As “wedding season” approaches, many couples across the country and the world are struggling with the realization that the big day they planned may not turn out the way they expected. While each state has their own set of guidelines related to reopening, sheltering in place, and social distancing, one thing is for certain: no one knows exactly when life as we knew it will get back to normal.
If you’re in the midst of planning your wedding, you’ve likely been faced with a difficult decision – and you’re not alone. We’re sharing the stories of four real brides-to-be who have had to postpone their celebrations due to COVID-19. One was set to wed this month, while another had to make the difficult choice to postpone a destination wedding in the fall. Read on for their stories, as well as tips on how to navigate this “new normal” while also planning a dream wedding.
Photo by Julie McGregor Photography
Tess Paredes was supposed to get married in Portland, Oregon, on April 19, 2020, but when the world as we know it started to change in March, she and her fiancé Joe Wendt made the decision to postpone their nuptials to July as nearly half of their guests would be traveling to attend. "Luckily, I had my bachelorette party early, which ended up being more of a 'last hoorah' than we all anticipated now that we are on stay-at-home orders!" Tess reflects.
Though she was nervous to tell friends and family about the postponement, Tess affirms that everyone was extremely understanding and she felt more optimistic after everyone was made aware. “Once we made the announcement, I felt so much better! I was getting texts from people after every Presidential press briefing asking if we had heard the latest news and what we were going to do... That added to the stress,” she confirms. “Once we had formally announced that we were postponing, the messages slowed down and felt much more supportive. I am still nervous about if and when our wedding will actually happen, and how many people will feel comfortable attending,” she shares. “My heart isn’t set on our new date like it was before, I’m not counting down the days, and I haven’t even sent out new invitations. I hope these feelings change as that day gets closer.”
Since her original wedding date wasn't what she planned and she’s feeling apprehensive about the uncertainty of the future, Tess and Joe chose to focus on what they could control: celebrating their original wedding date instead of feeling upset. "My maid of honor and bridesmaids put together a really special surprise delivery of Champagne and donuts in front of our house, along with a Zoom call with all of our friends and a photo shoot," explains Tess. "Our photographer lives within walking distance and we set up everything outside, so we could adhere to social-distancing standards. We dressed up, drank Champagne, and celebrated our love. It's like we get two wedding days now!"
Photo by Christine Flower
After carefully staying informed of the news leading up to her Memorial Day Weekend wedding, Chloe Gaffney made the decision to postpone her long-awaited celebration. "We got engaged in December 2018 and have been dating for over 10 years, so we were truly excited to approach our wedding date; however, as the days in March brought only dire news in relation to the pandemic, and the situation continued to escalate exponentially, we knew it was time to have an open-hearted and honest conversation with each other and with our families surrounding our spring plans," she confirms. “Now more than ever, we are so grateful for family, friendships and resilient bonds that extend infinitely beyond six feet of social distancing. We knew that it was the best decision for us and for our loved ones to postpone the celebration to June 2021.”
After making their decision, Chloe and Isaac Axelrod alerted their family and wedding party in person – or rather, over Zoom – and then updated their wedding website with clear messaging and drafted a heartfelt note to the rest of their guests, which was sent via email. Though it was a trying choice, Chloe shares that they felt much better once the decision was made. "We felt that during this surreal time, it is most important to focus on what we can control and what matters most to us: health, safety, compassion, gratitude, and patience,” she says. “Removing the stress of uncertainty and anticipation by postponing our wedding to – hopefully – brighter times helped us immensely."
Alyssa Meeks was all set to say "I do" on June 20, 2020, until her months of plans were put on hold. "We were one week from the bridal shower, when it felt like life around us just stopped," remembers Alyssa. "As a business owner, I was watching the CDC guidelines pretty closely. Once my fitness studio was issued for closure, I knew it wouldn't be good... bridal shower, canceled. Bachelorette party in Cabo, canceled... and worst of all, on April 1st – no, this was not an April Fools joke – we got a call from our wedding coordinator, who highly suggested we start looking at other dates."
Though they were upset that their big plans were changing, Alyssa and her fiancé James Stucky chose to focus on the positives and make the announcement as “fun” as possible. “We decided to send out ‘Save the New Date’ cards. It was an additional expense, but here’s the thing: we’re making history. Not many people will ever receive cards like these – a global pandemic wiping out your wedding?! This needs to be documented! I told my fiancé, I feel like more of our guests will save the ‘Save the New Date’ card than the actual invitation because well, it’s never been done before!” Though she’ll be getting married in the fall, Alyssa is still looking forward to wearing her dream wedding dress, which was selected for a summer setting. She confirms: “It’s still the dress I chose to wear and will love to wear it regardless!”
With the birth of their daughter Alessandra being the best day of their lives, Taylor Hall and her fiancé Carlos Rojas were excited to celebrate the next-best day: their wedding. “We had everything planned... from the location to the live band, to the cuisine and specialty drinks, to the welcome reception, after-party, and everything in between!” begins Taylor, who made the incredibly difficult decision to move the wedding date to November 2021 due to the unprecedented times. “It was especially hard for me as this is a day I have dreamed about since I was a little girl, a feeling I know I share with all women alike. The number one reason we decided to move the date was because although it’s our big day, it is also for all of our guests – who we are asking to take time out of their own lives and plan a vacation in Hawaii with us... not a small ask!”
Though everything may be more under control in the fall, they didn’t want their friends and family to feel as if they were forcing them to make their own decision: being there to celebrate with them or being responsible for their own health and welfare. "This is such an odd time and so we believe that we all need to come together more than ever and think about one another... so we made the decision for everybody," she explains. Once they made the choice, they felt a huge sigh of relief. “We would have been extremely disappointed if we knew many of our older guests, like our parents and grandparents, wouldn't feel comfortable coming knowing the risks,” confirms Taylor. “Also, I know this is stating the obvious, but weddings aren't cheap. The only reason we booked a seven-person band is so that everybody could be partying on the dance floor with us!”
“It’s okay to be bummed – take time to yourself to grieve. The stress of making the decision was a lot worse than the actual decision to postpone the wedding… I think my fiancé and I needed to sit with it alone for a day before sharing the news. I left my phone on the charger in the bedroom and kept myself busy with projects around the house – I completely unplugged. That alone time allowed me to share the news in a positive way. By the next day, I felt a lot better about the whole situation and could set a positive tone with my friends and family. This postponement is just another part of our love story.” - Tess Paredes
“Communicate with your partner honestly to ensure you’re on the same page, and to come to the decision that is best for you as a couple and for your guests. Trust your instinct for what makes the most sense for your own situation, and also trust that you made the right choice once the decision is made in order to enable a sense of relief from the added stress of uncertainty.” - Chloe Gaffney
“Do it sooner than later! As scary as it seems, the relief you feel once it’s officially postponed is worth it. Not knowing whether or not your wedding will be taking place might be one of the worst feelings of all. Take a deep breath and just make the call.” - Alyssa Meeks
“Go with your gut. Weddings are extremely emotional and I found that I let my own emotions take over my judgment. Luckily, my very-analytical fiancé helped me realize what is most important. Is it one day, or is it a day with all of our loved ones? It was really quite easy once we were thinking through the fundamentals.” - Taylor Hall