What It Feels Like To… Cancel Your WeddingBy Anna Eckhart
Until I got engaged, I had never thought about my wedding. I didn’t fantasise about it as a little girl or watch ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ as a teenager. I’d never even had a cursory flick through a bridal magazine at the hairdresser. So, strange though it may sound, I was surprised to find myself crying uncontrollably when we cancelled our wedding last week due to Coronavirus.
I should say postponed – just indefinitely. My partner is currently self-isolating in the bedroom with a cough while I commandeer the living room, but we are still very much together. At the top of our ‘to try’ list is not talking about how weirdly life-altering it feels that we won’t be getting married in a few weeks. We haven’t quite managed it yet.
It’s fair to say that we had been anticipating Coronavirus meddling with our wedding for a while before it actually happened. We talked about potential travel restrictions for our friends and family travelling from the US or even people feeling too nervous to venture out of their homes. All options were discussed in a practical, at-the-dinner-table kind of way, and each conversation concluded with us deciding we would just have to wait and see how things developed.
The final decision to postpone was, in the end, easy to make. My future mother-in-law, undergoing treatment in America, was handed a no-fly order by her doctor, who remains deeply concerned about any potential exposure to Covid-19 while her immune system is compromised. Getting married without her was never an option, so we quickly went about making the necessary calls and arrangements.
To our surprise, it was our venue that suggested we cancel, rather than simply choose a new date. They offered us a full refund and the option to re-book at ‘some point in the future. Clearly they don’t see this going away any time soon.
We were grateful not to have to negotiate terms or plead for our money back, especially after we had already swallowed the cost of cancelling our honeymoon to Asia a few weeks before. We did have wedding insurance but, as people are now finding out across all sectors, a claim against a pandemic stops just short of futile. Most people seemed happy to be able to cross our big day off their books and, while I wasn’t up for the fight, it made the situation seem even more bleak.
The truth is, we are all at the mercy of the virus. Nothing seems to exist outside it anymore. Just yesterday I remembered how regularly I used to nibble my nails with worry thinking about a possible terrorist attack in London, and realised I’d been paying no attention to global affairs outside the pandemic for weeks. In classic tongue-poking-mouth-ulcer fashion, I’ve also been lapping up accounts from other brides around the world in similar positions, where they observe that a pandemic was the last of their concerns when they were planning their big day. And it’s just so true. It never crossed my mind that a virus of this
scale would impact my life, my marriage or my career.
As I write this I have one eye on the news, waiting for the government’s daily update, and praying for the announcement of financial support for the hospitality sector. In the last few days I have watched my industry being rubbed out, like a smudge in the corner of an MP’s Coronavirus dossier.
The irony of not being able to write the uplifting and motivational real-life story I myself so want to read isn’t lost on me. Neither is the fact that the sheer scale of this pandemic is, in itself, a sobering remedy to losing out on my wedding. There are much bigger things at stake.
Until a few weeks ago, my partner and I would laughingly tell friends who asked us if we were getting nervous that ‘nothing will change’ after we get married. Now we know that everything will change after Coronavirus. Sly glances across the bar, first dates, anniversary meals, weddings and marriages are all precious moments that are, right now, just out of reach. As my partner and I discuss tonight’s dinner options through the bedroom door, I know that the little girl who had never really considered her wedding will now walk down that aisle filled with a greater sense of appreciation than ever before.