Planning a wedding could easily become a bride-to-be’s full-time job. Florists, caterers, and venues have to be chosen; dresses have to be tried on; save-the-dates and invitations have to be created, addressed, and mailed; and, of course, countless hours are spent dreaming about the moment she'll walk down the aisle to the man of her dreams.
Brides want their day to be picture perfect and free of any hiccups or mishaps. While many make contingency plans for changes in weather and canceled vendors, I doubt any bride ever planned for a pandemic. Coronavirus has disrupted life in so many ways, and weddings have been one of the many casualties of social distancing and stay-at-home orders. Some brides and grooms, however, have decided that the show will go on — just without all of the pomp and circumstance.
When I first perused a wedding planning book, I felt overwhelmed at the sheer amount of tasks one had to complete in order to arrange the big day. While most of the items on the to-do list promised to be absolutely enjoyable (visiting bridal boutiques and attending tastings, yes please!), there were countless other items that seemed stressful and time-consuming (weeding through a guest list, renting linens, finding hotel accommodations for guests). I knew it would be a lot of work, especially as I was juggling my final semester of undergrad and a part-time job. Nevertheless, the months of planning proved to be full of joy and happy anticipation. At the end of it all, I would get to say “I do” to my best friend!
Looking back on that time, I can’t imagine being told that the day that I had been planning for and dreaming about would have to be postponed or canceled. Seeing so many couples facing that decision in the past few weeks has been heartbreaking. However, I’ve also seen many stories about couples who decided that they didn’t need filled pews and crowded dance floors to begin their happily ever after together. They’re beautiful proof that what truly matters is the marriage — not the wedding.
In Good Times and in Bad, in Sickness and in Health
Couples have altered their wedding plans in a multitude of creative ways. Some have turned to technology in order to say their vows in the “presence” of loved ones. One Colorado couple, who had planned for April 4 nuptials, had 75 guests from seven different countries join them via Zoom as they exchanged rings and said “I do” in their home. The groom remarked that it’s “so important that we see that there are still good things that are happening right now.”
Another couple in Canada celebrated an intimate at-home wedding after having to cancel the ceremony and reception that was to be attended by 135 guests. Anastasija and Josh donned their gown and tux and pledged their lives to each other in the simply, yet elegantly, decorated living room of his parents’ house. Unable to cancel their limousine reservation, they rode in style to a nearby location to take photos. They were met by a wonderful surprise: their friends and family lined the streets, waving signs, taking photos, and wishing the newlyweds all the best. Reflecting on the day, Josh stated that, to get married, “you don’t need all the trappings, all the decorations… You just really need family and maybe a few close friends, and that’s what we had.”
They weren’t the only couple to have such devoted guests. In Dallas, a young couple was greeted by a car parade of well-wishers as they left the empty church in which they said their vows. Both husband and wife expressed nothing but joy and gratitude for their unorthodox wedding. “Even though we didn’t have the larger gathering we intended, just still being able to get married was the important thing to us,” the groom stated.
In New Jersey, two former track and field teammates from Liberty University said “I do” in the bride’s family home and then stood on the front porch as family and friends drove by in cars and even tractors. “We couldn’t imagine feeling more support and love on our big day and we are so thankful and blessed,” wrote the bride on Instagram.
One couple in Israel chose to move their ceremony outside rather than postpone their wedding. Nina and Amit made last-minute plans to wed in Amit’s uncle’s rather stunning backyard. Friends and family provided an alfresco feast, and a solo saxophonist replaced the DJ whom they had originally hired. The day, though completely unlike anything they had planned, turned out to be absolutely perfect.
Another couple in Israel moved their ceremony into a supermarket, where the 10-person rule didn't apply. They took photos in front of the colorful arrangements of produce while guests looked on from a safe distance.
The saying “love conquers all,” may be a bit hackneyed, but it rings true. Coronavirus has plunged the entire world into the dark unknown, overturning plans and filling life with uncertainty. Couples around the globe, though, have proved that even pandemics can’t deter love. It remains constant and even grows stronger in the face of fear and tragedy. These couples have also demonstrated that it isn’t a glittering ceremony that makes a marriage; it’s the unwavering love that man and wife share in good times and in bad. And that kind of love is precisely what the world needs right now.