Although much of our focus during the coronavirus pandemic has been on the overwhelmed hospitals and thousands infected, all areas of people’s lives are being dramatically affected by Covid-19. As the UK officially bans weddings, we speak to the brides whose weddings have been ruined by the virus.
Covid-19 has had an overwhelming affect on the globe, with more than 350,000 people infected with the virus in at least 144 countries (stats correct 23 March 2020).
Alongside the rising death toll, coronavirus has stopped life as many of us know it in its tracks. People are panic-buying food and the nation has been advised to stay at home to stop the risk of it spreading any further. But what happens if – alongside all these worries – one of the biggest days of your life is on the horizon?
Melanie Murphy, Irish YouTube sensation and best-selling author’s (you can order her book If Only here) recent tweet went viral when she proudly donned a sparkly, ASOS dress at a registry office to marry her partner, instead of the “princess gown” and four day celebration she had planned.
“Coronavirus stole our big day but it didn’t stop us saying ‘I do’,” she tweeted.
“Dad walked me down the aisle! In my backup ASOS dress, to music from Braveheart. Of course we were disappointed initially, but we still feel so lucky. Ya just have to roll with the punches sometimes!”
Although her big day had been ruined, her positive attitude is infectious and exactly the ray of sunlight that we need in these increasingly worrying times. Social media agrees, with her tweet currently racking up over 100,00 likes.
“In the end our day was really simple. There were none of the trimmings, but I realised through this happening how little of that really matters,” Murphy tells Stylist.co.uk.
Murphy was supposed to have the ‘dream wedding’. She’d spent seven months planning a four day event, with every final detail in place and paid for before she and her now-husband decided to cancel.
“Everything was planned and bought down to the food, the drink and even the sparklers. I’d had my manicure done, been to get my hair dyed. It was so close to the extent that we went to see the venue again on the Thursday, I had my final dress fitting on the Saturday and then we decided to cancel the day after, on the Sunday,” she says.
The couple had two options: delay everything for another year or more, or get married so they could at least tie the knot. The decision, she says, had made her think about how much pressure brides can put on themselves to have such an expensive wedding.
“We looked at each other and said we just want to be married. I put so much weight onto stuff like the dress and the photography. The picture I put on Twitter which has 100,000 likes, I mean that was just taken on a phone.
“I did my own hair and make-up and it just shows you that people come together on how important love is. I was really upset and angry and frustrated and disappointed when I realised we’d have to push it back but I snapped out of it pretty quickly because at the end of the day, it’s out of our control. People are losing their jobs, their parents are dying and they can’t have funerals, there are so many worse situations happening than this,” Murphy reflects.
In fact, she thinks that knowing everything she knows now if she had to plan a wedding again, she wouldn’t spend the amount of money, time and effort that she originally did. Her experience has completely transformed her perspective of what makes a wedding day special.
Murphy says: “Something I’ve been thinking about a lot is if I knew what I knew now; that the day would be so lovely without all of that money spent on it, I think I would have just kept the money and put it towards other things like a car or getting a mortgage – rather than one, single event.”
After saying their vows at a registry office the couple headed back home with some of their closest family members and had a big Chinese takeaway, but Murphy says she genuinely couldn’t have been happier.
“We were so happy, and we’ve been so happy ever since,” she explains. “I think I would have been happy to go with a simple, quiet wedding. We have these moments in life that strips things back and makes you realise what’s important and what we need to be really grateful for.
“It made me realise that the desire for the big, flashy day is influenced by external forces. You see other people doing it and want your own version of that but the real meaning of the day gets lost.”
Another bride whose wedding still hangs in the balance is Natasha Green, who has been planning her big day for 11 months after accepting John’s proposal in 2018.
“Being in limbo is actually one of the most difficult things. It’s the not knowing,” Green explains.
“We’re getting married at a place called The Pumping House in Ollerton, Nottinghamshire – it’s in the Sherwood Forest. We’ve spoken to the venue and said that we’re really worried about what’s going on and they’ve assured us that unless the government bans gatherings of, for example, 50 people or more, we’re still going ahead.”
But even if Green’s wedding does go ahead, she won’t be able to have all of her loved ones there. “My friends have been really, really good about the situation. So far only two have said they won’t be able to come; one lives in Brussels and one is immune-compromised.
“But all of my closest girl friends live in Leeds (where I’m from originally) and they’ve been so supportive. They’ve said it’s such an important day and they’ve been looking forward to it for the last year that they will be there come rain or shine. Even if it doesn’t go ahead, they said: ‘We’re coming down anyway and we’ll throw confetti at you and get you drunk!’”
Although Green says she’s really lucky to have such incredible friends, she’s devastated that her grandparents won’t be able to make it. After having chemotherapy recently, Green’s Nan can’t be at the ceremony or reception.
She explains: “I spoke to my Nan about it on the phone yesterday and no one likes to hear their grandparent crying to them like that. She lives in Wigan so she’s too far away for me to just pop over, give her a hug and take some cake and champagne. It’s a real strain, especially because my Nana Rose passed away two weeks after we got engaged so the fact that I won’t have any of my grandparents at my wedding is devastating for me.”
The strain on Green’s mental health has been difficult. With a lot of concerned guests, she says that it all became too much when she was receiving regular phone calls asking for updates on the situation and her venue, so she directed all enquiries to her wedding planner which helped.
“I’m trying to stay positive,” says Green. “I’m quite an anxious person and if I let myself get into that negative spiral it’s really hard to get out of it.”
“My advice for other brides would be to try and stay positive and seek solace in your partner. The partnership I have with John and what we’re doing together to try and get through this, doing this as a team and sharing that load, makes it seem easier.
“We’ve planned out every single scenario of what we can do and that’s helped us process it all better. It’s not been hard on our relationship at all. It’s actually really brought out the fact that we’re a good team and we can fix things.”
This article was originally published 18 March 2020.
Images: Getty / Natasha Green