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What It’s Like Planning a Wedding During a Global Health Crisis

As if wedding planning isn’t stressful enough, us 2020 brides have a global health crisis to take into consideration. While my wedding day is not until late September, the current pandemic due to the novel (new) coronavirus, COVID-19, has had a vast affect on my wedding plans so far. I count myself lucky that I have not had to postpone my plans like some brides I know, but I am not exactly in the clear yet.

The thing about a global health crisis is we have no idea when it will end or what the world will look like once it does. When will travel bans and restrictions be lifted? Will relatives and friends who have lost their jobs as a result of the virus be financially able to attend? Will all invited guests be healthy enough to come together in one place?

There are so many questions that require answers and difficult decisions. Us 2020 brides are facing a level of stress that brides before us likely didn’t face. So, what’s a bride to do?

How I’m Dealing With My Wedding in 2020

Whether you yourself are getting married during a global health crisis, or you’re a friend or relative of someone who is, consider the following tips to minimize stress, stay flexible, and make decisions that best suit your plans:

1. Avoid making rash decisions.

I recently joined a Facebook group entirely dedicated to brides with weddings affected by COVID-19. There have been some really powerful and emotional stories about March, April, and May brides who had to make the painful decision to reschedule their plans.

I’ve also seen updates from summer and fall brides considering doing the same. My takeaway is this: take your time and make the best choices for your personal situation.Unless your wedding is coming up very soon, take it day-by-day to assess your plans carefully.

For example, given that my wedding isn’t until late September, I am going to hold off until early summer before I decide to postpone (if I have to). We truly don’t have a handle on when this pandemic will end and what will happen once it does. Don’t do anything rash unless you have to. Breathe in; breathe out. It’s all going to be okay.

2. Prepare your back-up plan. 

It’s good sense to have a Plan B prepared in the unfortunate event you do have to postpone or cancel your wedding plans. Consider still getting married on your desired day, but perhaps hosting it in your backyard with only a small group of your most important guests.

Or, perhaps take a visit to your local town hall (if they’re still open) and have your ceremony there. Even better, get ahead of things and do speak with your vendors about pushing your plans out to a 2021 date (just in case). As long as you have something else in mind, your day won’t totally be ruined.

3. Consider your guests. 

One of my biggest takeaways from joining that Facebook group I mentioned earlier was that while your wedding is naturally about you and your fiancé, it’s also very much about your invited guests.

What’s the general health of the majority of your guest list? Have you relatives and friends suffered layoffs and financial hardships? Are some of your guests supposed to travel from out of town, state, or even country?

The financial and physical health of your guests, along with their ability to physically get to your venue, should all be considered carefully. If you can’t safely host your wedding as planned due to these reasons, it’s best to put a back-up plan in place.

4. Connect with your vendors.

It’s in your best interests to have open communication with all of the vendors you have contracts with. Most people understand that this global health crisis is completely unprecedented. No one could have expected this or planned for it.

Some vendors might be open to retaining deposits you already made and just moving your event to a new date, no questions asked. Some vendors might issue refunds. Some might not. It’s your responsibility to communicate with your vendors directly and explore your options.

You might find that a new date works for your photographer and caterer, but not your venue, in which case you’ll need to find a new place. There are so many variables (and yes it is so unbelievably overwhelming) but you need to take control (or have your wedding coordinator do so, if you have one) and make sure all your ducks are in a row.

Even if your vendors think it’s too early to make a decision, continue to stay in contact and remember to be patient with them – so many couples are going through this right now.

5. Order new stationary.

If you had to make the difficult decision to cancel or postpone your wedding, research new stationary to update your invited guests. Many couples have already mailed out save the dates and invitations, so you’ll need to inform your guests about your new plans.

I’ve already seen companies like Zola and Minted advertise change the date stationary so you can easily (and even humorously) communicate you new plans with your guests. Yes, you’ll have to order even more stamps (sorry!) but it’s good etiquette in the long run.

For example, a friend of mine sent her change of date cards with a line of text that said “Sometimes, you just have to roll with it – corona changed our plans” and the graphic had toilet paper rolls and Corona beer on it. It stinks, but her guests got a good laugh out of it!

6. Remember, you’re allowed to be sad. 

Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about being sad you had to/may have to postpone or cancel your wedding. I take it very seriously when I say it is absolutely tragic and horrific that this virus has taken people’s lives, jobs, freedom, and plans away. I fully understand and respect that families have lost loved ones, or can’t pay their bills, or have to work mandatory overtime if they are essential personnel.

I just got laid off due to COVID-19. My Maid of Honor works in a hospital and has had to pick up shifts to help support the influx of COVID-19 patients. I see the hardships associated with this pandemic.

But, that doesn’t change that postponing or canceling your wedding is sad. Some couples spend years saving and planning for their big day. You’re allowed to cry, vent, scream, and have some wine to come to terms with reality. This is incredibly stressful, but you’re not alone.

I’ve always heard that planning a wedding is stressful, but us 2020 brides are dealing with wedding stress on an elevated level.

To any couple who has had to postpone or cancel their plans, I’m sorry. It’s not fair and I feel for you. If you know someone who has had to, reach out to them and give them some love. It’s not an easy decision to make and some people are really struggling. I pray I won’t have to, but with the state of the world, who really knows. Keep on keeping on, everyone. We will get through this!

About the Author

Rachael Warren (Tulipano)

Rachael is a University of Southern Maine graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Sociology. She remotely works full-time as a Senior Content Marketing Specialist for Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. In her leisure time, Rachael enjoys traveling with her husband, finding the next Netflix series to binge, and taking too many photos of her dogs Jax and Kai. Rachael is obsessed with chapstick, favors the Oxford comma, and is a proud Mainer. You'll likely find her exploring New England + beyond.