Fair warning: this is a long post. They will not all be this way. I promise. I have been working to put this behind me for what feels like an eternity, yet it’s only been a couple months. I think that says a lot about how deeply this experience affected me. I can say with conviction that I will never ‘get over’ this. It has been an excruciatingly painful experience that leaves me feeling very empowered and confident in myself, my character and my marriage. Being a COVID bride made me a walking contradiction who spews from my mouth about how grateful and blessed I am for my marriage and concurrently from my heart how the world is cruel and life is hard. I think the COVID pandemic would have changed my empathetic soul forever, regardless… but that fate was sealed when my wedding got pulled into the equation.
I share. That’s what I do. Selfishly, I want to put my story into words, as a symbolic release. My hope is that anyone else going through wedding planning/cancelling/rescheduling in this pandemic period may find camaraderie in the truth that months later, I have not rebounded and I am not fine. Spoiler alert: It’s okay to not be okay. And yes, I have deemed myself entitled to encourage that thought for you.
The COVID-19 Global Pandemic caused our wedding, scheduled for April 10th, 2020, to be cancelled. Not postponed or rescheduled – cancelled. Every time I say those words, I follow them with “but my marriage still happened.” It is so difficult to address the topic without falling down a rabbit hole of negativity. It is irrefutably something you could never understand unless it happened to you directly. Even when it happens to you, it’s different than the way it’s happening to the next person or couple.
Someday, I’ll share the (hindsight) hilarious timeline of how we got engaged, I had back surgery, we decided to get married in 5 months, and how it was all actual insanity. For the purpose of this story, I want to stick to the feelings.
Leading up to getting engaged, people thought I was being pushy and impatient. Those people were right. I am PRESENTLY pushy and impatient. I pose the question with 20/20 hindsight, why do we allow guilt to be laid on us like weighted blankets for admitting we know what we want or that we accept who we are, ‘flaws’ included? Have you ever heard the expression, ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease’? I bring life to that squeaky wheel. That’s who I am. I knew I wanted to marry Tom seventy-two hours into knowing him. We talked about forever on our first date, the same night we told each other “I love you”. I would have been untrue to myself to stay quiet about my longing to be married to him.
By the time the proposal came, I was emotionally flat out from anticipation, so I’ll let you use your imagination about the nitty-gritty of how the wedding planning process went. I’ll just say it was a rollercoaster, as I imagine it is for most brides.
Fast forward. Everything was in place. Only minor details were left to be ironed out. On March 13th, we got in the car to travel to Tom’s home town for my bridal shower my now mother in-law threw for me. It was that same day that the POTUS declared a State of National Emergency. So, that was the beginning of a quick end. By the time the weekend was through, we knew we had no other option than to call the wedding off. I began unraveling.
Without any real discussion, we knew postponing was not an option and that come hell or high water, we were going to be pronounced man and wife on the day that we intended. State restrictions and moral compass prevailed over our desire to have our close family present for a small ceremony so we ended up live streaming our union on Facebook for everyone’s safety.
Just us, the judge and our photographer were physically present for the most epic thing I’ve ever done. A local country club was kind enough to open up their closed down banquet hall for us to use so we weren’t standing out in the cold. The day was… nothing I ever expected it would be in the best way possible. The moment we said I do was one of the happiest I’ve ever had, even though all the moments around it, the back of my head was thinking, “this wasn’t supposed to be it.” I laughed until I cried, and then cried until I laughed all damn day.
It cannot go unmentioned that the kindness, love and support showed to us throughout the whole cancellation and inevitably having our ceremony was outstanding. I’ll never forget the way so many people we love showed up for us. We got married, I have my husband, and life goes on.
Except life hasn’t exactly gone on for me. I’m not the same person anymore. Before our wedding was cancelled, I was already losing my mind. Anxiety and depression had consumed me. Therapy took the edge off. I felt lonely, misunderstood and stressed for both wedding and non-wedding related reasons. I reached the peak of self-pity, while also taking the role of my own abuser. Then the wedding was cancelled and my mind was lost. Gone. POOF. I held it together as best I could for the sake of the world around me, but even my best was piss poor. That happens.
Then I didn’t want that mind back, because the bottom was dark, but so was the place before the bottom. So, I stayed in the feeling of abyss. A depressed newlywed. A sad honeymooner. I was in mourning because something figuratively died. The thing that died was not just the dream or idea I had all my life about my wedding day, it was the wedding day I actually worked to plan and that trickled through so many different shapes and phases to inevitably be the life I thought I wanted to live. It all died with the cancellation of my wedding. I am now a revised me, still in work. What I want out of my life is different. It’s really difficult to even put this concept into coherent words because it is all still ‘in work’.
I didn’t want this to turn into a complete sob story, and I wish I had a quick and quirky punchline to end the story. When I originally wrote this post, I had the “but it all worked out” ending in place. I read it and reread it and it felt so fake. The concept of this blog was built on real raw honest ideas and creating a space for myself and others to be accepted ‘as-is’.
That’s where the cool part starts. I realize I don’t need to be a phony. I don’t need a happy ending to every story. What I need is to live my life and feel it and be present and immersed in it, even when it sucks. And when it sucks, to let it suck for a hot second or a couple months.
I’m turning a corner to a place where the story is simply beginning again. I am taking the revised me, and my husband and I are starting our life together as Mr. and Mrs. He is there for me in an unwavering way. I will always have him. He will always have me. Our marriage happened. Our wedding didn’t. We celebrate constantly. I mourn regularly.
I’m an outward mourner. I cry, sob, talk to my therapist, talk to Tom, cry more. Tom mourns privately, and also doesn’t harp on sadness. His uplifting spirit captivated me the night we met and that hasn’t changed. He has created a space in his world for me to be as I am; any day, any time, any way. He is beautiful and I am so glad he is my person.
My takeaway from this entire situation, outside of a forever partner, is different from what others are experiencing. I have a deep appreciation for how it’s different for everyone. My heart hurts for the couples going through anything resembling an interruption of how they want to declare their love. My heart soars for the couples out there making the absolute best out of their situation.
This is a new version of me. My insides feel different. All my life I have been the same, yet different. Changing and always staying the same. Unsure and confused by anything uncalculated and the emotion that lack of planning evokes. I think for the first time in my life, I am realizing that change is beautiful. Growth feels exceptional. Living and learning hurts sometimes, but it has to happen. Greif has to happen. Feeling sad has to happen. I have to feel the feelings to be able to eventually move on. Why rush the feelings?
If you’re a COVID bride, or just a bride, or a groom, or a partner entering a marriage or a sacred union… if you’re human (and reading this, I would assume you are), I urge you to feel. Feel it all, wholly. Lift the blanket that may have been laid upon you to hide your emotions. Do not sugar coat things for the sake of not looking like a complainer to others. The people who love you will hear your complaints and tell you they are sorry for your hurt feelings, even if they weren’t to blame. You do not have to be afraid to take up space just because it doesn’t consist of sunshine and rainbows.
I am grateful for my husband, our bond, our marriage and our love. I am overjoyed to be the wife of a great man. Our wedding was cancelled and I broke into a bajillion pieces and now I am putting them back together differently than they were before. Mosaics are often beautiful. Life can be like a mosaic. A bajillion broken pieces put together to be a beautiful work of art. Our wedding was cancelled, our marriage was not and it mostly fucking sucked. Onward and upward my friends!
A COVID Bride