Indian bride and groom superimposed on floral and mint green background

Sapna’s Silver Lining During COVID-19

If you’re a member of the Little Brown Diary on Facebook like I am (if you’re not, you should be!), you’ve probably come across Sapna’s story. Like so many other people all over the globe, plans she had for the spring came to a screeching halt thanks to the pandemic. Match day for residency. Med school graduation. Her bachelorette party. Her bridal shower. Her May wedding. One-by-one, some of the most memorable, important, and celebrated events of her life were canceled. Reading all of that in her original post was enough to make me stop in my tracks and empathize with her pain. No matter where you are in the planning stage of your wedding, you can relate to the amount of time and energy that goes into choosing the perfect venue, negotiating with two sets of parents over their priorities, and finalizing every last detail with your partner. And the discipline and devotion it takes to do all of that (and more) while you’re working towards graduation and residency? Talk about hard work. Yes, the pandemic has life-or-death consequences for people around the globe. But it’s also okay to feel heartbroken that so many things you’ve looked forward to, like your wedding, are suddenly not going to happen. Sapna’s story isn’t just about the disappointment and grief about how COVID-19 impacted her life. It also comes with a silver lining. Because while all of us are at the mercy of the pandemic’s spread and impact, Sapna and Hirsh were able to take back control in these uncertain times and got married at an Ohio courthouse on March 18, 2020. We reached out to Sapna and she graciously agreed to share her story with us in case it can be of help to you.

Bride and groom in front of officiant during courthouse wedding

When did you first realize that your wedding events, match day, and med school graduation would all be impacted by the outbreak? I realized this in early March, as coronavirus was wreaking havoc around the globe. I did not expect it to impact my wedding, match day, or graduation at first. I was focused on my bachelorette party in Charleston, South Carolina, which was planned for March. All of the flights and Airbnbs were booked, we were finalizing details on fun activities like a boat ride and a wine tour, and my bridesmaids were sending me ideas for restaurants and party decorations. My fiancé, also in the medical field, was closely following the news and suggested that I re-think my bachelorette party. I was stubborn at first, not realizing the magnitude of this virus and wanting to keep my plans as they were. However, we pulled the trigger in early March, just 3 weeks away from the bachelorette party. Shortly after this, things escalated in Ohio and all around the country. My school sent out emails that match day would first be limited to students only (no family or friends), then limited to small groups, then cancelled entirely.  Who did you and your husband rely on to help decide whether or not to postpone your wedding? We leaned a lot on our families, my wedding day-of-coordinator (big shoutout to Angela of Red Letter Day events in Columbus, Ohio), and two of my best friends who were also planning weddings for 2020. Every day in early March, I would call or FaceTime these people and ask them for advice. Each day I kept holding on to hope that things might get better by May. Again, I was stubborn and didn’t want to give up after 1.5 years of planning.

I would like to tell couples that it’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to recognize the gravity of this pandemic while also mourning the loss of your dream wedding celebration.

Are you working with a planner?  We did not hire a planner. My mom and I like to plan, so we did most of the initial legwork. However, as the event got closer, we decided to get a day-of coordinator. I was hesitant to do so, because the wedding budget had already grown so much and it felt like an avoidable cost, but I am SO glad we decided to go with Angela. After our first meeting, she made me realize there were so many details I had not thought of to make the event run smoothly, and to coordinate with all of our vendors, guests, bridal party, etc. When we first realized we might have to postpone our event, our coordinator, Angela, was the first person we called. She encouraged us to take it day by day as the situation was rapidly evolving. She had already been in touch with our venue to to see if they were allowed to hold the event (Ohio implemented a ban on gatherings of 100+ people initially, then 10+ people, then a stay at home order). She gave us a lot of advice on how to notify our guests and contact vendors. We ended up contacting all of our vendors, one by one, and letting them know our concerns. Once we realized things might not get back to normal for awhile, we asked our vendors for their spring 2021 availability. They were very flexible and willing to work with us. We understood that the wedding industry was hurting too and we loved all of our vendors, and wanted to make something work. We still haven’t finalized a date, but we are leaning towards May 2021 – a full year after the original date!

I asked if he had cold feet to which he responded that he had been ready to marry me since the day he proposed.

We LOVE that you both took back control and got married at your local courthouse. How did you come to that decision? It felt like every day, things kept getting worse. We felt like so much was out of our control. We had talked about going to City Hall and getting married if our wedding got postponed, but didn’t think it would actually come to that. The final straw for me was finding out that City Hall stopped issuing marriage licenses in my county. I found this out through a local wedding Facebook group. Once I learned of this, we decided nothing was going to stop us from getting married. We talked to our parents, who gave us their blessings, and on a Tuesday night decided we would get married the next day. I asked if he had cold feet to which he responded that he had been ready to marry me since the day he proposed. Neither of us had cold feet. No nerves either. We were just so excited to get married, even earlier than we had originally planned. More than anything, we felt relieved. We felt at peace with this decision, because we got to do things our way. I never pictured my wedding this way. I pictured a large Indian-American multi-day fusion wedding surrounded by all of our friends and family. And yet somehow, it was perfect. And it’ll be a great story to tell someday!
Bride and groom smiling and embracing in front of a courthouse

The newlyweds, Sapna and Hirsh

What advice do you have for couples who are in the same position as you?  Deciding to postpone the wedding was one of the hardest decisions we had to make, but we knew we had to prioritize the health and safety of our loved ones. Many of our family and friends work in healthcare and we keep hearing how serious things are in the hospital right now. We couldn’t handle the thought of one of our relatives catching COVID-19 and falling ill, or worse… I would like to tell couples that it’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to recognize the gravity of this pandemic while also mourning the loss of your dream wedding celebration. If you’re on the fence about postponing your wedding, ask yourself this- how would you feel if you found out that one of your family members fell ill because they traveled to your wedding? Once you commit to postponing your wedding if it’s during a high-risk time, I guarantee you will feel a sense of relief. At the end of the day, the marriage is far more important than the wedding. This experience reminded me that starting our lives together is more important than all of the little details about the wedding day. And now we are married officially, and we could not be happier!

A HUGE ‘Thank You’ goes out to Sapna for sharing her story with Dulhan!

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Raj Desai

Founder & Chief Visionary, proud fur mom of 2, amateur artist, Netflix binger, wino, and chocolate addict.

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