In an alternative Covid-free universe, I’d be just over a week away from my wedding.
I suspect now’s the time my fiancé and I would be putting the finishing touches to the seating plan, questioning whether we picked the right song for the first dance, and making up excuses for friends we forgot to invite.
It’s already been a long journey to wedded life: we got engaged in September 2017 when I hid a ring in a box of fried chicken and it was only last year when we finally started putting plans in place.
We saw a couple of venues, picked our squads (calling them ‘bridesmaids’ and ‘groomsmen’ at a queer ceremony didn’t feel right), and settled on Friday, August 14, for the big day.
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It was early March, days before the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic, when we sent out our invitations. By the time the first RSVPs started rolling in, everything was in doubt, and by late April we’d formally postponed.
So like countless others, we won’t be tying any proverbial knots this summer. At around about the time we would have been saying ‘I do’ and (probably) setting off glitter canons, we’ll be schlepping round the Lake District in decidedly un-glam monochrome waterproofs for a staycation.
I wondered if I’d be feeling sad around about now. Gloomy over the joy-filled day we had to cancel, the phenomenal playlist I (sorry, we) would have curated, or the (let’s be honest) s**t-load of attention we would have happily revelled in.
But honestly, I’ve barely thought about it until this week. And no, that’s not because being stuck in the flat together for five months straight has pushed us to the brink.
Obviously we were disappointed to postpone, and we’re itching to fast forward to summer 2021 when we might be able to hold something close to what we had originally intended.
But it wasn’t until the calendars flipped from July to August and restrictions for any un-postponed weddings were (or rather, weren’t) updated that it hit us how soon to our would-be wedding we now are.
In the grand scheme of everything that’s been happening, our big day feels like the absolute bottom priority.
People are losing jobs, thousands have lost friends and family to a cruel virus, many haven’t seen loved ones for months thanks to domestic and international travel restrictions.
People have had to mark milestone birthdays in more muted fashion than they would have liked, graduations have been scrapped, teenagers have been robbed of memorable proms or leavers’ events.
Grandparents haven’t been able to spend proper quality time with new grandchildren, funerals have been transformed and businesses have been damaged beyond repair.
My fiancé and I have been extremely lucky, all things considered. If having to shunt a high-key party back by 12 months is the most dramatic thing that happens to us over the course of this horrible era, we’ll have been very fortunate indeed.
That ‘it is what it is’ spirit seems to be common among many couples in our situation. I wonder if that just goes to show how the importance of marriage has changed in recent years: we already live together, we’ve already been in a relationship for several years (by next summer we’ll have been a couple for a decade), and getting formally married would be symbolic more than anything.
Of course, the prospect of getting our loved ones together for a care-free celebration is more appealing now than ever before, and I really feel for people in circumstances that make the timing of their nuptials more important. But us? We can wait.
I wonder if there’s something to be said for the fact that we as gay people didn’t grow up knowing whether we’d even be able to get wed at all.
I mean, sure, when I was 10 I assumed I’d have a big church ceremony with a pretty girl in my class one day, but I hadn’t figured at that point that thinking her hair was fierce wasn’t the same as having a crush on her.
That we are able now to have a legally equal ceremony is a bonus we hadn’t taken for granted, and it can certainly be put on the backburner for another 12 months.
In fact, this extra year is an opportunity to make things even more spectacular.
Our ceremony venue is a cinema, and now we have even more time to figure out how we can be unbearably extra with the use of the big screen.
I can also confront my niggling suspicion that a first lip-sync would go down better than a first dance, and I (sorry, we) can really get that playlist bang-on.
On top of that, we get more of the fun lead-up stuff: our so-called stan weekend (‘hen’ and ‘stag’ didn’t feel right, so our enthusiasm for the camper side of stan culture made that the portmanteau of choice) was originally slated for May, and – while we were treated to a truly exceptional alternative celebration on Zoom (complete with a dance tutorial to A Little Bit Alexis) – we will, all being well, now be able to have another proper go at it next year.
It’s not that we’re shrugging our shoulders and nonchalantly saying ‘oh well’ over the delay. When we made the decision to officially postpone, we did allow ourselves a moment of sadness (and by ‘moment of sadness’ I do mean ‘an extremely strong cocktail’).
But it’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen: when we know our guests will be safe, when there’s a tiny bit less uncertainty in the world, and – most importantly – when I (sorry, we) have figured out exactly which Britney and Kylie songs to put on the playlist.
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