Fourteen months of event planning was wiped out in a matter of days. That same week, the tote bags with our wedding date printed on them arrived in the mail.
I didn’t grow up imagining my wedding day. I grew up gay in the Midwest and never thought about getting married at all because it wasn’t legally possible until I was 25 years old. But when I started dating my girlfriend Lindsay in 2017, I knew I was going to walk down the aisle to her someday. After two years of dating, Lindsay proposed to me at our favorite hotel in Palm Springs, California. She spent almost a year planning the proposal, going so far as to take photos of me that spelled out “Will You Marry Me?” during our month-long trip in Europe the previous spring.
It’s hard to surprise me, so I knew the proposal was coming. I remember the second before she got down on one knee, I realized I was switching from dating life — something I had been very used to doing — to engaged life. Something completely new to me. Adapting to change has never been my strong suit, so that realization scared me. I wasn’t used to wearing a ring, and the thought of never saying “my girlfriend” again was weird. But the thought of marrying Lindsay never scared me, so I said yes and made the switch from girlfriend to fiancée.
On the drive home from Palm Springs, we posted a ring photo on Instagram to announce our engagement, pushing me headfirst into engaged life. Even though I had never imagined my actual wedding day, there were three things I knew immediately: I wanted a long engagement, I wanted a tiny wedding, and I wanted it to take place outside of the U.S..
Lindsay and I took time deciding where we wanted to get married. We dreamed about places like Italy and Belize, but it became important to choose a location where gay marriage was legal and/or widely accepted. Eventually we landed on Dreams Tulum, specifically because they had hosted gay weddings before. Once the location was set, we were pretty hands off for the rest. Lindsay and I are both reality TV producers, so our day jobs revolve around planning and handling logistics for complicated film shoots. We weren’t looking to do that for our own wedding; we wanted a resort to handle all of the logistics for us.
For the first eight months of our engagement, there wasn’t much to do other than think about what we were going to wear. If it weren’t for the countdown app on my phone reminding me how many days were left until our wedding, there could’ve been days where I forgot it was coming. As soon as we picked our wedding day, May 30th, I started the app. Over 300 days to go. It felt like forever to me. I remember the day it hit 99, because we were finally in the double digits. Double digits! The wedding finally started to feel real in our minds.
In February, it was time to pick all the fun details like which flowers we’d have, what the reception table would look like, and what song would play when we finally walked down the aisle. We spent the weekend planning with my mom in Palm Springs. Over mimosas and brunch, we flipped through multiple pages of flower arrangements. One of our friends made a logo with our names and wedding date that we printed on tote bags for our guests. After over a year of being engaged, we decided on all the details. Everything was set. The small wedding of our dreams.
I went from someone who had never imagined a wedding day at all to someone who couldn’t stop thinking about every detail of the day. I thought about the mimosas I would drink with my sister and best friend in the morning, I thought about the way I would style my hair, and I stressed about how I was going to manage to read my vows aloud without crying. The day became a vivid picture in my mind, and I just couldn’t wait to be married to the woman that had been my fiancée for over 14 months.
Then the Coronavirus shut everything down.
Lindsay and I were both sent home from work on March 16th, and we were left worrying about what would happen to all the events we had planned in the coming months.
Within a week, both of our bachelorette parties were canceled, as well as a family engagement barbecue we had planned in Lindsay’s hometown. Fourteen months of event planning was wiped out in a matter of days. That same week, the tote bags with our wedding date printed on them arrived in the mail. One of the hardest parts of having to cancel all of these events was handling the logistics with the companies and rentals. One of our VRBO’s for my bachelorette wouldn’t give us our money back. It felt so trivial, but I was so upset at the time. I was sad I wouldn’t get to celebrate and have fun with my best friends, and on top of that, I had to stress about the amount of money that we were losing in order to keep everyone safe and healthy.
When we did confide in people about how hard it was, we were told that our wedding was “just noise” and to be happy that we at least had each other. Of course Lindsay and I were very lucky to have each other and to both be working during a global pandemic, but our wedding wasn’t (and isn’t) “just noise” to us. It’s a special day of love and celebration for each other that we had been planning for over a year.
But we continued to hold out for our wedding. Remember when we weren’t sure how long the quarantine was going to last? We were so cute and naïve then. We had already lost so many fun events that we weren’t ready to admit that we had to move our wedding too.
People were losing friends and family members to a deadly virus. I didn’t feel like I could vocalize my disappointments or stress over having to postpone my wedding. It made the heartache feel lonely for me and my fiancée. When we did confide in people about how hard it was, we were told that our wedding was “just noise” and to be happy that we at least had each other. Of course Lindsay and I were very lucky to have each other and to both be working during a global pandemic, but our wedding wasn’t (and isn’t) “just noise” to us. It’s a special day of love and celebration for each other that we had been planning for over a year.
By the end of March, it was clear that our wedding wasn’t going to happen in May. But we had spent so much time feeling excited about that day that we didn’t want it tarnished with stress or sadness. After a couple weeks of feeling really depressed over what this year was supposed to be for us (as well as, you know, the direction our country was going), we pulled the trigger and officially changed the date. That was also the day that our wedding rings arrived in the mail, which was the exact mix of excitement and sadness that we had wanted to avoid.
We’re scared that we could experience a second wave and have to postpone again.
When our original wedding date eventually came, we took time off work to be with my family. It was a mixed bag of emotions for us as we grieved for the weekend we had lost. But having my sister and family understand the weirdness of that day meant the world to us. Instead of feeling sad for what was supposed to be, we felt lucky that we got to have a fun weekend with my family, and we set a date for a wedding in the future: January 30, 2021.
By then, we will have been engaged for over two years. We’re scared that we could experience a second wave and have to postpone again. We know there isn’t likely to be a vaccine by January, so we’ve had to talk about whether to move forward and plan for a wedding abroad, knowing the risk that could come with that. But this year has taught us to roll with the punches, and we’re most grateful that we’re both healthy and employed. We’ve been very privileged in this incredibly hard year. We’re now going into this marriage as two people who have been trapped in a house together 24/7 for six months of quarantine. I think that makes us more prepared for married life than ever.
And I’m still excited about my wedding day. I want the box of outdated wedding tote bags to stop taking up space in our guest bedroom, I want our wedding rings to be on our fingers rather than tucked away in a drawer somewhere, and I want to switch from fiancée to wife. In the past year and a half, I’ve gotten really comfortable with being an engaged person, but I can’t wait for the next change in our lives.
Alyson Lippert is a reality TV producer who loves writing and producing other people's stories more than her own. She lives in Los Angeles with her dog and fianceé. Some day they hope to have kids through adoption, but for now are happy being godmothers to the world's cutest 10-month-old. She made a resolution to be less reliant on social media, but you can still find her occasionally lurking on Twitter.