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Should I Cancel My Wedding Because of the Coronavirus?

It’s the day you’ve dreamed of for years. You’ve spent time and money putting down deposits for venues and caterers and photographers and more. And now there’s a pandemic that’s threatening to ruin what you hoped would be the best day of your life. You’re worried and wondering, Should I cancel my wedding because of the coronavirus?

First off—pause. Breathe.

Yes, your wedding day is important. It’s a joyous celebration of love and starting a life together. The coronavirus might change up the celebration part, but it doesn’t have to ruin the joy. It doesn’t have to ruin starting a life together.

If you’re wondering if you should cancel your wedding right now, we don’t have just one answer for you—because you’ve still got options. You can postpone your wedding or change your definition of the big day. So, let’s look at what you can do if you’re in this situation.

And remember, it’s going to be okay. Love. Isn’t. Canceled.

The Cost to Cancel My Wedding

This part isn’t fun. But it’s important to look into what canceling your wedding could do to your bank account. Follow these steps to help you make your decision:

  • Make a list. You need to write out all the people and places you’ve already made payments to. Then write down how much you’ve paid each one.

  • Look through your contracts. If you’re planning to cancel, know some contracts might hold you to a nonrefundable deposit or full payment. Make a note on your list of which payments you won’t get back.
  • Do some math. Again, not fun. But add up what a 100% cancellation of your wedding would cost.
  • Consider your options. We’ll talk more about your options in a minute. But spend some time thinking about if it would be better to reschedule, resize or reimagine your plans. What works best for your budget?
  • Call your vendors. Remember, they’re struggling financially right now too. They probably want to keep your business but might be worried as well. So, speak with kindness while you try to work something out. If you’re hoping to reschedule, they might be eager to keep your deposit and charge you little to nothing extra for changing the date.

Will Wedding Insurance Cover My Canceled Wedding?

Probably not, unfortunately. This global pandemic is something we’ve never dealt with before in our lives, so your wedding insurance policy probably isn’t going to cover it. Still, if you have wedding insurance, take a good look at your policy. Every policy is different, so we can’t give you a complete answer here. But here’s an idea of what you should expect:  

Wedding Insurance May Cover:

  • A problem with a vendor (the venue goes bankrupt, the health department shuts the caterer down, the photographer doesn’t show up, etc.)
  • Sickness or injury (the bride gets food poisoning at the rehearsal dinner and you have to postpone)
  • Personal liability (your guests get rowdy and break a table or someone injures themselves doing the chicken dance)
  • Extreme weather (hurricanes, ice storms, etc. keep people from getting to the venue)
  • Photography and videography (the film is damaged or erased and can’t be delivered to the couple, etc.)
  • Military deployment
  • Lost or stolen gifts
  • Damaged dress or wedding attire1,2

Wedding Insurance Doesn’t Cover:

  • Cold feet
  • Basically, things within the couple’s control
  • Oh, and global pandemics

Coronavirus Wedding Alternatives

Remember—you’ve still got options. Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations right now, you’ll have to make some changes. But you aren’t locked into canceling your wedding forever! Think about one of these alternatives.

Host a Small Wedding

If you can get your guest list down to just 10 people, you can still have your big day—just with a smaller group. You need someone to officiate, two witnesses to sign the paper work, and—of course—the bride and groom. And the witnesses can be your parents, best friends or siblings, so that helps with numbers.

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Can’t get out of your deposit on that ceremony venue? Maybe you can have your now-smaller wedding there anyway. No matter where you do it, get scrappy and creative by asking your small group of guests to take pictures and video.

Host a Virtual Wedding

Hey. It’s 2020. You’ve probably spent a lot of your social distancing lately doing video chats so you don’t forget the faces of your loved ones. So, if you want to stick to your original date and still have everyone present, try a virtual wedding. You can do this from anywhere. And your whole guest list can take part in your ceremony from anywhere too.

Postpone the Wedding

Maybe it’s time to look for a new wedding date. If that’s the direction you take, think about the most important vendors you already have. Pick three priorities. You can narrow them down either because of sentiment or money. In other words, if you want to have your reception in the same restaurant you had your first date, then that’s a sentimental priority. If you want to stick with your caterer because you had to pay in full, then that’s a financial priority. You might not be able to hit all the sentimental and financial priorities—that’s why you’re narrowing it down to your top three.

Whatever three you come up with, these are the vendors you want to talk with first. Maybe you’ll be able to rework everything to a new date that works for everyone. But start with your top priorities. Get them all to the same new wedding date. Then work on the other vendors to see what else you can get moved.

Marriage Now, Wedding Later

Another option is to postpone the wedding—but still get married on your original date! You can gather a small CDC-approved group and have the legal marriage ceremony. And then just move your wedding celebration to a new date.

Since so many vendors are working with people right now to reschedule, this might be your best way to win. You’ll probably be able to keep a lot of the plans you had—just for a later date. And you still get to start your life together on the day you planned. It’s not the perfect way you planned or imagined it. But it’s a great option in these circumstances.

Budget and Make Changes as a Couple

Whatever you decide, make sure you’re doing this stuff as a team. Communicate about your feelings, your priorities and your money. All three might be tugging you in a million directions, which is all the more reason to make sure you’re working together.

If you aren’t budgeting as a couple, start. This means talking about your wedding budget and your regular-life budget. But you’re already stressed. So don’t stress over this. Get EveryDollar. You’ll share one (free!) account that you can both access from your phones and computers. That way, you can be in the same budget and on the same page. Now, you’ll want to wait to combine your bank accounts until after you’re married, but go ahead and start budgeting together pronto.

After all, the couple that budgets together weathers the financial storms together. And it’ll be okay. You two got this. You really do!

Celebrate Despite the Pandemic

Yes. All of this is stressful and even sad. We’re not making light of that. But try your best to celebrate despite the changes.

You’ve done so much to make sure your wedding day would be wonderful. And it still can be. The day may look different—but the joy can be the same. Because you still have each other. And if the pandemic means you can’t have the spring floral arrangements you wanted, that’s not what a marriage is about anyway. Take a moment to grieve the day you’d planned. Then start planning a new day you’ll never forget. 

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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