weddings

'We've been planning our wedding during COVID. It's our guests who have made it difficult.'

When Joel proposed to me two years ago, we began planning our wedding immediately. Locking in venues, suppliers, decorations and browsing bridal shops to find our dream wedding get ups. Little did we know, a pandemic was around the corner, ready to turn the world as everyone knew it into a chaotic place.

With border closures looming and restrictions changing almost daily, life as a wedding guest can be tricky, frustrating and inconvenient. Maybe you’ve been invited to a wedding, only to have the date changed. Perhaps you were given a plus one, and then *poof* gone. Or you might even be overwhelmed by paper invitations now sporadic Facebook messages with nothing more than a link to a website (that still reads 2020). 

As someone planning a wedding during this time, it’s been tough for everyone. Our guests, vendors, families and ourselves. But what’s baffled me most is how temperamental our guests have been throughout the whole process. 

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And while there are far bigger, more important and painful things happening in the world – maybe this will help prepare you for attending weddings during COVID-19. Because, let’s face it, 12 months ago none of us even knew that was something we’d need to prepare for.

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Joel and I were set to get hitched back on August 22 with 93 of our closest family and friends. After 12 blissful years together, a dog and a house – it was time to finally promise our forever together, and we couldn’t freaking wait.

The photo booth was hired, band booked, catering sorted, drinks ready to flow, venue raring, decorations organised and CrossFit membership maxed. 

But when Queensland closed its border to New South Wales just three weeks before our day, we postponed. We drank vodka sunrises. We cried a little bit. And then we accepted it. 

With 75 per cent of our guest list living across the border, it just didn’t make sense to us to go ahead.

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We were the lucky ones. Most of our vendors happily rescheduled (others haven’t been so gracious) and we didn’t lose the small fortune paid in deposits. 

But we had no idea: our vendors weren’t the ones to be worried about. Our guests were. 

And with our second wedding date just days away and potentially needing to be rescheduled again, I feel compelled to share this piece that might help you if you’re attending a wedding during a global pandemic. 

So here you have it. Six ways to not be a crappy wedding guest during COVID-19.     

1. Stop asking us "how are you feeling about the wedding?"

We know you have good intentions. And that you feel this will be a "great story for the grandkids".

But for us? We feel sad, overwhelmed, confused and scared. For many of us, we’re also not sure if our payments can be refunded or if our vendors will be so kind as to reschedule again. Or if older people who are important to us will ever be able to safely attend our wedding, now or into the near future. 

You mean well. But what you might not realise is that we’ve already been asked 10 times today. And you asking too doesn’t help our flower company miraculously have an influx of stock. Or make our overseas deliveries magically arrive after three months of waiting. Nor does it print out another round of invitations that cost hundreds. But mostly, it doesn’t make us feel any more certain that the day will actually go ahead.

We will tell you when we need you. But at the moment, thinking about how we feel about the wedding is the last thing we want to feel at all. 

2. If your invitation doesn’t say ‘plus one’, you don’t have one.

We all know event numbers are constantly changing. One day a hundred’s fine, 24 hours later – just 10. And like you, when the day comes around we really have no idea how many will be allowed to attend.

It’s a tricky topic for any couple planning a wedding. But during COVID-19? It’s kind of a given that the people we don’t know aren’t invited. That includes your kids (who don’t even like us). Soz. And if we said no once, don’t ask again — now you’re making this awkward.

So, can you please leave your new boyfriend of two months home for one night? I promise you will live and the world will not end (okay, I can’t promise that last bit). 

3. If your excuse sucked for why you couldn’t attend wedding 1, you’re not invited to wedding 2, 3, 4 or 5+.

House sitting? Camping? Going away party? Road tripping? Won’t be able to find a babysitter (with a year’s notice)? 

What no one tells you about planning a wedding during COVID-19 is: you get to make the rules. Well, that’s my rule anyway.

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So if you couldn’t make time for us before a global pandemic? We’re not making time for you this time round. Sorry, not bloody good enough in my opinion.

4. If someone asks you to do a speech, they’re not asking.

Let’s be honest. Speeches aren’t the part of the day everyone "cannot wait to start". But they’re important to the couple getting married.

And although you may fear public speaking, don’t know what to say or just want to get stuck into the free-flowing bar ASAP... the day is not about you.

So push past your fears, take a swig and do the damn speech. Even if it’s two sentences and a cheers in the air. It will mean more than you know and the couple have more to worry about than having to update the run sheet for the 347th time.

We’ve had four people decline doing speeches. From family and friends to our dearest extended family. It’s left us heartbroken during an already stressful time. Don’t break our hearts, please. 

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5. Don’t change your RSVP three weeks before the wedding.

Life changes. We get that. But no matter if you have to move house, are mid-breakup, have to work or no longer want to come (real reasons from real people, btw)... It’s too late to change your RSVP, and it’s just plain rude.

After nine people have decided last-minute they’ll no longer be attending our wedding for the reasons above, we have a big dilemma. A bus load of vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, capsicum-free foods and two people to eat it all. 

For many couples, this is too close to the day and refunds aren’t possible. With the average wedding catering costing $100 per person (not to mention the booze package), that’s a lot of tabbouleh and tequila down the gurgler. 

6. Don’t decline hens and bucks parties because you’re tired.

Due to border restrictions, my hens party was eight instead of 19 and Joel’s bucks was five instead of 25. But of the 25, an extra 11 could attend. But they didn’t. Because they were tired, had to work the next day or had lunch booked. Someone even said they just didn’t feel like driving there by themselves.

During COVID-19 I think we can all agree that these times help you see what matters most. If you’re on that bucks or hens list, and it’s safe to do so, you go. Because who knows the next time you’ll even be allowed to share a room with one of your mates dressed in assless chaps and a tutu, singing Backstreet Boys. 

The author this post is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. A stock image has been used. 

Image: Getty. 

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