GUEST AUTHOR: LAURA GELWICKS
I was never the person who dreamed of their wedding day, but when my fiancé Taylor Han and I got engaged in September 2019, there were a few things that I knew for sure:
- First, we were going to have a year-long engagement. Long enough to plan the party and enjoy being engaged, but no longer.
- Second, I was going to take my fiancé’s last name. This is a personal decision that is different for everyone, but I always knew that I was going to be Laura Han.
- Finally, it was going to be a big wedding. We’re both very connected with our extended families, and we wanted to celebrate with everyone. Our guest list easily topped 200 people without even thinking, and many of our loved ones would be coming from out of town, including quite a few from out of state and abroad.
When COVID-19 first appeared in Everett in February, I wasn’t worried about our wedding. It was more than eight months away, and for us, that seemed like a lifetime. Fast forward to May, and the picture is very, very different. Even before Governor Inslee issued his four-phase Safe Start plan, which wouldn’t allow groups of more than 50 until mid-July at the earliest, we decided to drastically change our wedding plans. We recognized that it is just not safe for our loved ones to gather with us at this time.
There are a number of people in our lives who are in the high-risk demographic, including Taylor, who was born with a heart defect. It doesn’t affect his day-to-day life, but he is at much higher risk for heart and lung complications than many others in our age group. With Taylor and many of our relatives having various conditions that put them at higher risk, we couldn’t responsibly bring them together and risk widespread transmission. We love them too much.
We also recognize that a group of that size could have widespread ramifications for the community at large. My family has been in this area for four generations. Most of my family still lives in the region. If someone with COVID-19 came to our wedding and a number of my relatives got sick, it could cause a major health event. Taylor’s family lives in California. We could see a cluster in the San Diego area directly resulting from our gathering, as well. We have a civic responsibility to not put anyone at risk, especially for something as non-essential as a wedding reception.
Some of our friends are choosing to postpone weddings, and that’s a great option, but Taylor and I don’t want to wait any longer to get married. Instead of our giant celebration, we’ll get married at my parents’ house with our immediate families. It will look very different than the day we had originally planned, but at the end of it, I’ll still be Mrs. Han, and he’ll still be my partner. It’ll be okay.
I do want to make it clear that while the decision for us was straightforward, it was definitely a painful one. If you’re in the same situation, it’s okay to be upset and a little angry. It’s a big life event that has been altered irrevocably for you. Even while recognizing that changing or postponing a wedding celebration is not the end of the world, it’s definitely okay to grieve what would’ve been.
COVID-19 has changed a lot of our day-to-day lives, and everyone is entitled to some sadness about it. It’s important to remember that by not having your big wedding, family reunion or annual block party barbecue, you’re doing an important service to keep your loved ones and community members safe. We all have to make sacrifices in order to beat COVID-19, and I applaud all of you who are making responsible decisions as we head into the summer months.
Also, you can believe Taylor and I will be throwing one GIANT party when all this is over.