I should be getting married tomorrow, but coronavirus changed everything

I did get teary, but I know it’s a tiny sadness compared to the new reality we are all facing

‘I wasn’t ever the girl who dreamed about her big white wedding.’ Photograph: iStockphoto

‘I wasn’t ever the girl who dreamed about her big white wedding.’ Photograph: iStockphoto

 

Baby when I met you there was peace unknown.

Tomorrow, March 27th, my fiance and I should have been dancing our first dance as a married couple to Islands in the Stream in the Beech Hill Country House Hotel in Derry.

Since we met, we have both loved the song so much it has become “ours”, and I cried along with Dolly Parton as she posted on social media last weekend about the loss of her friend and partner in this duet, Kenny Rogers.

I cried because Kenny was gone, and I won’t be hearing that song this Friday. Like many of other couples, we have had to postpone our wedding.

In the midst of a global pandemic, it seems trivial to even write that postponing our wedding is something to be sad about. But we are still human.

This could be the year for the real thing.

Harry and I met a few years ago at a mutual friend’s party in Dublin. Although he “knew” straight away, it took me a little longer. We haven’t looked back. I moved to Belfast, made new friends, missed old friends, missed my family and, luckily, made a new one. I fell in love with the man I am privileged to marry, whenever that may now be.

We got engaged last January, and it has been the most wonderful time. We have been overwhelmed with people’s kindness, the hugs, the cards, the celebrations. We didn’t want a long engagement, so set our wedding date for this Friday in Derry.

Tender love is blind, it requires a dedication.

About four weeks ago, on a Tuesday evening, I had a deeply unsettling feeling about how things were changing in the world because of the coronavirus. Like my friends and family, Harry calmly tried to reassure me that it would be fine, our wedding was going to go ahead. But I knew it wouldn’t, and, oddly, it was okay. We had a responsibility to ensure our guests were safe and not to put anyone at risk.

Our wedding co-ordinator had been very reassuring that it was business as usual when I raised my concerns with him. He maintained this stance up until two weeks ago when our guests started to get in touch to say they couldn’t attend because of health concerns. That Wednesday, we sent a message to our guests to say we would love them to be at our wedding, but we understood if they couldn’t be there.

But the following day, Leo Varadkar announced the closure of schools and other measures to slow the spread of coronavirus, and things changed.

You do something to me that I can’t explain.

We were lucky enough that our venue offered us a new date, in August of this year. A Saturday, too. Some of our suppliers weren’t available for August. We’ve had some refunds and lost some deposits, but we’ve managed to arrange a new wedding. It also meant we had five months of breathing space to see if our guests could still come. Large gatherings weren’t prohibited at that point, but we would have felt irresponsible and uncomfortable to proceed, and our photographer made the observation that it would have been etched all over everyone’s face in each picture.

You could sense the relief from our guests in their responses to our note about rescheduling, and we have a renewed sense of excitement, albeit subdued, about looking forward to a day with the people we miss so badly at the moment.

Sail away with me, to another world.

Although I did get a little teary about not getting to wake up as Harry’s wife this Saturday, I know it’s a tiny sadness compared to the illness people are dealing with, the bravery our key workers are showing every day and how we are all facing a new reality. And at least we got to make the decision ourselves. That decision has now been taken out of a lot of couples’ hands. We were fortunate that we were getting married in March, and had the option to move to a new date this year. However, we now wonder will it even be able to go ahead in August.

Islands in the stream, that is what we are.

I wasn’t ever the girl who dreamed about her big white wedding. Cake and flowers and favours don’t mean anything, really; they are soon forgotten after what is really just the best party you will ever have with your family and friends. What our wedding means to me is telling my partner, in front of our family and friends, that I am committed to him. That we are a team, we are our own new little family, and I will cherish and love him for the rest of our lives. I really hope we get to do that in August.

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