REAL BRIDES: Planning a Wedding During a Pandemic

REAL BRIDES: Planning a Wedding During a Pandemic

We all know the cliché “I’ve been dreaming of this day since I was a little girl…” but in all honestly, that really is me. As early as I can remember, I’ve been planning my wedding day. Who was to fill the spot of my future husband, waiting at the end of the aisle, remained blank but everything from the classic gown and how I wanted to wear my hair right down to the timings of music and the style of invitations was sorted. I’ve worked in the wedding industry for over 10 years, so I knew exactly what I did (and didn’t) want and I could visualise and sense every aspect of my dream festive December wedding. I could see the warm glow of candlelight and smell the sweetness of mulled wine as I glide around a great hall embracing all of my favourite people, with Frank Sinatra’s rendition of L.O.V.E playing in the background. I knew exactly how I wanted it to look and I knew exactly how I wanted to feel.


So when I met Jamie in 2012 and he was everything I wanted from a husband, I knew within a matter of months that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, to build a home with him and for him to be the father to my children. The years passed and time became a ticking bomb, being slowly wound tighter and tighter, waiting for him to pop the big question. It took 7 years, but it was worth the wait, he was worth the wait. And with that, the switch flicked and all of the planning that had been stored in my head came to life.


Within 3 months of the engagement, the venue was booked, we had chosen our photographer and band, I’d had my “YES!” moment at The White Collection, I’d started creating the dried floral bouquets and our save the dates had gone out to our 90-strong guest list. Friday 18th December 2020 – this was going to be the most long-awaited and most incredible day of my life! However, what was about to arrive around the corner was something I just was not expecting…facing a global health pandemic was not in the plan!


As February came and went, I was fully riding the ‘it’s just a cold, what’s everyone complaining about?’ bandwagon. And then March arrived, and things began to hit home. Our Vegas trip was cancelled, and I was furloughed from work, a word none of had heard before! So, with the foreseeable future being spent from home, I set-up camp in the garden. Luckily for the UK the sun made a sudden appearance, which was so unusual for that time of year, and the weeks that followed were filled with amazing sunshine, binge-watching Tiger King, binge-reading books, baking banana bread and morning P.E. sessions with Joe Wicks. It was a nice feeling to be able to stop for a while, get a rare Spring suntan and enjoy a cheeky 3pm G&T with my only company being my French Bulldog, Bruno along with Harry, Ron and Hermione (I completed the entire book series in 9 weeks!).


Whilst this was all very lovely, at the same time, each week a new engaged heartbroken couple appeared on my feed and my heart was breaking for a those who were having to postpone their weddings with only a few week’s notice (some with days!) and I thanked our lucky stars that we had chosen a Christmas wedding! “We’ve got 9 months to go, this will all be blown over by the end summer!”  and so I made the most of the extra spare time to crack on with the planning!


By June the wreaths were made for the church pews, I’d designed our invitations, our snow confetti had arrived, the bridesmaids gifts were ordered and I was walking the lounge in circles breaking in my new Kate Spade heels to the song I’d be walking down the aisle to. When Boris announced the news that weddings were back on, I literally cried with happiness! “OK it’s only 30 guests at the moment, but we had 5 months to go, it’s only going to get better from here!” We drank champagne, enjoyed our first meal out that evening and were both filled with hope, positivity and so much excitement that the wedding was back on track. What happened 2 weeks later, I was not mentally prepared for.


The day after our invitations arrived, Boris gave the update that cases were rising again and we were needing to “squeeze the breaks” on any further lockdown restrictions easing. Weddings for 30 were cancelled again. My heart broke shattered. Firstly, for the couples who were so excited to be going ahead and marry in the following days, and then secondly for us. It was from this moment that I took my seat on the most awful emotional rollercoaster possible! A few of my friends who were already dealing with postponed weddings had described it, but experiencing it first-hand was something else and I fought with every inch of my body and mind to stay positive as we ripped around the tracks to face a new problem and new emotion each day!


At first I was stubborn. My mentality was that I was getting married one way or another if there’s only 30 guests with hand sanitiser and social distancing? Fine. Whatever it takes. I wasn’t going to let Covid-19 win. But the ups and downs were unbearable. One morning I would wake so positive but realistically I could feel the 18th December slipping through our fingers. With questions starting to arise from friends and family about whether we’d though about out plan was going to be. But I wasn’t ready to admit it, I didn’t want to talk about it, so next came the denial. I convinced myself this would all be wrapped up by September! We even completed the brutal task of sectioning our guest list into 10’s so we knew who could attend as higher guest numbers got released. But as the weeks went on, the restrictions for weddings weren’t budging. There was still to be no dancing, no instruments, no hymns, no hugging, no kissing. Face masks became a legal requirement in church and my dad won’t be able to walk by my side, down the aisle. I couldn’t even imagine going ahead, but I just couldn’t say it out loud.


A couple of weeks later whilst sitting down with a friend for coffee the words came out of my mouth, so quietly that they nearly didn’t make it…”I think we’re going to postpone the wedding…” The response that came after it was something that I was so relieved to hear I can’t even explain. “THANK GOD!” followed by “You’ve waited too long to compromise” and “You’re going to get married some-day so give yourself the best chance to have the wedding of your dreams” and if the truth be told, it was everything I needed to hear. I broke down in tears. I didn’t want to give up, I wanted to keep fighting for the most long-awaited day of my life. I wanted to be Mrs.Woodland this year, but I couldn’t ignore my gut feeling and what my mind was telling me was for the best.


But now the decision has been made I can’t explain the relief I feel! Saturday 4th December will be the best day of our lives to-date! But I won’t be naive again – in all honestly, no one in this world knows how the next few months are going to unfold. Could we still be in this situation in 6 months time? We very well could be but we’ll deal with it when it comes. But we both agreed we had to give ourselves the chance to have the day we have been dreaming of, with the people who mean the most to us. If there’s one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s that life matters. That the little things are so important and to hold onto your loved ones (once social distancing has been lifted) because you just don’t know what is around the corner.


My advice to anyone who is trying to plan a wedding in the next 12 months is to just do what is true to yourselves, as individuals and as a couple. In the words of many Instagram influencers…”you do you”. One thing I’ve learnt from this experience is that as couples, even though we’re all is the same boat, they’re all very different shapes and sizes. For some couples the priority is to just be married at the end of the day or there may be many reasons why their wedding has to go ahead this year. But for others a wedding has many different dimensions that are just as important. I’m not going to sit here and deny that it’s not about the party and the dress as much as the marriage…because for me, it is! I love dancing, food, hugging, kissing and celebrating, and of course working in a bridal shop, I also LOVE wedding dresses! The priorities for slightly Jamie are different as he hates being centre of attention, but we’ve worked together in making the decision as a team, and that’s what is most important.


I guess, as it goes, this experience has been an amazing test for our relationship, because if you can survive being in lock-down together for 3 months and to plan a wedding during a pandemic without any major relationship problems arising, then you’re definitely making the right choice for a life partner! So here we go, it’s time to start the countdown again. 15 months to go until I become Mrs. Woodland and I CAN’T BLOODY WAIT!