Postpone, Elope or Cancel? What Coronavirus Means for Your Wedding

Words by Julia Jones
March 23, 2020

The word ‘surreal’ barely begins to describe what we’re all currently living through. And while the whole world reels from the Coronavirus crisis, a unique kind of uncertainty is reserved for brides- and grooms-to-be. You’ve been planning your wedding for months, possibly years, and after countless hours and untold dollars have been spent, you now have a seriously tough decision to make – postpone, elope or cancel?

What are the current restrictions on gatherings?

As of today – March 23, 2020 – non-essential gatherings are suspended for an initial 4 weeks. Most venues, clubs, hotels (except accommodation) and places of worship will now remain closed (or have limited access) for the next four weeks. It seems possible that this 4 week period will be extended. We recommend staying up to date at the Department of Health website.

Thinking of cancelling?

We get it. Your plans have been shattered and you may have already spent a bunch of money you can’t get back. If your wedding date is before October 2020 (when some restrictions are estimated to be lifted), you might be tempted to cut your losses and just call the whole thing off. But we’d urge not to! Dig down to the real reason you’re tying the knot and brainstorm with your partner about how you can make it happen. Have frank discussions with your venue and vendors – can you postpone the wedding, as-is, to a later date? If that’s not possible, think about how you can downsize to a smaller private gathering when restrictions have eased, down the track. Can you host a small backyard wedding later in the year? You could use the extra time at home to get your garden wedding-ready! Get creative, workshop ideas, and know that your guests will support you, whatever you decide to do.

Modern backyard wedding with a gorgeous pregnant bride / photography by Jimmy Raper

Sophie and Baden hosted a small but stunning wedding with their closest loved ones in an intimate celebration at home. Image by Jimmy Raper (see their day in full here).

How about eloping?

If you don’t have the heart to plan another big wedding, then eloping at a later date is an excellent idea. It allows for less planning and greater flexibility, and of course, less expense. Here’s a little elopement inspiration to get you started.

If you’re hoping to duck off in the next few weeks or months… well, that’s a tricky one. There are strict international travel restrictions for the foreseeable future, and on the home-front, several states have closed their borders to domestic travel too. We’re all being urged not to travel anywhere, unless absolutely necessary. So, while it’s not currently impossible to elope within your home state, consider carefully whether it’s a good idea for you, your partner, your vendors and any guests who may attend. Also keep in mind that restrictions on gatherings may be further tightened, as they have been overseas.

Postpone, Elope or Cancel? What the Coronavirus Means for Your Wedding Plans

Lauren and Levi eloped to their favourite beach in Noosa. Janneke Storm captured their barefoot nuptials, which you can catch in full here.

Postpone, don’t cancel!

This crisis will end, and when it does, small businesses and sole traders will need every bit of help available to get back on their feet. Talk to your vendors about a Plan B – this is uncharted territory for everyone and most businesses will be willing to work with you to find a solution.

Here are a few tips for navigating this process:

Read the fine print and be open to negotiation

Understand your contractual obligations to your vendors, and theirs to you. Of course, these are extremely unusual circumstances and most businesses will be open to negotiating fees, deposits and payment plans.

If you have wedding and/or travel insurance (if your honeymoon is effected), become an expert on what is and isn’t covered. If you used a credit card to purchase goods or services that you haven’t been able to receive, you made be covered by your credit card provider. Look into it!

Be flexible

Get a handful of dates from your venue and key vendors, and start the juggling act! If your preferred photographer/florist/stylist is unavailable, ask them for recommendations. Increase your likelihood of nabbing your dream team with a mid-week wedding, and save some money at the same time! Guests will be very understanding in these circumstances.

Speaking of guests – be sure to keep them in the loop

Your guests have likely made plans and possibly booked travel and accommodation for your wedding. Find an effective way to keep them informed about your decision to postpone and how your plans have changed. A wedding website or social media group is a great way to keep everyone up-to-date.

Postpone, Elope or Cancel? What the Coronavirus Means for Your Wedding Plans

Tash and Arie kept things pretty low key, planning their wedding in just 3 weeks! Not that you’d believe it from the stunning pics by Ruth Gilmour. See their day in full here.

Be kind to yourself and your partner!

This will take an emotional toll – no question. Be there for each other and always keep in mind the reason for getting married in the first place. Think of how sweet your big day will be when it finally arrives. Think of the journey you will have already been on together. Think of those happy tears when you walk down the aisle. Think of the party you’ll have after! Think of the stories for the grand kids.

Remember you’re not alone

This is a rare point in history where almost everyone on the planet is being impacted by the same crisis. There are couples all over the country and the world who are making the same difficult decisions as you right now. We’re in this together and need to help each other out as much as we can – which means postponing your wedding, supporting your vendors, and having the best day ever when this is all over.


Header image Jimmy Raper |

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