The Art of Pivoting: Planning a Wedding During COVID-19

We could compile a list the length of a CVS receipt recounting the ways in which this pandemic has impacted our day-to-day lives. But what about the ways in which it’s disrupted some of the milestones? Those of us smart enough to stay six feet away from others have sacrificed celebrations, graduations and, pretty soon, everyone will have had a COVID birthday.

But imagine, in the midst of all of this, planning one of the most monumental moments of your life. A day that (usually) doesn’t come around more than once in a lifetime: your wedding day. What has been notoriously categorized as the most hectic, stressful day in a woman’s life has just been magnified to the nth degree. No matter how strong we are, no matter how much we can handle as women, planning a wedding during this time has become a bigger beast than we could have ever imagined. So how are we handling it?

We asked for the testimonials of three women who have had to hold their breath at various moments over the last year, wondering how long the universe will force them to perpetually postpone their big day, and what sacrifices they’ve had to make along the way.

Photograph courtesy of Tom Russo Photography

For Alexandra Imbrosci-Viera, most days are spent preparing for the fanfare that similarly accompanies a wedding. As a performer, you’re constantly on your toes, ready to pivot at any moment to accommodate a live show; an eerily similar dance to the one done while planning your wedding.

Our engagement was everything we could have wanted and nothing like what we ever expected. My partner, Eric, and I had our first date at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT and it was his dream to propose there. He had a plan: ask my parents for their blessing while I was away on an acting contract, secure the ring, and pop the question in May. Well, we quickly learned that 2020 wasn’t a big fan of plans.

Alexandra Imbrosci-Viera

As the days spent held up in their apartment together during quarantine came to pass, Eric realized he was either going to have to find a way to fit the Maritime Aquarium in his living room or he was going to have to get clever with his proposal. After sneaking her engagement ring into their home in a laundry basket (yes, a laundry basket), Eric proposed to Alexandra in the comfort of their home, which she still describes as “perfect”.

Planning our wedding during COVID-19 has been about prioritizing, letting go, and perspective. One moment everything’s exciting, and the next all you can do is worry, but you can’t let the unpredictable future shadow your happiness in the present.

It’s been really useful to figure out our priorities are when wedding planning. We love a good cocktail hour and a packed dance floor, but if those things can’t happen how we ideally envision by our December wedding day, how will we go forward? We determined what’s important to us is getting married and being close to our family and friends. That translates to being legally married on our original date and postponing our formal ceremony and reception until it’s safe for loved ones to gather.

Alexandra Imbrosci-Viera

The word “priorities” has been thrown around a lot amongst not only the women we spoke with, but the general population of brides everywhere. Despite doling out setbacks, COVID has really forced couples to reckon with what actually matters when it comes to customizing their big day.

Photo courtesy of Melanie Steinkamp

Abby Riss and her fiancé, Paul, got engaged back in August of 2020 – another couple that was hopeful this would be over by the time their wedding date rolled around. And there’s still hope! Abby and Paul are set to wed in October, which, as it stands, is very feasible. But weren’t we all duped into thinking this thing would be over by now?

Subsequently, Abby and Paul aren’t taking any chances on being disappointed when it comes to their wedding day. So they conjured up a “Plan B” on the off-chance they can’t have their killer celebration in nine months, forcing them to come face-to-face with their non-negotiables.

The deeper I get into the weeds of wedding planning, I can’t help but notice the unique opportunity I’ve had to work through some of my own personality flaws. For a person dependent on a set plan, this environment can be crippling. I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to projects I’m working on, the type of gal to be anxiety-ridden about what centerpieces to have on the tables.

All things I’d normally be losing sleep over are insignificant. Considering everything that’s happening in the world today, not just the pandemic, it really put my priorities into perspective. I’ve taught myself to be more fluid and ultimately learned to give myself a little grace. Everything always falls into place and it’s going to be perfect in its own way.

Abby Riss

For some brides, the priorities aren’t always just about the little nuances of a wedding, or even the bigger details like the headcount; it’s about whether or not to have the wedding during this time at all. For many women, it’s not nearly as easy to relinquish the idea of a big, fat, beautiful celebration with all the bells and whistles, exactly the way you imagined it. And can we blame them?

