Maria Borg is supposed to get married on May 15th 2020. But as COVID-19 is affecting life everywhere, it’s a date that’s seeming, with every day that passes more of an improbability. “All that matters is that we get married, however that happens. These things are materialistic,” Maria says, noting a sincere concern for the health of her family, friends, and people around the world.
Yet, of course, she’s disappointed, she says: “I remember one day I looked at my husband-to-be, Roderick, and I was like, ‘This is crazy! I can’t believe this is happening to us’ And he just looked at me and he said, ‘It’s okay to be upset.’ I started crying uncontrollably. You don’t want to be a bridezilla, and there are much worse things in the world. But it’s actually the amount of work that you put into it, the imagination that you have, and, you know, actually getting married.”
Brides and grooms in Malta are echoing the same thoughts: a worry for those everywhere, and understanding that their wedding, in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, is not all that big in the grand scheme of things. But considering they have spent the past months or years committing their time, money, and energy to an occasion that was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives, it still is heartbreaking.
Christine Spiteri had already sent her wedding invitations in February but, less than two weeks before the wedding, she was forced to cancel. “We didn’t feel right putting people in danger and then contributing to the problem,” she says of her decision. “There was a big chance that many of our guests decided not to show up because of health concerns. Then the government announced the cancellation of big group gatherings, including weddings so we had no choice at the end of the day. It’s hard to accept, but compared to what everyone else is dealing with, postponing a wedding is not that crazy.”
And it’s not just the couples that are negatively affected by the situation. “There is a long process entailed in moving a wedding date; first I have to find an alternative date with the couple and keep the dates on hold. Then I have to communicate with the venue to see if they are available. If yes, I communicate with all the suppliers to see if they would be available. I try to ensure that my couples do not lose their deposits. Then there’s all the paperwork that needs to be done, I have to update all the files and co-ordinate back and forth with everyone.” Alexia from Wed in Malta told us. Alexia, and all wedding planners, are dealing with constant breaking news—airports and ports closing, businesses shutting down, government bans on party sizes—and what that means for their upcoming events. “I am moving all wedding dates – April and May are done, now I am working on weddings which were booked end of June, 2020.” Alexia told us that weddings are being moved to 2021 because the UK set the ban till end of September, which is also influencing Maltese couples. Moreover, “the weather in June is very different than in December of course, so couples are opting for next year.”
But even those with weddings further out in 2020 feel stuck in limbo. Mandy Spiteri, is supposed to have a July wedding in Valletta. As the world continues to battle with its public health crisis, she’s unsure how to move forward. “Everyone’s very sceptical and tentative,” she says of her suppliers and venue. “But I understand the situation is out of their control.”
James is another wedding planner we spoke to. As he is currently in self-quarantine, he must help her brides and grooms understand what, exactly, is going on with the big day. “The news is changing constantly,” he says. “I’m having to keep revisiting conversations that I’ve had and updating clients on what’s happening.”
Right now, he’s advising those marrying in April and May to push their weddings to later in the summer or fall. But even those planning to get married in those months are hesitant.
Some of his clients have already decided to move their wedding to 2021, though delaying events for a year could be disastrous for planners, venues, and suppliers alike: “If I was to just shift all of my weddings from this year to next year and everybody was doing the same…next year the calendar would be full of this year’s business. That’s a year’s worth of revenues totally gone” he says.
Nevertheless, James says he just has empathy for everyone involved, most of whom are supposed to be approaching the happiest days of their lives: “I just feel for the couples and their guests that are constantly on edge, and what should be an exciting buildup to a wedding is now just full of anxiety and stress due to something nobody has ever experienced before.”
Maria is waiting until the end of April to make the final decision on whether she should postpone or cancel her wedding. But no matter what, “the virus is not going to stop us from getting married,” she says. “The most important thing is that we love each other and we still can make this happen. It just may not be exactly how we imagined it.”
Here at Get Hitched, our heart goes out to anyone who had to postpone or cancel their wedding due to the coronavirus pandemic. We’d like to share some words of hope: people are not going to not get married. Your wedding may look different. It may be at a different time. It may be in a different location. It may be a different size or scale. But you can still get married. If you need to postpone your date, we’d recommend you speak to your suppliers as soon as possible to coordinate accordingly. We’d also recommend looking into wedding insurance to ensure your interests are covered moving forward. Moreover, although we’re sure that your guests will understand the situation, we would recommend sending them a courtesy message announcing the postponement. Not only will this keep your guests in the loop but will also allow people who had to travel to make different arrangements.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, stay strong and stick together with your spouse and your family. We are all going through very difficult times but together we can get through this!