Postponing a wedding is never a decision that’s taken lightly, but due to the coronavirus outbreak, it’s become a reality for thousands of couples this year. And if you know someone whose big day has been affected, you’re probably wondering what you can possibly say to help, or make them feel better.
The truth is there’s no hard and fast rule about how to approach the situation – you know your friends and family better than anyone, and you’ll likely be able to sense whether they’ll appreciate gentle humour over sentimentality, or vice versa. However, the current crisis is a completely unprecedented one, and if you’re feeling a little stumped about how to start the conversation – and crucially, trying not to put your foot in it by saying the wrong thing – then we’ve got your back.
Here are some of the most common responses we’ve come across – the good, the bad and the ugly – and plenty of advice to help you reach out to someone who is dealing with a wedding postponement in a thoughtful way.
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7 Things Not to Say to Someone Who Postponed Their Wedding
1. ‘At least you’ve got your health’
This is a true and important thing to be grateful for – but chances are, the bride or groom does not need to be reminded of it. In fact, most couples report feeling incredibly guilty for being heartbroken about something as ‘trivial’ as a wedding in light of a global pandemic. Even if it’s not intentional, try not to invalidate your loved ones’ feelings with phrases like this – it’s a tricky line to walk between looking on the bright side, and inadvertently making them feel bad for being sad.
Everyone’s pain is relative, and it’s totally natural that even when they’re trying to appreciate all that they have, they’ll still feel disappointed above the upheaval of such a significant milestone in their lives.
2. ‘Now you have more time to plan’
The closer to their original wedding date you are, the more this one might sting. Chances are, if there were just weeks or a couple of months until the big day, everything was planned; having to do it all again feels like an enormous source of stress, both emotionally and financially, rather than a privilege.
Even if your friend totally loves wedding planning and has relished every second of the process, it’s probably also been a hell of a lot of work – in most instances, it’s probably better to just be upfront and say ‘This sucks, I’m so sorry, and I’m here to help in any way you might need.’
3. ‘But now I’ve got to cancel my accommodation/childcare/travel arrangements’
No matter how annoying, inconvenient or stressful it might be for you, the couple getting married will be feeling those emotions times a thousand. The amount of time and money they will have to spend rescheduling is probably overwhelming them right now, so if you can avoid adding your problem to their pile, do so.
If you really do need to ask them an essential logistical question, broach the matter with kindness rather than blame, and be careful not to pressure them for an instant answer. Trust us, they’ve got enough on their plate.
4. ‘So when are you going to get married?’
Unless the previous venue has offered another date, they might not know, and even if they do, most of the other details won’t be locked down yet – after all, when day-to-day life is changing so rapidly, forward planning for an event like a wedding with absolute certainty is fairly impossible. Hounding the couple for information they don’t have is a surefire way to send their anxiety levels soaring even higher. Hold your tongue and have patience – when things do start to work themselves out, they’ll let you know.
5. ‘What I would do is…’
With the greatest of love and respect, it’s not about you. If you’ve explicitly been asked for your opinion, then share away, but if not, they don’t need to hear it, and to be blunt, they probably don’t want to either. We totally understand that you’re trying to be helpful and relate to the challenge they’re facing, and that’s a kind intention.
However, you’re one guest of dozens or possibly even hundreds that are probably also offering unsolicited advice at an already difficult time. Listening to the couple’s own thoughts is usually a much more powerful tool than adding even more noise.
READ MORE: The Covid Wedding Hashtags to Use and Follow
6. ‘What do you want me to do with your gift?’
The wedding will still happen at some point, and most gifts won’t expire, so keep hold of them and save them for when the day arrives. The exception to this is if, understandably in the current climate, you need the money you’ve spent back, in which case most gift list registries will offer a refund (check individual T&Cs if you’re not sure). Either way, you don’t need to involve the bride or groom in your decision making – they wouldn’t have received the present until the wedding anyway, so they don’t need to know what’s happening to it in the interim, and responding to this rather awkward question quickly becomes another admin task that they definitely do not need.
For a token gift to let them know you’re thinking of them in the meantime, our edit of postponed wedding presents is a good place to start.
7. ‘It’ll all be okay in the end’
Anyone who says this inevitably means well – it’s a sweet, comforting thought when everything feels out of control. But be honest with yourself: can you promise that it will? No one expects you to wave a magic wand and fix all of the problems, so don’t feel you have to try – your love and support are enough, and your friend will appreciate them. Even when things are definitely not okay.
... And 9 Things to Say to a Friend Who’s Postponed Their Wedding
1. ‘I’m sorry’
These two simple words are so incredibly validating at times like this – they’re an acknowledgement of the fact that the situation is monumentally rubbish, and they’re well within their rights to feel frustrated, angry or upset.
Let them know that you wish things were different as much as they do, and you sympathise with their plight.
2. ‘Can I help with X?’
Make your offer of help as specific as possible – if you’re a great baker, can whip up a ‘Change the Date’ on Photoshop in a matter of minutes or you’re an admin pro with some extra time on your hands, now is the time to make your skill set available.
Consider the type of task that would be most useful to the couple in these circumstances – even if they’re not able to take you up on it, they’ll really appreciate that you took the time to ask in such a considered way.
3. ‘I’m here if you need to vent’
Sometimes, there won’t be anything practical you can help with – but a willing ear has never been more valuable. They’re going to have spent a lot of time telling less close acquaintances that everything’s fine and playing down how they feel, so the opportunity to let loose and be completely honest about how crappy having to cancel what should have been the happiest day of their life has been is vital.
4. ‘Let’s schedule a call and some wine!’
Everything needs something to look forward to these days, so why not book in a fun night that’s not about the wedding that’s consuming their every waking moment? Make a quiz, watch a movie together remotely or just chat and drink your cares away. The real beauty of this one is that no matter where you both are in the world, it’s still an available option.
5. ‘I’ll be there on your new date’
Maybe they’ve had to move to a weekday ceremony, maybe it’s a totally different season; maybe, to be frank, it’s a way less convenient arrangement for you. Don’t bring them down by complaining – lift them up by telling them you wouldn’t miss it for the world, no matter what happens. We cannot stress this one enough – reassurance that you’re still coming is everything.
6. ‘I’m still so excited!’
One of the hardest things about postponing your wedding can be the fact it’s so anti-climactic – you’ve been building up to this day for months or even years, and suddenly it’s fizzled out in front of your eyes and there was nothing you can do to stop it. A little hype about the new day can go a long way – they deserve to have all of the buzz of the original day, even if it looks different now.
7. ‘I’m thinking of you’
You can simply, say this or you can show it – drop off a little gift on their doorstep, send a voice note, even make a silly video if you’re not too camera shy. While there’s no need to be messaging them 24/7, checking in regularly and reiterating your encouragement is a great way to brighten their day. Any conversation they’re not having with a supplier will be a welcome break.
8. ‘I’d love to celebrate your original date with you’
It’s still a meaningful day for them both, so don’t let it pass without marking it. Send flowers or a bottle of Champagne or arrange a FaceTime call with everyone in their finery – we’ve got lots of ideas for couples to celebrate their original date together, which will spark plenty of inspiration for your own gestures too.
9. Say it with a card
Words still failing you even now? Don’t worry – these clever card makers have got you covered.
15 of The Best 'Sorry Your Wedding is Postponed' Cards
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