Those with spring weddings on the books in 2020 saw the plans they’d spent months putting together slip through their fingers when Covid-19 landed in the United States. Events were cancelled across the world, from baby showers to graduations and everything in between. You’ve probably seen tear jerking stories of #coronabrides, with couples photographed in matching protective masks as family looked on from a safe distance. Others shared sad stories of cancellations and plans of fairy tale weddings that did not have a happy ending. All were forced to decide what they were going to do.
Here, three women will tell their stories, with many similarities and differences between them, and share advice on what helped them make it through, and ultimately come to a decision on what was right for them.
When and where were you supposed to get married? April 10, 2020 at sunset on Smather’s Beach in Key West.
What did you decide to do? Postponed to October 7, 2020
When did you first realize you had to change plans? What Were Your Initial Thoughts? Toward the end of March gatherings of 50 people or more were banned… being a small wedding of only 32 people we were hoping we could maybe still get away with it. But as the days went on that number grew smaller and smaller, about 2 weeks before our wedding we made the hard decision to postpone, for everyone’s safety.
What motivated you to take the route you did? We thought about eloping and just having a big wedding later, which is a great option. But I felt strongly about having 1 very special day and having all of our family there with us, so cancelling was not an option for us. We finally decided rescheduling to a later day in the same year was the way to go.
Are you able to include any loved ones that were part of your original plans in your makeup ceremony? Yes, since we were already having a very small wedding everyone was able to reschedule for our new date. We even have a few guests coming on our new date that could not have made it in April.
How has your perspective changed since you first made the decision to change your plans? At first I will admit I was a mess! I didn’t know what to do, and it felt hopeless. But after I calmed down and we came up with a new plan and set it all back in motion I felt so much better. I’m a lot more at peace with everything, now it’s just a waiting game.
How do you feel postponing a destination wedding made things particularly difficult? We have been very lucky in that regard, we haven’t had too many difficulties. Our wedding planner, reception restaurant and hotels were so incredible to work with. Everyone knew how hard and unique the situation was so i think they were trying their best to be extra accommodating.
What sort of financial repercussions were there to postponing? We were one of the lucky ones and didn’t have any financial repercussions. All of my vendors were incredibly helpful in navigating us through this. Since we had already decided on a new date, everything we had booked thus far had just been moved to the new date.
Were there any unexpected consequences to postponing? Positive or negative? One positive thing that came of it all is a few family members who couldn’t make it on the original date can now be there for our new date. I think the only consequence is my worrying about still fitting into my wedding dress in 7 months.
What advice would you give another bride in this situation? Just do what feels right for you. Other friends or family members may voice their own opinions, but at the end of the day this is your wedding, you have to do what will make you the most happy.
When and where were you supposed to get married? We were supposed to get married on May 18, 2020 at Hotel Xcaret in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico!
What did you ultimately decide to do? We had originally picked May 2020 as our wedding month because it was the month my fiance finished medical school, and it was the calm before the residency storm! The Mexico celebration really was supposed to be a culmination of three things: our marriage, the end of medical school, and the start of our lives together in a new state for residency. We ultimately decided to postpone our big celebration and Catholic ceremony until 2021. We are still working on securing all of the details for our new date.
When did you first realize you had to change plans, and what were your initial thoughts? We realized we had to change plans when things with Covid-19 were getting worse instead of better. The decision to postpone was made in March, at the height of Covid-19 cases and when flights, restaurants, schools, and entire states were starting to shut down. My initial thoughts were all over the place, honestly. I was disappointed, heartbroken, distraught, confused, angry, frustrated…all of the feelings!
What motivated you to take the route you did? With my future husband starting residency in July, we knew we had to work around his intense hospital schedule and we didn’t want to lose out on celebrating with our friends and family in Mexico…it’s something everyone was looking forward to! So, when we were faced with the opportunity to cancel or postpone our wedding, we knew we were going to postpone it to a later date. We had invested so much time, energy, and money into our wedding celebration in Mexico, and all of our guests had already paid for their rooms, so we knew we needed to postpone so they wouldn’t lose out on money.
