I know many couples who were merrily planning their wedding for 2020, are now reeling from the shock of having their weddings postponed, or wondering if they will need to soon make this tough choice.
I wanted to write something that would encourage those couples going through the process of postponing their wedding. I want to let you know it will be ok. I want to offer perspective and encouragement.
With this in mind I reached out to one of my previous brides’, who had to make this tough call when the UK was hit by ‘Storm Emma’ and the ‘Beast from the East’ in March 2018.
Over time I have learnt that 20-20 vision is a wonderful thing. Hopefully, by sharing this story, couples can take some solace and strength. I’m obviously adding some photos of when their wedding day finally happened to cheer everyone up too!
Emma and Jon’s wedding was originally planned for Saturday 3rd March 2018, after they got engaged in January 2017. They booked exclusive use of Godwick Hall, and planned a church ceremony followed by a reception in the barn at Godwick Hall with around 50 friends and family in the day, and up to 100 in the evening. Emma had made fridge magnets with 03/03/18 stamped onto it so that all guests had a ‘keepsake’. She designed an ‘order of the day’ board with the date and running order to match with their invitations. The Service of Order booklets for the church also had the date printed on them, everything was ready to go…
Then the weather changed… they’d been keeping one eye on the news and didn’t think much of the weather warnings. Emma’s parents had made a rather treacherous journey from Shropshire to Ipswich on the Wednesday before, so they were staying with them. Then the phone calls started…
Here is Emma explaining in her own words what followed:
When did you first start to think that you might have to postpone?
From Thursday, we started receiving phone calls from mainly elderly family members who were worried about travel as they were relying on public transport. One family member in particular who is like my Grandma would be travelling from South Wales, and it was looking increasingly unlikely that she was going to make it. That broke my heart.
We then started to receive phone calls from suppliers – these were on the whole, incredibly positive. I remember Tatum in particular being excited about shooting the wedding in the snow, saying what an amazing backdrop that would be, our spirits were lifted!
But our emotional rollercoaster had just started: one minute there was highs looking at all the positives, the next feeling very low at losing another guest who wasn’t going to witness our special day.
After a chat with all our parents, we decided to make the journey to Jon’s dad in Norwich. This way, we could assess the roads ourselves and stay there which would be much closer to the venue than staying in Suffolk.
How did you come to the conclusion postponement was the only option?
That journey on the Thursday, really, was the start of the end… just as we set off, our venue called and seemed a bit dubious as to whether access would be possible despite an earlier call sounding positive.
Shortly after we had a second call from the venue – the wedding reception (in the barn) was definitely not going to be possible… at the same time our car started skidding in the snow and we apologetically hung up. I climbed into the driver’s seat whilst Jon got out to push, and as the car drifted down to the bottom of the road I sobbed, this just could not be real!
When we got to the house, I was quiet. Jon was amazing, he called the venue back and got all of the details. We were offered to still have use of the house, but this would only fit 20 people.
The alternative: postpone – but how do we do that? All that work, thought and effort would be gone! How do we let go of the excitement that we were supposed to be a married in just 48 hours!
I said I would sleep on it and went off to bed.
On Friday morning, the day before the wedding, Jon asked me what I wanted to do. I said: “postpone” and we cried. He said: “don’t worry about anything, I’ll handle it” and he went downstairs. He also promised me 2 anniversaries a year!
Jon is pretty good at delegation, so he set my parents up to communicate to my relatives, his parents to relay the message to his relatives, and he took charge of friends and suppliers.
How did the guests and suppliers react to the news?
The guests totally understood, and were probably rather relieved that they didn’t need to travel.
The suppliers were incredible. Titchwell Manor were doing our catering and Eric, the chef had already called us the day before to assure us we could postpone.
My make-up artist (Emily from LoveMoi) understood completely and messaged me a virtual hug!
Ragged Robin were supplying our flowers, and we had considered that we should try and donate them to care-homes or similar. However, the florist suggested they start a campaign to sell off all our flowers and bouquets to the general public to recoup the costs for our new wedding date. This was the biggest uplift as we followed the online campaign on social media….Jon even made it onto Radio Norfolk, did we just go viral?!
As someone who’s ‘been there’ – if anyone else is about to start the postponement process, what tips can you give?
I don’t think I was much help, Jon was amazing and took to everything very practically. I think splitting the communication up, and delegating by utilising our family was a wise move.
We came up with sort of a ‘prepared statement’ that also allowed us some privacy, and not be bombarded with questions on a new date etc. We said we were going to take some time out and would be in touch with a new date as soon as possible.
How was everyone’s spirits on the actual wedding day?
We got married on the 2nd May 2018 .
Spirits were high albeit it was raining (would you believe it… after 2 days of glorious sunshine in MAY!) but things were going ahead!
The postponement obviously made it into all 3 of the speeches and was the talk of the day. A bonus is that we had additional guests that weren’t able to make the first date, and we had everyone there (including the worried elderly family members!) that made our day.
In hindsight how do you feel about it now and would you have done anything differently?
I was initially upset moving from a Saturday to a Wednesday date, but our 2nd wedding anniversary falls on a Saturday this year, so what difference did it make? It didn’t matter having to move the date – it’s just a date.
We didn’t have wedding insurance so we were extremely lucky that all our suppliers were so understanding! I would say to anyone starting off planning and before you part with large amounts of cash, get some wedding insurance in place!
We were also really lucky using a number of suppliers that we had a personal connection/relationship with rather than booking a ‘package’ wedding, and I think that helped us a lot with the ‘human’ understanding element.
Do you have any final positive words or thoughts?
I know it’s difficult to let go, but it helped me to remember that if we had gone ahead with ‘a’ wedding on the original date, it would not have been the wedding that we planned and paid for – there would’ve been important people missing and not in the setting that we pictured.
We were able to use the additional month or so until the new wedding date to book and pay for a videographer (Kelly Southby), which we had wanted originally, but were unable to afford in time for March – so now we have another reminder of our day.
Finally, everyone will understand – take some time for you and your partner, plan something lovely to recognise the day when it passes and you’ll have 2 anniversaries annually to celebrate!