go right into their honeymoon. In April and May, that number doubles to about 120,000-150,000 couples per month as the wedding and honeymoon-travel season comes into full swing. And now with 3/4 of the country under stay-at-home orders, it looks like June and July weddings will need to be postponed as well.
How to keep your wedding in spite of coronavirus
There are two main Coronavirus (COVID-19)-related risks associated with your wedding day 1) wedding guests who will need to travel to get there and 2) bringing everyone together into a gathering. On Monday, March 16, the White House released new Coronavirus Guidelines for America with a suggested limit of 10 people per gathering for the next two weeks (through March 30). As of March 31, much of America is under shelter-at-home and social distancing orders until May 1, and that’s likely to be extended.
Here’s how to deal:
1. If your wedding is BEFORE October 31, read our article on how to decide whether to postpone a 2020 wedding. Call your wedding vendors and find out what the cost of cancelling or postponing will be. Ask what reschedule dates are available. If you decide to postpone, read the section below on how to postpone your wedding.
2. If your wedding is November 1 or after, you can likely keep the event as planned.
3. If you are getting married before October 31 and keeping the wedding, are there key wedding party members who need to travel, like parents, maid of honor or best man? If so, call them up and discuss the alternatives. Can they travel safely? Can they quarantine for 14 days after travel, before the wedding? After you had those conversations and carefully weighed the options, you can decide whether to move forward or not.
4. Consider having an online wedding instead, and/or setting up a live-feed to include guests who can’t be there in person.
5. Follow CDC guidelines for public gatherings. This means chairs sitting farther apart at the ceremony, and almost zero hugging, kissing, handshaking and dancing (aside from the two of you, of course). You may also need to do away with the buffet. Discuss with your caterer.
6. Consider having an intimate wedding as scheduled, and postponing the big reception into 2021. A lot of the risk of spreading the virus amongst wedding guests is due to the reception activities like food, drinks and dancing.
How to postpone your wedding because of Coronavirus
1. Set a new date with your venue, if you can. It will help take the anxiety out of the situation to know you are definitely getting married, just not now. If your vendor can’t commit to a new date, pick a month more than six months from now, so you have a new goal to work toward.
2. Call your other vendors and let them know you’re postponing and your new date, and adjust any appointments or payment deadlines.
3. Contact the wedding party and guest list. It will feel awful, but postponements happen every day, and guests understand. Just tell them the new date or time frame and the reason why. You’ll be relieved when it’s done, and so will they.
Here’s some wedding-postponed announcement wording:
“We want to make sure our special day is safe for all, so we have decided to reschedule our wedding to [new date].”
“Due to Coronavirus restrictions on travel and social gatherings, we have made the tough choice to postpone our wedding until [new date].”
Should you return wedding gifts because of Coronavirus-postponed wedding?
As long as you have a new date or time frame, you don’t need to return gifts or mention them in the postponement announcement (see above). Unless a guest specifically asks you to return their gift, consider this one less thing to worry about.
If you don’t already have one, now’s a good time to setup a honeyfund (a cash-based wedding registry). The flexibility of cash is always helpful in uncertain times, which is why we created a new registry item: the Flexibility Fund. You can add it to your own registry with one click. Don’t forget to add a link to your honeyfund to your wedding website so guests checking for updates will see the available options.
How to postpone your honeymoon because of Coronavirus
I get it. This really sucks. But the truth is no one should be traveling right now unless it’s absolutely essential. So ask yourself, can we still enjoy this trip in 6 months or a year? Would we be able to go even bigger, better, or longer if we postpone? How much can we save by re-booking now when prices are cheaper? In every challenge, there’s an opportunity.
Here’s how to know whether or not to cancel or reschedule your honeymoon due to Coronavirus.
1. Your own health, and those around you
If you travel anywhere right now, you are exposing yourselves to the virus. True, healthy individuals under the age of 50 seem to be at a low risk of serious illness or death. But think about the people around you. If you do carry the virus, will you come home to family members over 50? Do you work in the health industry or with the elderly? This is why the CDC is recommending any non-essential travel is halted until the numbers of new infections subsides. When will that be? Most likely 6 months at least. No one knows for sure.
2. Travelers flying, taking a cruise or other public transportation to their destination
If you have to fly, take a cruise ship, train or bus to get to your honeymoon destination, you should reschedule your trip. Any time people are close together in tight spaces, the risk of transmission increases.
3. Travelers driving to their destination
Did you opt for a local honeymoon? If so you might not have to cancel. You’ll want to research the shelter-in-place or quarantine restrictions in your given city, and when they expire.
4. What will it cost me to cancel?
If you decide it’s prudent to cancel, first determine if you have travel insurance. If not, call the credit cards you used to book, some come with automatic insurance. If you used a travel agent, they can help you navigate this step. Once you know if you have any coverage, find out what the deductible is.
Now, call and ask about the cancellation policy of all your accommodations, transportation (flights, train tickets, etc) and tours. Cancel anything that’s refundable or charges a fee less than your insurance deductible to cancel.
Many times, flights can’t be canceled, but they can be changed for a fee. And most major airlines are waiving those fees right now. (Visit your airline’s website or call your travel agent to find out if yours will be waived.) At this time, not knowing how long it will take to be safe to travel again, I recommend rescheduling for the same time next year. If you can’t wait that long, don’t book anything closer than 6 months from now.
5. What if I lose money?
Many of us with travel plans during this outbreak will end up eating some of the cost to cancel and/or reschedule. But keep in mind, booking any kind of travel right now is ridiculously cheap, so you may be able to recover some of that loss by re-booking for next year at a lower price. If you have a Honeyfund registry, add those fees to your wish list so friends and family can pitch in to help. We’ve also created a new Flexibility Fund that can be added to your honeyfund page with one click.
As a last resort, you can dispute the original travel charges with your credit card company. One of the most common reasons to dispute a charge is that you didn’t receive the goods or services you paid for.
Have you had to cancel your wedding or honeymoon? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Updated April 14, 2020