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Jacqui and Shelley xx

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Rescheduling your wedding: a practical guide

Couples busy planning their wedding at last years Express Yourself Wedding Show: featuring the lovely: Claire River Elliot Bridal; Charlotte The Bridal Lounge; Avi AK Expressions and Sash + Veil's beautiful stand.

Steph and Tom

Steph and Tom were due to be married on 30th May 2020, but, like so many couples, were forced to postpone their wedding day to 2021. Their countdown dramatically increased from single figures to triple in the space of just one day. To date, they are 379 days and counting! Steph tells us their story ....

"We got engaged Christmas Day 2018 and set our wedding date for the 30th May 2020. I did lots of work initially: choosing venues, writing guest lists, designing invitations and booking a photographer. By June, we had organised most things and bought lots of personalised items, most of which had our wedding date on. I'd even bought my Groom a wedding day present and had a card especially drawn.

I bought my wedding dress in August and had my first fitting in February. I also bought my bridesmaid's dress and Paige boy suit.

By February we had all our RSVPs; I'd drawn a table plan, bought my accessories, made decorations, ordered flowers, booked hair and make up appointments and trials, worked out the timeline for the day, written up my photo list and completed my place settings.

When news of the pandemic started to break, I didn't panic initially thinking a lot of it was media hype. How wrong was I?

The situation obviously became a lot more serious and other countries started banning weddings. At this point, I contacted my main suppliers: venue, Registrar and photographer, all of whom were very reassuring.

But, by the middle of March, lockdown looked imminent and the realisation that our wedding would be affected was very very real. It was at this point we made the heart breaking decision to postpone our wedding. To add to the upset, I also had to postpone my Hen Do, which was due to take place in just a weeks time.

The first thing I did was contact the venue and Registrar. This took a lot of work as the Registrars were very busy, so I could only email them. Initially we looked at dates for this year but my partner wasn't keen due to not knowing how long the effects of the virus would last.

It was at this point we started to consider other options: we looked at having a private ceremony, just completing the legal part and holding a fake wedding the following year.

Finally, the wedding venue agreed that we could go ahead the following year, so we set the date for the 29th May 2021 as the Registrars were also available on that date.

Since then I have cancelled and re-booked my original photographer, florist, cake maker, make up artist, hair dresser, hotel and made sure my wedding dress shop was aware of the new date.

The worst part was going through my wedding cupboard and finding all the personalised bits I had had made with our date on. My friends helped me and we managed to doctor some of them and cut off the date, but some we had to bin.

Despite the upset, disappointment and stress of having to reschedule, we have tried to hold on to the positives - most importantly, we are all healthy and safe. What's more, we now have more time to save and everyone has something to look forward to again. We WILL have the wedding we want eventually."

A Plan of Action

Steph and Tom are not alone. So many brides and grooms-to-be have been forced to postpone their wedding day or even cancel it completely. Instead, marking the day in isolation - a far cry from the long dreamed of event.

We feel your pain and, no word of a lie, have been reduced to tears reading your stories.

So, in true wed shed style, and in our long standing tradition of positivity, we have picked the brains of some of the East of England's leading experts in the industry, as well as the experiences of real life engaged couples who have had to postpone their weddings, to bring you some top notch tips and advice.

Disclaimer - we are not, by any stretch of the imagination legal experts - we have included links at the end of this blog to trustworthy sites full of legal jargon and the nitty gritty of consumer rights.

So, for those of you coming to the, quite frankly sh**** realisation that there is no way your wedding is happening this Summer ... here is our suggested plan of attack ...

1) Don't believe everything you read! Sensible words from Woody at Rainy Wood Photography who advises couples to: "make sure you talk to your suppliers first before believing everything you hear via social media". Let's face it, our news feeds are currently littered with fake news and the wedding industry is no exception. There have been so many scaremongering stories circulating our feeds - don't worry, we have seen them too. Try not to panic and ignore them if you can!

2) Communicate with your suppliers - don't assume the worst; the likelihood is you will find your suppliers are just as disappointed as you and want to to do all they can to help you out. Remember, you picked your suppliers for a reason, they are passionate about their business and the work they do. Talk to them. It's always better to try to resolve things together and agree a way forward. As Verity from Verity Marston Floral Design says: "Nobody could have foreseen this one coming... nor did we, which makes all our t&c's a bit of a mine field for everyone, but, never fear, wedding professionals are just that: professional and we are missing you guys and your wedding days just as much".

3) Talk it through together - once you've spoken to your suppliers and got all the information you need to hand re: deposits, refunds, available dates to re-book etc, you can start to draw up a clear plan of action. Consider all of your options, for example, you might want to get the legal bit done and then move your Reception to a later date? Remember, there will be a lot of weddings taking place in 2021 now, so coming up with alternative plans might give you more flexibility when deciding a new date; you may want to consider a mid-week or off-season celebration.

