As someone who thrives on planning, order, and predictability, the past month has been one of the most challenging in my life and my relationship. The minute we found out that our venue was canceling all events before May 10th, in compliance with CDC guidelines, we drank some casual 2 PM whiskey and got to work doing what we do best—planning and finding solutions. We had lost control and we needed to get it back. Within less than two hours we had a new wedding date and an Excel spreadsheet with categorized action items. We didn’t pause to think about how we would feel about this Plan B, only that it made us feel better to have one. We communicated to our guests that we decided that we would still get married on our original date as intended and would host the wedding we had been planning in 2021 on our one-year anniversary. We received responses of “Wow, you planned that so fast!” and “I don’t know how you have such a positive attitude about this”. It felt good, mainly because we didn’t allow time for it to feel any other way.
We were overly hopeful, and admittedly naive, that our immediate family and wedding party would still be able to take part in a smaller ceremony. We even got excited. “Let’s have it at the park near our home where we walk our dog and took our engagement photos—how romantic! Remember that beautiful party room overlooking the lake at our first apartment? Let’s reach out to them—how romantic!” As the virus spread and the restrictions increased, that hope dwindled. The romantic notions faded and we began facing the reality that we now needed a Plan B for our Plan B.
There were a Lot of Tears
There were so. many. tears. A lot of “if this, then that” scenario conversations. A lot of “it’s not looking good” texts and phone calls from family and friends we hoped would still be able to make it to the ceremony. Mostly, it was a lot of grief. Grief for the wedding that we had been planning for almost a year. Grief for the expectations we’d carried our whole lives about what the day we got married would look like. Grief for the once-in-a-lifetime event that would be forever marked by a global pandemic. For me, that grief then led to guilt for being so upset over a wedding, when we are the lucky ones who have jobs that can be done remotely, healthcare, and a home where we could safely shelter in place. I was devastated and conflicted, leaving me overwhelmed and emotionally drained.
But then that grief and guilt created space for another emotion—gratitude. Gratitude for the people who said they’d drive if they couldn’t fly. Gratitude for the ones who offered to cook for a wedding celebration if restaurants weren’t open. Gratitude for the amount of “I love yous” and “I’m here for yous” that we not only received from our friends and family—but from each other.
This experience and all of its uncertainty has caused a continued setting and resetting of expectations of what a ceremony and wedding look like and need to be.
I wish that I was having the wedding that we planned on the date we planned, but I can’t have that. I’d give anything to go back to the days when my biggest wedding concern was our guest count being above our venue’s capacity. Now, my biggest concern is whether or not my family and friends have the technological capability to watch my ceremony as a webcast. This is not the ceremony I imagined—but what else can I do? The state and country are on lockdown and there’s nothing I can do to change that. While there may be extenuating circumstances that call for groups to gather, my marriage ceremony is not one of them. Once I accepted that, I was surprised that I started to feel less devastated. I felt lighter, more at peace.
A Change of Expectations
It’s weird to think that I’m getting married in 2020 but my wedding is in 2021. I don’t know what the script is for a one-year anniversary wedding that was moved because of the Coronavirus, but I’m positive one will be online soon enough. This year, we say “I Do”. Next year, we say “Well, if we can survive our first year of marriage in the midst of a global pandemic, then we definitely STILL do.” I’ll still get to wear my wedding dress and my partner the dark green tailored suit that brings out his eyes. We’ll still have all of the little, personal touches we planned. I’ll still get my late night taco bar—which is very important to me. Most importantly, we aren’t losing the opportunity to celebrate our marriage and share our love with family and friends. We just have to wait a little longer to do it.
In writing this, I realize that I’ve actually moved through the seven stages of grief. First it was shock at how quickly the Coronavirus was spreading. Then it was denial that it would in any way impact our wedding, especially after it caused us to cancel our bachelorette and bachelor parties. There was no way it would get worse! It moved to guilt when we found ourselves so upset at how this was impacting our parties and wedding when we were constantly bombarded with reports about the increase in unemployment, illnesses, and deaths. Bargaining came when we said “OK, it postponed the wedding, but we can still have a ceremony”. If only we followed all of the rules and took the right precautions, it’d be fine. Depression came next—and it came hard. There were so many tears and questions of “well, what’s the point of even having the ceremony if…”. It felt like we were trying to push a square peg through a round hole. Testing started slowly. We approached (most) questions with caution and care, finding and setting those new expectations. We also had fights, expecting the other to feel the same way we did about these new expectations. Now comes acceptance.
Here’s to the future
What more meaningful way forward can there be than this? At a time when everything is changing and anxiety and depression are running rampant, we get to hit pause and spend a day focused on how much we love each other and the commitment we are making to building a future together. While nothing seems constant anymore, the love we have for each other and our desire to marry hasn’t changed. We still get to do that, regardless of what is happening in the outside world. And in one year, we get to throw the most kick-ass one year anniversary celebration with our family and friends.
For a while, it felt like Coronavirus took my dream away. But now, I realize that my dream is still coming true. I get to marry my partner and have a beautiful wedding. Above all, Coronavirus didn’t take away my ability to get married—and that is truly what it is all about. I’ve thought a lot about the fact that I am getting married and having my wedding on separate days, and I have not only accepted that, I’m really excited for it.