Are you able to include any loved ones that were part of your original plans in your makeup ceremony? Yes, and we are so grateful. We have a while until our 2021 wedding celebration, but we have faith it’s all going to be perfectly imperfect – the way all weddings are!
How has your perspective changed since you first made the decision to change your plans? Going through the wedding planning process during a pandemic can bring up a lot of emotions! I think the closest thing to explaining it is that you will likely go through the process of grieving. Shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – I went through all of them, but mostly (hey – just being honest here!) lived in the anger and depression areas for the months of March and April as things kept getting worse with Covid-19. Finally, I’m at the acceptance stage and I’m starting to ‘make lemonade out of lemons’ as I keep telling myself. I’m trying to find the buried treasures, the positives, the silver linings, the sweet things that have come as a result of the bitter. I know that when my future husband and I and our guests have the chance to celebrate together in Mexico it will be even better than what it would have been in May. I truly believe we’ll all be extremely ready to let loose and have fun more than ever and that’s what keeps my head up throughout the process.
What sort of financial repercussions were there to postponing? Luckily, there were no huge financial repercussions to postponing our wedding. Hotel Xcaret has been great throughout the process and we’re currently working with our travel agent Barefoot Bridal to reschedule our entire group to our new wedding date in 2021. We are thankful that all of our contracts and original vendor quotes are being honored for our new date. We are hopeful everyone who RSVPed to our original wedding date will be able to come to our new wedding date, but we understand that it might not work out that way and will be doing everything we can to ensure they are accommodated by our hotel and travel agency.
Were there any unexpected consequences to the change of plans? Positive or negative? We definitely had a little pushback about our new wedding plans, which was difficult to navigate because it felt like the entire world was against us at some points. Having unwavering support and love from your family and friends during wedding planning is super important and even more so during a pandemic, so I’m grateful everyone is on the same page about the wedding now that we’ve all started to adapt to ‘our new normal.’
What advice would you give another bride in this situation? Oh goodness, nothing can prepare you for planning a wedding during a pandemic. My advice is two fold: 1. Do what you and your fiance want to do! People will eventually get on board, even if they aren’t right away, and really what matters is you two at the end of this. This is about marriage, not the wedding, even though you deserve both! And 2. Feel all of the feelings. It’s natural and totally okay to feel all the feelings you’re going through. Lean into them. Cry, scream, punch pillows, eat a pint of ice cream, drink some wine. You are mourning what was supposed to be the happiest day of your life that was taken away by a pandemic, so it’s natural for you to feel sad, angry, depressed, etc. Eventually, you will get to the point of acceptance and will feel ready to make lemonade out of lemons. You’ll get there, I promise. You got this.
When and where were you supposed to get married? March 28th in Las Vegas.
What did you decide to do? Cancel, reschedule, postpone, elope? We originally decided we would postpone our wedding, naively believing that this Pandemic would be coming to an end relatively soon. As time went on and we realized the long term impact this virus would have on not only us, but the world, we decided that we would elope. We eloped in a very small courthouse ceremony on May 1, 2020. Following the ceremony we held an outside picnic complete with champagne toast and Publix wedding cake that stated “We Did It.” I decided to wear a white dress I bought for a dinner in Vegas with my navy blue wedding shoes and my now husband David wore a white button down, blue shorts and his navy blue wedding shoes. For flowers, I carried my toss bouquet, which felt extra special.
When did you first realize you had to change plans? What were your initial thoughts? In the first few weeks of March my dad was working abroad in Slovakia, so when the United States began closing the borders, that was our first indication that maybe our wedding wouldn’t happen. Looking back I believe deep down I knew then that we would be postponing our wedding. However, the final decision came about a week later (and two weeks before our wedding) when Las Vegas began closing hotels, including the Aria Hotel which is where we were set to stay with our closest family and friends.
