Having a wedding cancelled due to Covid-19

Cancelling your wedding is something you never imagine you’ll have to do. Cancelling it for a global pandemic would have seemed like a bizarre rom-com meets sci-fi film plot at the time we booked it. But for many couples this year, wedding cancellations have become a reality. For such a significant event I’ve spoken relatively little about it other than to acknowledge that yes, it’s a pretty rubbish situation. This post therefore might appear a little self indulgent but I’m hoping writing a little bit about it all will be cathartic in some respect.

James and I got engaged two and a half years ago and were due to be married at the start of June this year. We’d eventually booked it about 14 months before the ‘big day’ and from that moment it was an exciting countdown and a lot of planning and saving. It felt like we’d waited a long time and when lockdown was first announced in March it still seemed feasible that a June wedding could go ahead. By the end of April we knew it wouldn’t be the case and had to set about postponing and cancelling our wedding day and honeymoon celebrations. However there was still a chance we’d be able to continue with the legal part of our ceremony at the registry office.

As it became increasingly unlikely we clung onto that hope, even telling people we were booking everything for the same time next year in the hope we’d be able to have the celebration on our first wedding anniversary. Every time we checked the registry office website the date had changed for when they were closed to but we still hadn’t had any official communication. Eventually we received a phone call on the Monday of the week we should have been getting married on the Friday. It was upsetting, but at that point it was almost a relief to know the whole thing had been taken out of our hands. We hadn’t had to make the difficult decision about going ahead without some of the seven people we’d selected to join us at the registry office not being able to make it.

What did we do instead?

What do you do on the day you should have been getting married? We had a long weekend filled with random things but lots of time with each other. In fact, more time than we probably would have got to spend otherwise. A lot of people asked us about our plans and it did feel like we were putting pressure on ourselves to have a ‘perfect weekend’ although it couldn’t be the weekend we wanted. Ove the four days we kept booked off we went out for long walks in different places, made raspberry jam, ate lots of our favourite meals, watched all three Madagascar films and danced around the kitchen to our wedding playlist. We were also fortunate to receive some lovely gifts and cards from family and friends – our gin and chocolate collection has grown hugely! I’m not sure it’s the ‘weekend you’ll always remember’ that someone suggested it might be, but it was a lovely weekend.

It also gave us the time to move on a little bit. We’d both thought we’d coped well with everything but actually we’d been a little grumpier, upset for no reason, frustrated by silly things and that calmed down a little bit once the date had passed.

You’ve still got each other and you’ve got the rest of your lives together

We do indeed have each other and so far we’ve managed to stay relatively cheerful and healthy so can’t really complain. But sometimes hearing this isn’t all that helpful. We know it’s the being together that’s the important part but after eight and a half years I think we’ve got that covered!

It sounds terrible but I have to admit that one of the things I’ve found surprisingly difficult is hearing about other people’s plans. I know a few people who have got engaged during lockdown and are sensibly using the time they have to do all their planning now. But sometimes I really just don’t want to know. I’ll shake my head wisely and think of how foolish they are to get excited about a day which could get snatched away. Or I’ll get annoyed and want to say join the back of the queue – there are so many weddings that have been postponed how dare you try and fit another one in! I’m actually really happy for the people in question but can’t quite help where my thoughts go sometimes.

It’s also weird how much we’d both viewed our wedding as the start of the next chapter without discussing it much. We’d already acknowledged that in reality little would change (we already live together, share possessions etc) but somehow we’d both started compartmentalising life into ‘before’ and ‘after’ the wedding. By moving that date, suddenly a whole load of other things felt like they’d been pushed further away even if they hadn’t been planned for the near future. Thoughts on careers, buying a house, starting a family, getting a dog and even buying new kitchen equipment have now also been postponed until who knows when.

There are plenty of other people in the same situation

Now it’s been announced that weddings of up to 30 people will be allowed again from 4 July and so we face the decision of deciding what to do next and whether we should just get married this year and continue with the celebration next year. I’m pleased for the people who have their weddings booked this summer and autumn who now have a clearer idea of what is possible as the not knowing is the hardest part. However I can’t help but feel a little bit bitter that during June you’ve been able to do all of the following, but not have a wedding with the five people legally required for a marriage to tale place:

  • Go shopping in Primark
  • Go to a car showroom and buy a new car
  • Look around and buy a house
  • Visit a zoo
  • Play pirate adventure golf
  • Get a dog’s hair cut at a grooming salon
  • Have a socially distant barbecue with six people
  • Go to the beach

It’s become a bit of a game for James and I this month to help laugh it off. So I can do X but can’t get married. Everything in the list above seems a little more ridiculous when you say it like that.

But at least there’s next year to look forward to…

So roll on next year then? If I’m honest, I can’t get excited about it currently. Although most of our planning is done there are still bits to do but we’ve agreed to have a break before we start tackling them. June 2021 seems a long way away and who knows what might happen in the meantime?! I’m very worried we’ll be in exactly the same situation next year and that really is a devastating thought.

I am incredibly grateful that the guests who should’ve been at our wedding are safe, and know that many wouldn’t have been able to attend even if by some miracle we had been able to go ahead. I am very aware how self-pitying this post has been so sorry for moaning, but now I’ve got all of that out of the way hopefully we can start looking forward to next year.

2 Comments

  1. Michael
    June 25, 2020 / 6:24 pm

    The 6 people at a barbeque must really sting. But it’s clear that you and James have managed the ups and downs of the process with a lot of grace. I really hope that your wedding and/or separate celebrations, however they occur are as lovely and memorable as you both deserve!!

    • June 26, 2020 / 8:46 am

      Thanks Michael, that’s really kind of you to say!

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