Alana Hebenton shares her experiences of what it’s really like to have to rethink your big day and plan a wedding during the coronavirus outbreak.
It was on the 17th November 2018 when my dreams came true and my soulmate Stuart proposed to me outside our favourite pub, the Spice Island in Old Portsmouth. The engagement was completely unexpected because we’d only been together for 10 months and after years of online dating disasters, I’d totally given up on the thought of marriage for me.
Soon after, we got underway with the wedding planning process. Living in Portsmouth, I’d always dreamed of getting married in the Portsmouth Cathedral and couldn’t believe my luck when I found out this was actually possible. For the reception, we decided on the Queens Hotel in Southsea. So that was it, our date was set: 18.07.2020.
The date was originally chosen because it didn’t clash with football, as Stuart is a BIG football fan – so much so, that if Portsmouth football club get promoted, their manager Kenny Jackett is getting an invite to the wedding.
Real Bride Files: Planning a Wedding During the Coronavirus
Going into 2020 the wedding started to feel very real as the numbers on our wedding countdown apps FINALLY started to go down and our excitement grew.
However, as we went from February to March, we started to grow increasingly concerned about the number of news updates we heard about COVID-19.
I remember after one particularly bad day at work, it finally hit me how serious things were, I phoned Stuart almost in tears, devastated that the dream wedding that I’d spent the last 18 months (and 31 years) planning could potentially not be happening. Thankfully, after a good conversation and a VERY good playlist on Spotify, I had a reality check, and that night we came up with a plan.
1. Communication is Key
For Stuart the most important first step was to communicate with all our suppliers and the venue.
If they can’t make this date, what happens? Will we get a refund? Do they have insurance?
Our second step was communicating with guests about our coronavirus plans. Like us, they heard all the news updates and have financial commitments like hotel room bookings etc so they needed to be kept informed.
- Ensure your guests know if your rescheduling, cancelling or monitoring the situation.
- We included an additional note in our invites where we included our COVID-19 plans.
Don’t forget to communicate your feelings! This sounds a bit airy fairy, but while the logistics are important you will go on an emotional rollercoaster so you need to let it out.
- Join Facebook forums where you can talk to brides going through the same stress – Weddings Chat and Advice has been great not only for practical advice but emotional support.
- Talk to friends and family – I’ve had a lot of teary calls to my mum and video chats with my hens which have really helped to put things in perspective.
- Talk to your fiancé – I couldn’t have got through it without him, reminding me why we are doing all this.
2. Create a Wedding During Coronavirus Action Plan
As Stuart and my wedding is in July, we are still currently planning on this date. However, we are conscious that we could still potentially be in lockdown on this date and even if we aren’t we could still miss other wedding preparations like my hen do booked for May, Stuart’s stag do booked for April
- Therefore if your suppliers won’t honour your deposits for new dates, I’d recommend researching potential new suppliers.
- Talk to your Maid of Honour and Best Man about your hen dos and stag dos – can these be rescheduled? Would you be happy to have them post wedding?
- Explore staycation opportunities for honeymoons/ mini-moon.
Most importantly remember the date you get married doesn’t matter, as long as we get through this together.
3. Remember Your Wellness
Planning a wedding is stressful at the best of times but even more so when you’re amidst a global pandemic!
- To help me de-stress I’ve been listening to regular deep mind massage audios from clinical hypnotherapist, Mark Williams, trained in helping brides cope with wedding stress
- I really miss my spa days, so to recreate this at home, I’ve been using Manuka Doctor Manuka Honey to create an at home face mask. The recipe is very simple, mix one tbsp raw Manuka honey with three drops of fresh lemon juice and 1tbsp brown sugar. Gently rub onto skin and leave for five minutes before rinsing off.
- I also light scented candles – my favourites are ones from Daisy Blue
Me and Stuart also try and still make the weekends feel like weekends with “dates” whether that’s watching our favourite films together, baking each other treats, going for an extra-long daily walk together or if I’m feeling brave, going for a run with him – but that can get a bit competitive!