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ElucidBride215
Savvy May 2021

Etiquette in the time of coronavirus?

ElucidBride215, on April 15, 2020 at 10:12 AM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 2 32
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Ok - here's another thought. If we say screw it, and get married in a small civil ceremony on our original date or the weekday before, I am under the impression that if we postpone the big wedding reception to say hypothetically 9 months down the road, it becomes a "celebration of marriage" instead of a wedding ceremony. A celebration of marriage ceremony is NOT a wedding reception however.

I wanted all the traditional things - walking down the aisle with a veil, first look, bridesmaids, recitation of our own vows (which wouldn't be done in the small ceremony, just traditional), toasts, first dance, etc.

I'm afraid if we do the small ceremony, all of those traditional things go out the window, as i am no longer a "bride."

I have read that this is what etiquette dictates, and my mother seems to agree. But do you think it's possible that my family should cut me some slack given the fact that while I choose to get married anyway, the way in which I celebrated it was postponed due to something far beyond my control?

I've also read that I should throw etiquette to the wind and do what I want.

I mean - this is a pandemic - an international crisis - if we have to postpone the big ceremony again I'm afraid I won't be able to handle that, but at least we would be married. Am I wrong?

I feel like I'd be punished for getting married when we feel it is right, and then at the same time, miss out on all the traditional bridal things.

Even if we postponed the big reception, it wouldn't be the same to me at all, esp. in the beautiful wedding gown I was supposed to wear, which to me, screams tradition. (I am wearing a simple lace sheath for the small civil ceremony, as I live on contingencies; if we go forward with the actual big day, I plan to change into the sheath gown for the last few hours of the reception to get some use out of it).

I'm at such a loss, I have no idea what to do here. Does anyone have any thoughts?

32 Comments

  • Hannah
    Rockstar July 2019
    Hannah Online ·
    • Flag
    I wouldn't think twice if a couple opted to get legally married prior to their big wedding because their original plans got derailed due to this pandemic. People understand that sometimes legal marriages need to happen (due to health insurance access or military deployment, etc), or the date they chose may have a specific significance.
    The only thing I would say is that it's never a good idea to keep the marriage a secret prior to the big event. That never seems to go well based on horror stories on this forum.
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  • Kelsey
    VIP September 2020
    Kelsey ·
    • Flag

    I agree with PP. I also think right now a lot of etiquette is kind of thrown out the window. You shouldn't hide from your guests that you are legally married, but I think that a lot of people who would attend a reception/ celebration of marriage after the legal marriage takes place are going to be a lot more receptive to it compared to before.

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  • Samantha
    Rockstar October 2020
    Samantha ·
    • Flag

    Two things. 1) Plenty of people have all of those things at celebrations of marriage or vow renewals. You can still have a bridal experience. The only thing you would ordinarily skip if you're already married would be the bridal shower or bachelorette party because they generally happen before the wedding and 2) etiquette isn't law. It's nice to follow etiquette but as long as you're treating your guests well, does any of it really matter that much? The root of etiquette is being a good host and as long as you're doing that, call it what you want and celebrate in a way that will bring you the most joy.

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  • Caytlyn
    Legend November 2019
    Caytlyn ·
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    Agree with this 100%. Also, all of the traditions that you mentioned are completely fine for a vow renewal. The only things that are typically frowned upon when having a vow renewal are pre-wedding events like showers and bach parties.
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  • Samantha
    Rockstar October 2020
    Samantha ·
    • Flag

    I also absolutely agree with PP's. Keeping your wedding a secret is not treating your guests well. Nobody likes being deceived.

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  • ElucidBride215
    Savvy May 2021
    ElucidBride215 ·
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    I wouldn't keep it a secret. I love my fiance more than anything in the world and would proudly wear my wedding band. I have a friend who went the non-traditional route and included pictures of the two of them from their small ceremony at the big reception to make guests feel more included, which I thought was wonderful.

    I guess I was just feeling self conscious about it. I think in the long run, life is too short, people would understand.

    I wasn't planning on doing a bridal shower anyway - we are both older and lived on our own for quite a while (and accumulated a lot of stuff in between).

