Love and Marriage during COVID-19

June 3, 2020 | by sheri mitchell

“I’m getting married!!”

Those words were squealed by my youngest daughter in early December. Visions of flowers and friends, dresses and dancing filled our minds. Plans began to unfold. There was a date to set. Photographer and caterer to decide on. Venue. Dress. Colors. Bridesmaids. Groomsmen. Guests. So many details to take care of, so little time.

The wedding date was decided, May 9, and a venue was chosen, Camelot. Friends were asked to stand up with the bride and groom, and colors were chosen, navy blue and light grey. Waffles were going to be the food at the reception, big brother would sing the song for the bride and groom’s first dance, and big sister was asked to arrange the flowers. On February 7, we found the dress that made her feel like a bride (it had pockets, too!) and we were on our way.

Enter COVID-19.

One morning in mid-March, I awoke to hear my daughter crying. Life, as we knew it, was being halted and shut down, and that meant the carefully laid plans for the wedding were suddenly up in the air. Uncertainty hung over everything! Venues and churches were being closed. Friends who had March and April wedding dates were suddenly having to choose to either cancel their wedding or get married in a living room with less than 10 people in attendance.

My daughter’s dreams of that “perfect” day filled with friends and family were being shattered.

So many questions.

No one knew how long the shutdown would last. Would life be back to “normal” by May 9th? How long should we wait before we changed plans? None of us wanted to give up hope that things might be “okay” by May, but as the weeks went on, it became clear that the dream was going to need to adjust. What could remain and what needed to change?

Planning a wedding is stressful when life is normal. Planning a wedding during a pandemic is stressful AND strange! In a season that should be filled with only joy, we all had to give ourselves time to mourn what would never be, the wedding of my daughter’s dreams, and then embrace the wedding we were going to have, one in our backyard.

I will confess that I cried a few tears for my daughter. This wasn’t what she had planned and there was NOTHING I could do to change it.

As the days and weeks went by, a vision of what could be began to take hold and give us hope. The fruit trees in our backyard started to blossom. The weather began to warm up. There was a possibility that this might turn out okay, not the same, but okay.

Shifting gears from what could have been to what would be.

As May 9th grew closer, the shutdown began to loosen up. Family could now attend since the wedding was outside and people could socially distance. The wedding would still be smaller than previously planned, but we would get to celebrate with those who have loved our daughter and her fiancé for so long. Just that little thing brought great joy!

In this time of pandemic, people were unbelievably generous and kind! Friends and family came over and helped get our yard ready for a wedding. Chairs, tables, and decorations were shared, simply to help make my daughter’s day as beautiful as it could be. No one knew what to expect, but everyone was determined to make it the best it could possibly be, regardless of the circumstances.

May 9th dawned partly cloudy and beautiful! But what would this day look like for my daughter? Would all the planning and praying result in something beautiful, or would this day always be remembered as less than because the wedding had to happen in our backyard?

Last minute decorating and details were attended to. Tents and tables were set up and decorated. Chairs were positioned in the backyard. Dinner was prepared and ready to serve after the wedding. In the afternoon, the bridesmaids changed from wedding decorators in work attire into stunning ladies in navy blue gowns in the rooms of our house. The bride was coiffed, makeuped and zipped into her dress, with pockets.

As the clock headed toward 6pm, we made our way to the shop in the backyard. Our neighbors stood on their porches and cheered us along. Family arrived and found their place in the backyard. The sound system was set up, the music queued to play. The air was filled with anticipation.

Could a backyard wedding become the wedding of my daughter’s dreams? We would soon find out.

At 6pm, my daughter put her arm in her daddy’s arm and stepped out of the shop to head down the aisle to her groom. As she rounded the corner, she burst into tears. My husband, understandably concerned, stopped and asked whether she was okay. 

“Oh, Dad, yes! This is perfect...exactly what it was meant to be!”

And it was!

Our backyard had been transformed into a sanctuary that was kissed by the presence of God; a chapel set in nature where love reigned supreme and a beautiful wedding took place...all in the midst of a pandemic.  

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