Change of Plans: Thanks to COVID-19, I’m Now a Marriage Enthusiast

“The truth is love and a global pandemic got in the way of my plans to never marry.”

change of plans

Art by Cristina Cianci

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, Sophie von Haselberg, actress and co-host of the podcast, Having a Night, tells her story from New York.

Since my early twenties, I’ve been staunchly against marriage. The idea of it has always been a bit ridiculous to me: a distinctly old-fashioned concept in which we bind ourselves to another human by contract in spite of the fact that we have no idea who this other person, or we, may become. “OK, fine,” you might reply, “you don’t like marriage, but there’s no way you don’t love weddings!” And a part of me would agree: I love to dance, I adore a stiff drink, I live for a riotous toast—I even cohost a podcast dedicated to hosting parties! (It’s called Having a Night, and you’ll either love it or you’ll think we’re total idiots. Shameless Plug Alert.) But after a decade of 15 weddings a summer, they’ve all started to meld into an indistinguishable—though very fun—blob.

The truth is love and a global pandemic got in the way of my plans to never marry.

And yet here I am, anti-marriage and tepid on the subject of weddings, writing an article for a bridal publication and grinning like an idiot every time my husband walks into the room. The truth is love and a global pandemic got in the way of my plans to never marry. 

I’d been with Harry, my now-husband/inamorato/BFFAEAE for a year-and-a-half when COVID-19 hit our New York shores. One night we were having dinner with friends, ragging on people who had stockpiled toilet paper, and the next night we were packing our bags to move upstate and in with my parents, who we knew would have enough toilet paper. 

Then time collapsed in on itself and months flew by in a flash of bad news, worse news, fear, anxiety, and booze. And Harry and I, both card-carrying members of the never-getting-married club, suddenly felt the "why" of "why get married?" slowly start to give way to "why not?"

The realities of COVID-19 forced us to confront what it would mean if one of us became gravely ill. Wouldn’t we want the solidity that comes with being a spouse?

We are—though it makes me blush to write it—madly in love. I consider watching him take a nap, one of life’s most scintillating activities, which either makes me a total perv or an absolute sap. And the realities of COVID-19 forced us to confront what it would mean if one of us became gravely ill. Wouldn’t we want the solidity that comes with being a spouse? That no-matter-what-we’re-in-this-together thing? And, of course, those important rights and protections? It came as a shock to both of us that the answer was a resounding “yes.” 

sophie
Courtesy of Sophie von Haselberg

Having answered that, the only question left was “why wait?” So 10 days after our mutual proposals—très moderne!—we married amongst a few friends, lots of laughs, several tears, and very little fanfare. The one thing I hoped our wedding would be was personal, and we decided the only way to do that was to do everything ourselves. As fate would have it, it was the middle of the pandemic lockdown, so we had no choice! My parents, Harry, and I each took on various components. My mom created beautiful flower arrangements while I tried on every silky thing in her closet, settling on a vintage onesie. My dad agonized over where to get the best steaks. Harry went down a rabbit hole deciding which wines to serve, from which I’m not quite sure he’s entirely returned. Since we wanted to ensure everyone’s health and inviting people to a wedding during a pandemic is a major ask, we busied ourselves figuring out an XXL table outdoors, allowing all eight of our guests to sit a sexy, safe six feet apart

The one thing I hoped our wedding would be was personal, and we decided the only way to do that was to do everything ourselves.

The heart of every good dinner party is, of course, the food, and a wedding is a chance to have the ultimate dinner party, isn’t it? So we spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about the meal. We swiftly decided that since the four of us were playing the roles of chefs, servers, and guests of honor, everything should be family-style. We started with antipasti (always scrummy and simple to prep), and Ari, my podcast cohost and fellow glutton, brought an unforgettable gift: a few dozen fresh oysters. My dad grilled some ribeyes (rare! no leathery steaks, I beg of you!) and we made a big salad with a classic vinaigrette: dijon mustard, one crushed clove of garlic, Banyuls vinegar, and tons and tons of grassy olive oil. A friend down the road made two beautiful, untiered cakes—one chocolate-Guinness, one lemon-elderflower—which Harry promptly smeared all over my face. 

The day was my definition of perfect, which is to say, a little hectic, very spontaneous, and supremely fun.

couple
Courtesy of Sophie von Haselberg

The day was my definition of perfect, which is to say, a little hectic, very spontaneous, and supremely fun. Two of our best friends from college (at whose wedding we first kissed! Can you say… #fullcircle!?) performed an astonishingly beautiful ceremony in the woods behind our house, and then we planted two tiny pear trees on a hillside—nothing like a pair of wellies and a spade to convince me it was a “rustic” wedding. Our eight guests took a handful of grainy photos on their iPhones, leading me to throw a lot of shade after the fact about the under-use of portrait mode. But the truth is I was relieved no one was on their phone the whole time trying to get the best shot. After the long dinner, we lit sparklers and sat around talking into the wee hours. 

Was it an epic rager? No. But was it a much-needed moment of respite and celebration in the midst of an incredibly confusing time? Absolutely. And did it feel, to Harry and I, like a day that was totally and completely ours—tiny, personal, homespun—from top to toe? You bet your butt it did! So, yes, that is the sound of me, leveling up and becoming a wedding—and even marriage!—enthusiast. Who would’ve thunk? 

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