The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with our lives in a multitude of ways, and we’re not just talking about our general health. Some of us are working from home, some of us are on furlough, some of us have sadly lost our jobs. We’re worried about our loved ones, worried about the future, worried about money. We’re anxious to know when lockdown will end, whether NHS staff have enough PPE, what will happen to Boris Johnson.
Then there’s the fact that our emotional wellbeing has taken a hit, our hangovers are worse than ever, and our Netflix watchlist is getting ticked off at an alarming rate. People are dating via video chat, we’re all using Zoom more than ever (maybe too much, to be honest!), and we’re all desperately seeking flour/eggs/toilet roll whenever we brace ourselves for a trip to the supermarkets.
It’s a lot. It’s a lot. And, with all of this going on, and more, it can be all too easy to be dismissive when someone informs you that they’ve been forced to postpone their wedding due to the Covid-19 situation. Because… well, because it seems so frivolous a concern at this point, doesn’t it? There are bigger things to think about, wider implications to consider, than someone else’s big day being shifted by a calendar year.
However, as Stylist’s Felicity Thistlethwaite – who married her own partner in 2019 – points out, there’s so much more to it than that.
“Think about it,” she says matter-of-factly. “These people have probably been planning this huge day for months, if not years. Some pour all the money they have in the world into it, all the hype and anticipation builds up as you collect table decorations, taste cake samples, go to dress fittings and visit the venue ‘just one last time’ to try and imagine yourself there with all your friends – laughing about the funny joke in the speeches you’ve been thinking about and writing for weeks.”
Felicity adds: “I kept my wedding low-key, not wanting to spend money I just didn’t have. But even then it was a big deal to get everyone I loved in one place at the same time. The stress of that alone is enough to send any cool, calm bride into a tizz.
“This day to most will be more than just a knees-up, some nice food and a good old dance at the end of the night. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have that taken away due to circumstances which are completely out of their hands – and then, on top of that, they have to wonder if, when and how they’ll rearrange, still with all this Covid-19 uncertainty. I doff my veil to any bride in that position right now.”
Another Stylist contributor, who recently decided to postpone her own wedding, agrees wholeheartedly.
“It can feel self-indulgent or spoilt, especially in the current climate, to be fixated on a specific date or feel particularly hard done by. But weddings take so much time and effort to plan, and our original date was special not just to us, but to our families,” she says, electing to remain anonymous as she has yet to inform her family of her decision.
“I know it will be fine in the end, but at the moment there are times when it feels like grief. Like I’m mourning for the day we were ‘supposed’ to have. And it’s maddeningly unfair.”
With all this in mind, then, it’s clear we need to find a way to be there for our friends at this time. If you’re struggling to find a way to articulate your support, though, scroll down for a list of suggestions for what you should and shouldn’t say, as shared by brides-to-be who have found themselves in this unfortunate situation.
DON’T lay it on too thick
One bride-to-be says: “The condolences are nice as long as they’re not piled on too thick. Yeah, it’s disappointing but we have bigger things to worry about!”
DO make it clear you will still be attending
“Most people will probably say sorry about the postponement,” reveals one bride-to-be. “But I’d prefer them to just simply accept the news and say something along the line of, ‘OK no problem, I’ll be there for sure!’”
Another adds: “My favourite thing to hear though is when people say that no matter when it happens that they’ll be there.”
DON’T say it’ll give them more time to plan
“I don’t want anyone else to say, ‘oh well, at least you have more time to plan,’” says another bride-to-be. “I was seven weeks out from the wedding when I had to postpone. I’m planned already, I don’t need more time to plan!”
DO let them know you’re thinking of them
“My head bridesmaid secretly dropped off a gift bag on our doorstep with a card, champagne, chocolates and snacks, along with a voucher for online takeaway,” says one bride-to-be, of the day that should have been her wedding. “We were blown away. It was so wonderful to be able to raise a glass and celebrate together.”
DON’T press them for details
“One of the hardest things is people pressing you for an answer as to what’s going on when you don’t know yourself,” says another bride-to-be. “It’s incredibly stressful just trying to manage it without the added stress of pressure to come up with a decision by guests. Even worse? When they try to tell you what should/will happen, as if you don’t have enough to worry about!”
Another adds: “People asking me what’s happening is not great for my anxiety.”
DO encourage them to share their emotions
“The most helpful thing one of my friends has said is, ‘you’re allowed to be angry and upset, it’s only natural,’” says one bride-to-be.
DO opt for some big picture reassurance
“Someone saying, ‘you’re making the right choice, it will still be great’ is nice to hear,” says one bride-to-be.
DON’T point out that it’s nothing major in the grand scheme of things
To you, this may be the case. To the bride who’s just cancelled her wedding in the middle of a pandemic? Not so much. Try to be kind and considerate of her feelings.
Main photo by Jo Henderson on Unsplash
Other photos: Getty