Postpone Don’t Cancel Your Wedding

Neli Prahova elegant Wedding photography

As a wedding photographer in London I put my heart and soul into capturing memorable and once-in a-lifetime experience for my clients.

COVID-19 is taking a toll on the world and it is no different for the whole wedding industry and for me as a wedding photographer in London. But now is the time to show love, gratitude and kindness to each other and keep looking forward to the better days, which I’m sure, will come.

It is upon me, as a wedding photographer, and my colleagues in the industry to help our clients deal with the way the dream of our couples for the perfect wedding has been affected. Annie Lee from Daughter of Design started the campaign called 'Postpone, Don't Cancel' that encourages wedding couples to delay the wedding and look at different dates, rather than giving up on their dream wedding and cancelling the celebration. Choosing to cancel the wedding puts a strain on you as a couple personally and emotionally, but it also affects all wedding suppliers who are usually small independent creative businesses.

For many couples even postponing their wedding might seem like their dream wedding day will not be such a perfect dream anymore and the difficulties couples are facing might be many especially if they have planned a destination wedding in Italy or France. However if you decide to postpone, you will still have your wedding celebration, but just at a later date. What’s more important is that your wedding is still about you making a vow to one other and uniting your families and your loved ones with whom you want to share that moment stay safe and can be present on that new date.

The main point wedding planners in the UK and around the world have been trying to convey is that the wedding industry comprises mainly of small businesses who all feel your pain and grief and who will try to be as accommodating in the circumstances as possible. So hopefully if you are postponing your wedding, you will discover that your suppliers are keen to make the process as easy, smooth, and stress-free for you as possible. Having said that, it’s also a plead to the couples to be mindful that many small businesses are currently facing severe financial distress and uncertainty, and the possibility that their livelihoods and families might be at risk. Wedding vendors are on the side of the affected couples, but they are also riding this emotional rollercoaster. Wedding suppliers know this is an emergency outside of everyone’s control, and so they will be as flexible as they can be while still running their business and paying their own expenses. They may try to absorb costs for you if they can, in order to help you – but keep in mind they are people themselves, with mortgages, families, bills, and a business which would go bankrupt if they had to refund all their clients at the same time, or give away all their peak 2021 dates for no additional cost. If all 2020 weddings shifted to 2021 (at 2020 prices), that would be a whole year of revenue suddenly gone, and some small businesses would not survive that. There are also the added tax considerations for some businesses, which mean that they can't afford to funnel all 2020 earnings to 2021.

My advice as a destination wedding photographer, who also has been affected by the covid pandemic with a few of my 2020 weddings being postponed to 2021, is to have an open, upfront, and honest conversation with all vendors as SOON as you start considering the possibility of postponement, and discuss options calmly together. Before you delve deeper into contract terminologies, find out what flexibility they can offer you in these extraordinary circumstances.

Be mindful of the additional time and work that suppliers will need to commit when rescheduling your wedding in their calendar, and be prepared for a small compensation to be requested. In particular, if you are looking at postponing your wedding to next year or to a date that is considered a "peak" date, such as a weekend or a date in the summer months, it's possible that your supplier may ask you for a surcharge. It may seem mercenary, but setting aside a 2021 peak date for your wedding (after having already held one date for you this year) can result in a loss of many thousands of pounds in their expected earnings for 2021. The suppliers are essentially booking you twice but earning only one fee, instead of two. These businesses need to keep their finances strong and healthy, in order to be there for you when your wedding day comes around.

As a wedding photographer in London so far I have been able to accommodate the new dates for a few of my couples who are getting married in London in the next months and who have decided to postpone their London wedding to a new date later in the year. But there may be suppliers that can't accommodate any of the new dates you are looking at, which means they will no longer be able to be a part of your celebrations. Before confirming cancellation, ask if there is anything else they can offer you. If I wouldn’t have been available to be the wedding photographer in London or at a destination wedding in Italy or France for any of my couples - for example, I would have suggested transferring the deposit you paid your wedding photography to a different photography session in London. Besides being a wedding photographer in London I’m also a family photographer and a newborn baby photographer in London, so I would have offered using the deposit for a couple or family photo-shoot on a future date? Other suppliers might be able to offer different flexible options.

So if your supplier cannot refund you payments, or will be charging you a cancellation fee to cover their losses, ask for a breakdown of why that is, and which is the relevant contract clause. Do try to be understanding about this – as they have been with you. They may have already started doing work for you, they may have paid for resources, hired staff, purchased perishable product, booked travel and accommodation, and so on - but most importantly, they held the date for you and most likely turned other clients away for that same date. In a way, that deposit also served to protect YOU until now: it prevented that vendor from taking on other work for the same day.

One option you can amicably try suggesting is that you split the lost fees, as the cancellation is technically neither party's fault; if the vendor agrees to this, you would receive a partial refund. Another alternative is to ask that they hold your deposit, but refund you if they manage to get other work for that date. They are not obliged to agree to any of this or negotiate their contract with you, and whether or not they can meet you halfway may depend on how many other bookings they have lost at this time.

For additional tips on Mindful Wedding Planning During COVID & Social Distancing you can check the blog of the wonderful bespoke wedding and elopement planner Valentina from The Stars Inside.

In the meantime I hope all the lovely couples whose weddings have been affected don’t view their wedding day as ‘the best day ever’ but as ‘the best day yet to come’.

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