Here’s what my friends were doing when they weren’t having weddings

Sarah Halperin and Seth Levin. Photo by Gennie Wymer

When 2020 began, I was looking forward to attending five weddings with my boyfriend, Noam. We had plans to travel from D.C. all over the East Coast, from Walt Disney World to Philadelphia. In fact, we were supposed to have three weddings on consecutive weekends this spring.

We had hotels, flights, outfits picked out. We attended bachelor parties (where Noam went skeet shooting) and bachelorette parties (where I went on a New Orleans steamboat) for our friends to be wed in 2020. We had our Disney World rides picked out, and I even begrudgingly agreed to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Noam and I moved in together in the beginning of March. We decided to move when we did partially to be settled in before all of our April and May wedding travels. I envisioned having friends over when we weren’t traveling to enjoy our Shaw rooftop with a great view of the city. Masks and gloves were not part of the vision. Essentially, I went from living alone in a quaint studio in Kalorama to being quarantined in a one-bedroom with Noam.

The pandemic had other things in store

One after the other, we received thoughtful emails outlining postponed wedding dates and rescheduled plans that contained sentiments like: “We truly appreciate all the love and support we have received through this crazy adventure and cannot wait to celebrate our special day with you.”

I appreciate the thought our friends have put into rethinking their weddings, and I’ll be excited to celebrate with them when it is safe.

Like everyone, our calendars have completely opened up. While we were at a (socially distant) cabin in Virginia for Noam’s birthday, I realized that if not for the pandemic, I would have been dancing the horah at my friend Sam Flax’s wedding at that very moment.
Doing a puzzle in an owl-themed log cabin was a very different night.

Allie Gold and Alex Smith. Photo by Alessandra Barretti

The brides’ perspectives

I talked to three brides — Flax, Allie Gold and Sarah Halpern — about changing their wedding plans amid the pandemic. (I’m sure there are bridezillas out there, but these three are not.)

Flax and her fiancé, Jimmy Barber, planned on getting married in Baltimore in April. After postponing to July, they postponed again to April 2021.

“We made the decision to move it to July which, based on the information at the time, seemed plausible, and then it became apparent that the flattening of the curve and the whole trend would take longer than we thought,” says Flax, who invited 210 people to her wedding. “It became apparent that July wasn’t going to work.”

Another wedding we planned to attend was of Halpern and fiancé Seth Levin, who postponed fairly early on because they and most of their guests would have needed to travel to Charleston, S.C. “We actually started discussing the possibility of moving/canceling back in February, so we were mentally prepared when it became real, says Halpern.

Flax, Gold, and Halpern all pushed their wedding celebrations to 2021, but each had a different approach to how they spent their original wedding day.

What they did on their original wedding date

The pandemic didn’t stop Gold and fiancé Alex Smith from getting officially married on their original wedding date. They got married outside in the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore.

“Before our ceremony our friends surprised us with an amazing outdoor mimosa and macaron bar to ourselves,” says Gold. “That was followed by a walk to our friend’s house for a short ring exchange ceremony where we were surprised, again, to see our closest friends in Baltimore watching from hundreds of feet ⁠— and, of course, more than six feet away from one another⁠ — down one street.” More friends and family joined the celebration via Zoom.

Sam Flax and Jimmy Berber. Photo by Justine Bumpers

Halpern and Levin will still get married on their original June wedding date in Hawaii, where they live. Halpern’s mom shipped Halpern’s wedding dress, some family tallitot and the kippot customized for their Charleston wedding. They are planning to have the officiant, a photographer friend, and two witnesses to sign the ketubah. “Maybe a few people more depending on what the situation is like in Hawaii by then, but definitely something low key,” says Halpern.

On the day of their original wedding date, Flax and Barber received food and champagne from friends to enjoy. The couple watched Flax’s favorite movie, “When Harry Met Sally.”

Their ketubah was already sent to them with their original wedding date engraved.

We Zoomed with yet another couple on their original wedding date, which was also postponed. They were in their D.C. apartment, not too far from ours, in sweatpants, the bride wearing her veil. That image — our friend as a little box on Zoom in her wedding veil — pretty much summed things up for me.

The right attitude

I’ve been so impressed with how my friends have maintained the bigger picture. I asked Flax’s advice to other brides, and she said to put things in perspective. “I know that there are other brides who have gotten really upset, but there’s nothing we can do about this situation,” she says. “It’s not ideal, but the reality is people are literally dying. Obviously the wedding day is about you, but there are so many bigger things going on in the world right now that you have to appreciate what you have.”

Gold felt similarly. “When we knew our wedding plans had to change, I really wasn’t that worried or upset,” she says. “Three thoughts dictated my emotions at the time: There’s nothing we can do about it other than let time, and our insurance company, handle the emotional and financial damages, respectively; our friends and family will support us and want to celebrate no matter what time of year; and there are worse things happening in the world than our postponed wedding weekend.”

A sense of perspective has also helped Halpern see the bigger picture. “People are dying and losing their jobs because of this virus, so having to move our wedding celebration really isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things,” she says.

And as Flax said, “If you can get through this, I would hope that it is an indication that you will have a successful marriage.”

And 2021 will have a lot of weddings.

Anna Lippe is a Washington writer.

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