COVID-19: I think I can speak for many of us when I say the prime number at the end of that word now strikes fear and frustration in my heart when I see it. It’s disrupted school, career changes, travel plans, hygiene practices, and weddings. The year 2020 is quickly turning into a colloquialism. “How did your college admissions interview go?” “It was a total 2020. I forgot all the points I wanted to make.“
Larger weddings have come to a halt. Venues are canceling events. States are enacting capacity limits on all gatherings. It seems as if the weddings that so many people have always dreamed of is slipping away. But here’s the thing. All is not lost. Sure, you won’t be able to gather with 100+ of your closest (and not so close) friends and family, dance the night away, and eat wedding cake. But what if one of the most exciting days of your life so far wasn’t exactly what you imagined, but instead, it was better?
It’s possible. It just takes a shift in perspective.
You’re marrying your partner because you love them. The entire wedding day (supposedly) focuses on your commitment to one another. But coming from someone who had the “big wedding” and from someone who photographs weddings for a living, that focus gets quickly shifted from the two of you to everyone you’ve invited.
Aunt Carol insists that you invite so-and-so. You have to pay attention and not sit arch enemies next to each other. Will your cousin be upset if their flavor of the week isn’t invited too? Will people be too hot or too cold? Do they expect wedding favors? Can you have your wedding that near to your sister’s anniversary date?
The list goes on. The wedding soon becomes a party you’re hosting where the main event isn’t your ceremony, but the party reception you’re throwing for your guests.
Enter COVID-19. The exact thing that is causing so much strife could be what gives you the extra needed permission (though you don’t ultimately need anyone’s permission) to take back your day and make it into something that represents you and your relationship with your partner.
You can start by taking COVID-19 safety measures to heart. Slash that guest list. Take away what ends up being the most significant stressor on most wedding days and have more of an elopement.
“What?! No!” you say. “I don’t want a courthouse wedding!” Great. That’s not my cup of tea either. The definition of elopement is changing. It’s no longer synonymous with shame, shotgun weddings, out of wedlock pregnancies, family drama, etc. It’s no longer about running away from something. It’s about running to something. It’s about running to your relationship together, and why you’re getting married in the first place.
Without the limitations of a huge guest list, the world opens up to venue possibilities. What about that beautiful venue you had picked out? With the greenery so gorgeous, it looks like you’re in a forest.
Well, what if you could actually be in a forest?
Is there a city you’ve always wanted to explore or that you love to visit? What if you made that city extra special by eloping there?
And if you’re saying, “Well, I still want the reception and big party!” then there’s an option for that too! It’s the perfect way to make your wedding celebration last a year or more. Have a big fête on your anniversary. I can tell you that most anniversary plans fall flat. But if you’re planning a big party to celebrate, it’ll set a fun and distinctive tone to cap off your first year of marriage.
Another more important aspect about eloping than having more options for pretty backdrops? You’re able to throw the rulebook away and make a day that’s totally about you and your partner.
This elopement day should foremost be a representation of your relationship. The wedding dress, the tux, the ceremony and all things “wedding” on the day will be atop a foundation of a day that is 100% you. What do you guys like to do together? Is there something or someplace you’ve wanted to explore? Do that on your elopement day (yes, while wearing your wedding attire if possible – ask my amazing elopement couples who have done it)!
Grab a to-go pizza. Do an escape room. Climb a mountain. Take a helicopter ride. Jump in the ocean. Spend the whole day laughing with your best friends. Experience a beautiful city. This pandemic is the perfect opportunity to craft a day that is representative of your relationship and marriage. The least COVID-19 could do is give us a little extra justification and empowerment to retake our wedding days.
So you’ve created this day that is utterly representative of you and your partner. You feel great, empowered, and are committing your lives to one another. Fantastic feeling, right? It shouldn’t just stop there, though.
Let’s keep that feeling going, and infuse the rest of your life with the individuality and uniqueness that your wedding day possessed. Try new things (even if they scare you a little). Say no to things that emotionally and mentally drain you (no, you don’t have to always say yes when someone asks for help or asks for you to chair a committee). It’s amazing what comes from feeling empowered to have a more intimate and intentional wedding day. Maybe there is a silver lining to a global pandemic (hey, we’ll take the positives where we can get them, right?).
Take this opportunity to shift your perspective in a way that improves your relationship with your partner and your life. COVID-19 may prevent us from throwing grand parties, but it just might create a stronger relationship with yourself and with your future spouse.