Hello, and welcome to Episode 5 of Life On the Brink!
I am married. I’m a married lady! It’s very strange, but I really like it.
As many of you know, I got married last month, July 31st, and I’m so glad to be on the other side of it. It’s been a wonderful time, lots of ups and downs, and today I just want to share what it was like to plan a wedding in the time of Covid 19, as well as a warm little recap of my wedding day.
Before I get into this, I just want to say that I recognize that I have been incredibly fortunate throughout this pandemic.I have suffered no tragedy, my family and I have our health, and I have been provided for. I also know that I’m not the only one who has had their wedding affected by Coronavirus, and my heart goes out to you guys. I just wanted to share my story, because (spoiler alert) it all ends well. I have greatly enjoyed hearing about good stories or celebrations this year, so I thought I would share mine, including all the ups and downs along the way.
So here’s what happened,
I got engaged on October 10, 2019 (read about it here), and I went straight into planning mode. By the end of the year we had a date of May 22, I had a dress, and all our vendors were booked. After the holidays, we were ready to hit the ground running, and by February we were well on our way. It still didn’t feel quite real yet, but with my bridal shower approaching at the end of March and the time growing shorter, I was finally starting to get excited around the beginning of March.
And then, you know…
We definitely didn’t think it would last into May (did anyone?); we were laying low but still pressing forward. I figured, If worse came to worst, we could scramble the last few weeks before the wedding. As time passed, though, and the stay-at-home order continued to extend, it became impossible to ignore the possibility of postponing.
Somewhere in the beginning of May, our venue announced the extension of their closure through June 1, and that was our official sign. We got a couple new dates, scrambled around talking with family and vendors, and landed on July 31st. It was basically the longest we were willing to wait, and we figured we’d play it safe. Surely by the end of July we should be in the clear.
I know a lot of couples in this situation have chosen to have a small ceremony with a handful of family and plan a full party later, but it didn’t feel right for us. Our families are very important to us, and we wanted their presence there on that day. We only wanted to do it once, say our vows once, and we were willing to adjust our timeline to have that shot.
Of course, like everyone who has had a special occasion affected this year, I went through a lot of feelings of loss, grief even. Why did this happen to me? I’d waited so long to be married; this scenario was unthinkable. Thank God for Josh, we held each other up.
Somewhere around the middle of June we started to pick up the planning that had halted for the past few months, and I spent every Tuesday and Friday waiting to hear the governor’s updates. All we needed was for Virginia to move from Phase 2 (social gatherings of 50 people) to Phase 3 (250 people). We had an emergency list of 50, but so badly wanted to invite the rest of our guest list, about 100 in total.
And then, just before July 4, we got the go for Phase 3. Full steam ahead!
That last month, though, we had a lot of unique Covid-related stressors that I had not anticipated originally:
-First off, when you move an outdoor wedding from May to July, the weather becomes more of a concern, but is managed easily enough. We planned for iced water bottles during the ceremony, programs that doubled as fans, and even rented pedestal fans for the reception.
-As someone who has worked many weddings in the past, I found myself in a strange position as a bride. Some of our vendors had many concerns about heat, guests, staffing, catching the virus, you name it, and I found myself consoling and reassuring these few, when in fact I needed them to reassure me that they could do the job. I just didn’t expect to field such concerns as the client, as that is something I avoid as a vendor.
-I had originally arranged the ceremony music for a quintet of live musicians that I had gathered from CNU, my alma mater, but once we changed the date it became more and more challenging. Some players had moved away, there was now nowhere to rehearse, and it was going to become more stressful than it was worth. The music for the ceremony was very important to me, though, and I wanted it to be very personal, so in the end Josh (bassoonist extraordinaire) and I recorded the pieces ahead of time on our instruments. It turned out beautiful! (If you listen to the end of the podcast episode, I included the piece that I walked down the aisle to.)
-A couple weeks before the wedding, our contact at the venue moved away to be closer to family during this time, so I kind of had to re-introduce myself and the whole wedding to new contacts. My mom and I made many trips out there, and in the end the staff did an amazing job, better than we hoped.
-Then, 5 days before the wedding, my bridal party had an adjustment. One of my bridesmaids had just had a baby at the beginning of July and had basically quarantined with only her husband and her baby for several weeks, and just really didn’t feel comfortable being a part of the bridal party at that point. She’s the sweetest and I totally understood, it was just something I didn’t expect. Fortunately, I was able to ask another friend of mine, who was not only thrilled but actually fit the existing bridesmaid dress perfectly. How does that happen?