    I postponed my bachelorette party to the furthest possible time before the wedding, and a lot of people said they would come/ feel safe at that point, etc.

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  • Emma
    Devoted August 2020
    Emma ·
    • Flag

    I would 100% say do what you want to do! Especially because its a pandemic, but also generally, its your wedding so make your own rules. We had to postpone our wedding due to the pandemic, but we are still getting married on our original date. We decided we want to move forward with a tiny "ceremony" (literally us, the officiant, and 2 witnesses for the legal stuff) for a number of reasons, the biggest one being that my fiancé doesn't have health insurance right now, but also because we didn't want to wait and we wanted to keep our original special day special. We are still doing a full ceremony and reception in August. I am still walking down the aisle, that will still be the first time my fiancé sees me in my dress, and I am still going to have my completely bridal moment. It will be different since we will already be married, but it will still be special because all of our friends and family will be there to see our commitment to each other and celebrate with us.

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  • ElucidBride215
    Savvy May 2021
    ElucidBride215 ·
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    Emma - that's beautiful, i love it.

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  • Sherry
    Rockstar September 2019
    Sherry ·
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    I don't think etiquette or otherwise that any of the traditional wedding things go out the window because you decided to get "married" before your celebration. You are still allowed to have your full ceremony, white dress, veil, flowers, bridal party etc as well as your full reception. The only things that are "frowned" upon, etiquette wise are the pre-wedding parties like the showers, bach parties etc. I definitely would not feel like you cannot get married now and be excited, share the news with your family yet still have your big wedding celebration later.

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  • Katharine
    Devoted July 2021
    Katharine ·
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    You do what makes you happy with a postponed ceremony. I think people would understand whatever you choose to do considering the circumstances.

    If we end up having to postpone, we're doing a small ceremony on our original date and I'll be wearing a more casual little white dress I got for my bachelorette party. On our postponed date, we absolutely plan to go through a whole formal wedding ceremony, along with the party. I want those pictures with family and friends, in my gorgeous dress/veil, FH in his suit, etc.


    One other thing to consider, we are planning to do some sort of video feed of our smaller ceremony for anyone who wants to be part of that remotely. We were already planning this for our wedding anyway because my grandparents and father are unable to travel for health reasons. This would be a way to include your guests in your smaller ceremony. I also like the idea someone else posted of including pictures from your private ceremony at the postponed date.

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  • J
    Master 0000
    Judith ·
    • Flag
    Previously, whether in times of war, or polio epidemics, anything where huge number of people lost the opportunity to do or celebrate the important things in life, people followed the spirit of etiquette, to do things in such a way that people are treated with consideration, the friction between people minimized, and no person puts themself above others, or indulges their ego at the expense of others. But did not hold each other to customary or usual things if they had been trounced on by forces beyond their control.
    I believe that after this mess, some celebrations of recent marriages will be happily accepted and participated in by those who just want to get back to normal. But I do think their will be a resistance to someone hings. To bachelorettes where people fly off or travel far someone, for short vacations. Too many people's friends and family will be unable to justify the time and money. And the recent trend of expecting guests to subsidize many costs of a destination wedding by a group securing facilities and food for the couple by the couple bringing business ( guests) to the resort will be seen as unacceptable to many. And the very recent trends of people traveling huge distances, or spending lots of money beyond the gift, for showers or bachelorettes will likely reset to mostly local people, and budget friendly showers and baches that we're predominant for many decades before reality TV and media/ internet started pushing everything to celebrity style and costs for everyday people. Wedding spending has doubled, in a time period when wages have gone up 5-20 % for many, and not at all for others. I think the bubble will burst on these things, and budget friendly celebrations will come back. But things like enjoying the dress and clothes you already bought, and having a ceremony in font if friends, it with religious content, with dancing and cake cutting and all, will be seen as getting back what you were cheated out of. Your attendants may not be able to afford to buy single use dresses or suits to all look identical, but may all happily wear very dressy, clearly suitable off the rack things they will wear again for fancy dress. And I expect more will say no to extra not ghts at hotels, or. Pro makeup if they can do their own but might ha e pampered themselves. But if you are respectful of others' changed finances, I think people will be ready and willing to make a wedding you will remember. I would say plan it. You have to accept that distant people, even if siblings or parents, may not be able to come. But those who do will love a real wedding, with the traditional trimmings and customs .
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  • ElucidBride215
    Savvy May 2021
    ElucidBride215 ·
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    In my honest opinion, last thing any bride in 2020, especially those on this site, needs is a lecture on the economy. We have been through hell as it is.

