Funny story… When I was right out of college, my dream was to work for The Knot (a wedding website where I had dreamed up and designed several weddings with imaginary husbands-to-be since high school). When I sent in my cover letter – two days later I realized I never updated the company within my template so it said something along the lines of, “I would be an ideal candidate for COMPANY XYZ”. Needless to say, I didn’t get called for an interview and I sulked… for a long time. Ten years later, it still haunts me.
Why does this even matter? I’m a COVID bride. I’ve been dreaming of my wedding for as long as I can remember. However, in 2020, that cover letter has basically been traded for a Save The Date that lists “Hope you’ll join us for our wedding on XYZ DATE”. Ouch.
My fiancé and I (who have been together for seven and a half years, engaged for two and a half) were supposed to get married on May 29th. Then, back in March I saw the writing on the wall and we rebooked for November 14th. I felt pretty superior for a while for getting ahead of things so quickly, not going to lie. (hilarious)
Then, when the restrictions were clearly not improving rapidly enough to be in the clear by then, we knew the right thing to do would be to cancel and do a small ceremony to just. get. married. You know, what weddings are about in the first place.
I’m unnaturally optimistic. There is always a silver lining in all situations. Negative people are actually painful for me to be around. Yesterday, that sunshine attitude came to a screeching halt. Our dining room table has been wedding command center since March – covered in invitations and ribbons and wax seals. Then, as I got incredibly generous cards and notes on what would have been my shower day, they accumulated there. Oh, and then our NEW wedding invitations came for November, followed by more lovely mementos we received on our would-have-been wedding date. And finally, our cancelation notices.
The last cancelation notice has gone out and the table is now empty. That’s when it finally hit me. Even though we, like many others, are planning an intimate event in the interim with a “big wedding” eventually, it still gives me a lump in my throat to know this is not what I/we have always dreamed about.
Everyone I talk to knows at least one of “those couples”. Here’s what COVID brides want you to know (well, my version at least)…
1. This sucks and we’re bitter.
If anyone would like to try to tell me otherwise, I will do my best to resist the urge to kick you in the shin. Whether your ideal wedding includes five people or 500 people, in a backyard or banquet hall – most couples only need to think about if it will rain on their wedding day. Now, instead of worrying about it raining, replace that with worry if all of your guests will have to wear masks, if they feel comfortable coming at all or if you will have to slice your guest list by 75%.
I would trade all of this for a downpour on our original wedding date and I’m sure every other COVID bride feels exactly the same way.
It’s so easy to feel bad for ourselves and I have had a few down days. I have invested in, attended and help celebrate dozens of brides and their weddings. Why is mine the one that has to be like this? Ugh. This does suck.
2. We feel so guilty
Some days I feel guilty as heck for all the love and support I have been shown. I had a bridal shower parade outside my house and I had cookies and flowers and beautiful baskets delivered on our “wedding day” and even a Zoom party. I also have bridesmaids and friends who had to invest in and re-plan for showers and bachelorette. I feel horrible that they will not get that time back in some cases even get money back.
Now, I not only got extra attention on our original shower dates and May wedding date, I’m expecting our bridal party and family to come together for our small ceremony in a few weeks and then eventually our large party whenever that will be. I never wanted people to have to work so hard to celebrate our marriage. While I am so grateful, I also am embarrassed by all the extra attention.
Not to mention, for those who didn’t get their showers or bachelorettes, we are going to eventually want those! We feel bummed that we are missing them, but guilty for expecting people to rally once this is all over, and also worried that they won’t!
3. Details are stressing us TF out
I am a creative person. I think about what I am going to get someone for a party without ever thinking to write down the date of it. So when it comes to wedding planning, if you want to talk decor – I’m your girl. If you want to ask about logistics, excuse me while I go crawl under a rock.
Yes these are incredibly important and NECESSARY, but as soon as I start thinking about transportation and timelines, I lose the joy of the day. For most of us right now, we’re only talking about 25 people at this point. Why is this more intimidating than 250? I can’t explain why, but it is.
Ask us the fun questions instead… and also, give us wine (or Starbucks) to keep us happy, ok?
4. What even is etiquette?
Just an FYI, there are no articles that tell you the proper etiquette for when to send thank you notes for a shower that was canceled, intended to be rescheduled and then that person is no longer invited to your intimate wedding ceremony and you have no idea when your reception is. (REAL scenario for me and several of my guests. I swear my eyes have gone googly by now)
There are 1 million other scenarios like that one that no bride in our lifetime has had to navigate. Remember, many of us are still holding out hope that our plans may be able to happen and are waiting on further information to start the domino effect of next steps in either direction.
