"Mourn your date, then move on," advises one bride.

By Julie Vadnal
April 13, 2020
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There's no good way to spin it: Postponing your wedding is awful. After months of perfecting the details and getting excited to gather your loved ones in the same place to celebrate this major life step, it can feel devastatingly surreal to make the call to push back your date. But right now, in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, it's a necessary (and safe!) decision. The good news, if there is any, is that you're not alone. As nationwide social distancing continues, more and more couples have found themselves rescheduling their celebrations, too. Here, four would-be-weds tell their stories—and share their best advice on how to cope when you have to put the wedding you've been working on for months, if not years, on hold.

Same Destination, New Season

Bride Sara Barto, 32, lives in Berlin, Germany, and postponed her Tuscan celebration—originally set to take place on May 30—until the fall. "In early to mid-March, it was clear that the situation, particularly in Italy, was escalating and would take months before we would be able to return to some sense of normalcy," she explains. "We also have a few very close guests that are unfortunately part of the high-risk demographic, so that was a major deciding factor." To do so, she and her fiancé sent a change-the-date email to their 100 guests "in order to make sure we communicated the change as quickly as possible." They were also able to keep their original vendor team intact.

Despite their quick action and their vendor retention, they felt their fair share of grief. "If I'm honest, the first week or so was devastating. My fiancé and I have been together for nine years, so I was feeling a lot of frustration and defeat," says Sara, noting that she turned to family and friends for support. "Those nearest and dearest definitely helped me get over that hump." Her best advice to brides and grooms currently rescheduling their destination events? "Mourn your date and move on. I was completely married to being married at the end of May. Forget that—it's the least important thing," she advises. "Once you're done mourning, start looking at the positives. You have a few extra months to save up and plan the details. Not to mention, you'll have quite a story to tell in 10 years."

Same Season, New Year

For New York City resident Emily Johnson, 31, pushing her May 24, 2020, wedding in Manhattan back a few months wasn't possible—so she and her fiancé looked a full year ahead, to May 2021. "We started anticipating a postponement of our Jewish ceremony in mid-March, when the CDC announced a ban on gatherings above 50 people. But we waited until the end of the month, when various friends and family with knowledge of the situation, plus news sources, suggested we'd have enough information to be able to make a better-informed decision," she explains, which is when they made the difficult call.

The duo's venues, Temple Emanu-El and the restaurant Daniel, are both currently closed, and without re-opening timelines in site, they struggled to choose a new wedding date. "A first we toyed with rescheduling for fall or winter of 2020, but finding a date that worked for everyone then was a challenge; some information also suggested it may still be too risky to reschedule for then, particularly given that many of our guests will need to fly, and many are older." They settled on postponing by "exactly one year" to give themselves and their loved ones "a more comfortable cushion"—and to keep their dreams of a May wedding alive. "We sent an email to our 120 guests, and we'll follow up with new save-the-date messages and invitations," Emily says of their game plan.

For Emily, the experience has been a lesson in trust, especially with her vendor team. "I was deeply impressed by how flexible the vast majority of our vendors were with us, and I found that reassuring. I also think choosing a date further away is better—the peace of mind in that regard has been really helpful."

Same Date, Different Outlook

Some couples, however, aren't able to reschedule at all, which is the case for Birmingham, Alabama, resident Lizzie Griffith, 30, and her soon-to-be husband, who is in his final year of a medical residency: "This complicates our schedule. His residency ends June 26, but one week later he begins a fellowship. We have no idea what his schedule will be like, what weekends he will be working, or when he will be on call. It was difficult for us to get the original May 9, 2020, date to begin with—and we chose it because that's when he can take vacation."

Instead of postponing the Birmingham event, they scaled it way down. "Our new plan is to still get married on May 9, but with a small, intimate gathering of immediate family only," she shares, adding that her big-day team made this difficult decision easier to swallow. "Our vendors have been incredible and have gone above and beyond doing everything they can to make sure this day is still perfect." They also had to rethink their honeymoon—again. "We had to cancel not one, but two honeymoons," she says. "Instead, we are planning a staycation in our new home—we're going to take an online cooking class, go on a hike, picnic at the top of the mountain, and spend time together in our new space making it ours."

Despite the newfangled plan and positive outlook, Lizzie knows how much these choices hurt. "The first couple of weeks were very difficult. I cried a lot and felt that so many things and experiences were being taken from me and my fiancé—and were beyond our control," she says of the aftermath. "As the days have passed, we have been able to talk, process, and pray together through the entire situation. Though it's different than we planned, we have been able to gain perspective as each day passes and really remember what the purpose of a marriage is and why we have a wedding."

New Date, Same River

"Ryan and I planned a ceremony and reception for 170 guest that honored not only our love story, but also the connection each person had to it," says Drew Moxey, 31 of his and fiancé's original big-day vision. "We were getting married by our best friend, Colgan. The reason we chose the Liberty House in Jersey City as our venue was because the ceremony could happen right along the Hudson River, with views of the Manhattan skyline."

The couple decided to reschedule their nuptials on March 13, three weeks prior to the date and just three days after they returned from their separate bachelor parties. "The whole experience was overwhelming to accept," says Drew, adding that they plan to tie the knot next May, at the same riverside venue, with views of the city in which they live. "With so much excitement leading up to the day and to have it be so close, but then have to change the date—it was wild. Accepting our new reality felt like a punch to the stomach, and it was heartbreaking." But their vendors were there to guide the way: "On April 3, our original wedding date, each vendor reached out to us directly to send their thoughts, and they have truly been so amazingly supportive."

Drew says that it's important not to dismiss the disappointment you feel, should you be experiencing the same kind of heartbreak. "There's a big power there to help you grow. Lean into one another fiercely, because you and your partner are truly in this together," he says. "Allow all of the emotions to come, and they will come in waves, but remember that regardless of what was planned, the important thing is your love for one another—and for that, you can weather any storm." He's also learned another salient lesson along the way: "Additionally, try not to monogram your date on everything! At the most, choose two items."

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