This week was busy. Very busy. But I was plugging away at everything, feeling like I was crossing things off my to-do list, when I received the following email from our wedding venue (the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, in case you were wondering), on Tuesday afternoon. At 5.25pm. You know, five minutes before they closed the office for the day:
I hope you are well.
Regrettably I have to inform you that we are no longer able to accommodate your wedding day with us at Duxford, this is due to the Wing Coe Joes café now being closed for refurbishment during this period and will no longer be available for public use or for private hire.
I appreciate that this news will come as a disappointment to you but we very much hope that you are successful in finding an alternative suitable venue for your special day.
If I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Again our deepest apologies.
You’ll note the coldly disinterested tone of the email’s author (someone whom we had never spoken to before, let alone met), as they drop the bombshell that, despite having our signed contract and deposit for the past six months, and despite our meeting last week when our event manager told us Wing Co Joe’s would very much still be functioning, Duxford will no longer be hosting our wedding, but (as though the situation has nothing to do with them) they do hope we’re successful in finding another venue.
After staring, dumbstruck, at my screen for a moment or two, followed by a frantic phone call to The Boy (whom they hadn’t seen fit to include in the email), I called my mum, because she can generally fix everything. Except this, as it turns out.
This week, I have gone through a whole range of emotions, from teeth-grinding, boiling anger on Tuesday night (the sort that keeps you awake as you consider exactly how scathing you’ll be on Tripadvisor), to borderline hysterical stress on Wednesday (when I shouted at one of my lovely friends and colleagues not to hug me, as I feared I would break down in sobs at any moment), to Eeyore levels of sadness on Thursday, and Friday’s weary acceptance.
So, with this experience very, very fresh in my mind, I thought I would put together my special list of eight things to do when your wedding venue cancels your wedding:
1. Swear. A lot (if that’s your thing). Tuesday night marked the first time I’ve said the ‘C’ word in front of my mum. She recovered well; after an admirably short pause, she replied, “Well, don’t say that again, but in this case I think it’s deserved.”
2. Speak to your fiance about your options. Now you’re without a venue, your options are pretty much open again. Are you sure you still want that marquee/museum/manor reception? Are you sure the time of year is still right for you? Whether you decide to postpone, elope, or find a new venue for your original date, talking it through together will calm you down and help marshall your thoughts.
3. Check your contract, check your wedding insurance, speak to your original venue, and find out what they can do to help. We were actually pretty lucky, as we booked far in advance, are getting married off-season, and still have six months to try and find somewhere new (and our contract states we’ll receive our deposit back). Duxford also offered to send us a list of alternative venues, which was very helpful. Unfortunately it turned out to be not so much a list, more one suggestion, that we’d already looked at back in January.
4. If and when you decide what you’re going to do next, speak to your other suppliers. Not only will you need to inform them if your dates change, but they work in the industry and could have some great alternative venues to suggest. Our photographers, Lina & Tom, were an absolute Godsend. After sending them a panicked email, Lina called me back within 20 minutes with a host of alternative places for us to consider (and we loved them all).
5. As well as your suppliers, talk to your friends and family. Whether they offer words of advice, venue suggestions or just a sympathetic ear, knowing they’re there will help during what is, I’m fairly certain, one of the most stressful times you can experience during wedding planning (short of the groom running off to Rio).
6. Hit the phones. There are so many venues that I wish we’d spoken to back in January – ones I’d written off because I assumed they wouldn’t offer afternoon tea, purely because it wasn’t on their website. Without exception, everyone I spoke to was helpful, accommodating and sympathetic when I explained our tale of woe.
7. Do something that makes you smile. For me, it was diving head-first into a bucket of ice-cream, while listening to Radio 4 comedy, “It’s not what you know”. There’s something about Miles Jupp saying “I have to say, they are a great bunch of lads” that makes me chuckle, even when I’m feeling sad.
8. Most importantly, take a step back, and consider these wise words, courtesy of my cousin (two years younger than me, but immeasurably more grown up): “This is a horrible situation, but on the bright side, you still have each other. And that’s what’s important at the end of the day!”
After a last-minute viewing yesterday, we think we may have found an alternative venue, which we both love. It’s a bit further away, a bit more traditional, but it’s stunning and the wedding coordinator we spoke to didn’t look at me like I had two heads when I brought out my list of event questions.
I think I’m going to like it there.