BY DARIA BEDDARD
We met on May 13, 2016 in Florida, the weekend before he moved back up to North Carolina. I thought for sure we’d never see each other again. Almost a year later, we had our first date. We dated long distance for about a year. After Hurricane Irma hit in September of 2017, we made the decision that I would be making the move to be with him in Greenville. Two years later, almost to the date, I made the move.
On August 18, 2019, my life was forever changed. I had finally been proposed to by the love of my life. We were in Savannah, Georgia, and I had ruined all his plans as far as the details of how it was going to go down. He had never been there before, and I, being a lover of all things Savannah, basically changed everything he wanted to do. Go figure. It was late and hot, and I could hear the dog barking in our rented-out apartment, but when he insisted that we keep on walking, I knew what was happening. He could barely get out the words before I burst into tears, saying “yes.”
I wasted no time starting to plan. I mean, like most women (I think), I had a Pinterest board saved with all the decorations, dresses, rings and all the other stuff and things. I found a place that had my dream dress, and my best friend was coming into town to start all the festivities. Labor Day weekend came, and before it was all said and done, I knew almost all the details of the wedding. Including where I was getting married, how I needed to order my dress, the menu options, drink options and at least half the guest list.
I was in my last year of school, and I wanted to get as much hammered out as I could. I also wanted to stay as organized as possible, something that isn’t my strong suit. So, getting a lot of stuff done with my bestie here made it so much easier.
I set up a free website to have people RSVP through, so I didn’t have to track anything extra. It also allowed me to have all my details readily accessible to the family members, including my registry, directions to the venue, surrounding hotels and the closest airports. I had never in my life felt more prepared months in advance of something so major.
I should have known then it was too good to be true.
By February, we started getting RSVPs in and family members were making reservations for flights and hotel rooms. My best friend had also arranged my bachelorette party in Nashville, and the fun plans to visit all the museums and karaoke bars. It was no doubt going to be epic. March 11th came, and I was wheels up in a plane heading to Nashvegas. We knew that some things had already shut down, but we weren’t letting this stop us! We had no clue what was to come. As we got settled into our Airbnb, we learned of more places on our list that had shut down. We continued to say, “It’s ok! We’ll find things to do!” Some of our plans weren’t ruined, but some had to be completely rearranged. Overall, the bachelorette party was a win.
On March 15th, I sat there in disbelief, along with the rest of the country, as I watched the country start to shut down. Two weeks; that’s what we were told. At this point, I wasn’t making any changes. It was two weeks later that I started to have a mild panic attack. Schools were going to remain virtual through the end of the school year. I knew that was going to impact so many things. I remember bawling. You see, May 15th was our wedding date. We picked that because of the significance of all of our big things happening in May.
It became very clear that a May wedding would not be safe, and I couldn’t imagine having another date. But, because of the situation at hand, I couldn’t knowingly put our older family members at risk for our own selfish needs. My grandmother has already battled through severe pneumonia, and if she caught COVID, it was likely she wouldn’t survive. So, we were able to easily change our date to Labor Day weekend. Thankfully.
We still got married on May 15th with my mom, my aunt, his mom and his stepfather present. Along with two of our very dear friends. We were not going to give up our date, but we could always do the big celebration later.
By July, it was clear that we weren’t getting any better. We contacted our vendors to cancel in hopes that we could plan something down the road. Our photographer and the photobooth gladly refunded us with complete understanding. The venue not so much. It was weeks of going back and forth, and when they said they weren’t giving us a refund and then tried to act as if they were doing us a favor by not charging us for food or drinks (even though we hadn’t ordered anything), that’s when I had my full breakdown. That’s when I cried for hours.
It was bad enough that I wasn’t getting my wedding, and now we’re losing $1,200+ because the venue was operating illegally per the state of North Carolina, but they were adamant that they were able to operate. Due to the emotional pull, we ceased trying to pursue it. After speaking to a lawyer, it could have taken months to get to the end of it, and while the money was important, my mental health was more important.
As Labor Day came and went, the emotions of not having our special day were heavy on my heart. I already had my dress, and it was being tailored, and I still had dreams of being able to wear it. After speaking with my dear friend who is a photographer, we decided that we were going to do a bridal photography session. Eddie and I never got a chance to say our vows, have the first dance or even have professional pictures to celebrate us. I wanted at least that. We had a day just for us on November 20th and, while the plans didn’t go exactly as we thought they would, the day was so magical and filled with love. Being able to share those moments with my husband and to have a day to express our love, even if it’s six months later, was a day we’ll never forget.
The plus side is that we can celebrate twice a year now!
A few notes I would pass on to future brides:
- No matter what happens, do not lose sight of sharing a special day with your spouse. In reality, while you want to be surrounded by family and friends, it truly is just about you.
- Get yourself the website. Even though things didn’t work out the way I thought they would, the website was SO helpful in helping me keep organized. I was able to link my registry and all.
- There are wristbands now that you can order for your guests to wear that are color-coded. It allows people to see who’s comfortable with what kind of interaction. The ones I saw included no contact, elbow bumps and full-on hugs.
- Most importantly, do not plan your wedding on making other people happy. Make a day that will live with love in your hearts for the rest of your lives.