As a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, couples all over the world are having to make a very difficult, and often heartbreaking, decision to cancel, postpone, or adjust their best-laid wedding plans. To share their stories—and, hopefully, help our readers process this admittedly emotional and fluid situation, we are asking those affected to share their "Change of Plans" stories in their own words. Below, Janell M. Hickman tells her story from Brooklyn, New York.
I was never one of those girls who dreamed about my wedding—but around our fifth year of dating my now fiancé, I started to become more consumed with getting married. Let’s just say patience is a virtue because we didn’t get engaged until year 10 of dating, on July 7, 2019, in Ottawa, Canada, to be exact. A close friend of mine told me to enjoy being a new fiancée because once we started wedding planning, it would not stop. She was 100 percent right.
Because we both are Caribbean heritage, people assumed we would have a beach wedding, but that wasn’t really our vibe. Humidity, sand, and possible rain showers did not sound delightful. Instead, we opted for a desert vibe, selecting Los Poblanos Historic Inn, a very chic lavender farm in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as our venue. It was stunning, and the staff was even more delightful. We were thrilled, everything about it was perfect, including it was the same week as the annual Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.
We actually had our final venue walkthrough and menu tasting a few weeks before COVID-19 really hit, and NYC basically shut down. I remember feeling really on edge about flying, but at this point, everyone kinda had the attitude that “this will last about two weeks....” Hindsight is 20/20, pun intended.
I was in the middle as I started to question what gathering 120-plus people would look like during such an uncertain time.
Around mid-April is when other brides I knew were discussing postponing their weddings. Some pushed to fall 2020 and others to summer 2021. All of my vendors remained hopeful that things would be better by October. I was in the middle as I started to question what gathering 120-plus people would look like during such an uncertain time.
The planner in me decided to take action. “We should poll our guests!” I thought to myself to get intel on how people are feeling about traveling. Of course, everyone was itching to get out, and 70 percent of our friends and family were ready to go—and left encouraging, thoughtful messages that made me think “maybe, we can do this…” And, then I spoke to the venue in late May.
Like most people in the wedding industry, my event coordinator was keen on finding solutions. The team at Los Poblanos had literally thought of everything from how frequently the bathroom would be cleaned to no passed hors d'oeuvres—and even where lavender-infused hand sanitizer would be located on the premises. To me, it was starting to sound like a beautiful nightmare. Yes, there was a strong contingency plan, but...Would panic overshadow the actual party aspect? Would my guests avoid each other? Would anyone dance? Would I say “I do” to a crowd of our loved ones in masks? It all felt like a lot.
I’ll admit we toyed with pushing back our wedding to 2021. But I told Desi making not one but two cancellations would probably break my heart. We planned on canceling indefinitely, but our venue beat us to the punch. They ultimately decided to cancel all 2020 and 2021 medium-to-large weddings, including our own. I felt the tiniest bit of relief. Finally all the “what next?” questions dissipated as they pertained to our wedding. We could move on to plan B—or, real talk: just stop planning.
I only cried twice about canceling the wedding. The first when we were dancing in our living room after dinner—I realized we may not have a traditional first dance—and the second when I emailed all of our guests about the change of plans. Something about hitting "send" made it feel too real.
Trying to have our large-scale wedding in the climate was like trying to make “fetch” happen—in fact, it felt pretty selfish.
Over the past few months, I kept reminding myself that not having “my dream wedding” wasn’t a deal-breaker, considering everything happening surrounding race relations in the U.S., hearing more and more frequently about coronavirus-related deaths that hit close to home, and millions of job losses. Trying to have our large-scale wedding in the climate was like trying to make “fetch” happen—in fact, it felt pretty selfish. Our love wasn’t going anywhere, but due to aging parents, waiting also felt like a gamble. Like many, we feel like 2020 is still our year to make things official.
Now, our new attitude is “same love, new plan,” and I quickly began researching what it would look like to have a very intimate gathering of family-only in Brooklyn. Mentally, I was burnt out from planning wedding number one, so I decided to hire Fallon Carter Events to help me navigate all the scenarios for wedding number two, plus liaison with my new vendors, including our dreamy location Brooklyn Grange Farm. I went from having a year-plus to plan my wedding to 90 days. It’s been wild, exciting, stressful but also fun. In a short span of time, I had to pull together everything from finding a dress to getting custom rings designed to brainstorming a new look/feel/vibe.
As I pen this, we are months out from our new date—September 20, 2020—so realistically I have NO idea what will happen. Most of our family (with the exception of my parents and two best friends) are located within the tristate area, which eliminates some travel worries. Also, my mom volunteered to drive 17 hours so as not to miss the wedding, LOL.
I went from having a year-plus to plan my wedding to 90 days. It’s been wild, exciting, stressful but also fun.
Our guest count also dropped from 120 to 30 people, which includes our vendors. Everyone else will tune in via live stream, which on the bright side, opens us up to including more friends that, due to cost restrictions, we previously had to cut. At this point, even if it’s just the two of us, we are confident that our special day will still be “special." It will just feel and look a little different.
P.S.: If travel bans aren’t imposed, we plan on heading to Albuquerque for our mini-moon on our original wedding date. Everything is booked, so why not?