Francisca Concha had other plans for June 27. In a perfect world, she would have enjoyed a family dinner on the deck of a boat crossing the canals of the Netherlands after marrying her three-year-old partner, Vincent. They reportedly ended the day with friends in a bar toasting their new life as a married couple. But instead, when the day unfolded, Concha, 32, and Vincent, 30, ate cake and champagne for breakfast in their two-bedroom apartment while in quarantine in the UK. Uni, where they live. “We’ve been known to open a bottle of champagne for no particular reason,” says Concha, “so it seemed like the right thing to do.”
It’s a relationship milestone they’ll never forget. As the coronavirus has forced the cancellation of large social gatherings, many couples have made adjustments – from Zoom weddings to miniaturized and socially distant ceremonies – while others, who have delayed their nuptials until the year next or beyond, always looking to honor the original day that they thought would be their birthday for life. For these couples, instead of kicking off Netflix for yet another frenzy shoot, they choose to mark the occasion with extra-marital events with meaningful nods to the day that could have been.
“Sometimes we don’t want to remember things that might be considered traumatic or stressful, but I think people take it in stride,” says Sojourner Auguste, New York event planner, founder and creative director of Erganic design. Many of her clients have honored their original wedding date in one way or another. She’s heard of a couples workout and others who have encouraged family and friends to send them marriage advice to read on their new wedding date. “I haven’t had a couple that has been, ‘Oh good’” when their original wedding date draws near, she said. “Everyone recognizes that even if they haven’t put in place a bigger plan.”
As June 27 approached, Concha became sad and frustrated. As the date approached, she reflected on how she should have handled the last minute details. “Instead, I spent endless days in sweatpants at Zoom meetings,” she says. They must have done something to turn the tide and officially say goodbye to a wedding date on June 27: Concha ordered a cake, adorned with “Happy Non-Wedding!” in white icing, and Vincent picked up the champagne. (They have since tied the knot on Aug.22 in a civil ceremony and celebrated with a small group of friends.)
Denise Ginley, 32, also intended to walk down the aisle on June 27, but in April, she and her partner, Steven, 31, made the decision to postpone until June 2021. Suspecting they would be disappointed this saturday, they planned a weekend full of activities to distract themselves, including baking a cake, attending a protest in nyc, having a picnic and reading letters from the family. and friends compiled by Ginley’s maid of honor. “When planning the wedding, there are so many standards, guidelines, rules – things that are always done a certain way – but there is no manual on what to do when you postpone your wedding, ”Ginley says. “It was like as long as we were safe from a pandemic, we could plan the type of day we wanted. So we did.
As the stifling traditions of yore change, marriage has long been considered the ultimate romantic stopover and a social rite of passage. The ring, the dress, the centerpieces, the seating arrangement, anything can take on meaning, including the date. And when logistics and fairytale plans fail, it can be a major disappointment. “I tell my friends that I’ve been through all the stages of mourning,” says Coral Zarrillo, 25, whose April 26 wedding in Vancouver, British Columbia, has been postponed until November. As the virus spread through March, Zarrillo and his partner Madison, 24, had to make a quick decision to push their ceremony forward. Friends were to bake the cake and arrange the flowers and rather than leave them high and dry, Zarrillo amended her request and had a cupcake and bouquets delivered to her and Madison’s house; she also scheduled an Instagram Live with their family and friends.
Throughout the hour-long stream, the couple responded to the popular 36 questions that lead to love, along with other family and friends, and cut the cake. Going through the motions of what would have happened during their marriage helped Zarrillo move on. While she recognizes the losses many suffered during the pandemic, for Zarrillo changing her marriage plans was also a loss. “But just as we honor all types of things we lose, honoring our lost wedding date, I think it’s healthy to do so.”
While a global crisis hardly inspires warm feelings, says Augustus, by celebrating a day without marriage, couples can fold the pandemic into the metaphorical memory book of their romance. Rather than glossing over the change of plans, it can be cathartic to accept that they would rather throw a party over planning another much smaller affair. “It’s not like you’re going to wake up and not say, ‘This is the day we were to get married,’” said Auguste. “Acknowledge it in a positive way, otherwise it will sound weird to you.”
Laura McNichol kept as many of her original wedding plans intact as possible, without the “I do” ones. Despite the postponement of her marriage on August 2 to 2021, McNichol, 29, and her partner Vicki, 30, welcomed their two families to their backyard in Durham, England, for a buffet, cake and drinks. . (Vicki had just converted their barn into a bar.) Although they do not yet have a marriage license, McNichol says their day without marriage has met all expectations of what a wedding should be – so point that she looks forward to their real wedding next year more than ever. “Marriage and marriage take different forms,” says McNichol. “Even though we’re not legally married, we’re happy to be able to celebrate with people we love.”
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