The world became still the minute after I sent an email announcing the cancellation of our wedding. Honestly, I had not given much thought to my wedding day. I knew that I wanted to get married to the man of my dreams in order to start a life and a family—the rest didn’t seem to matter as much. The decision to cancel the wedding was not made any easier, though.
My fiancé and I were due to get married this past April in front of our family, our friends, and God, but with the rise in coronavirus cases in the US, our wedding would have been a health hazard for our grandmothers, our parents, and our immune-compromised friends. For weeks, I dealt with unimaginable anger, sadness, and grief realizing that it was more than just a wedding—it was the beginning of our life together. We wanted to have children within a year. We wanted to go on our honeymoon. We wanted to buy a house. Weddings will always come with unlikely hurdles and unmet expectations, but I have found that there is joy in life’s unforeseen moments.
Here’s what I learned from this experience.
1. I did care about my wedding day more than I had previously claimed.
I thought I was different from other women because I didn’t care about flower arrangements as much as my mother did, but I did care about the wedding day. I cared about the ritual of getting ready with my friends, having my father walk me down the aisle, and dancing the night away with family and friends. It’s not that these things are not important, but the support of my family and friends extends beyond this one day.
When the date of the cancelled wedding came around, our friends and family gathered together for a virtual celebration supporting us through the distance and the sadness. As we exchanged our thoughts and feelings about our future life together, I realized that there was more to life than a wedding. If our loved ones demonstrated their ability to show up and support us, then there must be more to life than physically celebrating a wedding.
2. It is okay to grieve your wedding day.
During the days before my fiancé and I canceled our wedding, I decided to join support groups online where other brides and couples expressed their deepest concerns about having to postpone their special days. There was finally a way to build community based on our shared experiences as Covid-19 brides. After all, I am not only mourning the loss of our weddings, but I am also grieving the collective loss of proms, graduations, baby showers, and funerals.
These pivotal rites of passage are part of what make us human. They enlighten us and provide us with a sense of comfort and contentment. But we can stand together and mourn the commemorative moments of our lives in a way that reinforces true happiness and delight in one another.
3. It’s not about the wedding, it’s about the marriage.
With the wedding industry taking a major hit, I realized that I had prioritized our plans for the future. There doesn’t seem to be much to attain from the harsh reality of not having a wedding, but I found out that there’s so much room for growth in my life. My expectations were closely intertwined with the idea of getting married. I had put my job search on hold. I had moved to a different city to be closer to my fiancé. I had let this wedding become a starting point when marriages begin with the fortitude and knowledge of the engagement period.
Most importantly, the pandemic forced me to reassess what truly matters. The arsenal of love and support that we received from our loved ones made us realize that there are more significant things than the symbolism behind wedding traditions. The undeniable relationships in our lives are what will make our marriage thrive when the day comes, but even before that our bond as a couple has grown stronger and mightier than ever before.
Canceling a wedding might have put a damper on my plans, but I figured out that I needed to reprioritize these significant moments in my life. What I learned from this experience will help me become a better wife, a better mother, and a better friend. It’s beyond easy to focus on the grievances of the pandemic’s effect on our personal lives or the increasing sense of fear, but highlighting our shared pain and trauma in quarantine might just make us more empathetic towards others.