-Then, after I was sure we were in the clear, we got another surprise from the governor 3 DAYS before the wedding. Social gatherings were to be restricted from 250 people back to 50 people, and rather than give a week’s notice like he had done in the past, or even wait for August 1 for the beginning of the month, it was to be put in place Friday, July 31st. The exact day of the wedding.
Fortunately, the owner of our venue was trying everything in his power to try and make it work, and in the end he basically told us that he was not going to count heads. We cut down our guest list by a significant amount (mostly people who we knew were already nervous about coming), which was really hard, and had lots of safety precautions throughout the event. I still feel confident that no spread of the virus came from our wedding and the way we went about it.
Once that rush was over, though, I was crushed. That evening I let myself feel all those frustrating feelings of loss and unfairness again. By morning, though, I was ok and ready to make it happen. I was getting married one way or another! Everything else was falling into place, and I was so ready for the day to come.
THE BIG DAY
I woke up the morning of my wedding day to a phone call from my brother. He had lost his tie, so my mom was immediately in troubleshooting mode (in the end, he wore Josh’s tie and they got him a different one) while my sister and I helped set up tables and the arbor and whatnot. We had a beautiful breakfast at the Inn and everything was going fine, but I was still so nervous. It was mostly about the weather, but I was just so worried that something else would go wrong.
At around 10:30 that morning I went upstairs to try and clear my head. I did a little yoga, and then I was just sitting on the floor praying when I heard this rustling. If not with my ears, in my mind I could hear this fluttering of energy in the room around me, and then I saw this picture in my head of all the angels that were surrounding me in that moment. I caught a glimpse of the excitement and celebration in heaven as Josh and I were about to be joined in marriage, and it truly moved me. Our union was going to be so much greater than that one day, and I was filled with a new kind of peace. So after that I stopped checking the weather, and spent the next few hours getting ready for the ceremony. My bridesmaids came over, I tried to drink a smoothie so I wouldn’t pass out, I did my hair and makeup (pretty proud of how it turned out), and then it was time!
No one told me that it was raining pretty much everywhere except directly above us, which was a good idea. My mom, turns out, was a nervous wreck trying to get us through the ceremony before the rain came (you could hear the thunder already), so right at 4:00 we started walking.
I remember standing by myself halfway down the staircase, hidden behind a corner. I was nervous, but not overwhelmed by it. I was trying to soak up that moment as much as possible, and I knew everything about my life would be different after that moment.
Before I knew it, I was walking next to my dad, then I was standing in front of Josh.
The ceremony was beautiful, and it didn’t rain. At one point, though, the wind really picked up and blew all the blossoms from the trees above us so that it looked like it was raining flower petals. It was an absolutely magical moment that I could not have planned.
And before I knew it, we were man and wife and I had myself a husband.
We managed to snag a couple big family photos right before the downpour. The rain fell HARD so quickly, but we managed to get everyone inside (not the original plan) and took the rest of our photos by the large staircase. It all worked out really well I think, and suddenly everyone was moving into the reception space.
The rain was off and on for the rest of the night, but in the best possible way. We ate, we danced, we had the best time, and to top it off we had an actual rainbow appear! Again, a beautiful moment that I could not have planned, I just got to enjoy it.
We had cake (lemon, yum), we laughed, we said our goodbyes and were sent away by 9:15.
And that was it! It’s been about three weeks since then, and it’s been wonderful. We kind of took a little mini honeymoon, but we have some plans in the works for a real one in the future. I’ve loved being able to just live a day at a time without this huge looming event that I’m constantly preparing for. The past 5 months have been tumultuous and scary, but Josh is the only partner I could have done it with. I’m glad I was able to really enjoy my wedding day, and it doesn’t feel like a blur in my memory. All in all, it was a beautiful day, and it makes me excited for all the special memories we have yet to make.
And if your special day is in the works, or maybe you’re one of the many that had to postpone your celebration, congratulations! It actually is going to work out. You can’t control the circumstances, but you can control who you surround yourself with. Between Josh, my family, my bridesmaids and friends, I had an army of people who were ready to help make the day beautiful, despite the crazy curveballs that were thrown at us. What a day!
**Also don’t forget to listen to the end of this episode to hear the duet Josh and I recorded for me to talk down the aisle to.**
Little Joy: These reusable straws. I’ve been trying to perfect homemade bubble tea so I can stop giving all my money to Kung Fu Tea, and these are the ONLY straws I’ve found that are actually wide enough. I’m well on my way to become an at-home tea shop.
What I’m Listening To: A Wedding Remix: songs that played at my wedding reception.
Now that things are settling down for me, I'm looking forward to putting out these episodes more frequently, so be on the lookout!
Times are tough, but there is still so much good to enjoy in the world. Until next time, friends, have a lovely week.