Disappointment. Deflation of excitement that’s been building for years. Anger at this virus that’s ripping through our world, spreading fear and panic. A raging sense of unfairness that at a time of unrelenting bad news, we’re being denied the chance to celebrate love.
And yes, guilt, that while people are losing their lives, loved ones and livelihoods, I’m feeling so devastated that my fiancé Laurence and I won’t now be able to get married as we planned on 25 April.
Along with everyone else in the world, the past week has brought an onslaught of emotions. There’s fear for the safety of the people I love, and worry as I see friends lose work and local businesses struggle. But given that until a few days ago I thought I was six weeks away from my wedding, there are a few more in the mix for me too.
It’s funny how attached you can get to a date. It might sound silly, but I am heartbroken to be losing it, having spent so much time and energy dreaming and planning towards it, ever since our engagement.
Laurence proposed in October 2018, on a holiday to the States for a friend’s wedding. It was the last day of the 10-day trip (turned out he’d planned two other opportunities, both of which were rained off). We’d gotten up early in our B&B in a little coastal town in Maine for a final walk on the beach before hopping in the car back to Boston and the flight home.
I’d rolled straight out of bed, put on yesterday’s clothes, had no makeup on and was wearing an *actual* baseball hat. Anyone who knows me will know that this would not be my ideal wardrobe choice for a proposal. But when he got down on one knee on the beach that cloudy, windy morning, I forgot about the outfit (although I do remember being relieved I’d just had a mani).
In those initial moments of sheer elation, we made the first of a zillion more decisions to come: one, that we’d get married in my native Ireland, and two, that it would be in April. My birthday is in April, and I’ve always loved the sense of optimism springtime brings. There are flowers in bloom, leaves on the trees, the sun sets that crucial few hours into the evening, and there’s slightly more chance of blue skies – even in Ireland.
Save the date
Hence the date: 25 April. Two weeks after Easter, six days after my birthday, followed by a honeymoon on the west coast of Ireland that would stretch into the first days of May, back to our lives in London in time for bank holidays, barbecues and all the best bits of summer – our first as husband and wife.
As the months went by and we booked the venue and suppliers, we started building a picture of our day, counting down to 25 April. We’ve spent hours talking about all aspects of the wedding, and having booked our countryside venue in dreary January 2019, even flew over to visit again that April to see it in all its springtime glory. We’d imagine our future – celebrating our anniversary each year on the cusp of summer, joking with friends that by the time their weddings came around this June and September, we’d be an old married couple.
Finally, 2020 came, along with lots of milestones – our tasting, my final dress fitting and hen do, his stag party – our buzzing excitement, and that of our friends and families, building with each one.
With seven weeks to the big day, the news around Coronavirus started getting significantly worse. We started worrying about our elder relatives, and reluctantly began to imagine our wedding on a smaller scale, knowing many of our 130 guests wouldn’t risk travelling.
Another couple of days later in the GLAMOUR office, we gathered around the TV as Boris Johnson announced a new wave of containment measures, just as we were being told to work from home. Colleagues and friends tentatively began to ask, ‘Is your wedding going to be OK?’ Their concern was kindly meant, but triggered the first wave of panic for me. Was this really happening? At home, Laurence and I vowed to stay calm and positive and hope that things would die down in a few weeks.
As the days passed, the news got worse and soon we were desperately clinging to the hope of going ahead with just our close families.
Then, with six weeks to go, the crushing disappointment dawned that our wedding as we’ve planned will not happen on the date we chose. Ireland is currently in lockdown, the UK could be headed the same way, and as things look like getting worse before they get better, it feels really irresponsible to ask people to gather together in a time of social distancing.
I know it sounds trivial to be so upset about postponing a wedding. People are dying and losing their livelihoods, and many more will suffer as the outbreak gets worse. But the simple fact is Laurence and I can’t wait to get married. We’re so ready to do it in six weeks time, and it means so much to us to celebrate with our closest friends and family.
I spent two days randomly bursting into tears over it, floored by how much it had upset me. Laurence is so pragmatic, he went straight into ‘how do we fix this’ mode, which at first felt to me cold-hearted. But one morning I woke up, thinking about the extent of the pain so many people are going through and realised how incredibly lucky we are that this is all we have to worry about. It’s not fun, but our loved ones are safe and well and right now, that’s never been more important.
Once I got on board with planning mode, I immediately felt better. Difficult as it was, we have now made a decision to postpone until the autumn and launched into the massive organisational job of moving all of our suppliers, accommodation and flights for 130 guests – and switching our entire mindset for another six months of buildup.
Feeling the love
The upside is the incredible support we’ve had. Coronavirus is a horrible thing, but we’ve all seen the life-affirming acts of human kindness that have come out of this crisis too. We’ve had family and friends constantly checking in to make sure we’re OK; calls out of the blue (we’re definitely rediscovering the joy of speaking on the phone); colleagues have sent sweet voice notes to cheer me up; I’ve had DMs from people I rarely speak to letting me know they‘re thinking of us. One message, from our amazing photographer Dasha Caffrey, with the reassurance that: “The Irish wedding industry is the best in the world and your suppliers will move mountains to make this happen for you,” had me in floods of (grateful) tears. In our now-daily phonecalls, my parents have been such a grounding influence, assuring us we will get married, it will still happen and when it does, it will be all the more special having overcome this crisis.
Best of all, there have been so many responses of ‘We’ll be there no matter what!’ now that we’ve started telling people our plans to reschedule. We have been lucky enough to get a new date in October thanks to amazing support and understanding from our venue. It’s not plain sailing and sadly the amazing photographer and hair stylist we had booked aren’t available on the new date. But at least we have a new date – albeit one that hijacks my bridesmaid’s one-year wedding anniversary and future brother-in-law’s birthday (sorry, guys).
So I’m focusing on the positive. This is so much bigger than us, and the most important thing for now is to stay strong for those who need it. We will get through this. If we stick together and keep supporting each other, I’m praying we’ll all come out the other side safe and well. When that happens, we’ll be so excited to gather together again, to hug and kiss each other without hesitation, join hands and dance like idiots, and celebrate the joy in life.