When the CDC first imposed the ban on social gatherings of more than 50 people for the following eight weeks, I was quickly counting down how much time I had left until my upcoming wedding: eight weeks and six days. And in those final two months leading up to our destination celebration, my groom and I had our bachelor/bachelorette parties and my bridal shower on the calendar. That’s three wedding festivities in the upcoming eight weeks, that a simple news alert on my phone made clear were no longer a possibility.
Yes, I was totally overwhelmed— until I used my new wedding date as an opportunity to shake things up.
There was a sudden rush of emotions.
The thing was, I had no idea how to feel about my approaching wedding. Yes, I was overwhelmed and felt like I was in a surreal movie. I’d been having a few wedding-related nightmares before this, which other brides-to-be in my wedding Facebook groups assured me was completely normal as your big day neared. But those dreams were about bridesmaid dresses not coming in on time or having problems with the flowers.
But the world going into lockdown over a deadly outbreak? This was so much worse than anything in my “darkest” nightmares. And the fact that our wedding events could put the people we love most at risk or contribute to this pandemic? It made the decision to cancel our May 16, 2020 destination wedding a no-brainer.
We had to make peace with it — and fast.
Because it was completely out of my control, there was only so much I could stress about it. And in comparison to the big picture of people dying around the world or the personal side of two siblings working in hospitals and my parents being incredibly high risk, I couldn’t even feel sad. The decision to cancel wasn’t because I was jilted at the altar or because I realized I don’t love my partner anymore, it’s because of a global emergency much more important than my perfectly curated peony selection.
Then the real work began.
But that’s not to say that while we were initially trying to figure out if we were officially pulling the plug, that I wasn’t incredibly stressed. But once we made the decision the race was on: we now were under a time crunch to scramble amongst our 18 (mostly paid) vendors and their contracts to lock in a date that worked for everyone — before another equally panicked bride snatched it up.
After sending what felt like hundreds of emails in a matter of hours asking if pretty much any Saturday in the next 14 months worked for our vendors, we found one: May 15, 2021 — exactly a day early and a year late from our original date. The only problem is that we had to lose a few vendors (and potentially what we already paid) that would no longer be available past spring 2020. We also had to manage our budget—we had already maxed out our wedding spending, so we had to be extra careful about incurring additional expenses with the changes.
But it was also a priceless opportunity.
It's surreal to be rushing to cancel your wedding, while still deeply in love with your partner, but that's exactly what makes us lucky. Through all of this chaos we’ve been given a unique opportunity: a pause or do-over wedding.
When couples start planning and the ball gets rolling, what often happens is that things tend to escalate and get unintentionally carried away. But we were given the opportunity to really evaluate every decision we’ve made over the course of the last year to see if each one was worth it?
Do we still love the destination location we picked as much as we did? And if we could do it completely differently, would we still make that same choice? Yes, we went with that one vendor because she had the reputation of being the best, but did I let that overshadow any red flags that I had in the back of my mind?
What was stressing me only days ago no longer mattered at all.
It no longer matters what color dress my future mother-in-law picked or how closely I stuck to my wedding diet. It’s not important how many centerpieces we can squeeze out of our budget or if we choreographed a first dance. And that “disagreement” my groom and I got into over the belly band color? It’s funnier now than ever considering those invitations are meaningless.
Being in this period of pause gives a priceless perspective. We’re getting to look back at all of the decisions we agonized over while also looking to the future and reflecting on if each were what we actually wanted. Will they have a true impact on our day and would we still make that choice again without the typical pressure or fallout of changing a substantial part of our wedding? Just because we thought this was how our wedding was going to go doesn’t mean it has to — and there will be no major repercussions for changing our mind.
Which has made us realize, although we are thrilled to hopefully have a healthy celebration with our loved ones a year later, all that matters is we have each other and are committed to our life together. Whether we drive each other crazy while self-isolating in a tiny apartment together and planning a wedding for the second time or not is another story.