By Becca Toews
All of us have experienced some level of loss during this COVID-19 pandemic. It ranges from canceled plans to loss of loved ones, loss of freedom to loss of safety while going about your job.
Large events have been canceled and while some of us are grieving a concert or sporting event we were looking forward to, many Fraser Valley residents have been faced with the decision about what to do about their upcoming weddings. As we head into summer, more and more people are having to make the decision to postpone or seriously alter their plans for how their wedding day will look.
Jenn Bateman, a Fraser Valley wedding officiant, has had a varied response from couples who had planned to get married this spring. “Some have just chosen to reschedule to 2021, some have chosen to forgo a large wedding and just have a small ceremony with under 10 people, and some people are having a simple ceremony this year and then we’re doing their big wedding, that they rescheduled next year, so essentially two ceremonies.”
There really are lots of options, though none of them ideal. Weddings take so much time, energy and money to plan and it can be really disappointing to give up the wedding you’ve always dreamed of. It can also be a beautiful experience.
Jenn says, “I’m a big believer that weddings don’t need to be long and drawn out in order to be special and meaningful. Starting a life together is intimate and special and deserves to feel that way, and sometimes all of the fanfare with big contemporary weddings can take some of that away. For those who choose to go ahead now- This unique circumstance of limiting weddings might be a chance for some couples to enter into that lifetime partnership in a really meaningful way. But it also deserves a celebration, so I’m hoping for a lot of one-year anniversary parties with family and friends so they get that too.”
When it comes to the practical moments of the ceremony, Jenn says she has had to make some changes, such as not touching the rings and bringing along separate pens for signing the paperwork, “I don’t come within six feet of any of the wedding guests and I make sure that the couple has checked with us about health measures beforehand. We definitely want to be able to accommodate people who still want to get married in the most simple way and still make it special for them”
Cody and Analea
One couple, Cody and Analea (Styles) Friesen held their wedding ceremony two weeks early after gathering restrictions were announced in March. They had planned on a very large wedding of 500 people and ended up having eighteen people in attendance, following the restrictions of no gatherings over fifty people that were set at the time. Cody says, “Our concern was more of ‘are we still able to get married’ because we were at the start of the COVID-19 wave, we didn’t have a lot to go off of.”
“This is why we moved the date up two weeks – worried that we would go into complete lockdown and [we would be] unable to get married at all,” adds Analea.
The Hardest Part
When asked what the hardest part of changing their wedding day was, Cody responds, “The hardest part was not having all of our guests there to witness and celebrate with us. As well as that everything about our day was different other than the person that we got to marry.“
“Losing the people,” adds Analea, “not even having our full wedding party or best friends or grandparents being able to attend was heartbreaking.”
Cody and Analea had a great plan when it came to sharing their ceremony with their invited guests. On April 4th, which was the date they had planned for their wedding, they uploaded and published the video from their wedding ceremony to YouTube and invited all their guests to join them for their “virtual wedding” They both went live on their Instagram and Facebook (dressed in their wedding suit and dress) to answer questions, explain what had happened, and watch their ceremony with everyone on YouTube.
An Unexpected Tiny Wedding
Even though their wedding wasn’t exactly what they had expected, there are still parts of it that they will look back on with fondness, “The beautiful intimacy of [the] tiny wedding was actually so amazing. There was less pressure and the ability to be so natural and real with one another. The support and love from our community even from a distance was heartwarming and so encouraging. The realization that all that really mattered was marrying this person – not any of the extra pieces – was so special.”
While communicating with your guests and the wedding party is at the top of the advice list, one of the most important things to remember is,
“Breathe,” says Cody, “this is not normal, and that’s okay. Keep the main thing the main thing. You are marrying the love of your life and that is enough”.
It Could Be Sad
Analea also has some advice for once the wedding day has passed and you’ve started your new life together, “realize it’s still going to be hard after the wedding. You’re going to be sad about what you lost and maybe struggle with disappointment, envy, and frustration, but it’s truly worth it. We’ve never regretted it for one second”.
Give and Take
Regardless of a pandemic, weddings are a time of giving and taking. So often brides and grooms think their wedding day will be exactly what they want, only to get to the planning stage and realize that their parents and other people close to them have ideas about what the day should look like too.
The Important Stuff
The wedding planning process is the perfect time to practice compromise, weighing what is really important to you and what you are willing to let go of. It seems like that is what couples are facing now, more than ever. Weighing what is the most important part of your event and making decisions based on what is best for you.
Whether you are facing a wedding that doesn’t look like what you always thought it would be, or you’re grieving the fact that you can’t be there for a wedding of someone close to you, this is a time to celebrate love, to celebrate commitment and care for one another, and to cheer on those people who are probably thinking a lot these days about vowing, “in sickness and in health”.
Photos Jamie Delane