Getting Married in the Midst of Covid-19. Maybe?

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The Excitement!

In October 2019, we got engaged. Colorado was in the midst of a snowstorm, so N had a canceled flight. We panicked a little–him more than I since he was the once carrying a diamond on his way over and I was oblivious. However, a couple of calls later, we got his flight rescheduled for the next day.

We were already talking about the possibility of a 2020 wedding, so our plans for this trip were to venture and tour possible venues. Throughout our day (Halloween), N was a little more tense than usual and also asking about places to take a walk or have a picnic. We did, however, reserve a table at The Melting Pot.

Unbeknownst to me and the waiter, we got seated in a perfect spot–closed off to everyone in our aisle. Also very fitting that we were seated in the Starry Room where twinkling lights were shining in the ceiling above our little booth.

As the waiter left, N started a speech on being at The Melting Pot, us two our very own “melting pot” of cultures, making some “cheesy” statements… and popped the question. I said yes… and, we were officially engaged!

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The Melting Pot, Littleton, CO

The Planning

In early January, my parents and I traveled to California to meet up with N’s parents and discuss bride prices, exchange money, have discussions that needed to be had. The planning process for this discussion proved stressful as we didn’t know who was supposed to do (or say) what, and this is a huge deal in the Hmong culture.

But it all went down pretty well and I think both sets of parents felt heard in the conversation. We took pictures together and went about our day as usual–N and I were ecstatic that everything went smoothly.

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Taken after some tears, exchanging of money, and happy results; Merced, CA

After a few back and forth discussions with both of our parents, we were able to settle on a pretty cool venue, had a few photographers lined up, planned out some beautiful decorations, scheduled our Pastor, and were working our way to getting the party planned out.

Then we heard stirrings about a disease that originated from Wuhan–a city close to my heart as I spent 4 years living life there. Wuhan was far away and there didn’t seem to be a strong sense of worry about this virus, so we moved forward with our wedding plans. (late January)

We sent out our Save-the-Dates and scheduled our engagement photoshoot with a friend living in the Bay area. At this time, I was still getting updates from friends who were taking vacation as China was celebrating Chinese New Year.

Still, we didn’t worry. Until I heard that some friends weren’t able to return to Wuhan and that the international school there was closed until further notifications. (late February to mid-March)

Plans Derailed

I like to think that I’m a pretty flexible person, great at adapting to what’s put in front of me. I was okay when our girl’s trip was canceled in March. I was okay when I knew we would have to cancel our honeymoon tickets, which we had literally just booked for June.

But when N and I talked about the possibility of not having our wedding celebration in June as we had planned, I started to feel despair.

Covid-19. The Coronavirus.

There wasn’t any news in the updates that were positive. Scientists didn’t have a good prediction on when this would all be resolved. Our leaders weren’t clear on what would happen to our nation. Friends in Wuhan were seeing the back end of the virus, but the U.S. was just getting hit with its first waves of infections.

Half of the people on our guest list were flying in from out of town and we knew for sure that we wanted to keep everyone safe. The situation wasn’t looking good for us to move forward with our wedding.

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In Wuhan, my first year (2014); PC: Alicia Feuling

I’m very optimistic to the point where I avoid (maybe ignore?) the negative. Pretty bad I know. When the virus was breaking out in Washington state, my first thought was, “Everything will blow over by June. We just need to wait it out. It’ll all get better.”

Whereas N is more realistic; his first thoughts were, “No one will want to fly in June. The vaccine probably won’t come out until later this year, if even.” Fast forward to April–we are still under “stay at home” orders with some postponement to May 31.

Re-thinking our plans…

Culturally, there were so many things to consider: Can we get married legally and still hold a ceremony later? Is it okay to wear my wedding dress during our big celebration, or should I just go ahead and wear it in our private ceremony–if we were still doing that? What will the Hmong community think?

Traditionally, there were also many things to consider: Should we just postpone the bridal shower until next year? Can I still ask for gifts even if we aren’t holding a public ceremony/reception? Should we still have a pastor officiate for us or should we just self-solemnize? Who will be in attendance? What do we tell our wedding party?

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Fitzgerald Marine Reserve; PC: Maishoua Kim

Anna sings in Frozen, “You must go on and do the next right thing.” All we could do was take small steps to do the next right thing.

The Next Right Thing

We had to move forward. We wanted to be with one another (long-distance relationship). Our plans were originally for June…what’s holding us back? Nothing really. And if we were to be quarantined, we wanted to be in it together.

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Fitzgerald Marine Reserve; PC: Maishoua Kim

So we proposed the idea to both of our parents: we want to get legally married, and then hold a big celebration when everything has calmed down and our family and friends feel comfortable to come and join us.

It took some convincing, more on my side than his, and we were given the green light to move forward. We had a conversation with our venue and florist. Both were willing to postpone a year out. Our pastor was also willing to stand in to officiate for June 2021 as well–such a blessing! Our wedding party was so understanding, even though I’m so sad that I’ll miss seeing a close friend this year (@bradfordsmeetsworld).

We re-made our Save-the-Dates with a new date and let our guests know. We’re hoping to have a link to our day of private ceremony so that everyone can still celebrate with us.

My bridal party is working hard to make a bridal shower work out before I officially move out to California; it’s definitely different from what we had in mind and what is traditionally done. We’re in conversation with my new pastor (not the one we had originally asked) to see if he would be willing to officiate for our super small party.

If everything all works out, N and I will actually receive double the blessing as we can have a small ceremony and still go big with all our friends and family next year.

Resave the date

Another blessing that came in the midst of this is that we’ve bought a house! So through all the disappointments and “no’s” that Covid-19 has brought, we’ve had a light of hope as well. We’re so excited to start furnishing it and making it our own. When everything is resolved and the world comes to its new normal…party at the Pistoresi’s!

Though our wedding story is not what we had in mind when we got engaged in October, we’re still keeping a positive mindset that this will just add to our unique story. Whatever comes our way, both of our families are now on board with us and willing to accommodate where needed. Our friends are so supportive during this time as well.

We are hurting with you if your wedding has been canceled or is on the verge of a possible cancellation. We are celebrating with you if you decided to move forward with a private ceremony, postponement, or celebrating with another way of being together. If you would like to dialogue about any aspect of wedding planning (or lack thereof) during these unprecedented times–please reach out! Even if it’s just to vent or share what your “next right thing” is, I’m here.

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4 Comments

  1. Hi Mary! Thank you for stopping by and reading our story! I’ve heard so much about you from Nick. So excited to meet you too!

  2. Mary Gudgel says:

    Hey there! Thank you for sharing your special story. Brian and I are so excited for you two and this next chapter in your story! Please let us know if you need any help moving or getting settled once you’re back in Merced. Can’t wait to meet you!

  3. Thank you so much Alan for your kind and encouraging words! We are definitely trusting that the Lord will bring us through this seasons with abundant blessings.

  4. Congratulations and grace to you both as you move ahead with your plans, because the Lord will bless your union as you honor one another, your parents and Him by taking this step – Yes, the celebration will be wonderful in due time…. Blessings to both – Nick, I think you found a jewel!

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