Hi Problem Pal. My partner and I could really use some advice on what to do.
We’re planning to marry on the 17th of April at our dream venue; we were lucky to get the date with all of the 2020 weddings being moved, and we put down a non-refundable 50% deposit right away to secure it.
We’ve been getting things organised but we haven’t sent out our invitations yet; we were planning to print them next week after we confirmed the timings with the church.
This week, we received a wedding invitation in the post from some friends who got engaged last year – for a wedding on the 17th of April!
We’re not the closest of friends with them; this is probably just bad luck rather than anything deliberate. But we do have a lot of mutual friends in common who we really want to be at our wedding.
I haven’t said anything to our friend circle yet. One close friend suggested splitting the day between weddings or asking half the friends to go to one wedding and half to the other, but I don’t think that would feel right.
I’d be fine re-scheduling our day so everyone could come to both weddings, but there’s no dates available at our venue for the rest of the year. We’d need to find a new venue, which we don’t want to do, and lose the 50% deposit, which we can’t afford, or delay our wedding even longer.
We’ve also paid deposits for the car, the band, and pre-booked the church; all the contracts say we’d have to pay a fee to move the dates, or lose the deposits if we cancel all together. It adds up to a lot of money!
We’d hugely appreciate any suggestions on what we can do.
Oh no! What a pain!
Work out your priorities
The first thing you need to do is sit down with your partner and work out what you both want your wedding to look like.
You talked about this place being your dream venue. How important is it to you both? I’ve spoken to couples who felt the venue was one of the most important parts of their wedding; they didn’t care if the day was just them and their immediate family, they wanted the dream venue more than the big party aspect.
And I’ve spoken to couples who cared far more that everyone they loved was at their day. (Down to choosing the date via a poll!) While they loved the venue they went with, it was a secondary decision.
There’s no wrong answer. It’s what matters to you and your partner. If your day wound up being, say, ten people in your dream venue, would you be happy? You could spend a little more on the guests who can come, upgrading the catering and drinks. You could spend more time with your guests, rather than flitting between a larger group. It might look different to what you imagined, but would you both enjoy that sort of day?
Or, if every mutual friend you have committed to the other wedding, would their absence ruin yours? If you could afford to have a second venue with everyone there, would there even be a question?
Work out where you feel more comfortable compromising: the date, the venue, or the guest list. That will inform what you need to do next.
If you’re happy to move the date, work out what that looks like. If your venue could hold your wedding at another weekend but not until 2022, would that be a dealbreaker for you? It would give you more time to plan and to save – but it is a lot longer to wait. Decide how much you’re willing to compromise, then talk to your wedding suppliers.
First, contact your venue and ask if there’s any other date you could move to.
This will be harder with the postponed 2020 weddings and it might not be possible at all, but if you’re okay moving to a mid-week day or a less busy season, they might be able to do it.
Bear in mind, you may have to pay a fee to move dates. If you give them lots of notice (and leave them with a Saturday in spring they can re-sell), they may be able to waive it; there’s no harm in asking once, politely. But if they say no, don’t push it.
If you can get a new date that will work for you, contact your other booked suppliers and ask to move them too.
Check out our advice on postponing a wedding for COVID-19. A lot still applies, though – since you’re changing the contracts – you may have to pay fees or sacrifice your deposit if your vendor can’t do the new date.
All you can do is be honest; tell them why your date is changing. Wedding suppliers are small businesses and they will have sympathy for a bad situation. While they may need to stick to that contract to be able to pay their bills (remember, COVID-19 has meant wedding suppliers haven’t worked all year; many are struggling financially), it doesn’t hurt to ask.
But be polite and willing to take no for an answer.
Once you secure a new date, get some save the dates sent out ASAP! You don’t need to work out the rest of your details, just let people know to pencil in your wedding so this can’t happen again.
If you can’t find another date that works at your venue, you need to consider if it’s worth cancelling and losing the deposit. (Though you may be able to recoup some of the cost by selling your wedding on on a website like Cancelled Weddings.)
You and your partner need to consider what you want your wedding to look like. You may not be able to afford the non-refundable deposit and a second, similar venue, but what about renting out a pub for a day or a village hall?
Your wedding doesn’t have to have a certain aesthetic – or a certain price tag – to be perfect. And any venue looks incredible filled with balloons.
Compromising on the guest list
You can compromise on your guest list without compromising on your guest list.
Many couples have more than one celebration for their wedding; it’s especially popular with couples having a destination wedding, who don’t want anyone who can’t afford a big trip to be left out, and couples who have family across different countries; throw a smaller party, before or after your wedding, at a time your mutual friends will be available.
It doesn’t have to be extravagant; rent a pub for the night, or throw a dinner party. Just make a space where you can celebrate with your friends who can’t make it to the main event.
There’s something to be said for spreading out your pleasures anyway. You’ll get to spend a little more quality time with your friends, rather than hugging them hello and goodbye at a big, busy day.
If you want the chance to celebrate with these particular friends without compromising on your ideas for the day or losing any deposits, a second celebration might be the best plan.
Save the dates save your sanity
It might not help you now, but for couples at the start of their wedding planning, save the dates are worth looking into.
There’s a lot to organise before you can invite guests to your wedding – and a lot of details that can’t be nailed down far in advance. But your mates can wind up making other plans while you’re working it all out – especially if you’re planning a wedding over the summer, bank holidays, or near big holidays like New Year.
Save the dates give you time to think. They let your friends know not to plan anything around that day, but they’re not explicit invitations. People won’t be hurt if they save your date then get an evening-only invitation.
If there’s anyone your day wouldn’t feel right without, tell them to save the date – even if you do it on WhatsApp!