It was a Saturday evening in April, and our Sales Associate Sheena Luther was supposed to be walking down the aisle in Arizona. Instead, she was in her kitchen at home putting the finishing touches on a multi-course dinner for two, a digital still of the Sedona Red Rocks brightening the room behind her.
Meanwhile, family and friends had gathered outside on the sly in their cars, with signs, balloons and bottles of champagne at the ready.
When her fiancé Nate arrived home from work, it was to an “unwedding” – an event to celebrate a wedding that would now take place in September due to COVID-19. Sheena and Nate had spent over a year looking forward to their special day, and it didn’t make sense to let it pass by without a celebration.
“I wanted to turn the situation into a positive,” Sheena says. “Nate loved it, and having all of our friends and family join in on the surprise – from a distance – meant a lot.”
Just a month before, things had been looking very different. News of the novel coronavirus had just broken, and no one was quite sure what to make of it. Was this something that would affect things for months? Or would it blow over in a week?
As the seriousness of the situation quickly became clear, Sheena and Nate sat down to discuss their options. Their wedding was just four weeks away, and there was no telling how the situation would unfold. Already, family members from overseas were calling to say that new travel restrictions meant they would be unable to attend.
“It wasn’t an easy thing to do when you’ve been planning an event for a year or more. But we made the decision to take it in stride.”
“We decided to postpone the wedding rather than spend the entire month before freaking out – and then having to cancel at the very last minute,” says Sheena. “It wasn’t an easy thing to do when you’ve been planning an event for a year or more. But we made the decision to take it in stride.”
Sheena and Nate individually called each of their guests to explain the situation.
“We had planned a destination wedding out west in Arizona, and people were flying in from all over. The postponement was going to affect them too, so we talked to everyone and took any questions they had. This actually helped them as much as it helped us. A lot of people instantly assume that you’re going to be devastated. Hearing that we were positive and excited really helped turn things around.”
With a new wedding date set, Sheena and Nate were back on track. But as their original wedding date approached, Sheena had an idea. Why not celebrate anyway? She called her caterer and asked for the recipes for their entire reception menu.
“I decided to bring the wedding home,” she says of the impromptu event. “I spent the whole day cooking, and when Nate arrived home, I had the entire wedding dinner ready to go. Unbeknownst to me, my family and friends decided to take things a step further and surprise us with a wedding ‘drive-by’. When someone does that for you, it really pulls at the heart strings.”
Sheena has fond memories of the entire day.
“We made it special and unique with the resources we had, and tried to make it as positive as possible. It was a great day. I had so much fun cooking and making everything. Though I do think Nate suspected something given how full our fridge was, he at least pretended to be surprised!”
Sheena didn’t give the whole game away, though – her wedding dress is still safely tucked away out of sight.
“He’ll get to see that in September!” she says.
Sheena’s tips for navigating a COVID-19 wedding postponement:
- Remind yourself that your wedding is first and foremost about your relationship. Try to reel those planning-related anxieties back in.
- Have an open, honest discussion with your partner about how you’re feeling and what your options for your wedding are.
- Be flexible about changes, and try to turn them into an opportunity. Consider rescheduling to a date with special meaning, opting for a virtual ceremony, or taking advantage of the delivery services being offered by many caterers.
- Contact your guests to explain the situation. They’ll appreciate hearing from you firsthand, especially if you’re positive and optimistic about the situation.
- Do something to celebrate on your original day of. Choose something that matters to you – whether it’s a nice dinner, a Skype call with family, or playing video games – and just focus on each other.
- Be proactive and communicative with your vendors, and try to stay calm and considerate. Remember that the COVID-19 situation is affecting them, too.