In 2020, I had a hard decision to make. Well, actually a bunch of hard decisions. In the span of three weeks, my wedding plan changed over 10 times. Plan A was cancelled in March, when my fiancé and I prioritized the health and safety of our guests over our carefully planned, storybook mountain wedding in North Carolina. Plans B through G were various options for a local setting and a smaller group. In the end, we executed the final event in less than 24-hours to narrowly miss the stay-at-home order that would have postponed our wedding indefinitely.
There was so much uncertainty in the world and Andrew and I wanted to face it as husband and wife. But for months, I wondered how I would feel about that decision over time. Would I regret not waiting out the pandemic to have the wedding I planned with all the people I loved?
I remember calling my grandmother the morning of my wedding. I was heading to the first of many virtual meeting days and would get married that evening on my parents’ pavers with our immediate families present and all our loved ones watching through a LiveStream we had figured out how to work the night before. My grandmother was quiet on the other line. We talked for a few minutes and instead of excitement or newlywed advice, she shared her concerns about holding any event, even this small, in light of COVID-19. I ended the call unsure, worrying about my decision and the safety of my family.
I remember getting ready on my wedding day, just me and my mom in her sunroom. We Zoomed some of the women who would have been gathered with us in the pre-COVID wedding. While we felt the love, we so missed their presence. Amidst the rush of preparation, we paused and took a moment to mourn the wedding that didn’t get to happen. It’s weird to mourn something you never really had. I remember feeling so heavy at that moment, and so unbelievably sad.
There were moments in the months that followed my unstoppable wedding when I second guessed the decision to get married on April 2, wondering if we made the right call. I remember feeling the ghost of the alternate wedding the first time Andrew and I went up to the mountains in May, married. I remember watching another wedding during a staycation in August and feeling a huge hole in my heart for the moments I missed with my loved ones. I remember holding my husband as he cried when his grandfather passed in September, knowing his Grandpa wouldn’t be present at any wedding celebration to come.
There were also many times after my wedding when I felt resoundingly happy and proud of our decision. My wedding could not be stopped, no matter what the universe threw at it. The entire month of April, I was floating on cloud nine – I had no idea it felt this freeing to promise yourself to the person you love for the rest of your life. In September, I remember reading about a small wedding held in Maine that led to 7 deaths from the virus and I felt for those families and was so grateful for our safe event. And as we mourned the loss of his grandfather, Andrew and I rejoiced knowing he got to see us virtually on our big day. The world was still murky at times, but I had a partner who was always good for a hug and a smile and I was gaining perspective on it all.
I will always remember the feeling I had when I put on my wedding dress on April 2. All thoughts of the virus, the impending quarantine, the uncertainty of the world – vanished. I was instantly enveloped in love. My dress was made from the wedding dresses of my grandmother, my mom and my aunt – the women who paved the way for me. With it on, it finally hit me that I was getting married to the man of my dreams and was sharing it with all the people I cared about in the safest way I knew how. I was unbelievably happy and completely tethered to that moment in time.
I choose the narrative and I choose to remember that bliss. To remember being so excited the photographer almost didn’t catch my walk down the aisle because I was walking too fast. To remember the outpouring of love we received from all corners of the country. Because April 2 was my wedding day and I choose gratitude instead of regret. I choose to remember that feeling of walking away from the ceremony, hand in hand with the man I love, feeling lighter than air.