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Why our pandemic wedding was the happiest day of my life

For too long, I focused on what the day wasn’t instead of what it was.
Erin Farley

Like so many engaged couples, my fiancé and I were devastated when we had to postpone our dream wedding that was scheduled for this coming August. It’s an indescribable feeling. For the past year, my life was filled with linen colors and seating charts. If I wasn’t working, I was wedding planning. And then in March, everything came to a stop.

We remained hopeful, but as the summer approached and the social distancing guidelines remained in effect, we knew there was no way our family and friends could safely gather in the way we wanted to.

The new plan

We called our vendors and cried as we sent out the dreaded “postponement” email. We drank a lot of wine and ate even more ice cream.

I was grieving the loss of my original wedding when we received the news that my grandma was seriously ill. At that moment, we decided to move up our wedding so that she could be there. We had 14 days.

The bride and groom with their marriage license.
The bride and groom with their marriage license.Courtesy of Erin Farley

As a TODAY producer, I’m used to the fast-paced life of breaking news, but this was a whole new world. The minute-by-minute timeline I had put together for my August celebration would be no use this time around. And let me be honest with you, I’m a self-proclaimed control freak so “going with the flow” is not one of my special skills.

To cap it all off, we had to remind ourselves that we were still in the middle of a pandemic. The dress stores weren’t open, my split ends were only worsening and I had to ask myself, “Do I even remember how to apply my own makeup?”

Within two weeks, our bank accounts were full of “rush shipping” charges. The rings were bought online, a new dress in two different sizes arrived at my door days before and the courthouse fit us in at the last minute for a marriage license.

Pandemic Wedding
The impressive home-baked wedding cake.Courtesy of Erin Farley

The to-do list was only getting longer as we delegated tasks to different family members. It felt like the last minute in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl and this Hail Mary play was going to be a real team effort. My future sister-in-law put her quarantine baking skills to the test and was named head baker. My brother’s girlfriend dove into her Pinterest board archives to come up with decorations. My mom and dad called all their friends in town to find 12 chairs for a socially-distanced backyard reception.

The big day

The morning of our wedding, the rush from planning this all in 14 days had subsided and I was able to reflect on how my life would change in a matter of hours. I was nervous and disappointed about how my fiancé and I would be getting married. It wasn’t the day I had been planning for the past nine months. It wasn’t the fairytale ending I had seen in the movies. I felt like this was just a trial run for the real thing.

Like so many other people who were forced to miss a big event like a graduation or a planned birthday party, processing the loss of a milestone celebration because of a pandemic is difficult. You feel grateful for your health and selfish to be upset about something so trivial in comparison. But remember when a bride-to-be’s biggest worry was the rain?

Pandemic Wedding
Not a drop of rain in sight!Allison McCafferty Photography

Lucky for me, the rain seemed to be the only thing I didn’t have to worry about that morning as I got ready for the big day. The stick-on nails I bought online were a complete disaster and I accidentally ripped off part of one eyebrow. But on the bright side, out of the eight different pairs of shapewear I bought, one did eventually fit just like Cinderella’s slipper. Who would have thought? That was the real fairytale moment I had been waiting for. I was ready to go.

When we arrived at the church, everything became real. Those nerves quickly turned into excitement. In a matter of minutes, I was going to marry the guy who spilled ice cream all over his pants on our first date and truly, in that moment, nothing else mattered.

Pandemic Wedding
The bride and groom at the altar.Allison McCafferty Photography

My dad cried real tears walking me down the aisle, my now-husband and I said our vows and my sweet grandmother, sitting in her own socially-distanced pew, watched me get married.

To have my grandma in attendance meant the world to me. She has been at every milestone in my life and I was able to help her decide on the bright yellow sweater she wore in the church. I couldn’t imagine this day without her.

The silver lining

After the wedding, we celebrated in the most intimate setting: the backyard of my childhood home surrounded by our immediate families, maid of honor and best man. My parents turned their suburban lawn into a beautiful reception.

Pandemic Wedding
The couple celebrated their marriage in the backyard of the bride's childhood home. Courtesy of Erin Farley

I realized that for too long, I focused on what the day wasn’t instead of what it was.

Our wedding was full of beautiful speeches made by family members who wouldn’t have had the chance to speak at our larger celebration. Our two families came together and became one as we shared stories from years past. We had our first dance surrounded by our own puppy, who served her role as “dog of honor” to the best of her ability. We were a part of every conversation and most importantly, we were able to actually sit and eat (which we hear you don’t usually get to do).

Pandemic Wedding
The author with her grandmother on the day of her wedding.Allison McCafferty Photography

I’m glad my wedding was postponed because I was given a special night to celebrate with the people I love the most in this world. I learned to let go of the small details and that sometimes “Plan Z” is what you really needed all along.

Next year, we’ll celebrate again with our original wedding crew, but when we look back on this day in the years to come, we’ll always remember the beautiful moments we were lucky enough to share.

Our pandemic wedding was the happiest day of my life.