Bride-to-Be, in Perpetuity

A dark-haired woman looks off into the distance with a slight smile on her face. A man, looking down, stands behind her with his arms around her.
John & Ardith, forever and ever… and ever…

I can’t say that I ever dreamed of my fairy-tale princess wedding when I was a little girl. Sure, I went pretty far down the rabbit hole of dreaming of an apple- and orchard-themed wedding around the time some of my best friends were engaged and we were in the middle of wedding planning for their big days. But other than that, I didn’t have much of a vision of my wedding day prior to John and I becoming engaged.

What I can tell you is that I didn’t expect for all of our plans–nearly sixteen months of saving and planning–to be upended by a global pandemic.

On one hand, wedding planning seemed a little too easy for us. We got our first choice of venue. A former colleague of mine is an amazing photographer (peep Karen’s work here: https://karenleannkirsch.com/). I found my dream dress at a sample sale. We got all outstanding RSVPs in before our deadline.

And then CoVid-19 hit.

Cancellations from our friends and family started to roll in. Emails and texts and push notifications pinged me every few minutes. The r/weddingplanning forum started to tailspin from dress pictures and “How do I deal with my FSIL’s boyfriend?!” posts to, “What the Hell do we do now?” The news stories escalated.

I cried. I couldn’t get out of bed. And the guilt–how dare I feel sad about a party!

Even now, it still hurts. John and I could have decided on a small wedding, about twenty people, but we decided early on that we really wanted to bring together his family and both extended sides of my family and all of our friends from all of our different eras for one big get-together. I had a client tell me several months ago how surreal it was to have all of his family and different friend groups converging for one event; that’s what we planned for, too.

We were three weeks out–after a nearly 500-day engagement–from making it happen.

And then we pulled the plug, to be cliché.

We called off April 4th, 2020. Our venue kindly offered us September 12th, 2020, and by some miracle, all of our existing vendors could make it. We made the decision right before our governor tightened down restrictions again, capping gatherings at 50 people before ordering Washingtonians to “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” shortly after.

We let everyone know about the change. And for a moment, we could breathe again.

April 4th came and went. It was a mild spring day, dry and just warm enough that we could have had the ceremony outside. Instead, we ordered dinner and cake from DERU, and Zoomed a few friends for a virtual cheers.

Now, two months after initially deciding to reschedule, we’re making the call to re-reschedule, to September 12th, 2021. There’s no possible way that we expect large gatherings to be advisable nor for people to feel comfortable traveling by air or attending a large event. Everything is still too uncertain and too raw.

Will we elope on September 12th, 2020? Perhaps. We can plan for it, but there’s no way of knowing whether a second wave will keep us at home again.

Regardless, we intend to keep September 12th, 2021 as a special day. I plan to save my big dress–my unicorn sample dress–until that day. We’ll send a new round of invitations and make some changes (and additions) that we ran out of time for originally. And we’ll probably wonder and worry if the world will right itself enough in time.

On the bright side, this extra time spent together and navigating the lows together has solidified my choice to spend the rest of my days with John. (I believe he feels the same way about me, too.) We are blessed and also privileged to be in the position we are, and I’m at least happy that we can give some more attention to doing our part as contributing citizens in the immediate future.

So, as it has been said, the wedding may be postponed, but love is not cancelled.

Fingers crossed that the third time’s a charm. We’ll see you in September 2021.

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