Please don’t get mad at us if we aren’t operating the way you would in this same situation. We love you and sometimes all of this uncertainty makes us freeze and do nothing in fear of doing it wrong.
5. TELL us how you want to help
If I hear, “let me know how I can help” one more time, I may lose it. I know that sounds super bratty, and I don’t intend it to, but if you see point number two, some of us are trying to take all of the stress on for all of our family and friends.
I don’t want to ask for help and, frankly, I don’t know what is too much to even ask. If your COVID bride is talking about things she has left to accomplish and something she says sounds like you could take it on for her, just tell her you will and INSIST.
This will be more appreciated than you can even imagine. It takes one less thing off her plate AND she doesn’t need to feel bad about imposing on you. If you can’t offer or aren’t sure you can deliver, don’t. She will not hold it against you!!
6. Don’t shame COVID decisions
Everyone has a right to feel differently about the world right now. I can promise that every guest attending our “mini-monies” has been encouraged to do what they feel comfortable doing. If they want to wear a mask, no one will shame them for it. If people want to take pictures without masks while less than 6 feet apart, these consenting adults have thought about and considered all risks before partaking.
Brides and grooms are not expecting anyone to put their health in harm’s way without making their own decisions. Most of us have also thought about things like hand sanitizer bottles at each table, water bottles versus shared dispensers, less crowded tables and individual glasses for the duration. Another stressor “normal” brides didn’t have do consider.
7. Understand we didn’t want this either
If your COVID couple is doing a small ceremony and you did not make the cut, recognize that they probably do want you there, but things are out of their control.
None of us want to be in the position where our party gets broken up due to too many people, get a venue in trouble, or do they want to be responsible for hurting any feelings if other guests see photos of you there. NOR do they want to contribute to the spread of the virus with a larger pool of guests present.
We had 230 people on our guest list. Now we have 25 including us! It breaks our hearts that we will not celebrate this occasion with every single person we wanted to invite. We would give anything to have you there!
8. Help us be excited
I am in a wedding Facebook group called “Bridechilla”. Highly recommend both the podcast and the community if you are planning a wedding! One bride there said it best. She said something to the effect of, I feel like I have to comfort other people about our wedding being canceled. I am sure the people she is referring to mean well, but instead of sharing pity with us, help us feel excited for whatever their next option might be. I’ve heard so many times: “I feel so bad for you” to which I reply “oh, it’s ok!”. In my head it’s not ok, but we feel like the brave face is necessary.
This is another instance where even if you would do things differently, embrace their choices and help lift them up. The cards have been stacked against us – help us count down, ask us the fun questions (see #3) and send us fabulous wedding memes!
We NEED the positivity.
9. Why is this so expensive??
If you have ever planned or paid for a wedding, you know it is expensive. Try planning two! Or, in some cases three if your wedding was already postponed, rescheduled and then canceled again.
COVID brides have likely put down deposits for all of their major vendors already. Most are not refunding these deposits, just rolling over to another date. Totally fine. But that is money that we do not have to spend towards this smaller event.
Not to mention several brides bought original invitations, updated invitations and now cancellation notices (ok it’s me, I am several brides) which triples the original stationery budget. Imagine what else has tripled. Yikes!
Even when we are keeping things small, there are plenty of hidden costs and duplicate expenses that exist if you are still trying to make it as magical as possible. Again, knowing this is not required to have a wedding, it still makes the day feel special when everything around it has not. We don’t need Pinterest weddings, but if a backyard event wasn’t your original vision, it’s hard to shake the “extra”.
10. We are still getting married.
Hey, OMG! This is the best part about all of this, that we still get to celebrate with (a small amount of) loved ones and be married at the end of it. YAY!
Sometimes I feel like less than a bride. Like because I am not having the wedding we would have wanted it doesn’t count. And, on the flip-side, I worry that when we do have our vow renewal and raucous celebration, people won’t think it is special because we are “already married”.
We can’t win and we fight this internal fight every dang day.
Send your Covid bride a virtual hug right now… no really, right now. Let her know you think she is a badass for how she is handling this crappy situation. Tell her she is going to make a beautiful bride and you’re going to celebrate on her day (whether you’ll be with her or not). Let her know that when this is all over she gets to be a wife and her marriage will get to be celebrated the way she always wanted.
Last but not least, pray for the sunniest most perfect-weather day for that couple, because I can promise you, they deserve it.