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Weddings in a Time of Social Isolation

It’s a hard time right now for all of us. But for those who have been planning their wedding day—often a time of much anticipation and desire to share with friends and family—this is especially hard. Couples are having to juggle the desire to have their ceremony now with the realization that their celebration is going to be defined by a real virus threat and the limits of social distancing, and not really knowing when it will be safe to gather again. Most of us grew up hearing stories from grandparents about going through hard times—wars, the depression, blizzards, storms, etc, that they couldn’t have the wedding they planned—these are those times and you have the hope of telling your own grandchildren! You are creating the next story! The limits on sizes of gatherings are out of our control for now. Here are some thoughts:

You can change the date, move it further out and hope that you pick a date when the restrictions are lifted. The problem of finding venues that have openings when every other couple who planned a spring wedding is now competing for space and time, not to mention catering, photographers, officiants, and weather (of course that is never guaranteed). You can change venues. Starting all over in the planning process is hard, and it may be difficult to schedule all the extra services needed for a big wedding. You can change the size of the wedding, have a more intimate gathering. Having a bare minimum of only the most important people (i.e.: wedding couple, officiant, two witnesses, maybe immediate families) is an option. Some of the most meaningful and potent ceremonies happen this way. Having it outside gives you a little more freedom on the size but right now, you have to make it obvious that your guests need to create space. If you change the size, you can have a celebration of your marriage with all your friends later, when the danger is past. Now there are so many apps that create facetime for those at home to participate, or you can make a video with just your phone to show so all can see that moment when you first kissed as spouses. There are many parts of the wedding ceremony that can be done to turn this celebration into one that contains meaning. There are Unity rituals of all sorts; candle lighting, hand fasting, sand blending to name a few more common ones. As we are all going through this isolation, when it lifts, we need to celebrate our togetherness. One way is to break bread together. A loaf of nicely shaped bread, maybe even shaped like a knot, is passed around. Everyone breaks a piece off and passes it to the person next to them so everyone shares the bread together. Explore your family history, what kinds of traditions come from your cultural background. Pinterest, or other online sources also have many ideas. The marriage happens when two people share a sacred moment together. This happens in a wedding, but it can be brought with meaning into the gathering to celebrate the marriage, no matter when that is. And then, let the party begin!

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