By Sue Schlesman, Crosswalk.com
Dear COVID bride,
You have had quite a difficult year.
In addition to the typical stressors accompanying finding a wedding venue, managing family expectations, and reconciling costs with your wedding dreams, you have done all of this during a worldwide pandemic.
The COVID-19 predictions and regulations have changed weekly. You have set up vendors, services, and guest lists, only to have everything changed. You are exhausted emotionally and physically.
One thing has remained constant. You are a bride, in love with a groom. And you want to get married and have a wedding.
It seems like a trite recommendation to someone whose fairytale dreams have vanished because of government-mandated phases, masks, and social distancing. Widespread fear and passionate arguments about having or not having an event have kept you up at night worrying.
You have cried many times over regulations and cancelations. Be confident that God hears and empathizes with your pain. He will see you through this struggle (Psalm 5:3). He knows your heart and how hard this is for you.
You don’t know what to do. You’re having to relegate loved ones to separate lists, depending on the numbers of people who are allowed to congregate at any particular time. You may have changed everything from the date to the location.
You may have been forced to accept that someone you love won’t attend because they won’t travel or they don’t want the risk. You have possibly given up on having guests all together and chosen to marry in front of siblings and parents only, putting the whole fancy affair off until another date that may in the end not be any more certain than the date you’ve canceled.
Perhaps you’ve abandoned the reception idea altogether. Just pray for wisdom and trust your gut (James 1:5). Wedding rules are in constant flux now because nobody has dealt with this situation before. Feel validated that you are navigating something no one else has dealt with.
Although that may feel like a lonely thought, it allows you to give so much grace for yourself. Find the freedom in choosing what you can choose.
Don’t fret over the wedding you have lost.
The marriage that follows whatever type of wedding you have far exceeds the type of ceremony you have planned. It’s easy to forget that when your days are filled with re-making decisions.
You and your groom are managing difficult decisions and rapidly-fluctuating emotions, but how you respond to every hardship will serve you both well for the rest of your life. You are learning, sooner than most, how to adapt your expectations, how to listen to one another and comfort one another, and how to problem-solve together.
You have to respond, because people are wondering if there’s a wedding and if it will be safe and it they will come to it.
Rise to the challenge.
Focus on love, simplicity, and connection. Bind yourself to your spouse and turn your faces toward the future. You can grow stronger, healthier, and happier together.
Get married and begin this new life together, filled with faith and hope. Be confident in the ordeal you’ve already survived.
Since you will have many disappointments in the years to come, start learning how to navigate crisis as a couple now, without turning on one another or blaming one another.
Fight to find common ground, make joint decisions and own them together. Choose to be positive. “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7).
You have been forced to step into a scenario that’s difficult for everyone but particularly hard for young people who just want to get married and celebrate with their friends.
Although COVID isn’t necessarily a spiritual temptation, it does represent the struggles that face us in a material world.
As believers, every difficulty has spiritual ramifications because if we are following Christ, our attitudes and actions reflect our trust in him. Are our lives dominated by fear or faith? Selfishness or wisdom?
The Apostle Paul says that we will struggle, but that our struggles always show the world the validity of our faith. Therefore, our struggles matter now and for eternity (Philippians 1:29-30).
Many relationships weaken during a crisis. You have an early opportunity to adjust your thinking from “I” to “we,” not just about things like suits and attendants but about important issues of safety and inclusion.
Even if you’re making decisions about which only one of you cares, learn to discuss options together. (Often, we find that we have more opinions about things than we think we do).
Treat one another with patience and understanding.
What you’re experiencing is more like real life than planning a perfect wedding is. You’ve gotten a peek into what being married is all about!
Be brave. You and your spouse have a unique opportunity to grow in resilience, grit, and determination just because you planned to marry in 2020. What can you learn? What can you teach us all about this dramatic and unusual time?
Be creative. Be sensitive. Be resilient. Be you.
Best of all—be the bride you are! It doesn’t matter if a bride stands in a courtroom, a backyard, a church, or a field to say her vows. A bride is a bride.
She is celebrated and admired simply because she is the princess of her own day.
You are a princess. Enjoy your day, no matter how it looks.
Blessings on you and your family for a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9).
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ViktorCap
Sue Schlesman is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, English teacher, and pastor’s wife. She has a BA in Creative Writing and a Master’s in Theology & Culture. Her second book Soulspeak: Praying change into unexpected places is a Selah Award finalist. Sue’s material appears in a variety of print, online, radio, and podcast mediums. She has a passion for missions, social justice, traveling, reading, and the local church. You can find her writing about life, education, justice, and Jesus at sueschlesman.com.