Everyone told me there will naturally be stressors you encounter when planning a wedding, but I don't think there was any book or piece of advice out there that would have prepared me for planning around a pandemic the year I wanted to get married.
Five years ago, almost to the date, my future husband and I met at a backyard birthday party. A little over a month later he asked me to be his girlfriend and three weeks after that I agreed to the label. Skip one year ahead and we moved in together. Two more years went by before he got down on one knee to ask me to be his forever.
I remember all of the excitement and questions friends and family had for us shortly after the proposal. "What season do you picture having your wedding in?" "How big will your wedding party be?" "How many guests do you think you will invite?" "Have you started looking into venues, caterers, photographers..." I felt somewhat at ease fencing off a lot of the questions and just going with the first thing that popped in my mind without really committing to any of the responses I shared. It was new and exciting and it was okay to not have all of the answers. I was happy to hear suggestions for everyone around me knowing they would be thrilled to share experiences from their own weddings.
My partner and I had talked quite a bit about what our lives would look like once we were married and the fact a legal marriage ceremony was something we both wanted. It became quite apparent, though, that we never really discussed the logistics of the wedding itself. We were not worried in the slightest; this was just another set of decisions we would figure out together.
With some other big events already lined up for the following year, we had both agreed to aim for a two year engagement. We also agreed relatively quickly that a late summer wedding would be ideal since we both wanted the celebration to be primarily outdoors. Once we had those two decisions made we could focus working through the remaining questions that lay ahead of us. Within six months of being engaged, and a year and a half away from the big day, we had majority of the plans set based on what we thought would be our dream wedding.
Right before the pandemic hit Canada we were dealing with all of the tasks people say you need to focus on six months prior to your wedding date. All of our venders were booked, all of the respective deposits were out of our bank account, and we were designing invitations and checking our guest list for the hundredth time. Then the shutting down began.
I felt absolutely terrible for 2020 brides that had their big day closer to the beginning of the whole thing. I'm sure being told "no" just days, even weeks before you wedding would be so difficult to process and navigate through with zero warning.
I was extremely thankful we were not in that boat.
The biggest thing people didn't realize about planning a wedding later in the year was that everything was on hold and no decisions could be made. We were literally at a stand still for what felt like years. And then the questions started coming back. "Have you considered postponing to next year?" "How are your venders handling the pandemic? "Can you getting your deposits back?" "Who will be invited?" "Will you throw two events now instead of just one?"
I'm sure every bride will agree with me when I say it is so nice to hear people genuinely interested in your wedding and asking sincere questions. But is it so challenging when you keep asking yourself those exact same questions day after day and cannot come up with a sound response you feel confident in. Especially when things kept changing like the flick of a light - how could you come up with a solid game plan? Knowing that it was all out of my control, we had to learn to adapt and quickly become flexible with our plans.
Having a wedding in late August means I'll be stressing about my wedding during a pandemic for over five months. Five months without knowing if I can get married, and if there will be enough time to get everything done once things do begin to reopen. Can I get my dress altered in time? How do you go about picking out wedding bands virtually? Is the city open yet for us to get our marriage license? Will the officiant be comfortable with a social distanced ceremony, or do I need to start from scratch and find someone new? Will guests be comfortable coming to a wedding during a pandemic? Do we still bother with a first dance if no one's watching? Is it worth still spending money on x, y, and z? This is just a sample of the questions that kept popping into my head on a daily basis ...
The silver lining hit both my fiancé and I when we realized the pandemic had forced us to really figure out what was the most important pieces for us when it came to our wedding. Going back through our plans and pulling out unnecessary bells and whistles was quite therapeutic. The social restrictions and precautions the government put in place helped us gain prospective. We had set our date early on in our engagement, and we have been together for 5 years where 4 of those were living together. A marriage is not going to change our lives really, so why did we need this big party to celebrate? At the end of the day we needed each other, close family and friends, and ideally a few bottles of champagne ... oh, and a marriage license to make it official.
Without much hesitation or discussion we chose not to postpone because the date we picked already held so much sentimental value to us (and that is priceless). In order to minimize the impact of external factors getting in our way, we have prepared for an intimate backyard wedding at my parents house where I grew up. Nothing fancy. I am a little surprised at how emotional I am when thinking about getting ready for my wedding in my childhood bedroom. Having my parents see me in my white dress in the kitchen I did my homework in back in elementary school. Being surrounded by my mother's garden when we exchange our personal vows. It sounds like a fairy tale.
Of course that decision will vary between couples and it will never be a one size fits all sort of situation. My best friend and maid of honour is in the midst of postponing her date for the second time. It's difficult for everyone, but I think as soon as you have a chance to speak with your other half of what you want to look back on in 30 years time everything else falls into place. It's your life and your memories, so make them beautiful!
What we originally thought would be our dream wedding has turned out to be a dream that has come and gone. Now we are very excited heading towards what will be our true dream wedding. We are just crossing our fingers nothing else happens in the world between now and then.