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Here come the cancellations: Couples postpone weddings again as the COVID-19 delta variant surges

Published Thursday, Aug. 19th, 2021

Wedding officiants in several cities have noticed a new wave of wedding postponements and cancellations as COVID-19 delta variant cases rise across the country. Couples with fall and winter weddings on the books are hitting pause, worried about the steep climb in new cases and breakthrough infections over the last several weeks. 


There’s no reason to panic, of course. If the past year and a half has taught us anything, it’s that wedding professionals are some of the most creative, quick-thinking, problem-solving folks around. 


So far, far fewer couples are postponing or cancelling this year than they did last year. Large in-person weddings are still taking place in every state. And with vaccines readily available (and booster shots on the way) it seems unlikely that local governments will implement the same level of lockdowns and closures that we saw last year. 


Still, it’s a shift that’s worth talking about, and preparing for, especially if it continues. 




What we're hearing


Wedding officiants we’ve spoken with tell us that some of their couples are worried that venues may be asked to close again if cases reach a certain threshold. Many are rescheduling their events for 2022 or 2023, when conditions might be less uncertain.


Other couples say they don’t want to put their loved ones in a risky situation by traveling or gathering in large numbers, even if many of them are vaccinated. Some couples just don’t want to navigate the uncomfortable “Are you vaccinated?” conversation with friends and family at all, and postponing lets them avoid it... for now.


And many couples are ditching their elaborate wedding plans and moving the wedding date up, instead. These couples are canceling fall and winter dates in favor of late summer elopements and last-minute micro weddings -- scaled-down celebrations they can enjoy right now with friends and family while things feel somewhat normal.




What's next


This race to elope reminds us a lot of this time last year, when many couples chose simplified approaches to ceremony planning that would let them have a safe wedding in the midst of rising cases of the coronavirus alpha variant.


For wedding officiants, a return to smaller and offbeat ceremonies presents an opportunity to help couples create meaningful, safe experiences. 


And with everything the wedding industry learned last year -- about virtual ceremonies, hybrid weddings, micro weddings, outdoor ceremonies, and other creative solutions -- officiants are in a good position to make fun and memorable weddings happen regardless of the circumstances! 


Most of the ministers we spoke with said that they are somewhat familiar with the recently updated CDC guidelines and their local venue rules. This is important: As the person managing the ceremony, officiants have a responsibility to be familiar with these guidelines, and we recommend that you talk with couples to work out a wedding ceremony that complies with the guidelines to help keep everyone safe. 


It may be beneficial to talk to your couples about vaccination status. Although this might feel like a complicated topic, it doesn’t have to be. Ask candid questions, and decide what strategies for meeting, rehearsing, and delivering the ceremony work best for everyone involved. 




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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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