Man Plans and God Laughs: Getting Married Amid COVID-19
"I used to think a wedding was a simple affair. Boy and girl meet, they fall in love, he buys a ring, she buys a dress, they say I do. I was wrong. That's getting married. A wedding is an entirely different proposition." - George Banks, Father of the Bride
I met my wife at a friend's 30th birthday bar crawl in my late twenties, however, we actually met years before that night when I worked at the mall when I was in college (she has no recollection of us meeting). We also grew up in the same neighborhood, and despite having many mutual friends, we never crossed paths in our teenage years. But, here we are today - fresh off of tying the proverbial knot at our home.
We never intended to have our wedding at our house (I wanted to get married at city hall), but because of the lingering pandemic, we were forced to pivot our plans more times than we wanted to, ultimately settling on getting hitched in our front yard. As you could imagine, trying to plan a wedding during this time, let alone any event, is even more exhausting and difficult than normal. We encountered obstacles like canceling our venue, downsizing our guest list, trying to please everyone, and a myriad of other nuisances, in addition to life throwing us many other unexpected lessons.
As I mentioned before, we never planned on having our wedding at our house (the thought of multiple people using our bathrooms made me quiver). We were set to have our wedding at a venue just outside of Philadelphia. In my wife's eyes, the space was perfect - vibrant greenery and flowers, an open outside space for our ceremony, and a rustic hall for our reception. But, as the weeks went on, it was becoming more apparent that our ideal wedding wasn't going to happen. With Governor Wolf doubling down on his restrictions for public gatherings and the uncertainty of who would be comfortable coming to our 100+ person wedding, we decided it was best to scale it back. Regardless of losing a chunk of money and the comfortable and convenient setting that came with its own servers and bartenders, we broke the news to our guests. In response, we were often told "Do what's best for you two," "It's your day! Don't worry about anyone else," and "It's a pandemic, people will understand." But, unfortunately, not everyone felt that way.
The pressure of re-planning our wedding took a mental toll on both of us. We felt like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. It felt like we had the same conversation every day - it dominated our lives. Scaling back the wedding not only meant moving it to a smaller setting but also cutting down the guest list. So, we went from inviting 120 people to 20 people to ultimately deciding on 28 people (because of state restrictions), which meant having to decide who we wanted there on our day without hurting the feelings of people we care for deeply. It was a difficult process, and we handled it the best we could, but in the end, and regardless of how people knew us to be, our intentions were still perceived as ill. But, we had to remember that we know exactly who we are and to keep moving forward.
If you are in the thick of planning a wedding during COVID-19, consider the following:
You and your partner WILL argue. And it isn't a sign you shouldn't get married! It's not easy to organize a wedding amid a global pandemic, so be kind to each other. My wife and I had our fair share of disagreements in regard to how many people we should invite, food, costs, what we needed, and so on. But we quickly learned if we could not communicate respectively, then we were already "losing."
You can't make everyone happy. I am a people pleaser, and so is my wife. Despite being given the validation of "Do what is best for you two," it felt like an empty gesture. We tried our best to be as thoughtful as we could when it came to downsizing our guest list and explained our reasoning for wanting a smaller wedding. Still, unfortunately, not everyone was so understanding. At times, we thought we were bad people because of how we decided to have our wedding. The stress of it all affected my professional and personal life. I had extreme guilt leading up to our day thinking about everyone who we couldn't invite, and if we made the right move. I felt selfish on a day when I thought it was okay for us to be selfish.
"Don't worry, baby, everything will turn out alright." I would terribly sing this lyric from the Beach Boys' song "Don't Worry Baby" once in a while to my wife. Regardless of the frustrations, the arguments, etc., I knew everything would come to fruition, and I was right. Our day, thanks to our family and friends, turned out better than we could have imagined.
Putting on a wedding during this whole ordeal was another test in our relationship. First, it was surviving the quarantine at the height of the pandemic, which we, of course, did. And second, it was planning a micro wedding. Despite all the negativity deriving from COVID-19, I can positively say it made our relationship and foundation stronger, and that is something I am genuinely grateful for. I obviously knew my wife was always my person, but oddly enough, the pandemic further reinforced that feeling.