Out with the “owd”, in with the “nwd”: MARKING YOUR POSTPONED WEDDING DATE WITH RITUAL

Reblogged from Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant® Karla Combres


To all the lovely couples who have had to postpone their wedding due to COVID-19, I offer you my deepest condolences. The big day you’ve looked forward to for months or years is now not as close as originally planned. With so many uncertainties in this time of pandemic, it can be difficult to wrap our minds around the logistical nightmares involved in postponing a major event. But it can be equally difficult to console our hearts through this exceptional time.

I’m here to share some ritual ideas with you to mark your original wedding date with intention.

For the sake of clarity and simplicity, I’ll use these acronyms throughout:

“OWD” = Original Wedding Date

“NWD” = New Wedding Date

To help you remember, notice how ‘OWD’ sounds like ‘old’ and ‘NWD’ sounds like ‘new’ (and ‘nude’!). Think of your NWD as a fresh new beginning!

Why is it important to do something special on your Original Wedding Date (OWD)?

You both know that you will still be getting married at some point down the road, so you may try to tell yourselves that it’s not such a big deal. It’s just another date in the calendar, right? Wrong. As your OWD draws nearer, you may be feeling increasingly agitated or sad. Not only have you invested time and money into your OWD, you have also invested a great deal of emotional energy. This was to be a significant milestone in your journey – the day you would pledge a lifetime of love and commitment to your beloved, with your closest friends and family as witnesses. You bet this is a big deal. Although the date may have changed in the calendar, your OWD is still significant to your heart and soul.

The ideas in this blog post are meant to help you, as a couple, to:

  • Acknowledge and let go of feelings of grief and loss of control;

  • Feel supported and connected with each other and your community;

  • Look to the future to find joy in your wedding-to-be and the possibilities your NWD might bring.

Feel free to use any or all of these ideas (or adapted versions that feel right for you)!

Set aside time and space

Begin by dedicating space and time to focus on marking your OWD together. Come together in a place where you both feel calm, comfortable, and where you won’t be disturbed. This could be in the comfort of your living room, in the privacy of your backyard or another meaningful outdoor location. You may choose to dress up for the occasion.

Consider defining a clear beginning and ending to help ground you as you enter this heart space together (i.e., candle lighting/extinguishing, ringing of a bell, hug, a few deep breaths, moment of silence, special song, poem). Maybe you’d like to begin at the same hour your original ceremony was scheduled to begin.

It doesn’t matter so much how you choose to begin or end, as long as you do so mindfully and with intention.

Release negative feelings

By letting go of sadness, grief, denial or anxiety around these unwelcome changes to your wedding, you begin to create space for all the good things that are still to come.

Some ritual ideas for letting go include:

  • Together, make a list, letter or drawing about the disappointments, pain, fear and sadness you are feeling. Acknowledging the difficult emotions and losses takes away some of their power to cause you pain. Next, choose a way to symbolically release these things. Good ways to do this involve fire, earth or air.

  • You may choose to burn your paper (but be sure to do this safely!). As you do so, imagine those disappointments being transformed into something positive – the warmth of the light and love of your community of family and friends, and the joyful anticipation for your NWD.

  • Instead of burning your piece of paper, you may choose to rip it up and compost it. Or choose a special place to bury it along with a seed. Both options symbolize new beginnings and hope for your future together.

  • Release something into the wind. This could be the burnt ashes from your list, or some other symbolic object. As the wind takes the object(s), it carries away the burden of disappointment. Let yourself feel lighter as you let it go and watch it disperse in the air.

I realize that some of these things may seem outside of your comfort zone. Some people assume that including ‘ritual’ means it will necessarily be overly serious, religious or ‘out there’. If this sounds like you, then I would suggest that instead of thinking of the above ideas as ‘rituals’, consider them to be ‘thoughtful activities’. After all, ritual is simply action imbued with intention and meaning.

If it still doesn’t feel right to you, think of other ways you can symbolically release your worries and disappointments and begin to shift your energy toward your NWD. This could be as simple as setting aside time to sit together and name aloud all your wedding-related losses and worries. Be sure to follow this up with a discussion around your hopes and intentions for the period up to and including your NWD.

Invite support & connection

During times like these, it is more important than ever to feel supported and connected.


Do something to express gratitude and reaffirm your love for each other. After all, even if the situation is less than ideal, isn’t it wonderful that you are in it together? It may help to reframe this time as an opportunity to learn about each other and deepen the bond you already share, through good times and bad.

  • Exchange love letters and tell each other all the reasons why you wouldn’t want to be quarantined with anyone else (this is good practice for your vows!).

  • Cook a romantic meal together, or order in from the restaurant where you went on your first date.

  • Go with the flow of uncertainty and experiment! Maybe you can create a new favourite family recipe that will be passed down the generations, or a signature “Quarantini” cocktail to be served on your NWD!

  • Reminisce! Look at photos from your favourite travels. Go for a walk and visit places of significance for you as a couple (first date, proposal, etc.).


Invite your closest friends and family to participate in some way as you mark your original wedding date. Having them bear witness to this transition brings meaning to the occasion, validates its significance in your journey and deepens the connection between you and them.

  • In the days leading up to your OWD, ask your family and friends to send you one or two sentences about: (1) what they love about you as a couple and (2) what they look forward to for your wedding. On your OWD, take time to read the responses together and feel the love of your nearest and dearest.

  • If your loved ones live nearby, ask them to slowly drive by your home at a certain time and you can wave at them as they all go by.

  • Schedule a time to meet loved ones ‘face-to-face’ online and raise a toast to the important things that remain constant in this otherwise unpredictable time: your commitment to each other as a couple, the support of your family and friends, and your intention to be married when the COVID dust settles.

Set your sights on your NWD and beyond

Once you have released the energy that was previously attached to your OWD and looked to each other and your community for sustenance and love, you are prepared to open yourselves to the joy of planning your wedding-to-be and all the possibilities that your NWD brings!

  • Create and send out a quirky change-the-date video announcement to your family and friends.

  • Enlist your wedding photographer to meet you in the park and take some special photos (from a safe distance, of course!).

  • Prepare something that can be brought into your NWD, like a handfasting cord for your ceremony or DIY wedding favours (monogrammed masks, anyone?).

  • Write a poem or song together to be performed at your reception.

  • Propose – again! If you were the proposee the last time around, try reversing roles and this time be the proposer, asking your beloved to marry you on your NWD.

  • Make plans for your honeymoon. Researching special accommodations, restaurants and activities will help you shift to a more positive, forward-looking mindset.

  • If you don’t plan on keeping your vows secret from each other, then you might want to start drafting them together. This is a perfect time to put pen to paper and begin writing about why you choose your beloved, what you love about them, the promises you will make and your hopes for your future together.

  • Dance! Although there will no doubt be sadness, there is a lot to celebrate! A great way to end your ritual time together is with a dance. Make it slow and intimate, to the tune of your chosen first dance tune. Or let loose and burn off some steam with a living room dance party to the tracks from your reception playlist.

I hope some of these ideas will help you mark your OWD in a meaningful way, and transform some of your disappointment into happiness and hope for you NWD!

Karla_final+headshot_on+stairway_scaled+versionAUTHOR: KARLA COMBRES

Karla Combres is a Life-Cycle Celebrant and multilingual officiant who creates and performs meaningful ceremonies for weddings, funerals, births, and many other life milestones. She is based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

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