Wedding planning in the time of Corona

I tried on my wedding dress the other day for the third time, and it was the first time I was happy while doing it. Trying on a wedding dress alone is tricky to begin with, thankfully mine is just a simple zip up the back – but it is one zip more than I can do up by myself. Of course, my Corona bubble only has my husband to be in it (and despite accidentally showing him a photo of my dress multiple times, we are both pretending it is a surprise until the day), and I can’t ask a friend to come and help (and get excited with me). It was always going to be a little strange since my Mum and Sister are on the wrong side of the world, but having a friend there to open the box, and help me in to it to try it on – might have helped me feel more positive about the whole thing.

Then there is the problem that when I ordered the dress I assumed that I would have spent the previous two months in hard core training for the Tour du Mont Blanc which was meant to be our honeymoon. Instead I have spent the last 8 weeks in my flat, just leaving for a short walk once a week, and using baking as a way of working through my anxiety about the whole global pandemic situation. So fitting into the dress was…concerning. I can get in, but I really need to cool it with the banana bread if I want to be able to breath on the day – if the day happens it is.

We made the decision to cancel our wedding a few weeks ago. The plan had been to have something small and sentimental with as little stress as possible. We had rented a giant amazing chalet in Chamonix for three days, and 14 friends and family were going to hang out (our parents were going to meet in person for the first time), relax in the summertime alps and then on the Saturday we were going to head up to a lookout on Mont Blanc to get married.

After the ceremony we would have had beautiful mountaintop photos, then headed back to the chalet where a private chef would have prepared the wedding dinner (or wedding breakfast as it is called in the wedding industry for unknown reasons). Then, after a couple of days to get over the hangovers we would have headed off for our 11 day hike in the French, Swiss and Italian alps.

It was our version of the perfect wedding. But for obvious reasons we cancelled it. It was a hard decision to make, the UK government is bizarrely chill about Corona (or maybe just incompetent), and a few travel companies had come out and announced that they were restarting operations from mid-June. Given that our wedding date was going to be the 4th of July (turning Independence Day into Codependence day), it was really difficult to try and predict the future given such conflicting advice.

We 100% knew that my parents would not be coming for the wedding (both them and us are completely gutted about this), because long haul travel is not a great idea at the moment, there are very few airports even open for transit flights, New Zealand has closed their borders – but more than that my Mum does not have strong lungs, so it is not a risk any of us would have taken.

For us cancelling the wedding came down to two things, boarders being closed and we really really didn’t want to risk/force any of our friends to travel internationally at a time like this – even if lock-downs are starting to ease in some countries. Easing a lockdown is a long way away from being back to normal, and further still from travel being ok.

The most annoying part was how early we had to cancel. We had made deposits on everything and the second big chunk of payments were due at the end of April. Either we needed to be hopeful that the world would fix itself by mid-summer, or we cancel and lose our deposits (the events & travel industries are hurting so much, that the majority are not in a position to give deposits back, yes it is a significant pill to swallow but we don’t begrudge them this). What it came down to is that a wedding (no matter how joyous) is in no way as important as the health of our friends – and also doing our part to stop the spread of Corona.

It amazes me how hard and emotional this decision has been, even when neither of us were particularly fussed with the idea of a “Wedding” (with a capital W) to begin with. But I guess what I was grieving was this idyllic three days of friends and family in the mountains – a special once in a lifetime opportunity.

Here comes the point in the post that I advise you against two mistakes that we made:

  • Don’t get your wedding date engraved on your bands until you are 100% sure a global pandemic is not going to blow all your plans into the wind
  • Associated point: don’t get your wedding date embroidered on the inside of your future husbands suit unless you are 100% sure a global pandemic is not going to blow all your plans into the wind

It may be niche advice, but hopefully it will help someone.

The above points have meant during this horrendously stressful and emotional lockdown time, we have planned what my Mum refers to as my ‘Second Wedding’ (lol). I am being facetious when I say that – the main reason we want to keep to the 4th of July is just because we really flipping want to be married. Thankfully Corona has just reinforced how much we love each other (phew). But this time, we have planned the Second Wedding to be in London, very local and sill tiny on the scale of weddings.

To reiterate – we are not going to hold the damn thing unless we can do it in a safe way. I am typing this as we are 4 hours away from the UK government announcing what the next steps of lockdown looks like. I am in two minds (not really, sorry this is kinda a hard post to write – to be open about my selfish feelings about cancelling a major life event, while also completely understanding that on the scale of people losing their lives, delaying other medical treatments, being unable to see loved ones for months on end, being isolated, being out of work, or in work but taking a financial hit, kids being at home 24/7, lives being put on hold … a wedding is insignificant & I completely get that) about what I want the government to say.

Given that I am in a country that had over 600 deaths yesterday, and over 300 today, that can’t seem to get any comprehensive testing set up, and whose lack of clear messaging has resulted in people having VE Day street parties…I want a solid lockdown to be in place for another month at least. And even then we only come out of it if the proper testing and tracking is in place.

But selfishly (and as I said before, this just the silly wedding focused part of my heart) I really hope that we can hold a small wedding with 12 people by the time July 4th rolls around. My parents still wont be able to attend (one of my friends is going to walk me down the isle, and we are getting the venue to check wifi speeds so we can Skype my parents in for the ceremony), and it is questionable to see if my fiancees Mum will be able to fly over from Lithuania – but we would still be able to get married.

Turns out I am really great at planning weddings. The second wedding we have planned is just as beautiful and unique as the first edition. Bizarrely the middle of a pandemic is a great time to plan a short notice wedding. Corona has decimated the events industry, and caterers, venues, florists and everyone in between is as eager as we are to try and pull something off. And they are coming up with creative deposit & cancellation terms so we can cancel on short notice if they or us don’t feel it is safe for our guests.

So, here I am counting down the next few hours until the government announces what our next few weeks will look like. Hoping for strict measures, and also hoping for a future when I can get married safely. Who knows, depending on how the announcement goes I might be able to share the Plan B details shortly (and if that doesn’t get the go-ahead, I have also worked out a Plan C and Plan D – because what else are you going to do during lock-down).

Don’t even get me started on if this will be a legal ceremony or not, no weddings are legally happening at the moment, the councils have taken all wedding information off their websites & there is a minimum of a month to ‘give notice’ before you can get married in the UK.

Back to the beginning of this ramble, I finally had a positive experience when I tried on my wedding dress for the third time. What made the difference is that I had a lovely one-on-one call with my Mum. After planning a wedding, cancelling a wedding (significant admin involved in unpicking it) and planning a second (and third etc) the wedding had just become about planning and admin. I hadn’t been able to have those exciting conversations to gossip about the little details, and I got that with my Mum over Facetime. And I figured out a way to get the zip up by myself. Whatever happens, at least I have a pretty dress.

I think I am going to make some banana bread.

xx