Wedding dilemmas: deciding what to do about your big day

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The outbreak of Covid-19 has created many headaches and potential challenges for people planning on getting married.

This is not just an issue for people who already had plans in place and are now having to cancel or rearrange nuptials – but for those who had yet to start making plans and are now wondering how – or even if – they should try.

If you’ve already got a wedding booked

Unfortunately, at the moment, all bets are off in terms of rescheduling in the near future. With the new Government plans in place, we could see restrictions altered over the coming weeks and months but there is still a lot of uncertainty about when the national lockdown will officially end. This has led a lot of people to rearrange their wedding or holiday plans to further in the future.

Rianna Elizabeth, a London-based wedding planner, told us:

"Many venues and suppliers are offering to move bookings to later in the year free of charge but, given the amount of people who will be looking to reschedule, there may be limited dates available. 

“If you’re looking to push back until 2021, you should expect to see somewhere between a 20% to 50% increase in price depending on demand.

“Although this presents obvious challenges for couples, venues with large overheads and staff headcounts will need to implement additional charges in order to keep their business running as they navigate this difficult period.”

As for the honeymoon, it’s also important to check the details of what you have booked. You should hopefully be able to get a full refund for any cancelled flights but accommodation might be more tricky depending on if you’ve paid a deposit or the full amount. If it is a package trip it may be ATOL protected. In cases where you’ve booked with a credit card, you may be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. If you want to find out more about this, a good place to start is sites like MoneySavingExpert and Which?.

If you want to get married but aren’t sure how to proceed

Unfortunately, at the moment it is not possible to predict when life will go back to “normal” so the best thing you can do is pencil in a date much further down the line. You can always separate out the marriage celebration from the actual legal act – this can be done quietly with a witness at your local registry office (once that opens up again).

Once things progress over time and if restrictions on travel become relaxed, more people may think about shifting to a more intimate celebration or eloping as a means of pulling back on costs. Make sure you keep up to date with the latest Government guidelines and advice to understand when and where you can travel. Research we conducted last year1 found that just 8% of people have small ceremonies of between 5 and 15 people, so it will be interesting to see how this figure changes by this time next year.

With bigger venues likely to be heavily booked up once the restrictions end, you might want to carry out the formalities in a registry office and then consider alternative ideas to hold a blessing ceremony such as in the garden of friends or family, or even a local farmer’s field with a marquee.

One result of this crisis may be that people find new and creative ways of putting on weddings. It may also give rise to more couples coming up with smart ways to save money and keep things simple – think a nice white dress from ASOS, not the latest haute couture line from Paris. This trend may really come to the fore now.

You can still have that special day, but it seems like the world might be entering a new normal where people’s finances are tighter because of tougher economic conditions. This should by no means get in the way of your nuptials, but thinking realistically about what you can afford and how you might best go about it - through either savings or a form of finance like a loan – to achieve that.

There are lots of things to consider, now more than ever, but take your time and research all of your options to help you make a decision that works for you and your situation. We wish you the best of luck on your new journey and our congratulations when you do get to celebrate your big day!

1 Consumer survey conducted by 3GEM Research & Insights between 01/11/19 and 18/11/19. The sample was 502 UK adults aged between 30 and 65 who had got married in the last five years and 302 UK adults who had contributed financially towards their child’s wedding in the past five years.