September 23, 2020

How I Planned a COVID Wedding

Hi there, I’m Sam! I write blogs for Adelaide Street Media, and when I’m not flying the friendly skies as a flight attendant. For the next week or so, we will be publishing blogs on all things COVID wedding related. To kick off this series, we thought it would be a good idea to start with my story since I, like so many of you, found myself trying to plan our wedding in the midst of pandemic. 

We got married July 19th, although that wasn’t always the plan. My fiancé, A.J, proposed in May of 2019, well before the crap show that is COVID-19 unleashed its wrath. A.J. is in the military, as are several other members of my family, so we put off wedding planning as we waited to hear when my dad, brother, sister, and fiancé would be free of their duties. March of 2020 rolled around with no plans made for our Big Day! We were nearing a year of engagement with nothing to show, and my fiancé and I had had enough.

Frustration was building as it felt like picking a date was never going to happen. We finally put our foot down, picked a date, and said, “Hey everyone, we are tired of waiting on you! October 24th is our date, and we hope to see you then.” It’s funny how people will make themselves available when you get a little assertive. We learned that you couldn’t please everyone, so we prioritized each other and our marriage over an ideal guest list—yes, even over my dad, brother, and sister!

Once we chose our date, we quickly nailed down a venue and designed our invitations. Luckily the package we chose was all inclusive, so this took away a lot of the stress around wedding planning, especially since we were planning a wedding with 7 months’ notice. COVID was festering in late March as we planned for our wedding, so we asked for pandemic insurance to be added to our contract. By the way, I fully recommend anyone getting married in the next two years ask for pandemic insurance. I’ll talk more about what this looks like later in the blog series.

In terms of wedding planning, it was a stressful time. We kept an eye on our state’s events and gatherings policy to make sure we wouldn’t have to cut our guest list last minute, but we prepared for the worst. A.J. and I had several conversations about the reality of hosting a wedding during a pandemic. We talked about ways we could make our guests feel safe, what safety measures were being taken on the venue’s side of things, and a larger conversation that we found ourselves revisiting was guests not feeling comfortable enough to even attend the event.

A.J’s parents called the evening that we were sitting down to sign the wedding contract with our venue. His parents felt they would regret it if they didn’t say their piece. His mom has had pneumonia twice as an adult and wouldn’t feel comfortable attending a wedding in the midst of the pandemic, and his dad stood by his mom. Of course we couldn’t blame them. They also opened the floor to a conversation about how we would feel if someone were to contract the virus from attending our wedding, namely my 89-year-old grandma.

A.J and I were sitting on the balcony together, feeling pretty defeated. We looked like a couple of deflated balloons. We were tired. Tired of trying to please people. Tired of trying to force a COVID wedding. Tired of worrying and wondering and corresponding and planning and rushing… and all of it. Just tired. I looked at him and said, “Honestly, all of this makes me want to elope. Just me and you, maybe our parents if they feel comfortable, on an island or on a mountain overlooking the sea. I don’t really care.”

A.J. grabbed my hand, and his eyes lit up with the sweetest, shyest smile, “That sounds perfect.” 

“So we’re really going to do this?”

“We’re really going to do it.”

Luckily we hadn’t signed any contracts, sent any invitations, or put any deposits down. If you have done those things, but you’re considering eloping, postponing, or holding a celebration of your marriage later, I’ll also be talking about the different options you have in a later blog, so stay tuned! For us, we simply informed the wedding coordinator at the resort in South Carolina that we would be going a different route. 

International travel was restricted to Americans at that time, so we settled on a resort in Key Largo. We planned the whole wedding in two weeks!!! It has always been my dream to get married on a beach, and this beach was absolutely perfect. It had two trees growing together to form a natural arch right on the water. The resort agreed to shut down the beach for our special day, blocking all entrances, so no one would even wander anywhere near the wedding. It was completely private and wonderful. 

We had eight guests in attendance including the lovely sisters, Tessa and Tiffany, who doubled as our photographers. And I’m going to be completely honest with you. It was mostly sweet with just a little bitter thrown in there. We were missing a lot of loved ones, and a small COVID wedding ultimately looked wildly different than the vision we had conjured up and spoken to each other. 

Just like we did in March, we prioritized our marriage over everything else. There came a point came when we had been engaged for so long, that it seemed like we were allowing outside circumstances to get in the way of our union. Again, honesty hour over here, that caused some tension in our relationship because the other person didn’t feel like a priority. Feeling second to anything is definitely not what you want in a marriage, and we recognized that. We recognized the stress put on our relationship that came with postponing, and we said, “Thanks, but no thanks. We’re willing to make sacrifices on our wedding day, but not when it comes to our happiness in marriage.”

For us this meant no wedding party, it meant no grandparents in attendance, not all siblings, not all parents, no first dance, no big reception, and a whole other slew of no’s. But for us, that was okay. 

Please don’t read this and think, “Well she’s saying don’t have a COVID wedding.” That’s really not what I’m saying at all. I’m sharing my personal experience and why we chose to regroup and form a new plan. I’m hoping you will read this and ask yourself some very important questions. I hope this will cause you to evaluate every step of the way. Have a plan B if things go south with plan A.

Talk with your partner through the whole thing. Ask what’s most important to them and share what’s most important to you on your Big Day. And the biggest question that must be asked is how would you feel if someone contracted the virus from attending your wedding? Would you adopt the attitude of “It’s the guests’ decision if they want to attend or not. They should know all the risks and make that decision for themselves”? Or would you find yourself feeling guilty if something, God forbid, were to happen? It’s not fun to think about. Trust me, I know. But you really have to think about it. 

In the coming weeks, I’ll be spilling alllllll the tea regarding planning a wedding in the midst of a pandemic (that’s a sentence I never thought I’d type, how did we get here??), when it’s time to call it curtains on your big wedding, alternatives to a big wedding, and how to safely go through with a larger wedding in the midst of a pandemic. So please, if there’s anything else you’d like to know or pick my brain about, drop a comment! Happy planning and stay safe!


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