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It’s good to talk: learning to adapt and change when the unexpected happens.

My name is Lynne and I’m the Manager at Revival Cafe and Wellbeing and Mental Wellbeing Lead for East Kent Mind.  This is the story of my experience trying to plan my marriage during a pandemic and how I have learned to change, adapt and refocus on what is important in life when so much is out of your control. 

Back in January 2020 we decided to finally book our wedding. As we are a mature couple and it not being the first time for either of us, we decided to go all out and have something neither of us had before.

We started looking at venues and finally booked a lovely local hotel- the full caboodle- ceremony, welcome drinks and canapés, sit down wedding breakfast, evening buffet etc. for September 2020.  The package included hotel rooms so that also took care of family who were travelling a distance for the wedding – everything was sorted, or so we thought!

Excitedly we ploughed ahead with arrangements.  Amazing photographer booked. Dress ordered. Bridesmaid dresses sorted. We had a taster day for the menu – choices made – wedding cocktail chosen. All was going swimmingly. We went ahead and had personalised bits made for wedding favours, sweet table etc. Cake ordered. Wow this wedding planning was easy and fun!

Then Covid started to be spoken about on the news. China had it bad. It was spreading.  We were obsessed with following the news reports. This was becoming really worrying. 

Everyone kept telling us we would be fine for September but watching the news reports we began to doubt that.

This was really serious. People were dying, hospitals were overwhelmed with really sick patients on respirators. Suddenly our wedding seemed a really minor thing, our perspective began to change.

The situation across the world helped us to take the emotion out of the decisions we had to make regarding our wedding, when so much was developing at such a fast pace, Revival was closed and the country had been in lock down since March 2020, we felt very small indeed.  We had all had to make so many adjustments, we were just happy to be well and safe.  In May 2020, we decided it would be sensible to postpone the wedding, so we decided to play it safe, or so we thought and move it to May 2021. Things were bound to have settled down by then, weren’t they? So hotel, photographer, cake maker all contacted and luckily all could accommodate our new date. That was it.  All the arrangements were made, and we’d bought most things we needed.

We, like everyone else, resigned to get through these endless lockdowns as best we could and concentrate on keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe.  The wedding was on the back burner and rarely spoken about, apart from the odd joke about having to change the date on all the personalised stuff we’d bought! Humour without a doubt helped us get through some very difficult times.

We got into the routine of life under Covid rules. My partner is a keyworker, so his job continued as normal with the addition of masks, hand sanitiser and social distancing- the new normal! I was working mainly from home – a whole new type of self-discipline. 

2020 crept along- full lockdown, lockdown easing, eat out to help out, another spike in infections so lockdown again! So, it went on. Christmas all but cancelled – hang on a minute – maybe a May 2021 wedding wasn’t going to be so safe after all! The brow beating started again – what should we do? Do we risk it, and hope May would be OK or postpone again? We really wanted all our friends and family to be there.  30 people just wouldn’t do!

OK we’ll play it safe and postpone again. Let’s go really safe this time and postpone by a whole year to May 2022. Hotel sorted, photographer, cake etc etc. Sorted! Relax!

Except I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that the excitement of a big hotel wedding had lost its appeal. Covid had tainted it. It just didn’t seem right anymore.

I tentatively mentioned this to my partner one evening thinking he would say the arrangements are made, we’re not changing it again but to my surprise he felt the same as me! It was a really important lesson in keeping communication open and honest, so often in life just starting a conversation can make a massive difference, sharing concerns and worries really does lighten the burden.  This is something I am acutely aware of from my work at East Kent Mind, Revival has always advocated for open, non-judgemental conversations, providing a safe space to talk and find support.

I suggested we change the arrangements completely and go for a registry office wedding and reception at our house. He was a little unsure at first but the more we talked the more he liked the idea!  We looked at dates -why wait till next year?  September 2021 sounds good.

We cancelled the hotel and booked the registry office. Now fingers crossed photographer and cake will be OK! Yes, they can accommodate the new date!

So now we are back into manic arranging again! New party marquee and gazebo bought. Extra catering tables and chaffing dishes bought.  Menu sorted.  3 ½ months to go and so much to do! Patio needs levelling, fences painting, decorating to do! The list is endless! Really trying not to become a Bridezilla! My poor partner looks with despair at the list of jobs to be done but all this effort is even more worthwhile as it will be our house that we are improving, our fences and decoration will look lovely for years to come, our wedding is now an investment in our future on a practical as well as emotional level.

Another change we have had to adapt to is that the chief bridesmaid will be heavily pregnant so a new dress is needed, and the other 2 bridesmaids will also have grown out of their dresses so new needed there too! It will be a chaotic week or so of cooking just before the wedding, but we are looking forward to doing it and finally excited about having a day totally personal to us.  This is what is so important to us now, making everything as meaningful as possible, for our wedding this has meant, smaller, personal and safer.

The excitement is back and this one’s going ahead whatever Covid may throw at us, we have had to change and adapt on so many levels but making decisions together and being open and honest with ourselves and each other has made it so much easier and taken the stress out of what could have been really stressful moments.  It hasn’t all be easy but talking about our worries or concerns has definitely made a difference and I am looking forward to having my friends and family finally together to celebrate our special day.

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