Weddings are one of the million things that have been uprooted by the current status of our world. Not only are couples forced to un-plan and re-plan their special day, but some couples have been navigating unexpected financial hardships and long distance relationships. Planning a wedding in itself can be like taking on a full-time job, but imagine planning three. We know that in times of crisis, couples who thrive turn towards one another for support and comfort, while couples who struggle tend to get lost in the stress and disconnect (Pietromonaco, 2020). Below are some things to keep in mind for those who are in this position and for those who care about a COVID bride or groom.
The world may actually feel like it is falling apart. I imagine that each and every one of us has been personally affected by COVID-19 in some way whether it be financially, physically, emotionally, or dealing with the loss of a loved one. Brides and grooms are still allowed to feel however they are feeling! If you are angry that is normal, if you are sad that is normal, if you feel guilty for experiencing your emotions while other's are dealing with seemingly "harder" struggles, that makes sense too. But if we are going to allow ourselves to comfort those around us struggling with the current crises of the world, we have to give ourselves that same compassion. Take care of yourself and your partner in whatever way you can; whether that be talking to a trusted friend or family member, doing something special with your partner, or taking some time to yourself to reconnect with a hobby/interest.
There are infinite ways to celebrate this huge step in your relationship, and there is no "right" way to get married. Couples are eloping, holding Zoom-ceremonies, mini-monies, backyard receptions, drive-by bridal showers, or choosing to hold off until they can have the big wedding they envisioned. Instead of getting caught up with all the different opinions on this topic, have a conversation with your partner about what is important to each of you in regard to your big day.
Getting married and having a wedding means something different to each and every one of us, and that is okay! If you are finding that you and your partner are not on the same page about the details, or even if you are, talk to each other about your thoughts and feelings. Balzarini and colleagues (2020) conducted research on how relationships have been affected by COVID-19 related stressors specifically. What they found was that partner responsiveness mitigated the effects of stress during this time; meaning the perception that one feels understood, validated and cared for by their partner. In order to aid in these conversations, you may try making a list together of your top priorities when it comes to your wedding and your minimum expectations for guest inclusions.
Remember that this is, I am sure, one of the many challenges you will face as a couple. These hard times teach us so much about ourselves and those we love, and they give us the opportunity to grow. Remind yourselves that you are on the same team and can work through these issues together. And make sure to balance the importance of wedding planning with date nights that the both of you will enjoy. Spending quality time together partaking in fun light activities you both have an interest in has been found to predict greater relationship quality over time (Girme, Overall, & Faingataa, 2014).
If you and your partner are having difficulty connecting, consider reaching out to a therapist to help bridge the gap and help your relationship thrive.
Johanna Terry, Psy.D.
Therapist and Fellow COVID Bride
Balzarini, R. N., Muise, A., Zoppolat, G., Di Bartolomeo, A., Rodrigues, D. L., Alonso-Ferres, M., … Slatcher, R. B. (2020, May 16). Love in the Time of Covid: Perceived Partner Responsiveness Buffers People from Lower Relationship Quality Associated with Covid-Related Stressors. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/e3fh4
Girme, Y. U., Overall, N. C., & Faingataa, S. (2014). “Date nights” take two: The maintenance function of shared relationship activities. Personal Relationships, 21(1), 125–149. https://doi.org/10.1111/pere.12020
Pietromonaco, P. (April 24, 2020). APS Backgrounder Series: Psychological Science and COVID-19: Pandemic Effects on Marriage and Relationships [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/backgrounders/backgrounder-marriage-and-relationships.html