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Wedding Planning During a Global Pandemic

This post started as a joke horror post in our blogger friend’s group chat, but I figured… why not? Not like I’m going anywhere during quarantine =P

As some of you may know, dear readers, my fiancé and I were planning on getting married in November of this year.

As almost all of you may know, we are in the middle of a global pandemic due to the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. This is an unprecedented situation, unlike anything any of us have ever seen or lived through before.

I’m here today to talk about trying to plan a wedding amid a global crisis and collective trauma. My apologies in advance if this post seems very rough, raw, or scattered – I am trying to write what I feel, without too much editing, and I am, admittedly, not feeling a lot of good things right now.

A month and a half ago, life was normal. I had taken 2 days off in the middle of a 14-day work marathon to attend doctor’s appointments, run errands, and work on the wedding. I met with our baker to finalize our cupcake designs and pay our balance. My bridesmaids and I were to meet the next weekend for a wedding craft day. I visited my mother and my grandparents. I was supposed to get a haircut to stand up in another wedding in April, but didn’t get around to it.

Then the world screeched to a halt.

What seemed like overnight, COVID-19 hit the United States. My workplaces closed. I worked my last shift at my public library job on Sunday, March 15th, and have been working from home for my full-time job since that same week, when our state’s stay-at-home order was enacted. My fiancé got laid off and has been looking for work. There is a possibility I may be furloughed at my full-time job over the summer. There has been a reported case of COVID-19 at the senior care complex where my grandparents live. One of my fiancé’s friends, who works in healthcare, actually got the virus (don’t worry, she is okay and expected to make a full recovery at home). The wedding I was supposed to stand up in in mid-April, for two of my dearest friends, was cancelled and has yet to be rescheduled.

On top of all this, we have our own wedding to be worried about. And oh boy, am I worried about it, as well as having a mix of other fun feelings.

I am angry, first and foremost. We have been engaged since September 2017 and set our date for November 2020 so we could save money to pay for it ourselves with little to no debt. I am angry that there is a possibility our wedding may be cancelled, over something as tiny as a virus. I am angry that all our hard work from the past 2.5 years will be rendered useless if it IS cancelled. I am angry at myself for half wanting to cancel my own wedding before that decision is forced for me. I’m angry and frustrated that what work I’m able to do from home is so draining that I have nothing left, no energy to write a grocery list in the evening, let alone work on my wedding.

Above all, I am angry for letting my wedding be the main source of my stress during a global pandemic, where thousands of people are getting very sick and dying. I feel incredibly stupid and selfish for it, and yet I can’t help it at the same time. I’m bankrolling half of my wedding. The thought of postponing or cancelling is a hard and bitter pill to swallow when you know how long and hard you worked to make it happen.

I am sad. I am sad that two of my best friends couldn’t get married the way they planned. I am sad that that could be us as well. I would do anything, ANYTHING, in my power to make it not be us. I am sad because we have had family deaths in the intervening years between our engagement and now, and the longer we wait, the better our chances of further family deaths (whether from the virus or other long illnesses). The better our chances that not all of our loved ones will be at our wedding.

I am scared. One of us is out of work, and there is a possibility both of us will be over the summer. If we are both unemployed for a long stretch of time, the wedding will be a financial extravagance that we will no longer be able to afford. We will need the money we have both so carefully saved over the years for the wedding to pay rent, bills, groceries – to survive. I am scared of all the unknowns that cloud the future, especially as far out as November, which feels about as far away as the moon. No one can predict exactly what is going to happen. Not knowing, not being able to make an executable plan, feeling trapped and paralyzed by all the unknowns and possibilities – that is the worst feeling of all.

Today, I have been trying to work, trying to put together learning materials for our new circulation system, but all that is in my head are numbers. Possible date the stay-at-home order will finally be lifted. Possible numbers of acceptable maximum gatherings by November. Possible numbers of event staff/vendors we will have to accommodate, as well as our guests. Possible guests to cut. Possible ways to phrase those notifications, those rescinding of the invitations for those unlucky friends and family, to minimize their anger and umbrage.

Endless possibilities make for endless torture.

The other night, our friend who is kindly building our wedding website for us, sent us an update. I burst into tears as soon as I saw the picture. Under normal circumstances, they would have been tears of ecstasy. Our friend is very talented and he understands our vision completely. His beautiful website is everything I wanted and envisioned, and more.

