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, Madison Vanderberg tells her story from Los Angeles.
There’s a scene in the most recent season of Vanderpump Rules where Brittany Cartwright—just weeks away from her lavish wedding—gets in a fight at her bachelorette party and, through tears, screams at everyone, “This is supposed to be the happiest time in my life!” I’ve heard this phrase a million times before, this “weddings are supposed to be" narrative, but I think it’s safe to say that 2020 brides would love a moratorium on the phrase. Planning a wedding during a pandemic is a logistical Rubik's Cube and a game of playing armchair epidemiologist and, hoo boy, it is not the “happiest time.”
I got engaged to my now-fiancé in September 2019. I never dreamt of having a wedding, but I wasn’t opposed to having one either. So after seeing how excited my fiancé was at the thought of having a wedding, I got on board with the idea and suddenly we were making our dream playlist for the reception. My only stipulation for the wedding was that we have as short an engagement as possible, so we could get to the finish line and not let wedding planning consume our lives. LOL, I’m sure you know where this is headed.
Planning a wedding during a pandemic is a logistical Rubik's Cube and a game of playing armchair epidemiologist and, hoo boy, it is not the 'happiest time.'
We were supposed to get married on June 13, 2020. When we were ordered to shelter in place in mid-March, we—like everyone else at that time—were extremely naive about the coronavirus and genuinely thought this would blow over by June. We were supposed to send out invites the first week of April, but we decided to hold off until the end of April, thinking that waiting a few weeks would somehow bring more clarity. Then, our host hotel completely shut down through July and canceled everyone’s reservations. We started to panic, but still—again, naively—thought there was a chance the hotel was being overly cautious and we could still have our June wedding. April 30 rolled around, and with no end to our city’s shelter-in-place, we finally realized that our June wedding wasn’t going to happen.
We knew we had to postpone, but to when? The president claimed the virus would be handled by Easter, but our governor extended the stay-at-home order indefinitely. There was talk of contact tracing and how it would slow the spread of the virus, but at the same time, nobody could get their hands on a COVID-19 test if they tried. People were afraid to open mail, but restaurants were reopening. Nothing made sense, and yet somehow, we were supposed to know when it would be “safe” to have a wedding!? Regardless, we panicked and thought that all the good wedding dates would be booked if we didn’t act quickly, so we reached out to our nine different vendors and started a coordinated effort to get multiple backup wedding dates secured, hoping all our vendors' schedules would magically align as we’d already spent more than half our wedding budget in deposits and could not afford to lose a vendor.
Nothing made sense, and yet somehow, we were supposed to know when it would be 'safe' to have a wedding!?
We wrung our hands waiting for caterers to email us back while fielding our own inquiries from friends on what we were going to “to do” about the wedding. My mom said the wedding is outside my control and there was nothing I could do considering the global health crisis, at which point, I would have to remind her that there were nine individuals holding a lot of our money and asking us to pick a new wedding date ASAP. So actually, there was a lot I had to do.
My fiancé and I were having to answer questions that even the president and scientists didn’t have answers to, all while trying to maintain some semblance of joy about it.
And that’s the kicker, my fiancé and I were having to answer questions that even the president and scientists didn’t have answers to, all while trying to maintain some semblance of joy about it.
We tentatively put a soft hold on a new date in September 2020, but when May rolled around and some states re-started their economies, new COVID-19 cases came along with it and family members were now point-blank saying they wouldn’t go to a wedding at all this year. Still, we were optimistic about September, but candidly, our naivety couldn't be explained by a lack of information anymore; we were just being willfully naive at this point. Naive because we really wanted to get married this year. Naive because we feared it just wouldn’t be the same if we had to wait over a year to have this wedding. Naive because we made a promise not to let the wedding consume our lives for too long.
As we watched COVID-19 cases rise, we knew there was no use in the wait-and-see method anymore. The writing was on the wall. The virus was out of control and hoping it would magically get better in the fall was a ridiculous thought. We went back to our very patient vendors and asked them what they had for summer 2021 instead. There was one date in July 2021 that worked for everyone, and even though I feared an outdoor wedding in July might be too hot for guests, I didn’t have the luxury of worrying about it anymore and that’s when it hit me.
Oh, my mom was right, I really don’t have control over this, like, at all. I can pick a new date, sure, but ultimately coronavirus is going to dictate whether or not 100-plus people without masks on can safely spend time together. We officially postponed the wedding to July 2021 and have accepted that, well, it is what it is. It might be too hot that day. We may not be as excited next year. There may not be a vaccine by July. Hell, there may not be a wedding. The truth is, I could never control any of it to begin with, and the only thing I’m “supposed” to do on my wedding day, the only thing I can truly control, is that I show up and smile and marry the love of my life, and that, I cannot wait to do.