Because my birthday coincided with the first two horse shows of the season, and we were still knee deep in cow placenta (metaphorically) due to the calving season being about half-way through, I decided that any celebration would be low-key. An Indian takeaway with my ‘I-do-crew’ followed by a chance to peruse ASOS’ bridesmaid collection would be appropriate. We ordered three dresses each and decided to reconvene once they had all arrived.
The next morning, we were at the second of the weekend’s shows when the news broke that the Covid-19 outbreak had intensified significantly. And hit Wales. The knot that had tied anxiety to my stomach since the first UK case tightened.
Radio 4 had almost minute by minute coverage of the saga unfolding, and there was nothing positive to be heard. Planning a wedding is intense. Planning a wedding when you are generally neurotic is stressful. Planning a wedding against the backdrop of a global pandemic is intensely stressful. And a little bit painful. What if the caterers were in isolation? What if my dress couldn’t be ready on time? My mind raced. Despite my mother and Rhys’ best efforts to reassure me that everything would be fine by July, I had long been convinced otherwise.
When we began planning our wedding for July 4th, 2020, I expected that a small percentage of guests would be unable to attend. My Aunty Rhiannon had a holiday booked, for example. An usher’s father was due to remarry on the 4th of July. Further weddings, parties, holidays or even work commitments would prevent others from attending. That was inevitable. I didn’t expect that a poorly bat 5,652 miles away could potentially prevent the entire guest list from attending. Yet, that was my fear. That was the reality we were facing.
So it’s fair to say that when I opened my Inbox to find an email from the minister appealing for urgent contact, I was more surprised to find that even God’s will was communicated electronically these days than I was to hear that the church had decided to call the wedding off.
When I called him and he explained the situation, he was very sympathetic, and because he is a genuinely kind man, I found myself rejecting his apologies and took to apologizing to him instead. Poor thing! What a horrible job to have to ring round every couple he’d booked up for months!
That evening, I contacted other brides I knew were in the same position. They were devastated. So devastated, that one even named our Messenger group, ‘FML’. If you don’t know what that means, look it up and it will give you a fairly accurate guide to the disappointment levels felt.
‘I just can’t believe this is happening to us,’ said one.
‘Why is this happening?’ questioned another.
I could understand why they were so dumbstruck: these are unprecedented times. I could also understand the upset. Yet, if I’m honest, a part of me felt a little relieved.
Just to be clear, I wasn’t relieved because I wanted our wedding to be postponed, but because I expected it to be impacted, and therefore was relieved that the decision to postpone had been made for us. Postponing it ourselves would have felt so much more painful. The decision had also been made months, not weeks or days in advance.
Mum suggested that we married quietly and had a bigger party later, but it was a ‘no’ from us. A) it wasn’t what we had planned and would feel compromised. B) having agonized over my dress choice for months, I want a packed church there to see it. C) the prospect of two pre-wedding diets is too much to bear.
By the following afternoon, I had rearranged almost everything and was grateful that the invites were at the almost-ready-for-printing stage, not at the printed stage. In fact, in the few hours between breakfast and tea-time, I had rearranged everything twice. If anyone else ever finds themselves needing to rearrange a wedding, email me, I’ll lend you my spreadsheet!
The first time, I made the mistake of cross-checking the dates our friends and our suppliers could make, and assumed that family members would present whatever the date, whatever the weather. So I hadn’t checked the dates with Rhys’ family and it turned out that his sister couldn’t make it. Both Rhys and Rhian were understandably upset at the prospect of him marrying without her there. They are just two siblings as we are, and I would be heartbroken to miss Maggie’s wedding, and would feel lost without her at my own. I also felt that the depths of his disappointment was heartening, considering it to be a sure sign he wasn’t planning on a round two that she could witness instead.
I triple checked the new date, because by this point I would have sooner eaten my dirty socks soaked in Tabasco sauce than have to start sourcing suppliers for a fourth time.
By now, I have only the small stuff like toilets left to sweat about. Sorting these final details is not something I am looking forwards to. For a start, I cannot remember where I ordered the disabled portable-loo from. Add to that the fact that I accidentally ordered two.
On the whole, we have been lucky: the photographer is the only person who has been unable to accommodate our date change because he was already booked. I’m sad about that. Mainly because I like the tone of his emails.
The bridesmaid dresses have been sent back. Trying them on would most definitely have constituted unnecessary travel. Besides, it turns out that Maggie’s birthday falls on National Bridesmaid Day – yes, there is such a thing, I didn’t believe it either at first. There were some mean bargains to be had this year and I’m hoping to find the same in 2021.
The field is still being grazed. The diet hasn’t begun. There’s no hurry for either the field or my stomach to be flattened. For now, some things will have to wait.
In the meantime, let’s look at the real bright sides in all of this: Mr and Mrs Covid will not be crashing the wedding; a hangover will be the worst of the after-affects. Now we have time to plan an even better day in 2021. And finally, it was the church that cancelled, not the groom…