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, Olivia Muenter tells her story from Philadelphia.
My fiancé and I officially decided to postpone our May 2020 wedding to April 2021 more than 60 days before our originally planned wedding date. Because we were two months away from our wedding date when we made the call, it gave us ample time to make decisions surrounding vendors, rescheduling, and how we would tell guests.
It also gave me time to build up a sense of complete and total dread when it came to May 9, the day we were supposed to get married. It was the date inscribed on my wedding band and pasted on the fridge. It was what we had enjoyed counting down to for nearly two years. In a lifetime of unmemorable days, 5/9/2020 was supposed to be the one we always remembered. The idea that now it would just be like any other day made me feel impossibly sad. And as calm and collected as I had managed to be after officially rescheduling, I was afraid that when we finally arrived on May 9, it would completely unravel me.
In a lifetime of unmemorable days, 5/9/2020 was supposed to be the one we always remembered. The idea that now it would just be like any other day made me feel impossibly sad.
As we stayed at home for longer and longer due to COVID-19, May 9 also got closer and closer. I had images of waking up on that Saturday and looking outside to see picture-perfect weather—that it would be 70 degrees, sunny, and a frustrating reminder of how things could have been. Family and friends asked what Jake (my fiancé) and my plans were for the day and how we were planning to distract ourselves. In any other situation, I can imagine us handling a big disappointment or stressful time by booking a last-minute trip, getting drunk in our favorite bar, or making a reservation at a fancy restaurant just because. Now, none of those things were options.
When May 9 finally did come around, it had been officially 60 days of staying at home—no restaurants, no traveling, no seeing friends or family. Nothing. And though the current state of the world makes almost nothing seem like a sure thing, one thing remains true through all of this: Time passes, no matter what. So as much as I would have liked to skip over it entirely, May 9 arrived like every other day arrives—whether we liked it or not.
If you had told me six months ago that a May 9, 2020, weather forecast of gale force winds, winter temperatures, and rain (even brief snow) would be the best news I had gotten in weeks, to say I would have been confused would have been putting it lightly. For more than a year of planning, the idea of bad weather on our wedding day had been a source of anxiety for me. “What if we plan all of this and spend all of this money and rain ruins it?” I remember thinking to myself. Ah, what I wouldn’t give now for a time when rain felt like the most upsetting thing the universe could throw at us. In reality, the fact that May 9, 2020, was the worst early May weather Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had seen in a decade felt like a big relief. As much as it sucked to not be getting married, standing outside in a giant winter coat and saying, “Well, at least we aren’t taking wedding photos in this!” helped. But it was what happened throughout the day that made it not only bearable but special.
From the very beginning of the day to the very end, the messages and gestures from loved ones poured in. Before I even knew it, May 9—the day I had dreaded for months—had come and gone.
That morning, one of my maids of honor dropped off a gift basket of wine, board games, chocolate, and more for Jake and me. The fact that they had thought of us and carved out time to try to make our day "a little better" brought tears to my eyes. And then the doorbell kept ringing. Jake’s parents and brother sent us a package of wine and snacks to enjoy throughout the weekend. A dear friend sent us a bouquet of flowers. People I barely knew Venmo’d me money for me to buy wine and dumplings. Our videographers sent us a special message saying they were thinking of us and couldn’t wait for our April 2021 wedding. Friends sent over ice cream cakes and cookies and chocolates. People messaged me on Instagram and Facebook that they were thinking of us. My parents sent us a fancy wedding cake decorated with our wedding colors and our new wedding date. From the very beginning of the day to the very end, the messages and gestures from loved ones poured in. Before I even knew it, May 9—the day I had dreaded for months—had come and gone.
There’s this thing that married people tend to say about weddings when you ask them what their favorite part was. It usually is an answer that goes something like this: “It’s just the most amazing feeling to be surrounded by everyone you love in one room. To have them all there for you.” On May 9 and day 60 of staying home, I expected to feel angry—that we weren’t having the wedding we had planned but also that we weren’t seeing our loved ones and friends. Some were flying from other countries. Some we hadn’t seen in years. All of them had counted down the days and months with us.
In the end, we felt their love on May 9 all the same. They may not have all been in the same room as us, but we were still surrounded by everyone we loved. So when people ask me one day what my favorite part of my wedding day was, it’s possible that I’ll say something about the big, in-person celebration I know we’ll have with all of our friends eventually. But it’s also possible I’ll talk about May 9, 2020, too—when no one was in the same place, but everyone showed up for us anyway.