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, Rachel Krusec tells her story from Chicago.
A motto my fiancé and I have shared throughout our relationship has been “expect the unexpected.” To us, “expect the unexpected” means not being surprised by an unusual event. It helps ease life’s inevitable disappointments—large or small—when they arise. We've applied this motto to everything from needing sudden car repairs to overly stressful work projects and undelivered Amazon packages. Little did we know how much more serious our phrase would become just weeks before our wedding.
My fiancé, Karl, and I got engaged in October of 2019. This, I was expecting because we both knew we wanted to marry each other and often discussed it. He proposed at the same beautiful location as our first date at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, where we live. Now having my dream fiancé, we got to plan our dream wedding, setting a date for May 2, 2020.
I had always heard that no matter how special your day is, or how much planning you do, things can go wrong on your wedding day. In fact, many people advised us to expect something to go wrong. A coworker told me that their cake accidentally turned out leprechaun green. One of my bridesmaids received the wrong flowers at her reception. It stormed all day at my cousin’s wedding.
Yet, we never thought we would be getting married amidst a pandemic. Even before coronavirus started to spread around Chicago, we experienced obstacles with our wedding plans that were out of our control. More than half of our invitations got lost in the mail (even though most of our guests live locally!), eventually showing up nearly a month-and-a-half later. Soon after, the store where we ordered our wedding favors burned down. While unfortunate, we found it easy to manage these disappointments in comparison to what was coming our way.
We had nothing to worry about, right? We weren’t going to have that many guests.
We were still happily going through with our wedding plans when the CDC recommended canceling gatherings with more than 250 people in March. We had nothing to worry about, right? We weren’t going to have that many guests. Then, events with 50 people or more were canceled. Then, 10 people. Then, stay at home orders took place—concerts, sporting events, business meetings, and schools were all canceled, even weddings. We waited to make any quick decisions regarding our wedding as the safety precautions were changing rapidly. While waiting, I focused my energy on receiving my wedding dress, which was supposed to come around this time.
I expected the unexpected, but I certainly did not anticipate losing my wedding dress.
When I called the bridal salon to check on my gown, I got some devastating news: They were forced to permanently close after suffering economically due to the impact of coronavirus. I expected the unexpected, but I certainly did not anticipate losing my wedding dress. Empty-handed, I searched for a last-minute gown. My mother, who saw me in distress, activated her super-detective skills, tracking down my original dress that was being held by the designer. I was in sheer disbelief to retrieve the gown I loved! After it was shipped to my house a few weeks later, the rest of our wedding replans fell into place.
Like a lot of couples getting married this spring, we had to ask ourselves: Do we cancel or postpone? Karl and I knew that our priority was to still get married on our original date, no matter what. That was an easy decision. Thankfully, our officiant is my brother-in-law, so he could marry us anywhere since we have our marriage license.
Still, we had to consider several backup plans because, at this point, the safety concerns with COVID-19 were changing daily. We basically had to replan our entire wedding, making a Plan B—and, then, a Plan C. We had to accept that we would not be able to have our reception or all the people that we imagined there. Ultimately, we made what we felt was the safest decision we could make: We'll marry in an intimate backyard ceremony with only our families present on May 2, 2020, our original wedding date, and celebrate with our loved ones at a reception we've rescheduled for a later date.
Karl and I remind ourselves that changing our wedding plans allows no one to be at risk. It also makes us smile that having a reception on a later date will be like having two anniversaries.
When we decided to postpone our reception to a new date, we faced the reality of possibly not being able to keep all of the original vendors we wanted. To officially choose our new date, we asked both our venue and photographer their availability and picked one that they had common: August 1, 2020. Thankfully, our venue, The Oaks at Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, let us choose a new date without losing out on our deposit or original contract. Even before Karl and I were engaged, we imagined our reception there because of the extraordinary drinks and food—the popcorn rock shrimp is our favorite!—and the classy décor, which suits our style. We also wanted to keep our wedding photographer, Picture Me This By Lacie. We had an awesome engagement photo session with her, and she's since helped us come up with a new plan for wedding portraits: We're going to do an extra solo photoshoot in the city the day after our reception! That means I’ll get to wear my wedding dress for our ceremony, reception, and post-wedding photo shoot. (Not most brides can say they wore their wedding dress three times!)
These past few weeks have taught me how important it is to unwind, both mentally and physically. I’ve enjoyed taking walks with my fiancé, watching Netflix, and playing games with him. Ironically, social distancing has brought us together. We are grateful that we and our families have been healthy during this pandemic. The most important thing is everyone’s safety. Karl and I remind ourselves that changing our wedding plans allows no one to be at risk. It also makes us smile that having a reception on a later date will be like having two anniversaries. We plan to dance the night away with all of our dearest family and friends like we originally intended. Although not always easy, we're trying to focus on the positive of our situation: We still get to be married; we will have an intimate backyard ceremony; we have each other.
We will take our motto of “expect the unexpected" beyond our wedding planning. Our marriage will start strong, ready to face any of life’s inevitable surprises and disappointments. Most importantly, we get to do it together as a team. That’s what marriage is about.