Nov. 7, 2020, was mine and Luke’s wedding date. In April 2020, one of my good friends got engaged. I remember being so excited for her as we were getting to plan our weddings together. I will never forget our first “Wedding Plandemic Coffee Rant,” where we talked about the trials and tribulations of planning a wedding in a pandemic. As we sipped our iced coffee on that scorching June day, she looked at me with solemn eyes and said “I feel worse for you than myself.” I stared at her with confusion until she reminded me that my plans had been set in stone up to that point. I think it wasn’t until that moment that I truly realized everything I had envisioned for my wedding was about to change.
I am a Type A planner; I have a Plan A, B, and C for everything just in case something would go wrong. Luke, on the other hand, is such a go-with-the-flow person. We are oil and water when it comes to planning. But at the time, I was also about to start student teaching so having Nikki Stark and the “Dream Team” at Little Tennessee Event Farm made my planning heart happy. She is Type A like I am. When the pandemic hit full force I became stressed, which meant Luke was stressed and it was getting to us. We were living in a world of complete uncertainty, not knowing if policy was going to change from one day to the next. It’s hard to plan a wedding when you have no clue if the rules are going to change.
When we were first given our stay-at-home order in March, I had full faith in God that this virus would disappear by crunch time for our wedding. Then June rolled around and we got a call from Nikki informing us that we were going to have to cut the guest list from 230 people to 100 based on health department guidelines. I was trying to be hopeful but, as I stated before, I had to plan ahead.
I had always imagined our entire families joining us on our big day, but now it felt like we had to decide who was worthy enough of an invitation to our wedding. There were so many factors: Who will want to come? Who will be afraid? If we know they’re going to say no, do we send them an invite anyway? As someone who cares about everyone’s feelings, I was afraid I would hurt someone. My parents would try to make light and joke about “budget cuts” as if it were a business. I was afraid there would be people mad at us — trust me, we were mad too. But what could we do? At that point Luke had decided he would deal with those who wanted to have words with us. I don’t know who or how many because he took that stress and put it in a box. He chose this burden to lift off my shoulders. So, I sent out invitations and letters, and I cried every time I would place a stamp on an envelope.
Not only did we have to change aspects of the wedding, we had to adjust the wedding showers as well. People asked us what we wanted to do — our church threw a drive-through shower for us and had a livestream for those who couldn’t attend. My mother and bridesmaids did the same thing at my parents’ house. It was different and interesting but still a sweet day. It showed us how so many people wanted to celebrate us even though they knew they couldn’t be at our wedding. My heart wept happy tears.
Just like the wedding, my plans for my bachelorette party were scrapped as well thanks to COVID. I wanted desperately to go to Nashville for girls’ weekend but that was quickly ruled as impossible (maybe not impossible, but it was definitely not a safe choice). A big city with lots of people meant someone was going to catch the virus — I could feel it. So instead, we brainstormed fun bachelorette ideas and landed on renting a pontoon. We made the party boat and it was an absolute riot. Luke was unsure what he wanted to even do at this point for his bachelor party. They decided on a “guys night” where they ordered Chick-Fil-A catering, drank beer and watched sports — and it was everything Luke could have ever wanted. We realized that going out of town isn’t what made it fun, but rather the people we were surrounded with. They were the good time.
Unfortunately, when you have a wedding in a pandemic you have to expect the worst and be understanding about it. You can’t jump off the deep end when someone expresses concern being around others. I had a bridesmaid who is a Type 1 diabetic, has an autoimmune disease, and found out she was pregnant. I got the long-expected call one evening expressing her concern for the baby and being in a crowd of so many people. While I completely understood, I knew she was preparing for me to be mad. How could I be mad? On the other side, Luke had a groomsman who took a real financial hit thanks to the shutdowns. When he was offered a job out west he couldn’t turn it down and thus couldn’t risk that job by taking off work for the wedding within his first month. Again, how could we be mad? He had already been through enough.
We were six days away when one of my bridesmaids called and said that her husband had tested positive for COVID-19. We knew there was no way she or her boys could be there. I was sick, absolutely sick over one of my best friends not being able to stand beside me. It felt like everything was falling apart. I was on the phone with my parents for hours trying to decide what to do — do we postpone the wedding? But how do we do that when everything is set? We were six days away, so no matter how many times it was suggested, it just wasn’t plausible — the show must go on. We made masks mandatory, social distancing a priority, and prayed people would comply without arguing.
It was finally Saturday and I couldn’t stop smiling. It was the day I had been waiting 14 months for. I was going to sprint down that aisle if they would let me (spoiler: they wouldn’t). It was a beautiful day full of laughter, tears, and dancing. My husband wrote me a song, I wrote funny vows to make him stop crying, and we were surrounded by people who watched us grow from the beginning. I had a dear friend come up to me and say “This was the only thing I had to look forward to this year, Sadie, and it was the highlight of my 2020.” To hear that made my heart cry a little and realize that despite all that had changed in terms of my wedding vision, it was a beautiful day.
I think God let us get married in a pandemic because he knew we could handle it. Don’t get me wrong — I am wishing, hoping, and praying that 2021 is NOTHING like last year. We pray that every bride who gets married this year doesn’t have to make the adjustments and changes we did — but if you do, don’t fret. Yes, you, bride who is reading this. Don’t let it get you down. And finally, don’t let it fog your sunshine because in reality you get to marry your person and nothing should cloud that ray. People will tell you not to stress because at the end of the day you are married. While that is true, I recommend you take a day to be sad. Mourn the loss of your perfect wedding, but then remind yourself that the marriage is going to be so much better than the wedding. Because no matter how many people show up, what your flowers look like, if your veil gets pulled off walking down the aisle because it’s so long, or your groom or bride misses the cue to turn around and see you at the end of the aisle — you are MARRIED!