The coronavirus outbreak made me cancel my wedding

Key Points
  • I canceled my wedding last week after more than a year of planning. 
  • Here's why I made that decision. 
One of our engagement pics (Christina Farr and Jarred Colli)
Christina Farr

After a year of planning, I made the decision last week to cancel my wedding. 

When the news started surfacing about a flu-like illness, my fiancé and I remained cautiously optimistic that the virus wouldn't spread across the globe and to San Francisco, where we live. Even through February and early March, as the first reports surfaced about the rise of cases in the U.S., we naively hoped that we could go ahead with our nuptials but with reduced attendance.

But once the CDC issued guidelines advising against gatherings of more than 50 people, we immediately looked at each other and we just knew. It was time to call the whole thing off. 

Zoom wedding?

Dismantling a wedding is no joke. If you've done it before for any reason, I empathize. In our case, we had some help. We had hired a wedding planner, and immediately arranged to get on the phone with her to come up with a game plan. Once we had a minute to breathe and shoot out an email to our guests, the three of us started emailing vendors to let them know that our plans had changed. 

The first question we asked ourselves was whether the cancellation would be temporary. Would we pick another date? And if so, when?

When we started reaching out to our vendors, they seemed eager to work with us in the future so they wouldn't lose our business. We're hoping to postpone, rather than cancel altogether. It's a huge hit to the business of our baker and florist, too, as all these spring weddings are now off. New Orleans, where we're getting married, is a big hotspot for hospitality and tourism. 

It hasn't been smooth sailing, though. One of our vendors offered us some openings in July and August, but that seemed far too soon to put something together and highly optimistic given the current models around how long Americans will be battling the virus. They told us we'd incur an additional charge if we selected a date in 2021.

So that's up in the air, but we're also thinking through whether to get married in the next few months or to wait until we can schedule a wedding next year. But getting married soon would require an available friend who's a justice of the peace and can step up while maintaining the requisite level of social distance.

Another idea that's on the table is a Zoom wedding, followed by a post-nuptial party next year. Our friends could tune in while we exchanged some vows, and hopefully remember to hit the mute button during the important parts. But I've had a few calls on Zoom this week, and it has been spotty at times likely given the flood of new users. Lots of people dropping off mid-vows because of an IT failure doesn't seem all that romantic. 

So it turns out that there's a lot of logistical difficulty in getting married during a pandemic. 

Living with uncertainty 

The honeymoon is also a question mark. Ours is planned in Portugal in early July. Currently there are more than 1,000 cases in the country. I know this because I've been obsessively checking each morning. It's a weird new thing that I now do. 

If we were to cancel that in a few months, which is looking increasingly likely, it'll take a few days to contact all the hotels and the airlines. I'm anticipating that we could be out hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, at the end of this. There's not much we can do about that, so we're making our peace. Everyone is hurting. Most airlines aren't providing refunds for economy tickets, so at best we'll get a flight credit. 

We've talked about taking some of the time off that's already on the calendar, but we haven't come up with many good ideas yet about where we'd go. A few friends have suggested a camping trip in a super remote place, which seems to meet the criteria as for flattening the curve. It could be great for the right couple, but I'm not particularly rugged or outdoorsy. If I'm being honest, I'm more of a glamper. 

Some friends have reminded us that the wedding is just an event and it's the marriage that counts. I wholeheartedly agree with that, but we were genuinely excited about the opportunity to bring our friends and family together in May. So it is a letdown. But it's also important to have some perspective. Our community is healthy and safe, and we're incredibly grateful for that above all else. 

We've realized through this experience is that our community is here for us. Our nearest and dearest have reached out to tell us that they'll be there for us, whenever we decide to get married. And that's meant a lot. 

Did you cancel a wedding? Let us know about your experience at @CNBCTech. 

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