(Above) Photo credit: Kevin Cascagnette
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou
As the Province of Ontario pulls the emergency brake on gatherings, couples who have planned nuptials, that were in many cases a reset date from 2020, found themselves once again in the crunch of the April-May and July 2021 weddings. As an Officiant my message box blew up. Lots of anger, frustration and tears. I get it.
I thought it might be a helpful thing to take a moment, to come up with some suggestions and ideas that might be valuable for couples. So take a deep breath and begin to move to Plan B and remember that everything can be managed one way or another.
It’s okay to feel sad and angry about what has happened with your wedding. It will serve you well as a couple to realistically process those feelings. Once you do that, in an earnest and sincere way, it’ll allow you to move forward in figuring out what your wedding is going to eventually look like. Even as things move back into a more “normal” post pandemic lifestyle, you will be better off to accept the fact that many things will look different, in some way or another, including large gatherings of people.
The first thing to do is to regroup and decide whether to stick to getting married, or to postpone. Pivoting a wedding, in and of itself, is a challenge, so keep your expectations realistic. Start with your vendors. Prioritize them. Who’s the most important to your wedding? You picked them for a reason and many of them are small business owners who, like you, are caught in this pandemic. No one wants to lose business but at the same time frustrations are at a peak. Pull out any and all contracts you currently have in place and make sure you go over all the fine print. You need to understand who is responsible for what with respect to everything from deposits and refunds to premiums – some couples are telling me they are having to pay fees in the rescheduling process, most often around larger all-inclusive venues.
Be sure to take the time to get the key players involved and on board for changes. Sometimes it’s the people you least expect who come up with great suggestions or ideas in taking on new directions. If we have learned anything over the past year it’s that we are resourceful. I have been privy to seeing families come together to make a wedding happen and the creativity and the positivity has been really uplifting.
Take a look at some creative ways to include those who can’t be present. This is me most obviously talking about utilizing platforms such as Zoom. Companies who are setting up live streaming/recording/interactive services for events like weddings have really just blossomed. Many of them offer services from virtual guestbooks to full live streaming that can be platformed on to Facebook, Vimeo and YouTube. I officiated a live streamed wedding and one of the coolest parts of that ceremony was the large screen that was set up where the couple and myself could see so many of their guests.
It is also really important to get everyone on board with the whole “let’s stay safe” approach. We’ve all heard the stories and more than ever we must be vigilant with safety practices. We must always comply with safety protocol. Even after there is a return to larger gatherings there will be some who will decline. Safety first, safety always.
Look for opportunities to bring elements into your wedding that you might not have otherwise done. I have encouraged so many couples to engage in a more personal way during their ceremony. It becomes a personal dialogue between two people that is pure magic. If a parent is present, have them do a reading or a piece of poetry. These moments create bespoke memories that mean so much more.
Then that brings us to the honeymoon. Immediately my brain defaults to moonlit beaches, bottomless margaritas or couples strolling along the Seine in Paris, ogling the Eiffel Tower. Set that aside but don’t let it go completely. If you’ve gotten this far, then you can go just a little bit further and hang on for just the right moment to grab hold of those honeymoon days and nights.
At the end of the day, I think it’s best to focus on what is really, truly important to you as a couple. My late parents were married in Great Britain during the war years. Her wedding ring was a slim gold band that was requisitioned from the government. I suspect, much like my parents, we’ll look back and reflect upon these the days as the words slowly spill out…”remember when…”