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, Lisa Conley tells her story from Germantown, Maryland.
October 18, 2018, was the happiest day of my life. After six years together, my college sweetheart asked me to be his wife—and, of course, I said "yes."
At the time we lived in Florida (and would later move to Washington, D.C.,) but we always knew we wanted to tie the knot somewhere in Michigan to make it more convenient for our extended family, most of whom lived in the state or in nearby Illinois. We considered a few different options but ultimately settled on a castle venue, because, let’s be honest: What girl hasn’t dreamed of having her very own royal wedding? (Well, I have.)
We set a date of May 30, 2020, and as it got closer, our excitement grew. We were finally going to get married! But then we hit a bump in the road—a baby bump. My oldest sister told me that she was pregnant, and her due date was just three days before our wedding, which meant that she wouldn’t be able to travel to Michigan for the festivities. As thrilled as I was to become an aunt, a part of me was sad to think that my big sister wouldn’t be standing next to me on my big day, nor I hers.
Nevertheless, the planning continued, and in January, my fiancé and I joined our parents in Michigan for a “vendor weekend,” during which we met with our venue coordinator, florist, wedding planner, caterer, and all of the other people who were working so hard to make our dream wedding a reality.
The following month I had the most amazing bachelorette weekend at Disney World where my bridesmaids made me feel like a total princess, and I became even more excited for May, which I didn’t think was possible. But every fairy tale needs a villain, and ours was the coronavirus.
When things started to get serious in early March, we were a little concerned, but like many people at the time, we didn’t think the virus was going to be anything more than a minor inconvenience. However, as the weeks passed and the situation worsened, we decided to start reaching out to our vendors to formulate a "plan B."
Initially, we considered postponing the wedding by just a few months, but we grew worried that our guests might already have other plans or obligations or that the pandemic might not be over with by then, so instead, we picked May 22, 2021, as our backup date.
During those what-if conversations, my fiancé and I came to the important decision that even if the big celebration had to wait, we still wanted to get married on May 30 of this year.
It was heart-wrenching to think that our wedding could be delayed by an entire year when we had already waited so long, but it also gave us peace of mind knowing that should worse come to worse, we had a plan in place. And during those what-if conversations, my fiancé and I came to the important decision that even if the big celebration had to wait, we still wanted to get married on May 30 of this year.
So in late March, I applied for a permit with the National Park Service to hold an intimate ceremony at the D.C. War Memorial on the National Mall. I contacted my fiancé's brother, who lives 30 minutes away, asking if he'd officiate the ceremony, ordered a white dress online since my wedding gown had yet to be altered, and got in touch with a local photographer to "save our date."
Then on April 5, it happened: The town we were planning on getting married in announced that it was shutting down for 60 days, which meant that our wedding was officially postponed.
In a way, it felt good to finally know whether or not we'd be having our wedding—and for the decision to have been completely out of our hands—because up until that point, the worst part was the uncertainty of it all. But it was still a devastating blow, so that night a lot of tears were shed (and a lot of wine was consumed...)
At the same time that I started finalizing the details of "Plan C,” my fiancé and I started house hunting knowing that we could use the money we had saved for our honeymoon to Italy as part of a down payment on our first home. We ended up closing on a beautiful townhouse in late April and a few weeks later, in the midst of boxing up our lives, calling moving companies, and trying to break our lease, D.C. extended its stay-at-home order, which meant that we wouldn't be allowed to get married on the National Mall.
So as hard as it was to believe, we were on to "Plan D": a short ceremony at a local public park.
We didn't have a band or a cake or any of the stuff that comes to mind when you hear the word 'wedding,' but none of that mattered because we were finally husband and wife.
Despite the stress and the anxiety and the constantly shifting plans, when May 30 rolled around, I married my best friend. No, it wasn't the day we had always dreamed of. I wasn't wearing a wedding gown and my groom wasn't in a tux, we didn't have a band or a cake or any of the stuff that comes to mind when you hear the word "wedding," but none of that mattered because we were finally husband and wife...and an aunt and uncle! My sister gave birth to a healthy baby boy just a few hours after our ceremony.
So, although we may have to wait a whole year to have our big wedding, we get to spend that time watching our nephew grow and turning our new house into a home, and that sounds like a pretty good "happily ever after" to me.