    As an older "millennial," I know damn well it felt like trying so desperately trying to get a decent job back in 2009, faced with the bitter reality that my master's degree was essentially worthless and whats worse, put me into substantial student debt. And now, when i'm FINALLY trying to get on my feet, this happens. I also now know that in light of the depression that will happen, many people will give us much less in gifts, as they won't be able to either afford it or afford to attend at all. That is a risk anyone has to take. One of my bridesmaids is most likely losing her job, and I'll be lucky if she can afford the flight to be there for the day. Did I mention that person is my sister? So yeah, it hurts.

    The recession took at least 2-3 years to recover; this will take much, much longer than that.

    I've never going to have this time again. I refuse to feel shamed for having a decent wedding, when literally EVERYONE else whose wedding I attended I was there for, despite being unemployed, despite having nothing in my bank account. But I still sucked it up, and did it, because I wanted to be a good friend. Because I knew that regardless of the state of the world, I'd never have that moment again with them. And because I knew if things got really, really bad - I would have those memories.

    I am not some decadent person by any means - I'm not having ice sculptures, walls of food I know people won't eat, designer dresses, favors that people will just throw away (no offense to any brides that have those things), or some insane venue that charges a $50K minimum.

    I've never been on fancy vacations, enjoyed ridiculous luxuries, had designer clothes, or hosted fancy parties. I've had a lot of setbacks. And I get upset because I feel like the hits just keep on coming.

    I just get aggravated that all the frugal people use this as a chance to shame people for having a decent wedding day, something they have been planning their entire lives and the chance to have ONE NICE DAY, finally, about that individual. To me, this day represented a culmination of all my hard work and a chance to finally celebrate, BEING happy, which I admit has taken a long time.

    From the beginning of planning I was very cognizant of the financial burden it would put on my family and our friends. We all decided it was doable, and it was what people were comfortable with. Mind you - 90% of our bridal party is blessed with good paying jobs.

    But - my life has to go on. I can't live my life in fear of how bad things will eventually get.

    My fiance and I are lucky to still be drawing paychecks at this time. I have been told by several outside sources to keep planning, do what I can, hope for the best - so, unless i am physically unable to do so anymore, that is what I am going to do. As much as I want to give up most days, there is still a rainbow in the storm.

    The question I posed on this forum was about etiquette - some etiquette rules will still apply, of course. I can't expect or force guests to attend if they cannot afford to. In the same way I cannot expect some people to perceive a wedding day as so much more than just a giant financial loss and a "waste" of money.


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  • Cassandra7
    Super August 2006
    Cassandra7 ·
    • Flag

    There's a pandemic. We're losing things: the baseball season, the ballet season, for many people their jobs, for all too many their lives.

    Your loss is that you either postpone your "big" wedding or have a small wedding and possibly a reception later. (Lots of people would say that you shouldn't even be having the small wedding now. Aren't you sheltering in place?) Yes, you can have a re-enactment of the wedding you wanted later--no law against it. And, also yes, it's a re-enactment and pretty silly.

    There's a pandemic. It costs all of us. Some a lot more than others. It's a shame, but it's a fact.

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  • S
    Dedicated July 2020
    Shannon ·
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    Amen to that!
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  • Alejandra
    Super November 2020
    Alejandra ·
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    How is it silly? She wants the wedding she’s always wanted and was unable to have because of the pandemic.
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  • Cassandra7
    Super August 2006
    Cassandra7 ·
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    I'm sorry. I overspoke. I would feel silly re-enacting a previously-held wedding; that doesn't mean that everyone would. Certainly mine isn't the dominant reaction on this board.

