I admit it: never in my wildest wedding nightmares did I ever imagine planning not one — but three — different weddings before ever even making it to the altar a single time.
And yet, here I am. Along with countless other couples who found themselves in pandemic-limbo since the coronavirus began knocking out visions of grand soirees and replacing them with safer and more intimate nuptials, I’ve found myself on the cusp of making yet another emotional and financially-impactful decision: do we pivot or postpone… again.
When it became clear that the start of 2021 was going to look no different than the end of 2020, I began to have feelings. A lot of them. And here we go again.
Pushing our wedding date back by a year seemed like a safe bet...
We originally postponed our May 2020 destination wedding in late March, right as lockdowns were sweeping the country. At this point, it was still early in the pandemic that this decision gave our vendors, friends, and family pause — surely things will be back to normal by May? Why in the world would we be pulling the plug so soon instead of waiting it out?
And when we did make that incredibly emotional decision, we had to make another: when do we reschedule it to? The ironic thing is that the pandemic wasn’t actually a factor in this. Our choices were summer — but the weather wouldn’t work then; fall — but with my sister’s due date and not wanting the pressure for her of postpartum travel, that was out; winter — but again the weather wasn’t ideal for my New Orleans rose garden venue; early spring — but that didn’t work with our various vendors who were already booked up; or exactly one year later. Which is what we went for, much to the dismay of many who thought we only needed to push it a few weeks.
At the time, a smaller minimony or pandemic wedding also wasn’t an option for us. Because we were still in the first wave of pandemic couples, this new concept felt like something I would come to regret. I feared I would feel sad on this “plan C” wedding day and then have even more remorse that we did it instead of being patient and waiting for what we originally wanted once things went back to normal in a few weeks. I feared that it wouldn’t feel like our actual wedding, and with it still being a danger to our parents and family, it wasn’t worth the risk.
But looking back on this last year, my feelings have changed. While we “replanned” our new wedding over this past year with some new vendors along the way, my non-husband (as I lovingly call him), and I have faced some of life’s biggest challenges without it even being our first year of marriage:
We’ve been through a job and career change. We decided to move states. We hunkered down in an apartment the size of a shoebox, both working and spending 24-hours a day only inches apart from each other, and have managed to still love each other. We cared for each other while both battling the coronavirus together at the same time — taking turns nursing the other depending on who was sicker in the moment as our fevers would fluctuate. We mourned a friend who died after catching it the same day we did. We are in the process of buying our first house and are getting ready to start trying to have a family together.
All of this reaffirmed our love for each other and our decision to hold out for our big wedding celebration with all of those we haven’t been able to see. But then as 2020 came to a close, my dad’s health began to deteriorate right as it became clear our May 2021 wedding would still be at the mercy of COVID-19.
...but a family member’s health made us reconsider our new plan.
This is when we were hit with yet another major blow to the pivot of our “original” plan and newly arranged second wedding. Even if by some miracle all vaccines were distributed and fears of the coronavirus during travel or gatherings were a thing of the past by May, the end of COVID no longer equals my dad being able to be there.
Due to his age, kidney failure, and diabetes, he isn’t just high-risk for catching coronavirus which was our original wedding concern. He now may need a limb amputated which makes my previous fear of how the future weather would impact the rose garden blooms during my walk down the aisle with my dad simply laughable.
All of our hopes for whether we can have a “successful” wedding no longer hinge on how the coronavirus pandemic is fairing and instead on the immediate health of one of my most important family members.
Now, the big question: destination wedding or minimony?
With that knowledge hitting me (and my wedding anxiety) in the gut, we are now taking everything that we learned from the first two rounds of wedding planning as we get to work arranging our nuptials for the third time: time doesn’t heal all.
We don’t know what the pandemic will look like in a few months just like we don’t know what my dad’s health will be. So instead of taking comfort in “time fixing all” and assuming things will be better in a few months, like we did the first two times around, we are taking charge and planning a minimony that my dad will be able to attend should things not improve. Although we have not officially canceled our big wedding or postponed it yet again, we are trying to be more proactive this time around and plan this backup option instead of waiting until the last minute should things not improve with my dad or the pandemic. Instead of not doing something out of fear I would regret not being patient, I’m looking at my wedding through the lens of potentially regretting if I wait too long.
Initially, this sent me into a deep spiral. How could I plan yet another wedding, when all of our budget that we saved completely on our own is tied up in our original location? How do we rectify what we both had in our heart, and have now spent years thinking about, with something so entirely different? What if things look entirely better in a few months (which was my fear when postponing the first time), I have just wasted all of this time and money on something that wasn’t what we wanted? Maybe I should focus just on looking for a budget-friendly dress for this minimony so honestly, online shopping for a dress feels like the only piece of planning I have control over right now.
But then we came up with a low-key minimony plan that incorporates aspects from our proposal and destination wedding plan — and it immediately gave me peace.
Here’s what we wish we’d known, pre-COVID.
If there’s anything we’ve learned while watching life go on while we have felt like we’ve been trapped helplessly standing still during this year, it’s that love doesn’t need the “perfect” plan in order to be celebrated. Your happiness deserves to be celebrated in both big and small ways along the way. There’s no need to “hold out” because patience isn’t always rewarded and life is damn short. We’ve also come to realize:
- There are no right or wrong answers in this very new world of wedding planning.
- Don’t plan today based solely on what you hope to see in the future.
- A physical guest list does not define a wedding. Whether it’s big or small, it will still be special.
- Don’t get wrapped up in things you can’t control or compare your wedding to others.
- When wedding planning anxiety gets you in a spiral, appreciate the partner you can turn to because that’s what this is all really about.
With this we can honestly say we have no idea which of the weddings we planned will take place — destination wedding #2 or minimony #3. But we know that we will be exchanging vows this year, no matter what 2021 throws at us, and there’s immense comfort in that.