For Better or For Worse? When Coronavirus Impacts Your Wedding

Three couples on how they handled postponing their wedding.

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Depending on where you are in the world, March 28th can be a great date to get married. There are no obvious conflicts with holidays, it’s just a week or so into spring when everyone is ready to skip town and party after the dreary winter months, and it shouldn’t interfere with guests’ existing vacation plans. We spoke to three brides who were meant to tie the knot on this otherwise unassuming date, and although they were meant to have profoundly different types of weddings all around the world, they all have the unfortunate shared circumstance of being canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

First, we turn to Florida, to the Curtiss Mansion, a stunning 1920’s Pueblo Revival estate located in Miami Springs, Florida. Once home to the famed aviator Glenn Hammond Curtiss, the premises are now not only part of the National Register of Historic Places, but also a popular South Florida wedding venue. This time of year, wedding-goers can enjoy temperate Miami weather, watch flamingoes and swans soar over the sweeping grounds, and dance outdoors in celebration until the wee hours—a classic Florida wedding. Tiffany O’Connor of Boynton Beach is supposed to get married there on March 28th, but unfortunately, on the date of her wedding, Curtiss Mansion will be quiet and empty. O’Connor is one of many brides across the country faced with the difficult decision to postpone her wedding.

When we called her to learn more about how coronavirus has affected her wedding plans, she couldn’t help but find a bit of dark humor in the situation—after all, her love story with fiancé Jason Perry has a history of false starts. “We actually grew up together, he was my fourth-grade crush,” said O’Connor. “I asked him to be my boyfriend on the phone and he told me no! We reconnected at USF Tampa during his third year of medical school. It’s funny that all these years passed and we ended up together anyway.”

O’Connor said she and Perry were adamant about not postponing, until it became clear that government officials would close bars and restaurants in Miami-Dade. The couple has not yet started re-planning or selecting an alternate date. “We want to do it soon but we have to be realistic. We don’t want to wait another year,” she said. “We wanted to start a family right away and this wasn’t in our timeline.”

O’Connor and Perry are hardly the only couple facing this dilemma. Claire Fleming and Tommy Sivongsay of Minnesota were married in Colorado last summer, but had planned to do a traditional Laotian ceremony also on March 28th in Vientiane, Laos, where Mr. Sivongsay’s family is from. After the ceremony, they intended to travel to Phuket, Thailand, where they had rented a large beach house for a group honeymoon with their friends. 

It became clear that we couldn’t rely on physically getting to Laos… We could see the writing on the wall that a travel nightmare was happening.

"We had about twenty-five people coming from the U.S. to celebrate with us,” said Fleming. “We were watching the news that last few weeks and though, no big deal, we’ll go anyway. But then a lot of us who were flying over had flights routed through China, which got canceled. The flights got re-routed to other places, mostly through South Korea. Then the outbreak hit South Korea hard. Then there was an outbreak in Thailand, and you have to fly through Bangkok to get to Laos… It became clear that we couldn’t rely on physically getting to Laos… We could see the writing on the wall that a travel nightmare was happening.”

Fleming and Sivongsay have decided to cancel their Laotian wedding, and are considering doing a traditional Laotian ceremony at home in Minnesota instead.

On the other side of the world in the Swiss Alps, Manhattan-based publicist Allie Huddleston and her fiancé Peter Margaritoff planned to wed in the tiny mountain town of Wengen at the Hotel Falken, where Mr. Margaritoff summered as a child. 

“It’s a challenge because we worked with a lot of small vendors there who we already paid in full, and they can’t refund,” said Huddleston. “I’m just not sure at this point I have the heart to plan another wedding. So we are postponing but I don’t know when. We have to start over and match up all of our vendors’ availabilities. It could be this summer or later this year.”

Huddleston ordered a custom Brandon Maxwell wedding gown for the occasion, and has already shipped the dress to Switzerland. “It’s basically a winter wedding dress,” she said, “And I can’t believe that now we’re potentially re-doing it in the summer… It was pretty expensive to send over there in the first place, so I’m not sure if I want it sent back to me [in New York] while we wait, I don’t even know what we’re going to do.”

Ultimately, the fact is that it’s our love and celebration of our marriage that’s getting postponed, it’s a very lucky crisis when other people are dealing with losing jobs and income.

But ultimately, Huddleston shared that these were “lucky problems” to have. She was most concerned for the vendors involved in her wedding and the effect coronavirus might have on their ongoing business. “Ultimately, the fact is that it’s our love and celebration of our marriage that’s getting postponed, it’s a very lucky crisis when other people are dealing with losing jobs and income.”

We spoke to a number of brides-to-be for this story, several whose weddings were scheduled for March 28th and many whose weddings are scheduled for the coming months. Should May weddings be postponed? June? July? The answers are unclear. But having spoken to multiple brides grappling with the coronavirus outbreak, we noticed one common thread: postponing the wedding was an intense decision, but after having made it, each bride felt a sense of relief. Whether it was a hometown ceremony for elementary school sweethearts, or an over-the-top destination bash in Europe, each bride explained that while the build-up to their decision was difficult and stressful, now that they on the other side, they have been met with nothing but support and understanding from their friends, family, and invited guests.

“Looking back, of course you would cancel your wedding during a pandemic,” said Fleming. “But at the time it was a hard decision because you don’t want to lose money on hotels and vendors and venues. It’s taught me to follow your gut and trust your decisions. People will understand if circumstances come up that just can’t be helped.”

The current outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared a pandemic by The World Health Organization. As the situation remains fluid, we’ll be sharing tips and stories from industry experts and couples who are experiencing cancellations to give you the most up to date advice on how this can impact your wedding.

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