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 July 31, you should postpone. Call your wedding vendors and find out what the cost of cancelling or postponing will be. Ask what reschedule dates are available. Read the section below on how to postpone your wedding.
2.If your wedding is August 1 or after, consider keeping the event as planned. Those who choose not to travel yet will graciously bow out, bringing your overall wedding cost down. Remember, about 25% of any wedding guest list can’t attend for various reasons, even when we aren’t dealing with a pandemic.
3. If you are getting married before July 31 and keeping the wedding, are there key wedding party members who need to travel, like parents, maid of honor or best man? If os, 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 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 now, and rescheduling the reception. A lot of the risk of spreading the virus amongst wedding guests is due to the reception activities like food, drinks and dancing. You may consider having a scaled-back wedding now, and throwing a big make-up party next year.

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.

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 March 31, 2020

20 Comments

  • Autumn says:

    We just announced today that we are postponing our wedding that was supposed to be in Greece! We are very heart broken but the safety of our family and friends means the most to us.

    • Jennifer says:

      When was your wedding supposed to be? I’m sorry to hear this. My wedding is supposed to be in Italy May 29 and we’re grappling with what to do now. And our honeymoon is supposed to be in greece.

      • Hi Jennifer
        I’m so sorry you’re going through this! As I said to Krista, everything could be fine by then. But it might be worth discussing options with your wedding vendors. I would recommend you postpone the honeymoon trip for at least 6+ months out, while travel providers are offering that option.
        – Sara

    • Beautifully said, Autumn. What maters most is our loved ones. xo

  • Krista says:

    We are getting married at the end of June. We are not sure whether or not it is too early to start discussing postponing!

    • Hi Krista,
      End of June is a tough one. Everything could be fine by then. But it might be worth discussing options with your wedding vendors. I would recommend you postpone the honeymoon trip for at least 6+ months out, while travel providers are offering that option.
      – Sara

  • Sanamsawil says:

    Our wedding is the second weekend of April we are not sure what will happen l am so heart broken

  • We have been expecting to have to reschedule the past couple of days, since our wedding is in Northern Ireland. We finally made the difficult decision this morning. Luckily our venue and vendors have been as understanding as humanly possible. They’ve all rescheduled us with no extra fees and no fines of any sort. We are so lucky to be working with these wonderful people. We emailed everyone a few hours ago and so far, we haven’t lost any guests and we’re even hoping that more guests will be able to come with more time to save and plan. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

    • Jennifer says:

      When was your wedding supposed to be?

      • Sherri says:

        We just made the decision to postpone our wedding for May 17th it was a hard sacrifice but to keep our family and friends healthy we had too also our reception hall is closed down. People wouldn’t come anyway the risk of getting sick. We have a call into our priest and our reception hall for a date next year.

  • Jennifer says:

    My wedding is scheduled for May 29 in Italy. I know it’s prudent to postpone but I just have not been able to “pull the trigger” and make that call. I have reached out to vendors and they have said we can reschedule. As for my guests a few have said they aren’t sure it would work out if I rescheduled to October which is when I’m thinking. A lot of my friends that were coming from the us were planning on visiting other areas of Italy and that is all l unknown. I feel terrible. But thank you for this article. I did find out very helpful.

  • Erika says:

    Our wedding date was March 21, this coming Saturday. We were close to postponing last night, then our restaurant venue called to say they are closed for the next two weeks! I feel so badly for the people who work there, many who are young and work pay check to pay check. Our guests were understanding of the postponement, several were relieved. We will reschedule for fall. I was heartbroken this morning, but have a new “Fall wedding ideas” Pinterest board since this afternoon!

  • Cailin Smith says:

    Our wedding was scheduled for 11 April in South Africa and we had started counting down the sleeps. A significant number of our VIP guests were traveling from overseas and after careful consideration we have postponed our wedding, probably to November. We are absolutely devastated and disappointed, but so grateful because every one of our vendors has supported and reassured us and so far we have been able to keep everything as we want it at no additional cost. I truly admire small businesses who are so willing to help despite the stress that this all must be causing them. I will definitely do everything I can from my side to support them too, which I think we should all consider as we move forward with wedding planning during this difficult time. Good luck to all the couples that have to make this decision for too! We’ll just have to double up on the wedding planning fun.

  • Rob says:

    We have postponed our wedding that was supposed to occur on April 4. Most of our family was travelling and all of our family and the venue are in areas with significant outbreak. We started talking to vendors two weeks ago about postponing and all allowed us to. We were looking at October but we ultimately decided we need to wait until next year. The wedding venue is a place with fire danger in the fall so between the current crisis and the next, I just could not commit to a date with that level of uncertainty. We were fortunate in that we got out of our hotel block contract completely with no penalty (Marriott and it was offered to us enthusiastically) and our venue has refunded our money in full. We will approach these vendors next year but I did not want to carry a significant financial liability for another year with the present uncertainty. We are going to ask the other vendors to allow us to reschedule next year and will carry the loss if they refuse.

    Here are my additional tips: Before you consider going ahead with your wedding if it is scheduled between now and July, ask yourself if you want to deal with this stress on your wedding. You should assume guests will back out, you may need to prohibit touching or dancing, and that the circumstances are changing daily. I would recommend trying to reschedule no sonner than October or getting your money back and starting fresh. Getting your money back is important because the wedding industry will experience great turmoil over the next few months and if your vendor closes up shop, you may lose the money AND not have the wedding. I am not providing legal advice and you should always consult a licensed attorney, but look at your contracts and carefully review the impossibility or force majeure provisions. You may have a justification that allows you to terminate the contract with no penalty and possibly recover your money. You need to act fast if this is important to you because this is the time where these kinds of clauses are possible (e.g. while there are binding legal obligations to shelter-in-place, quarantine, etc.). Getting out of the hotel contract was essential for us because the new rates the hotel wanted for the date we were considering were almost $200 more per night and I do not want to ask my guests to pay significantly more.

    I’m sorry to all my fellow wedding planners out there, this was not our year. However, I am confident we will all someday be able to enjoy the weddings we have been planning.

  • Cindi says:

    Hi! Our wedding is scheduled for May 16th, our hotel for the wedding night has already cancelled, the Riverboat where we are scheduled to get married on, then a dinner cruise for our guests is closed for now. As crazy as this sounds I’m fine with going for a plan B. However I’m looking for unique ideas for a quarantine wedding, just the 2 of us fine with me. We are in our mid 50’s but still feel like we did in our early 20’s when we first dated. Reunited 35 years later we now know we are destined to be together. We backpack, hike, and love waterfalls. We were engaged at the top of our favorite waterfall. SOS for wedding ideas!

  • Claire says:

    Our wedding is May 9. Almost all of our guests are local and the remaining are within driving distance. We’ve decided to go forward with our date and have a much smaller ceremony and reception at a later date. How can I go about relaying this information to those that have already rsvp’d and everyone else I’ve invited? Any suggestions?

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