Ready for a tear-jerker Covid wedding story? Here’s Katie’s Covid wedding story. Please check out her blog katieograteful.com. Get some tissues and champagne ready.
“I wasn’t sure where to begin our story exactly, so I will start with how we met. We worked together as teenagers in my family’s grocery store for 6 or 7 years. My family closed the store in May 2012. Will asked me out on a date in October of 2012… I told him I heard there was going to be a crazy hurricane… he said everything would be fine and laughed. And then our first date was cancelled by Sandy Hurricane which tore up our hometown on Long Island, NY. Our first date ended up being ripping out a wet carpet in a neighbors apartment before mold set in.. eating Red Cross turkey sandwiches #romance
Fast forward 6 years of dating to December 2018, we FINALLY got engaged! Will proposed on what was possibly the coldest day of the year. We were hosting a Christmas Party that evening, so our siblings and friends were already coming for a party! He dragged me down to the beach (I was trying to make a ziti for 35 people..) and proposed with his brother and his brother’s girlfriend hiding in the bushes taking photos. Will spoke about how there would never be enough time in our days and how it was now our time to celebrate us. I’m pretty sure I asked him if he was going to die (of nerves) and then said YES!
As much as I wanted to be engaged, I wasn’t as eager to plan a wedding. I was overwhelmed with all of the options and the cost. So we took our time… we looked at 5 venues from February 2019 through April 2019. We dragged our feet some more, no one really talks about the financial investment a wedding is… man is it scary.
September 1st, 2019 I went to go hold the date with $1000.00 in my pocket. We realized 2020 dates were booking so fast and maybe we shouldn’t have waited so long. So we did it.We booked for April 3rd, 2020. We had 215 days to plan a wedding. Thankfully we booked a vendor package so we booked the florist, limo, photographer, DJ, wedding cake, and catering all in one breath. See? I’m not as insane as you were just thinking. All we needed was a bridal party, clothes, decor, and hair & makeup. A piece of cake, right?
Casually, we pieced together a wedding. We were more focused on keeping the process fun and exciting.. With a lot of champagne. I never wanted to feel stressed about planning the “happiest day of our lives” so we did planning in small doses. I would prepare a To Do List prior to our “meeting” and we would just decide on those items on the list… check them off and move on. Will works around 60+ hours a week, so time is limited and valuable around here.
Our bridal shower was in January and it was a dream of a party. It was a Jack&Jill like I wanted… and it was Snow in Love themed…. Also like I wanted! It truly was the best day ever with mimosas and sandwiches. Will and I played the Shoe Game! If you are unfamiliar, someone reads a line like “who is the better cook?” and the bride and groom hold up who’s shoe it fits. Honestly, it was so much fun!
Our bachelorette and bachelor parties were back to back weekends and they went off without a hitch. They both included too much booze and not enough sleep… as they should.
And then early March, COVID-19 started to scare people. Will was growing increasingly worried that we would have to postpone. I looked at him like he was out of his mind. I was like postpone? What are you even talking about? I was in such shock and disbelief as our once RSVPed guests began to rescind their YES in exchange for a big ol’ NO.
I had already paid for 50% of our wedding! A lesson was learned there, never pay more than your deposit EVEN if you have the money. We didn’t know what to do. On March 14th, 2020 I asked Will if we could go meet some kittens since we were planning on adopting after the wedding anyway. And he (for the first time ever) immediately agreed to go to the shelter. He was almost positive we had to postpone the wedding by now, I still wasn’t sure. And so, on Monday 16th, 2020 I began to pack up all of our wedding decor into boxes. All of the centerpieces, cocktail hour decor, and everything else was boxed up and stacked against the wall…in preparation for my kitten to come home. Will’s one smart guy, right? It took 7 years of asking, a global pandemic, and a postponed wedding but he held out for the perfect time to get this girl a pet.
On March 17th, 2020 we went to our two week wedding venue appointment..you know the one you look forward to? Where everything becomes real? Where you get to choose the entrees and appetizers and make sure the linens are ordered in the perfect color to match your theme. And we postponed our wedding. Our new date was November 6, 2020. We were 17 days away from our perfect wedding and it was gone. Just like that, the dreamy wedding we spent almost 200 days planning was dead. We were devastated. I reached out to each vendor to alert them of the change, luckily hair and makeup had our new date. So, everything transferred seamlessly to our new date in November.
April 3rd, 2020 came and it was sad. It was a cloudy cold day and to be honest, that was the weather Will was wishing for! We spent the day driving around ; we were restless and feeling a little lost. NYS had gone on official lockdown and nothing felt normal. Grieving a life moment is weird, because so many people were telling us to be happy we still had each other and we would still have a wedding but that wedding that we had planned and dreamed about was totally gone.
So, a word of advice if you’re talking to a COVID-19 Bride, don’t keep telling them one day they will get their day… because they won’t. Yes, they will get a wedding day and it will be beautiful but that moment in time they had planned for for over 200 days was taken from them and it will never come back in the same way. It just evaporates.