Under COVID-19 circumstances, I saw the picture, and my first thought was, “I hope we’re still able to have the wedding, so all of his hard work isn’t wasted.” What would have been tears of joy transformed into tears of dread.

All the tears I’ve been shedding over the wedding are of mourning the untarnished, pre-COVID-19 vision of our day. It was supposed to be one of the best days of our lives. Both of us, and our families, have been looking forward to this day for years. While we are trying to remain cautiously optimistic and carry on with planning as if everything was normal (so we don’t have to play catch-up if it does end up happening), there will now be a COVID-19 pall over the day no matter what we do. There will be less of our family and loved ones, whether they were lost to the virus or whether we had to make cuts to the guest list to meet some obscure, as yet unknown, maximum number of acceptable people gathering in one place. There will still be fear of the virus, getting it, spreading it unknowingly, even if a vaccine is available by then. There will perhaps still be a sense that we shouldn’t be gathering together. Maybe it is too soon.

The innocence of our original vision is gone. What’s in its place is now fear, uncertainty, and what feels like an increasingly futile hope. The hope that that we will still be able to have our day the way we originally wanted it, without the stain of COVID-19 over all.

I am not looking for sympathy, pity, or charity with this post. I am simply giving a voice to my feelings, in the hope that it may help other brides and grooms identify and process their feelings with their partners. In writing this post I was able to identify and articulate exactly why it is that I am so upset. It was incredibly cathartic. I hope that my words, inelegant and raw as they may be, help someone else to do the same.

Through all of this anxious uncertainty, there is at least a silver lining. One thing Fiancé and I are grateful for: we now live together. For the first nearly 6 years of our relationship, we were long distance. We are incredibly thankful that we are both under the same roof, quarantining together, instead of worrying apart and having all of this exacerbated by the miscommunications that distance can bring.

Thank you for listening. To any future brides and grooms in our readership – I sincerely hope you are able to have your day, even if it is not what you originally envisioned.

With all my love, and all my sincerest wishes to stay home, stay safe, and wash your hands,

Kathleen

Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride

Graphic novel artist and author Lucy Knisley chronicles the story of her wedding here. She starts, of course, with the first date she and her now-husband John went on. They dated, broke up, and got back together when he proposed in her apartment in New York with his grandmother’s ring. As an artist, Lucy wanted to make her wedding completely her own. She takes readers through her process of planning and making a wedding, navigating family and friend input, and much more. And of course, she takes us through her special day at the end.

I have to admit I couldn’t read this all the way through. I skipped to the middle, then the end after the first quarter of the book. It wasn’t what I was looking for – I had been hoping to read the experiences of a fellow bride-to-be who also completely eschewed wedding traditions, but that just was not the case. I also had a hard time getting past what I see as a fundamental incompatibility in the couple. But, that’s a post for another day.

Knisley is an accomplished graphic novel artist who had a few under her belt before Something New was published, such as Relish: My Life in the Kitchen (2013) and An Age of License (2014). Because of her prior experience, Something New is very well-put together. It’s laid out in chapters, which tell a specific part of her story. Each chapter wraps up nicely while also serving to further the overall narrative, just like a traditional novel. Just as in Jarrett J. Krosoczka‘s Hey, Kiddo, the title page for each chapter is a photograph of the wedding, momentos from the wedding, and so on. I’m a fan of this literary device for graphic novel memoirs, which reinforces to the reader that we are reading about someone’s real life, not just a fictional story!

Just like the layout, the writing and art are straightforward and intuitive. It’s very easy to read, even for those who are new to graphic novels. The linework is clean, and the coloring realistic though a bit on the saturated and cartoony side. While sometimes speech bubbles may overlap the blank space between panels, it’s otherwise uncluttered. Not only does Knisley write about her personal experience, she sprinkles in facts and figures about the wedding industry, which may be helpful to brides. All is written in a conversational tone.

Something New blends memoir and nonfiction in a straightforward, yet expertly executed, way. For brides looking to make their special day their own, yet nod to traditions, Knisley will be very helpful, and will help them feel not so weird or alone in their choices!

-Kathleen

Knisley, Lucy. Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride. 2016.

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