    Much must be given up or canceled or lost these days, and the grief and anger is very hard.

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  • ElucidBride215
    Savvy May 2021
    ElucidBride215 ·
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    It's ok. I'm incredibly torn because this whole thing is making me question the ability to even do it all. From what I've been told, one can have a small ceremony then a big ceremony and reception later on - WITH bridesmaids, first dances, etc. (They just aren't entitled to a shower, bachelorette, etc.).

    It wouldn't be a reenactment per se - we would probably do the traditional vows for the small ceremony, and then the vows we had written to each other for the big ceremony. So technically, they would be different.

    My matron of honor has been incredibly supportive - she told me we'd have a bachelorette whenever, it can be after the small ceremony - because she knows how sad this is for me. Which breaks my heart because she's on the frontlines and I feel nuts even talking to her about this crap when she endures far worse than the average person should for a paycheck.

    A small ceremony is not what I had wanted, at all. I wanted our guests to actually witness the real, first time thing. But I'm not holding my breath and postponing and then we go 9 months to a year without having even exchanged vows. Because what if that can't even happen?!? (I'm in my mid-30s). That's not fair to my fiance. We wanted to try to conceive next year so I'm just upset that this virus disaster really, truly throws a giant wrench into the middle of all that. I would have to hold off on that if we got a new date for next year, because who knows if we postponed by a few months that even then would be safe (I'm not inclined to think so). Not to mention all the socializing a newly married couple is expected to do, it just sucks. I just want to feel normal, like everyone else. And I can't.

    I have to come to grips with the fact that that kind of wedding just not be in the cards for us, which makes me really upset esp. when a lot of my friends confided that their beautiful weddings just weren't really that much of a big deal to them, yet, they got to have them.

    So that's why I'm frustrated, and incredibly sad.

    But I'm well aware of all the sadness and crazy stuff going on, and how a wedding would be the furthest thing from someone else's mind. Which makes me feel even worse for having these feelings at all.


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  • Cassandra7
    Super August 2006
    Cassandra7 ·
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    I think a beautiful small wedding is totally possible. And maybe next fall. But it's a hard decision to have to make, especially with your clock ticking. And one does feel so ripped off. I'm very sorry you have to make this choice.

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  • Luna
    Beginner October 2020
    Luna ·
    • Flag
    THIS!!! This is exactly (EXACTLY) how I'm feeling to the T! Thank you for saying it because those words are exactly what I was thinking myself.


    You're definitely not alone. I think I'm throwing etiquette on this in the f*** it bucket (Bridechilla podcast reference, check it out, Aleisha the host is great) and have the wedding we imagined later. My family is going to give me hell for it but oh well I guess.
    • Reply
  • Kari
    VIP May 2020
    Kari ·
    • Flag

    Honestly, who the heck cares? The only way this matters AT ALL is if you and your partner think it matters, or if you are having a religious ceremony where there is some requirement that you aren't technically legally married prior to your wedding ceremony. If your guests are going to be personally offended by you having your wedding and reception after you are legally married because you had to change your plans due to the worst pandemic in a century, then those people are not people who you should invite to your big day.

    We are likely going to elope and have a small legal ceremony, and then do the entire wedding and reception the way that we planned at a later date, with our wedding parties, walking down the aisle, a first dance, cake, and the whole shebang. Anyone there is just going to be happy to celebrate and party, and no one will be upset that we didn't push of our marriage months or a whole year just so they personally could see our legal status change.

    As for the dress, I love the idea of having two dresses and changing your look up if you are forced to go this route, as then you get to have that "first look" mystery and excitement on both of those very important days. My FH really wants me to wear my "wedding dress" for our elopement, but if we have two events I want to do my hair differently each time and also think I want a second dress, even if I only change into it for our reception, just so there is some surprise for him on each of those days. I'm trying to look at this as an opportunity to have two different but equally amazing days, instead of just thinking about how our wedding plans have been shattered and being absolutely heartbroken about it.

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