What sort of financial repercussions were there to cancelling? The venue and my hair and makeup team has agreed to extend our deposit and allow us to utilize it through 2022. However at this time we don’t know if we will try and plan a second wedding to replace our original #HoffmanVegasWedding. Since our wedding was cancelled just two weeks before, all wedding attire, wedding favors with dates (custom playing cards, poker chips, koozies, cups, etc) were purchased and packed. Airlines have given us and our guests credits to use on future flights, and extended the date of usage through 2021 and 2022. The best experience was working with the hotel, everyone was able to receive FULL REFUNDS for their hotel booking and I was able to receive refunds for additional bookings (massages, cabanas, reservation deposits).
How has your perspective changed since you first made the decision to change your plans? If you can believe it, I really think I have become a better person throughout this entire experience. Of course I was devastated that something I had spent over a year planning and dreaming about was not going to happen, but I realized there was so much more going on in the world. So many friends and family members were losing their jobs. My now husband and I were so fortunate to maintain our jobs, home, health and MOST IMPORTANTLY love for each other throughout the pandemic.
Were there any unexpected consequences to cancelling? Positive or negative? I would say the only shocking element was our venue, they were not sympathetic and days after we postponed our wedding they were forced to shut down by the state. This was the second venue I toured and I chose them because they seemed to be such an accommodating and just overall great team of individuals. On social media they were even making light of coronavirus and just their overall demeanor was really off putting.
What motivated you to take the route you did? At first rescheduling seemed like an absolute no brainer. All of our guests would be able to use their airline credits to rebook, we would hold our wedding as if the new date was the original date all along. However, unfortunately even right now we do not know what the future looks like as far as holding social events. I think it was the night of our Engagement Anniversary on April 25th that we looked at each other (at home of course) while we ate the Kobes we ordered. In those moments we knew that we wanted to get married and start the next chapter of our lives. Here in Central Florida only one courthouse is open for marriage ceremonies with very specific guidelines (10 people maximum, outside, mask encouraged). We found out about it just a few days before our anniversary dinner. For the first time in a very long time (aka since March) it felt like things were falling into place and it was a sign that we should elope.
What advice would you give another bride in this situation? STAY POSITIVE! I went to college for Event Planning. Over the years I have thought about everything and anything that could go wrong leading up to a wedding… but trust me I never imagined a situation like this. Take a few days to cry and cry and cry. Watch all the wedding movies and eat all the junk food you have been keeping from yourself. But after those days, look at yourself in the mirror and remember it’s all going to be okay. Whether you decide to reschedule, postpone, or elope look at it as a new adventure that you are fortunate enough to take. When I took the negativity out of my situation and focused on the positivity my whole world changed. “Rainbows Only Appear After The Rain.”
How do you feel postponing a destination wedding made things particularly difficult? Prior to Postponing: Specifically during this pandemic every state has been able to operate differently. When Las Vegas was closing hotels and putting preparations into place to combat the virus…. Disney World was operating normal and still preparing for upcoming Spring Breaks. I had to keep an eye on what was happening all across the United States as we had guests flying in from everywhere.
Following Postponing: The added stress of not only us but knowing everyone had to deal with the different airlines was a lot. I was so fortunate that Southwest was a breeze to deal with but that was not the case for others. It’s hard knowing that some of our guests have been financially burdened by covid-19 and have funds locked up in vouchers.
Are you able to include any loved ones that were part of your original plans in your makeup ceremony? We were! The Seminole County Courthouse allowed for 10 people total (including bride and groom). Joining my husband and I was my parents, siblings, and a couple close friends. We wanted to keep this very small and created a Zoom meeting that we sent to my husbands parents, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and a few additional friends. I made all the arrangements for our courthouse wedding and outside picnic following but we didn’t tell anyone until the day before and day of.