Early last year, I got engaged! I had dreamt of that moment for over two years, and it was everything I had ever hoped for. The night was spent with celebration, drinks, and a video chat to tell my mom!
One small hitch, we got engaged on March 3, 2020. You can see where I’m going with this.
Two weeks after the best day of our lives, the world shut down. I woke up that morning and found out I was out of a job, and that all non-essential personnel were to shelter in place.
Luckily by this point we had already spent time with our parents and grandparents, informing them of our engagement and celebrating with them. I was even able to sneak in a lunch date with my mom just a few days before the shut down. But now what?
In my case, I had to figure out next steps regarding my job and unemployment. Once that was sorted, my days rolled out in front of me, void of any responsibilities. So, I planned my wedding.
Now, planning a wedding is a huge undertaking, pandemic or not. There is so much to consider: money, vendors, colors, decor, guests. But the stress increases tenfold when you also have a worldwide pandemic weighing on your mind. People are dying every day, the world is collapsing around you, but you’re also so excited for your personal endeavor. What do you do?
This has been hard for me to wrestle with. It is hard to balance your own elation with the tragedy that has struck the world. You feel guilty for feeling excited, you feel guilty for not feeling excited. It can be exhausting. To make matters worse, the pandemic has completely upended the wedding industry.
When you think about planning your wedding, you think about dress shopping, cake tastings, and meeting with DJs and other industry professionals. How do you do all of this when you can’t be around other people? Luckily, we live in a day and age where we can connect with others via the internet. If it weren’t for this, my wedding may have been put off by several years!
But, it is hard not to lament the stark differences from what you had imagined. The reality is that you have to adapt your plans to fit the changing world. For example, shopping for a wedding dress.
Wedding dress shopping is arguably one of the most fun things I have ever done. And, if I’m being honest, what I was most excited for in my planning process. I decided to schedule my appointment a year in advance of my wedding date, because the pandemic was slowing down production and shipping. But, like most else with wedding planning, it was not how I had always pictured it.
For starters, I never imagined I would be wearing a face mask while trying on wedding dresses. When you think about shopping for your wedding gown, you definitely don't think about face masks. Or at least, you didn't think about that before COVID.
You never thought about social distancing. Or if you would be allowed to bring along everyone you wanted to. Or how many dresses you would be allowed to try on. You never thought that the safety of yourself or the people around you would ever be a concern. After all, playing dress up isn't exactly a dangerous activity.
There is also the overwhelming feeling that this is not how this should be. This is not what you always imagined. But, when you catch yourself thinking these things, you remind yourself it is a small price to pay for public safety.
The shop I chose would only allow me to bring three guests. Those spots went to my mother, my mother in law, and my sister. I had imagined I would bring more people along, but with COVID guidelines in place, that was not an option.
But, instead of being disappointed your other bridesmaids couldn’t go with you, you remind yourself that you’re lucky to be bringing anyone with you at all.
Things only feel stranger from here. Cake tasting at a bakery turns into getting a dozen donuts to-go, and having your own tasting at home. Instead of meeting with DJs you email one you found online and set up a Zoom meeting. (Can we all admit we’re sick of hearing the word “zoom” yet?) Wedding favors get changed from mini jars of honey to mini bottles of hand sanitizer.
But, while these things are not what you pictured, they are not necessarily bad.
The cake tasting I had with my to-be husband was a wonderful experience. It ended up being much more intimate and fun than if we had sat in a bakery surrounded by people. We were able to be ourselves and share that moment sans strangers. The Zoom meeting with our DJ felt so much more relaxed than a formal meeting, and we got to do it from the comfort of our own home.
Beyond that, most of our wedding purchases have had to be done online. While this may have been the case even if COVID wasn’t wreaking havoc, I discovered something major that I honestly don’t know would have been the same if the world had been the same.
The pandemic has highlighted the need to support small and local businesses. Now, I can’t lie, I love Amazon shopping. However, the emphasis that was placed on patronizing small businesses really opened my eyes to where I should be spending my money. I switched my online shopping from Amazon to Etsy stores. I even found a lovely local lavender farm to buy my flowers from.
While these things have been different, they haven’t been so bad. However, there is still of course the knowledge that my wedding may not happen. COVID is still very real, even with the progress we’ve made. But, state guidelines are improving, and I am allowing myself to be optimistic.
However, currently, my guests cannot dance. They cannot mingle without masks. Our buffet dinner may not be safe after all. The fate of my honeymoon depends on other states allowing visitors without a quarantine period. Every bride this year has heard the horror stories of wedding super-spreaders.
Instead of laying awake at night wondering if you'll have enough food, or if people will have fun, you lay awake at night wondering if the guidelines will change. If people will feel comfortable attending. If the vaccines will work.
So again, what do you do? You remind yourself that while there are people everywhere getting sick, losing their jobs, losing their homes, you are still, in fact, allowed to be upset at your personal losses, as frivolous as they may be.
More importantly, you hope. You allow yourself to be happy. You wrap yourself up in the joy and excitement your loved ones feel for you. You create a backup plan. And, if it all goes to hell and you must postpone, you postpone.
But most of all, you remember that you are marrying the love of your life, and that is the most important thing. As for the rest, I am accepting the things I cannot change.