And just like that, we were back in wedding planning mode. Our countdown went from 17 days to 234 days. To be honest, we didn’t do much planning… we didn’t go through the boxes. We couldn’t even really look at them. I cried more than I would like to admit. We just couldn’t understand how our timing could be so off, when we really felt like it was our time this year.
Around September, I started to dig out the centerpieces and decor to see what was left to be crafted. It wasn’t easy and there were no butterflies in my belly. I just kept reminding myself it will probably get postponed again. We forged forward, we sent out new invitations, we got back a bunch of yeses but every no just hurt so bad. We totally understood why people were afraid to come, but we didn’t know what else to do but move forward with this wedding. I started doing the budget again to see what we owed because they don’t give a discount for a COVID wedding you know. I was growing uneasy with the amount of money we were spending and how much we had settled on.
The last week in September, on Wednesday the hotel called. They had to cancel the rehearsal dinner space and the hair and makeup space due to emergency HVAC renovations. The girl who broke the news said to me “I’m really racking my brain on a solution for you and I just don’t have one” So I politely said “I’m going to have to hang up with you because I have nothing nice to say and I need to go cry.” After speaking with the hotel manager she said we could squish all 12 women and 3 makeup artists into two adjoining rooms or we would have to switch the hotel block. She said “don’t worry, I’ll help”.
So I sprang into action, I began calling all of the local hotels in the area to see where we could move our 12 booked rooms and book the event spaces we needed. Oh wait, that original hotel had a shuttle included so now we needed to add an unexpected $800 expense to shuttle our guests back and forth. We had to make sure we had a lot of space on the bus so everyone would feel comfortable because it is COVID.
Did I mention that I ordered 200 purple disposable face masks so if our guests felt comfortable enough to dance at least they would all match? I felt like this would look better in our photos. I also booked a videographer this time around, but made sure he would leave before this masked dancing ensued. I didn’t need to relive that memory. I can’t even tell you how much hand sanitizer my mom bought for this wedding. I began to question if we were settling too much and spending too much money. Does the DJ’s fireworks even make sense anymore? Would they still be exciting if everyone was too afraid to get up and dance? Yes, dancing is banned in our state but our venue said no one would be forced to sit down and at some point this made sense to us. Would people use the photo booth? Was this all a waste? Should we push for a very cold outdoor ceremony? Did I need to rent heaters? Buy blankets? Everything was piling up.
Friday October 2, 2020 I drove 30 minutes to meet with the florist… who forgot about our appointment and never returned my call. Then I stopped at a new hotel and tried to negotiate rates. And then I got home and I cried. I was miserable. I just didn’t know what made sense anymore. Are these signs? Do I even believe in signs? Can we spend all of our money on this face masked, hand sanitizer scented, day?
Sunday October 4th, 2020… my Grandma calls and says she just can’t make it work. She is almost in tears but she just doesn’t see how she can safely fly to NY and quarantining for the 4 weeks would be a lonely time. And so, I tell her I understand and I hang up. And then I sob in Will’s lap and totally ruin the pumpkin muffin he had been looking forward to all morning. So something shifts in us and we sit down again and look at the guest count and look at the bill. And we just can’t do it. We never wanted wedding planning to be stressful. No bride is supposed to cry as much as I have over a wedding day. Yes, I have a dreamboat of a man that I will spend my life with but no, I will not be marrying him in 2020.
For the rest of that Sunday we called our entire guest list, if you know us by now you know Champagne was flowing, and we let everyone know our wedding would be cancelled with no new date in sight. No, it wasn’t easy. It was sad and disappointing with each phone call, but it was an announcement that had to be made.
Exactly 30 days before our new wedding date we went to the venue and told them we had to cancel. We asked them to release us from the vendor contracts and asked what they could do with our very large deposit. He offered us a date in 2021 and I cried. I just couldn’t wrap my head around planning a 3rd wedding. So we settled with a very large gift card to their restaurant or we can have a smaller brunch or dinner in one of the smaller event spaces at some point in time. And so I went home and called all the vendors. The DJ said he would roll our deposit into something for one of the events we will have at the venue. And the photographer is using our deposit for engagement photos at a Christmas Tree farm this November. We never took them so now is as good a time as any.
We don’t have a plan right now, if NY gets a lot of snow maybe we will elope outside. Or maybe we will plan a big Tiki Bar party at the venue’s restaurant. Honestly, we aren’t sure. It seems like this wedding is associated with grief to us now, my wedding dress has been hanging in our room since January. Will looked at the garment bag the other day and said “What are we even going to do with that thing?” All of our plans are thrown off now and we just don’t know what we want. So we’re taking the holidays off. What I do know is that even though our big venue wedding is cancelled, our love was never cancelled. One day, I will marry Will. And it will be a beautiful moment in time. “
Ok I feel as though I’ve gone on a journey with Katie. What a powerful, heartbreaking covid wedding story. Thank you Katie for sharing your story. Please check out Katie’s blog katieograteful.com