4) Don't be afraid to make changes. Try not to feel pressured into sticking to all of your previous wedding plans. For example, you may now be looking at a winter wedding as opposed to a Summer one. Verity from Verity Marston Floral Design suggests: "you might have to rethink your flower pallet" but she also reminds us: "....when things need to change, creativity is always at it's best" And we couldn't agree more. Indeed, we like to think of ourselves as somewhat masters of creativity when unexpected change is forced upon us! Bring it on we say! Unleash that creativity!

You might even be able add things you couldn't previously afford! Take Jordan and Craig, for example, who recently moved their wedding date from April this year to April 2021. They are now able to enjoy making additional bookings and have added an ice cream cart to their wedding reception.

5) Mark your original wedding day! Here's an opportunity not be missed! If ever you needed an excuse to get out those rather expensive bottles of champagne you bought, by the crate, for your wedding day - this is it! Don't let what should have been your wedding day go by unnoticed. Mark it, embrace it, tell the world about it. Invite your guests to join you via the marvel of technology and get up to some good old fashioned silliness!

Jordan and Craig's postponed wedding day certainly did not pass by unmarked ....

Look after yourselves

Finally, amidst the rollercoaster of emotions that cancelling, postponing and reorganising a wedding can bring, remembering to take time out for yourselves and take care of your mental and emotional wellbeing can easily be forgot.

Counsellor and bridal coach Helen Cain of Emerald Bridal Coaching offers the following words of advice to those of you trying to navigate your way through postponement and planning change:

Acknowledge the loss. You had big plans for this year, the start of married life: a ceremony, celebration, honeymoon, building a home together, perhaps planning a family. It has all shifted, and there is a big wedding shaped hole amid 2020. You are likely to be experiencing grief – a natural response to loss. Comparison is futile and will invalidate your own experience as well as cause you to remain stuck, unable to move forwards. Allow yourself to feel angry, sad, bewildered, numb, resentful, whatever you feel – let it out!

Reach out. Actively seek out others to share your feelings with – friends, family, community, who you can connect with and who are willing to be with you and share in open conversations. Find your tribe, connect with others who get you. It is true, not everyone will be understanding, and I have heard a fair amount of, “at least they’re still getting married” so choose wisely. Grief has purpose, it heals our pain. We do not just “get over it” and because it is not as significant as someone else’s loss, does not diminish your experience. Please be kind to yourself. Grief is messy, there is no ‘right’ way to do this, just your own way – expect to shift between panic, disorganisation, hope, depression, finding strength, despair and more – this is normal!

Establish a new routine. The year of a wedding involves a lot of planning. Your calendar would have been filled with endless appointments for fittings, consultations, tastings, trials, celebrations, the hen, rehearsals, not to mention the wedmin that consumes so many weekends. Routine calms our brain, it tells us that everything is ok, we are not under threat and there is no need to panic. So once all the postponement wedmin is taken care of, begin to fill those gaps in the calendar. Even in lockdown there are zoom gatherings to be made, new recipes to be tested and memories to be made. Perhaps create something new together, in your home or garden, to refocus and channel energy into more positive, meaningful ways.

Focus on self-care. Perhaps as you had jetted off for your hen or honeymoon, you would have been listening to the safety briefing on a plane - you would have been told to put your oxygen masks on before helping others. This is for a good reason - we cannot give to others when we are empty ourselves. It is not selfish to care for yourself, quite the opposite. Self-care is generative, it boosts mood, productivity, our ability to connect and be truly present for those we love the most. Refuel your emotional bank in whatever way works for you. Stop the negative self-talk, you are doing the best you can right now. Relax. Breathe. Repeat.

Find control where you can. So many things are happening that are out of our control right now, which create anxiety and uncertainty. We can control our responses though, so limit exposure to social media and wider media. Seek out positive influences, adopt daily practices that regulate instead of cause stress – such as meditation, mindfulness, listening to music, exercise, a good sleep routine, hydration and good nutrition.

Connect. Get outside into nature, connect to your surroundings, to each other. Find the small things to be grateful for, life’s simplest pleasures are giving us some of the greatest joys right now – blue skies, birdsong, a smile, laughter, a random act of kindness. There is still much to look forward to. Fun, laughter, joy are energy and emotional boosters – readily available and unlimited in supply.

All that remains for us to say is: take care, stay safe and look after yourselves. Keep sending us your stories - we love to hear them!

lots of love

Jacqui and Shelley xx

More information covering finance, consumer rights and the nitty gritty of contracts can be found here: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/wedding-venue-bust-cancellation-supplier

With thanks to the following wedding industry experts and our real life brides-to-be for their words of wisdom:

Woody: www.rainywoodphotography.com

Verity: www.veritymarston.co.uk

Hannah Cain: www.emeraldbridalcoaching.co.uk

Steph and Tom, and Jordan and Craig: our real life couples.

Thank you also to AK Expressions for the images taken at our last show used to open our blog.