Written by a Museum Staff Member

At the end of this month I was supposed to be flying to Ireland for my wedding. When I got engaged in July of 2019, I was over the moon! I was going to get to marry the love of my life! We started talking about what we envisioned for our wedding. Originally, we wanted a big wedding with all our friends and family, then we decided to do a small 50-person wedding out of state. I won’t lie, my fiancé was probably so tired of my flip flopping; I changed my mind a lot, and often. Finally, we decided we wanted to elope. For us, this was perfect, we wouldn’t have to deal with family fighting, color schemes, or anything else, other than a few small details. We decided on May 2020 in Ireland. We landed on Ireland because when I would watch elopement videos on YouTube and the ones in Ireland made me cry.

We had everything ready to go, our paperwork (we were planning on legally getting married over there), my dress was being altered, we ordered our wedding bands, we had our plane tickets, tours were booked, and hotels were chosen. It’s corny, but I knew when I began dating my fiancé that I wanted to marry him, and we were so close. On New Year’s Eve as the clock hit midnight, we were in our living room dancing, and I cried because it was our year, the year we were going to get married.

Then news of the Coronavirus started seeping into the news. I didn’t take it seriously, it was in Asia, not likely to spread into America. Then it hit Europe, my first flicker of doubt started, but I kept reassuring myself that it would be contained. Then travel bans went into place: “Ireland isn’t on the list! We’ll be fine! Don’t worry about it!” This is what my wedding planner in Ireland sent me after I emailed about a Plan B. Then a week later, Ireland and the UK were added to the list. We had held out as long as possible, hoping things would blow over by the time we were going to leave the country. Unfortunately we were forced to postpone our elopement until next year. It was crushing to have to make that decision. I cried a lot, but we knew it was the right one to make.

 We have decided to still go through with the marriage (granted we are able to) on our original date in a very small ceremony with just our immediate family. Don’t worry, we are still adhering to the governments advisements and will reassess closer to the day of. We are hopeful we can still be married on our date, but we know we may just be exchanging vows that day and signing our certificate later. While I am excited to get married, it’s still very bittersweet. It’s not what we had planned, I can’t get my wedding dress back from the tailor, we may not be able to pick up our wedding bands, and of course, we may not even be able to get legally married.

When I started talking to our director, Amy, about the decisions we were facing, she stated that this whole situation reminded her of war time brides during WWII. Not the English brides that came over from Britain, but the women who married their beaus before they left for the fight. They would often get married in simple, rushed ceremonies just so they could be married. I do acknowledge the differences of circumstance between us, but there are also great similarities. Many of my friends who were also supposed to get married during this time have all decided to go ahead with a very small ceremony and hold a big reception later. They, like me, just want to be married. They are giving up their dream days to be able to say, “I do.” War brides, like brides now, had to give up their lavish dreams of beautiful gowns and parties with their families. Some bridal gowns were made out of parachutes, many items were not available during this time of rationing.  Often times, the couple would be married and the husband, or sometimes both, would have to return to duty soon after.

We often don’t know we’re in a history-making moment until time has passed. For us right now, in the middle of the Covid-19 outbreak, we are all witnessing a strange part of world history. While I logically know this isn’t just an American phenomena, it’s hard to see outside of my bubble and how it has affected me. My life has changed drastically in the last few weeks alone, and I’m sure we still have a ways to go before we get any semblance of normalcy back. While I transition into my new normal, I am left feeling anxious. I was never good with change, and although I know this change won’t be permanent, but I also know that some things will never be the same again. I will still be getting married. It won’t be under a war circumstance, and I won’t be wearing a parachute, but it will be different than I planned.