When my wife and I started planning our wedding in 2018, we had quite lofty aspirations. There were visions of a stately manor, a wedding party one-hundred strong, and an arrival by helicopter. Okay, so that last one was me being a little silly, but we did have the intention to book a nice car or two. We started saving up to pay for our dream wedding and began meeting suppliers as fast as a Google search could locate them.
I’m a firm advocate for rigorous planning and I had 90% of the event locked down within just a few months. We were inundated with lines of communication flitting to and fro between cake makers, florists, photographers, tailors, and makeup artists. It was going to be the event of a lifetime between our two families, with the convergence of two sides becoming one.
At that point, we’d been in a devoted relationship for five years, we’d moved in together, and hated spending time away from one another. We simply couldn’t wait to stand in front of our dearest friends and family and confess that yes, we genuinely wanted to be bonded together forever. I’d never thought it possible before, but I was suddenly bursting with anticipation; slipping the ring on her finger, seeing her in her dress, and having that first dance.
And then along came COVID
When COVID-19 hit the front page of every news outlet around the world, we were just five months from the day we’d be married. It wouldn’t impact our wedding, would it? Surely not — this ‘coronavirus’ was confined to China, and we doubted it would find its way into the United Kingdom within just a few short months.
By April, we were taking drastic and desperate action to postpone our wedding, cut the guest list down, and cancel suppliers. We lost deposits, friendships, and our sanity, as we fought to book a new date, laced with a tumultuous mix of uncertainty and hope. We were distraught, the plans we’d been painstakingly constructing together for months now shot to pieces.
It was by a considerable stroke of luck that we managed to secure a new date with our venue and the majority of our suppliers. We had to make a few changes and drop a staggering amount of provisions, but we had a new date. We were to be married on October 17th, 2020 — a date that, at the time, was far in the future, and surely safe from this new virus that was tearing the world to shreds.
But then it got worse.
We were both put on furlough from our respective jobs quite early on in the pandemic, a period that lasted four months. It meant we were now able to spend an immense amount of time together, but we ultimately had less money to put towards our wedding and all the changes we’d made. There were many industries feeling the full force of the virus, including the hospitality, beauty and fashion, and yes, the wedding industry.
Within weeks, our florist expressed concerns, our hair and makeup provider dropped out, and our photographer cancelled. The news changed every single day, with various lockdowns being put in place, nationwide bans on events rolling into effect, and millions of establishments being forced to close. We were now mere months from our newly-arranged wedding day, and we were still very much under threat.
In the singular month leading up to that fateful day, we were forced to cut our guest list down to thirty people… And then down to fifteen people. We knew many couples that were cancelling entirely, losing out on thousands of pounds of money that they’d already spent. However, we’d come too far and poured too much of ourselves into this to just give up now.
Into the light at the end of the tunnel
I hope you never have to experience the stress of planning a wedding while a pandemic swirls violently around the world. We had to take every consideration into account: the safety of our guests and the venue, social distancing, heightened levels of hygiene, and plans that needed to be reworked on a daily basis. We were no longer allowed to celebrate as we once planned, our ceremony was ‘COVID-safe’, and our guests welcomed our marriage not hand-in-hand, but mask-on-face.
When the morning of October 17th came around, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was still excited, but I was intensely apprehensive. I’d tried my utmost best to hire the most reliable suppliers, book the most capable venue, and invite the most important guests. When the sun came up, it was out of my control, and all I could do was button up my suit, puff out my chest, and prepare to perform as best I could.
My best man and I (my only friend at the wedding) donned our masks, climbed into an Uber, and made our way to the venue. It was then that the nerves started to settle in; I was getting married within the next hour. Admittedly, we’d done nothing but discuss this day for years, but now that it was finally here, my mind was scattered. I was desperately excited to see my then-fiancée, and I knew I didn’t have long to wait.
We finally got our happy ending
It was absolutely beautiful.
I walked into the room, greeted by our closest family members, some of whom we hadn’t seen for almost a year. Even behind the masks, you could see we were all beaming, eyes misting, and excitement tingling. The venue and our florist had come together to create an intimate space that was quite simply stunning. It was expertly dressed and a sight to behold; it was everything I’d imagined, but on a smaller scale.
Suddenly, the coronavirus didn’t matter; not in that room, at that moment. We had a private space that we could enjoy, and I was perfectly content standing at the top of the aisle waiting for my bride to enter. Of course, she was fashionably late, but I wasn’t nervous. I just wanted to see her, to say our vows, and to finally make her my wife. When she entered the room, she was all I could see, and she was breathtaking.
She’s never been a massively outgoing individual — neither of us have — but at that moment, she commanded the room. Our socially-distanced wedding party all turned their heads, their smiles effortlessly defeating their masks. She walked to the end of the aisle, I shook her father’s hand (to hell with no contact), and simply stared at her, absorbing every molecule of the moment.
The anxiety we’d harboured about completing our vows dissipated instantly, and the words rolled off our tongues as though we’d known them for years. Which, admittedly, we did — I made sure that we both practiced the lines as soon as we knew what they were. We exchanged the rings, we shared a kiss, and signed the ledger — and finally, we were husband and wife.
We sat down with our families for the first time in months, and enjoyed a fantastic meal, humorous speeches, and many, many photos together. Unfortunately, we were unable to host an evening reception, but we didn’t mind at all. We were all together, we were happy, and we had made it.
We didn’t do this alone
If it wasn’t for the integrity and dedication of our suppliers, we wouldn’t have had such an incredible experience. It might have been a lot smaller than we’d originally planned, but our wedding was absolutely perfect, and we’re so grateful for the support we received. From the venue that made sure we were all safe to the florist that worked throughout the day to keep the room looking beautiful. And from the photographer who took the best photos of our lives to the seamstress who perfected my wife’s dress, we thank them all.
In the end, we were resilient, and refused to let COVID-19 spoil the day we’d worked so hard to have. When we look back on it, there is nothing but happy memories, and gratitude for the opportunity that we managed to secure to let everyone know how much we truly love one another.
Thank you for reading.