Everything stopped, and we had no control over it.
Thousands of people became ill and died. Businesses and schools closed. Governments issued stay-at-home orders.
High school seniors missed their big moments, sports leagues canceled major competitions, and travelers were required to return home.
Our wedding twisted in the midst of this eddy.
When the cancellations and restrictions began, the gathering limit was 250 people. If it stayed that way, we would be able to continue as planned. But the number shrank to 50; then, it was 10. Churches began meeting online, and businesses with employees at home used conference calls.
Suddenly, we would endanger our family members and friends by continuing with our wedding plans: a crowd sitting close together on the covered bridge, hugs, dancing at a reception, touching the serving utensils at a meal.
My thoughts churned in the middle of the night:
What are we going to do?
What about our dream wedding? We’ve waited so long for this.
How are we going to make this work?
One morning at 3, I turned on my lamp and scratched out my thoughts on paper.
One thing was clear: it was impossible to continue with our original plans. Something had to change.
But what would the change be?
Postponement? There could always be something that would delay our plans, pushing our wedding date back even further.
Elopement? I wrote, “No,” immediately. I wanted my dad to walk me down the aisle.
Decreasing the number of people who would be there?
That was what would have to happen.
I was crushed. For years, my number one requirement for my dream wedding was “surrounded by lots of family and friends.”
In one fell swoop, that was gone.
I had also required that the men in the family and the man I would marry wear tuxedos.
Now, the tux store is closed with no certainty as to when it will open again.
So many details we had meticulously crafted for our one-of-a-kind event were unraveling.
And now, with a little more than a month before our wedding, we are reworking our plans. The ceremony will still be on the bridge, but the reception will be at the local fairgrounds instead of at the farm. Only our immediate families and the wedding party will be there. Some of our dearest family and friends will be unable to be there, including my grandparents.
This is downright hard for both of us.
Some days, I’ll wake up and I’m fine, and other days, I’ll wake up and I am not okay.
Since the beginning, we’ve told each other that the most important part of our wedding day is that we will be married at the end of it.
“No, by noon!” Jeff would reply. We would grin and then continue to make our big plans.
We didn’t realize that the most important part could have the possibility of being the only part left.
When a wedding is reduced from big plans to a small gathering, a bride and groom are left in a swirl. There’s something in the human spirit that knows weddings are extremely important, defining, a gateway to the sanctity of marriage. A wedding is not just about being married at the end of the day: it’s a transition from living alone to living together, from simply dating to being together, from one family to a new family, and for the bride, from one name to the next. The details matter. Wearing a wedding dress matters. Family and friends observing the transition matters.
We still don’t know what’s going to happen in May. We don’t know how many people will be allowed to meet. We don’t know how long the stay-at-home order will be in place.
But Tuesday night, as Jeff and I were going through our plans, the realization finally hit me.
“Hey, Jeff!” I said, bouncing up and down on the couch. “Guess what! We’re now having our reception in the place where we met for the very first time!”
It’s in the exact room where he gave me his name and phone number, and I thought, Whoa, he has nice handwriting, and then threw the paper away after entering his number into my phone. (I still kick myself for that.)