Of all the canceled plans this year, wedding postponements feel like one of the suckiest. You spend so long preparing for a monumental day that usually requires a whole lot of planning (and down payments), only to have the curveball of a global pandemic keep you from being able to plan for anything.
But despite the stress and heartache, we all get the need to cancel big weddings this year, right? Americans are overwhelmingly dying from COVID-19 by the thousands and millions have been infected by the airborne virus, so it’s irresponsible at best to throw a non-essential wedding with lots of guests at the moment. Maybe you’ve decided to completely reschedule your vow exchange until 2021, or perhaps you chose to throw a micro celebration with safety measures in place. Or you could have been one of those couples who got hitched on Zoom in 2020 — in which case, congrats for entering the brave, new world of internet weddings!
Whatever the case, just about everyone seems to understand that now is most definitely not the time to be throwing a huge wedding. And yet, there are some people who are still going through with their jam-packed nuptials and not fully considering that doing so also means that they’re joining the infamous ranks of Donald Trump’s super-spreader campaign rallies.
In fact, seven deaths and 177 COVID-19 infections were traced back to an August wedding held in Maine. There’s also the story of 57-year old retiree, Jo Ellen Chism, who reluctantly attended her stepson’s Texas wedding in June, only to contract COVID-19 along with twelve other guests — including her 10-year-old grandson. “I could just kick myself because I probably shouldn’t have gone to that wedding,” Chism told The New York Times. “I am really thankful I was not terribly ill.” As the result of an October wedding in Long Island, where 91 people were in attendance despite the state-mandated 50 person limit, 30 people tested positive for COVID and 160 more were forced to quarantine due to contact. Vanderburgh County, Indiana has seen a similar situation with weddings; so has Sauk County, Wisconsin. And these are just the ones who’ve made the news.
If the message hasn’t been made crystal clear yet — please don’t be the selfish jerk who puts your loved ones at risk because you just have to throw your ginormous wedding this year. Instead, be more like my awesome little sister Whitney Wolf, a NYC-based singer-songwriter who made the tough decision to push back her September wedding for the safety and well being of everyone involved.
My sis is one of my BFF’s and legit one of the best human beings I know. When the pandemic hit, she was forced into an impossible choice – follow through with getting married, which she’s been dreaming of doing for years, or put all of those dreams on the shelf again to keep everyone safe. Whitney, of course, chose the latter. And it doesn’t surprise me. Because in all of the time that I’ve been lucky enough to know and love her, my sister has always had a generous heart and the intelligence to understand the gravity of a situation like this.
“My fiance’s parents had gotten COVID and my father had just been through health issues the year leading up to the wedding,” Whitney tells Scary Mommy. “In our minds, we wanted to eradicate any potential of spreading COVID at our wedding. We wouldn’t have been able to live with ourselves knowing a day that was meant to be so beautiful ended up hurting people.”
Instead of going the route of a micro wedding with COVID guidelines in place, Whitney chose to postpone and reschedule her celebration, a decision that she made with my amazing future brother-in-law Evan Nissenbaum. “We weren’t really willing to give up our vision for what the day and the events leading up to it would be,” Whitney shares. “Evan and I both love to party and dance and be with friends and family, and the idea of not being able to hug our loved ones or dance safely just wasn’t for us.”
The most challenging part of cancelling her wedding was letting go of the expectations Whitney had of the year that was intended to be full of joyful event planning. Despite having small families, taking the time to bring everyone together to celebrate meant a lot to the couple. “It just felt really unfair that each day of ‘engaged bliss’ we were supposed to be having were actually days of anxiety about potentially losing jobs, our loved ones getting sick, and watching all the events we were excited for get canceled and pass by,” she tells Scary Mommy.
Everyone — including her big sis! — has wholeheartedly supported Whitney’s decision to reschedule and has tried to comfort this bride-to-be during a really tough time. But none of us truly know what it feels like to be the one putting a wedding on the back-burner, which has led to an understandable amount of isolating emotions for the couple.
Since Whitney has been a devoted bridesmaid and Maid of Honor in a bunch of weddings, having to push back something that she has been wanting to experience for herself has been beyond difficult to navigate. It’s not like anyone gave couples a manual on how to reschedule a wedding and bear the financial ramifications of doing so when a global pandemic suddenly hits. It’s also just really sucky to come to terms with the fact that you’ve found deep and lasting love, were completely ready to affirm that love in front of all your family and friends, only to be sent the direct message that your wedding timeline has to be put on a “TBD” hold.
“A good handful of people thanked us for postponing it and not putting them at risk,” she explains. “The one thing a lot of people said (and still say) is ‘at least you have each other.. your love is all that matters.’ And while that statement is true, I think it doesn’t quite encapsulate the full meaning of planning your wedding day and watching the plans not come to life. I think it’s hard for people to know what to say — so for us, we’ve just appreciated the support and allowing us to feel pain without judgement.”
As of right now, Whitney is planning to exchange vows with Evan in June of next year. But she also knows that plans can continue to change, so she’s doing her damndest to remain flexible. As her sister, I’m a hot mess mixture of excitement and nervousness as I prep to be one of the two Maids of Honor at her wedding. I’m also trying to be there for Whitney at a time when she deserves the extra emotional support, especially since I know firsthand how meaningful the experience of getting married is.
I also know how phenomenal my sister is, and my heart breaks for her right now. But the thing about Whitney is that she has always been unbelievably resilient and brave. We’ve been through a lot together as kids and adults, and my baby sis has this lovable tendency to make me feel like she’s the older sibling because she’s so damn responsible and thoughtful. So I’m doing my best to remind her that right now, it’s totally okay to let go of her event to-do list for a bit and just mourn the wedding she can’t have yet. It’s okay for her not to be okay right now.
“It’s so hard to know what the future brings,” Whitney says. “If there’s a spike and it’s unsafe for people to attend, we’ll hope our venue could accommodate a smaller micro wedding, where everyone can get tested before and after easily, or we will be forced to postpone it yet again. At this point, it’s hard to get too committed or too excited about it, as it still feels very up in the air — how romantic!”
To anyone hoping they can still get married during COVID, my sister has some great advice — embrace the idea of a smaller wedding and let go of what you cannot control.
“Depending on your state’s restrictions, you can gather safely and ask everyone to quarantine before and/or get tested,” she tells Scary Mommy. “Those that are willing and comfortable with doing it, will. You just have to readjust your expectations. This year is not going to allow you to have the exact image of the wedding you’ve put in your brain… but that doesn’t mean love is canceled. You can still get married. And honestly? I would get married twice. Do something small, then have a big party next year. Double the fun.”
If my fabulous little sis can do the right thing by postponing her big, wonderful wedding, then surely you can figure out how to do it too. Please stop treating your highly populated vow exchange like it’s an emergency or an essential event. If you do get married this year, keep it safe and small. If you end up going rogue despite my words of caution and choose to pack a venue to the brim with loads of people, chances are likely that you will ultimately end up on everyone’s COVID shit list. And that’s no way to start married life.