CAREFULLY CRAFTING CANCELLATION AND UNINVITATION COMMUNICATION

Since COVID-19 turned the event and wedding industry upside down many plans have changed. Regardless of each hosts' personal reason for the change in plans, some of the most prevalent questions vendors receive (which can also be found across social media groups) are:

  • If I am not sure if I will postpone or cancel, how can I let my guests know?
  • If I am cancelling, how do I send out an "unsave the date"?
  • If I am reducing my guest count, how do I uninvite someone?

The three questions above deal with communication most brides, grooms and hosts hope they don't ever have to send. The first question deals with uncertainty, however, the other two deal with a difficult decision which requires some or all guests to have their invitations revoked. Whether the decision is final or not, it is good to extend the courtesty to your guests of letting them know what is going on (or may be going on) as soon as it becomes a possibility, as they may have made travel arrangements, booked overnight accommodations or taken time off work. Even though reaching out is the right thing to do, it may feel very wrong to you as you may be afraid of hurt feelings and unsolicited opinions. We've outlined some tips and samples below to help you carefully compose communications regarding a change in plans.

Alerting Your Guests to an Alternate

So...you've sent out a save the date but it looks like that date may no longer be an option.

Our Recommendations:
If you're still not sure if the date will change or not - communicate out the alternate date so guests can be prepared and make any necessary acccommodations to be a part of your event. Once you are sure of the date, send out your formal invitation.
Other Thoughts:
  • Primary concerns may be those who have to make special arrangements (travel, scheduling, childcare etc.). It may be worth personally reaching out and having a conversation with these individuals.
  • A wedding website or social media group allows you to rapidly send out mass communications. If you do not have one already, one of these options may be worth looking into for you.
Example Wording:
If you are unsure if the date will change but have an alternate - you can send out a card that says something along the lines of "In light of recent events, an alternate date has been selected for our celebration, should the original not work out. Please save this second date. As new plans are made, we will be in touch."
If the new date is a done deal, you can send out a card that says something as simple as "Change The Date", "Postponed" or "We regret to inform you our wedding has been moved to (date). We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and hope you can join us on our new date."

Cancelling The Celebration

Whether you've decided to elope or just don't want to make a new set of plans for your celebration, this is perhaps the hardest of the messages to compose.

Our Recommendations:
You can provide a reason (or not). With everything going around in the media - guests should understand. At the end of the day, cancelling, (just like postpoining or rescheduling) is a personal decision, and while it may seem like a nice gesture to extend an explanation to your guests - the reason for your actions is yours. You'll want to be careful not to craft your message in such a way that opens you up to speculation or unsolicited opinions.
Other Thoughts:
We typically recommend rescheduling over postponing. Some couples have also elected to "split their celebration" holding a ceremony and small gathering on the wedding date and rescheduling the larger gathering in the future.
Example Wording:
"We regret to inform you our wedding will no longer be taking place on (date). Thank you for your understanding in this difficult time."

Cutting The Count

Whether you need to open up more space to support social distancing, cut costs, or simply do not think it is a good idea to hold a large gathering, this is another message that can be difficult to craft.

Our Recommendations:
You can provide a reason (or not). With everything going around in the media - guests should understand. Any message you send you'll want to craft in a way such that it doesn't hurt guests' feelings or open you up to objections. The message you'll want to convey is this decision was made with everyone's best interest in mind. In other words, tell them you're cutting the list without letting them know they did not "make the cut".
Other Thoughts:
  • If you're unsure, you can always reach out to guests ahead of time to see who is comfortable and able to attend.
  • You can consider livestreaming or holding a virtual wedding.
Example Wording:
"Due to unforeseen circumstances and uncertainty caused by current events, we have made the difficult decision to postpone (our cancel) our wedding as planned, and will be proceeding with a small ceremony and dinner instead. We are saddened we can not be physically together to celebrate, however, we hope you can understand this decision was made with the safety of our friends and family in mind. You and your support mean a lot to us, and we hope you can join us virtually at (insert live stream link here).
"After careful consideration, we have decided it was in our guests' best interest to forego our reception as planned, and will have an intimate ceremony with immediate family only."
"We realize the difficulty, expense and risk travel and gatherings can pose for some of our guests and want to ensure everyone remains happy and healthy for many celebrations to come. It is with a heavy heart, we are cancelling our reception and will be hosting a small local ceremony only."
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Ryan von Ahn

Owner, By Request LLC

Local business owner as well as wedding and event industry veteran with just shy of twenty years of experience, Ryan has performed everything from small get-togethers to corporate events boasting thousands in attendance and has even been hired for other Djs' weddings.