2020 was all set to be a huge year for weddings – the visual appeal of repeating numbers in certain dates throughout the year had created a buzz about 2020 long before it came around. However, with the sudden onset of COVID-19, and the subsequent restrictions in place for social gatherings, the new reality is that everything we have been looking forward to for so long has suddenly been turned upside down.
We know that sadly many of our readers have had to postpone their weddings and that others are still anxiously facing uncertainty about their future date and we want you to know that our hearts go out to you all. We also want you to know that you are not alone.
Here at British Bride Magazine, we are not journalists safely tucked away in our offices objectively writing about weddings from a distance, dispassionately, as a means to an end, personally untouched by the critical effects of what this pandemic is doing to the world of weddings that we are so passionate about. Far from it. All of us editors are also creators, artisans and designers in the wedding industry, each of us running our own wedding businesses, and as such, every single editor - James, Lindsay, Gemma, Chenca and myself - has also been directly affected by this. Working directly with couples of our own, we know exactly what you are going through emotionally, financially and logistically and we too are hurting. We are in this together.
With that in mind, this article is about dealing with the negativity and instead rallying and keeping spirits up! This is unfortunately the situation we are in, we have no control over it so we need to work with it and do our best to come out the other side as intact as possible! Without further ado, here are my suggestions for how to deal with the impact that Covid 19 has had on your wedding on both emotional and practical levels, starting with your emotions.
Cry, shout, stomp!
Yes you have our permission – in fact, we’d actively encourage it! This situation isn’t fair. You don’t deserve it. This was NOT part of the plan. You have so many feelings and frustrations that you don’t know what to do first, or even if you want to do anything at all. It’s absolutely fine to cry about it, scream about it and get mad about it – you must let your emotions out and express how you feel.
Psychologists say that dealing with a bad situation can be a lot like dealing with grief, and people often go through the same stages: shock and denial, pain guilt, anger, and so on. Whilst you might not be able to fully squash your emotions, expert advice says that you can decide to accept what’s happened, regardless of how you feel about it. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can act from where you are, which is the only way to change how you feel. They say “Don’t wait for your feelings to change before you take action. Take the action and your feelings will change.” So be furious and upset but then be determined not to let it dominate your every waking moment, and accept it. Don’t let it win!
Celebrate your date
There will inevitably come the time when your original wedding date arrives and then actually comes around. My advice would be not to dwell on the sadness of it, don’t let it get you down but instead, you must own it and absolutely celebrate it! Think about ways to make that date special. If your ceremony venue is local to you, and (subject to restrictions) you could walk there and take a moment outside the entrance to acknowledge how meaningful the location is to you, to celebrate the date, to reaffirm how much you love each other and how this experience is only making you stronger. If your venue is not local to you then spend some time that day on other meaningful, romantic gestures - write love letters to each other about how you are feeling and how excited you are for the future, spend time reflecting on how magical your proposal was and the feeling you experienced during the early days of your engagement, perhaps plan small but thoughtful gifts to exchange, arrange a zoom call with your close family, best man, bridesmaids and raise a glass of bubbly then plan a special meal. Whatever you choose, just try not to feel sad about it but make it a special and happy date to remember on your journey to marriage.
There may well be quite a few months between your original wedding date and your new date. It’s vital to keep a positive mental attitude during this time – rather than focussing on not being married yet, think of it as a gift. We all know that time is the one thing we never have enough of, and now you do. You have time to take comfort in your relationship, your surroundings, your health, your friends and family and your blessings, try to be grateful for what you do have. It’s also a time to celebrate the strength of your relationship – you’ve experienced extreme stress and a range of profound uncontrollable emotions and have relied on each other and supported each other to get through it. Your relationship will naturally be stronger for that, which is a great foundation on which to base the rest of your lives. Focus on the fact that this is merely a short pause on your forever.
Set a new date
Looking at the practical elements of how to stay positive during this time, an important step, which some of you have already made, is to set a new date. Whilst taking this decision must have been difficult and disappointing, we hope that you can now feel a little relief. For those of you still living with uncertainly over a future date, you may be feeling powerless right now and therefore frustrated that you are not in control of what was all set to be the best day of your lives. My advice then is to grab the bull by the horns and be proactive – take charge and set a back up date, sooner rather than later. There is going to be a lot of pressure on dates at the end of this year and into 2021, so don’t leave it too late to check the availability of your key suppliers. They will be delighted to know that your desire is to keep them on board and to postpone not cancel and no doubt they will do everything in their power to accommodate you with minimal stress. There have been lots of articles posted online about insurance, contractual obligations, the cost implications of re-booking and every supplier has different terms, so speak with them directly and get a back up date in everyone’s diaries as soon as possible. You’ll instantly feel that you have got some control back and you’ll be able to relax knowing that you have re-secured your key suppliers and have therefore avoided the practical and financial complications of cancellation fees and the emotional and logistical issues of finding replacements.
Communicate with your guests
Whilst there is still uncertainly about when restrictions will be lifted you may not want to share the back up date with your guests yet but instead I would recommend that you at least communicate that you will be postponing and that a new date will follow in due course. Some stationery suppliers are creating digital postponement cards free of charge to clients who have booked their invitations through them but there are otherwise plenty of options on the web such as these from Papier or you can print your own from Etsy. Remember that your guests will be thinking about their travel plans, their accommodation, being away overnight etc so the sooner they know that the date may be changing, the easier it will be for them to investigate changing their plans without financial penalty or too much inconvenience.
Take a break from the minutiae of planning
We know that planning your wedding can take over your life! If your wedding date is imminent, most likely you have all the key suppliers briefed and most of the arrangements in place, with just some of the final details outstanding. If you have made the decision to postpone, you may find a wedding planner of help. They can then take on all the additional work of checking availability and transferring all the arrangements to the new date, saving you the legwork and the emotional drain of it all, at a time when juggling your own life / work / health / close family through this pandemic is no doubt tiring enough. Secondly, you’ll feel like you have a trusted expert by your side to work with you and help you to get back on track and ensure that from this point forward, everything is going to be under control and no detail will be missed. Subject to the new date, there may be knock on effects for certain items – whether the flowers you’d chosen are still in season, the seasonal availability of some of your menu items, the logistical considerations for the weather at the time of year for your new date on your transport, venue, bridal party attire, so your planner can help you work though all of these without it becoming overwhelming. As you have already secured your supplier team, in terms of fees this would fall under ‘partial planning’ or potentially ‘wedding day management’ (subject to how much support you’d like) so the fees are not as scary as you might think. You can then leave it all to your professional expert to manage – they will keep you informed, updated and advised, one trusted point of contact guiding you through the maze from this point forward.
If you decide to tackle the reorganisation yourself, then go through everything you had organised to date and create a new checklist for the elements that do still need to organise, list future deadlines for each. This will make you feel like you are taking control and that you know exactly what’s what.
Then just park the planning for a little while, safe in the knowledge that you can relax and take a break. This has been an extremely draining experience both physically and emotionally. Planning can wait - you’ll need to save your energy for the new future date rather than risk being exhausted – and fed up! – with wedding planning by the time the new date comes around.
I hope that the advice above is useful but if you’ve ever like to chat through your plans and get some advice, my door is always open. I’m offering 30 minute complimentary phone consultations to British Bride readers who would just like a sounding board or some guidance on their plans. Just remember, your new date will come around soon enough and it will all have been worth it; on your wedding day, you can guarantee that your wedding will be filled with huge emotion and joy, perhaps even more so as all of your nearest and dearest will be well aware of all the heartache and patience you’ve gone through to start your married life together.