The guilt and weight on my shoulders as I strive for just a sliver of happiness have been unbearable.
I am a COVID bride. And I am utterly exhausted.
When I first imagined what my wedding day would look like, a worldwide pandemic was not included. Unfortunately, that is now my reality—as it is for many brides and grooms.
My fiancé and I have discussed this day for so long—well before we got engaged—and we had so many ideas for what our big day would look like (we even created a Pinterest board!). So, planning everything came fairly easy to us, and we had quite a bit checked off of our list within a week of getting engaged (back when we still had hope). We'd settled on a venue and date in the fall, decided on a caterer we both liked, figured out our color scheme, sorted out our bridal party, found an officiant, and began creating the invitations list. I even said yes to the dress.
For a brief moment, we were able to "forget" about the pandemic and just focus on our wedding and our future marriage. However, that bubble got burst very quickly, and it suddenly felt like our world came crashing down around us, as people's joy about our big day morphed into concern, then turned into anger toward us, and then eventually, into canceled plans.
To have countless people ask me to change my mind or tell me that "it's just like any other day, so wait until next year and don't worry about it," has not helped the stress or exhaustion. In fact, it's aggravated it.
Even before COVID had such a hold on everyone's lives, back when things were "normal," there were people who felt as if they had a say in how a wedding should function and where/when it should take place—even when they weren't in the wedding (and maybe not even invited!). It's a common occurrence in nearly every single wedding, in the history of ever. People like to add their two cents.
Now, don't get me wrong; we do value other people's opinions—especially from those whom my fiancé and I trust implicitly. But it doesn't even feel like it's our wedding anymore. That day has been taken away from us.
I can't tell you how many times I've had family members, friends, and strangers tell me that they're concerned about everyone's safety if the wedding takes place this year—as if I haven't thought about that or haven't been poring over every possible option to make everyone happy and comfortable. We've looked at ways to potentially have the seats and tables placed a safe distance away, to set hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations throughout the venue, to make sure the catering service is such that it will minimize contact and the spread of germs, and to allow guests to wear masks if they choose to do so.
I, too, want everything to be safe.
So, as someone who suffers from severe anxiety anyway, I've have had one too many sleepless nights trying to figure out how we can make it all work.
In addition, instead of the joy of the "typical bride experience" (bridal shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinners, etc.), it seems that as a COVID bride, I'm doomed to a daily sentence of pressure, unsolicited advice, and judgment.
Words like 'unprecedented,' 'irresponsible,' and 'dangerous,' among countless others, started to lose all meaning after being used so frequently.
As a bride, when it comes to your wedding, you never want to hear any of those words. Not only are they hurtful, but they make you feel guilty for even wanting to strive for just a sliver of happiness.
That happiness of your wedding day gets diminished and it becomes a tedious task to please everyone else rather than a fun or exciting celebration of the two of you coming together as husband and wife, as it should be.
We've asked people to put themselves in our shoes, to take just one second to think about how they would feel if they were in a situation like this—if they were constantly badgered about postponing or if they were being told they're acting like "spoiled brats" for wanting an actual wedding ceremony and reception.
And those who did have a response would say, "Well, I never had to deal with that, but I think you should (insert random suggestion here)."
If there's one thing we've all learned from the pandemic, it's this: that life is short, and we are not guaranteed tomorrow. So while we can, we want to live. We want to celebrate our love and start our life together.
Has one person asked either of us how we're doing throughout all of this? No, not once.
Have we been told that we're being "selfish" and "immature" for wanting to host a wedding this fall? More times than we can count.
Are we still planning on having a wedding ceremony and reception at our chosen venue? Likely sometime next year, hopefully.
Will we be getting married this year? Absolutely—no question. It's just not going to look like anything that we had envisioned or planned—which, frankly, sucks.
I did not ask for any of this ... I did not ask to be this exhausted ...
I did not ask to be a COVID bride.