So, it begs the question, to wed or not to wed? Do you prioritize being married, taking your vows privately, and throwing a big party with your loved ones later? Or do you give in to the pressures of the pandemic and postpone, postpone, postpone, until it lets up?

Like many independent women, Katie Armstrong moved through her early twenties unsure if she wanted to get married; unfazed by the concept of a huge wedding even if she did. But when her fiancé, Adam, popped the question on a surprise trip to Nashville, Tennessee last December, Katie found herself “excited to be excited.” (You can read Adam’s retelling of their engagement story and COVID experience here)

They had their sights set on April of 2021, a very practical endeavor with a leisurely span of sixteen months to plan their dream day together. But COVID had other plans.

Eventually we changed our minds and started planning for October of 2021 instead, but even that made me nervous.  We knew things should be getting better soon with a vaccine on the horizon, but the thought of planning everything only to have to re-plan it all over again was terrifying to me.  I’ve heard hundreds of stories from couples who have done this and my heart breaks for them.  As we came closer to deciding on a venue we knew that if we wanted to have the day we’d been dreaming of and feel truly confident with the date we’d decided on, we’d probably need to push our wedding out to 2022.  So that’s exactly what we did – May 14th, 2022 is the big day.

Katie Armstrong

It has to be said that modern weddings have really become about the celebration – and that’s okay! You’re in love, you’re in love, and you don’t care who knows it. You want to shout it from the rooftops in your big white wedding dress and scream sing to Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer surrounded by your closest friends while your drunk Uncle hits on the bartender and that is okay. Many of us have dreamed of that day, and come hell or high-water, we’ll have it.

We still have so much to do in terms of planning, but so far the process has been fun yet frustrating, exciting yet nerve-wracking.

I’ve had days where I’ve wanted to cry because I feel like I’m planning a wedding that’s never going to happen or like I’m being too selfish.  I know so many people who have had smaller, more intimate weddings due to COVID and they have been absolutely BEAUTIFUL weddings (I attended my best friend’s 12-person wedding and it was amazing!). But I can’t help how I feel – for somebody who never thought about her wedding day until the day she got engaged, it’s crazy how suddenly I wanted this whole experience.  I want all of our friends and family there to celebrate with us, I want the crazy long grand entrance winding down to the water at our venue, I want us to rock out on the dance floor with our wedding party, and I really just want to have the experience of planning this day that suddenly became so clear in my mind in the days following our engagement.  There are great days too, though – days when we book another vendor and I’m so excited because “Yay, we finally accomplished something and we’re one step closer to being married!”  There have been many, many days where my fiancé and I have randomly asked each other “Will you marry me?” all over again, and those beautiful moments snap me out of the bad ones almost instantly.

Katie Armstrong

The common thread amongst all of these women is that there’s never any doubt that their special day will be exactly that…special.

We may have to change the date of our wedding to have the one we’ve always envisioned, but the pandemic has made it even clearer that the most important aspect of our special day is our marriage. And our marriage will happen no matter what.

Alexandra Imbrosci-Viera

No matter what happens, if we have to go with plan B, the most important thing for us is we aren’t going to let it stunt our progression. It may not be exactly how I pictured it but it won’t make this time in our lives any less special.

Abby Riss

I’m grateful for Adam’s love, partnership, support, and ability to keep me sane as we anxiously await this next chapter of our lives together.  He reminds me that we’re doing all of this because we want to and not because we have to.  So we’re waiting a little bit longer than we’d originally expected to officially get married, but we have a lifetime of memories to look forward to creating as husband and wife.

And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about right? Whether you’ve chosen to forego the “typical” large wedding and elope, or you’re holding out for that big banger of a day standing in a sea of those your love, what matters most is that the easiest choice these women have ever had to make regarding their wedding is choosing their partners in every scenario.

You can read their full testimonials below:

Published by tarallew

Actress, Writer, & latte-loving Manhattanite ✨

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