The year is 2017. You are on a beach during sunset, the salty ocean wind flowing through your hair. You are in comfy clothes because just 20 minutes ago you got cranky and decided you didn't want any photos that night, despite your mom's begging and your fiancé gently encouraging your stubborn ass to "put back on your dress." You turn around to see paparazzi, dozens of your crazy family members staring with cameras pointed in your direction. Your eyebrows briefly furrow, until you look down and see the love of your life down on one knee and a ring box, opened in his hand.
So, that was probably nothing like your engagement story. But it was mine. And looking back on our three year engagement, up until March 2020, we would have never expected getting married during a global pandemic.
At every stage, I've heard it all. Among the hardest to swallow was judgement from those I care deeply about. I was selfish for continuing to plan in April, selfish for not canceling in May, selfish for cancelling (too late) in June, selfish for not updating guests fast enough in July, and finally, selfish for eloping privately without friends or family present in August.
But what they don't know is that 2020 brides are mourning. We still need to go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Many of us will skip right over a few stages and go into "hyper planning" mode but never take a moment to reflect and truly mourn the loss of the magical wedding we dreamed of for years. Dreams of walking down the aisle surrounded by the smiling faces of our loved ones, dreams of a crazy bachelorette with our girls, dreams of the romantic all-inclusive honeymoon...all swept under the rug, never to be spoken of again.
Why can't we speak of our grief? Because it's selfish. How can we sit here and complain when people are losing their jobs, struggling to put food on the table, and mourning losses of loved ones without even the opportunity to have a proper funeral service? How can we mourn the loss of our fancy expensive party in a time like this? We can't. "It's fine" you may hear a COVID-19 bride say. "There are worse things!" or even, my personal favorite line, "I am just grateful a wedding is the only struggle we're facing right now." And that is true of course, but deep down all COVID-19 brides share the same secret--we are all mourning, we are all sad, and it is not fine.
Now normally, I would give a big speech that will boil down to "we got this!" But this wouldn't be a confession if it landed on a high note. This post isn't about overcoming anything, it's about denying it, getting angry, being sad, and hopefully eventually accepting that we won't get the exact wedding of our dreams. But we also can't accept it without truly letting ourselves feel those raw, unfiltered emotions.
So, from one selfish COVID-19 bride to another, I am here to tell you--it is OKAY to mourn. It is OKAY to feel sad. And it's OKAY to be selfish. Focusing on just the positives simply sweeps your feelings under the rug. So grab yourself a tub of Canceled Wedding Cake* ice cream, turn on P.S. I Love You and have a good cry in your favorite jammies.
Because you are still human and your feelings are valid.
*Not a real flavor, but hope it gave you as good as a laugh as it gave me!