Mawwaige is what brings us together (but maintain six feet of distance)

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! It’s appropriate to share a love story here today. What follows is the tale of how I got married in the middle of a global pandemic.

For background, I met Daniel in early 2013 when we worked at the same place. We progressed from colleagues to close friends, and eventually, we started dating in May 2014. I made it clear from the beginning of our relationship that I wanted to wait to tie the knot until I had finished my bachelor’s degree. My basis for this thinking was that I could qualify for the most financial aid possible as a single person. So romantic, right?

Anyway, fast forward to spring 2019. I was finishing up my final semester at the University of Richmond. Daniel and I were planning our first big trip together: a cross-country adventure to sunny Los Angeles, California. I knew that graduation was approaching, and I had a feeling that we were going to get engaged on this trip. Still, the weeks leading up to our vacation stressed me out, and the night before we were scheduled to board our flight, I had a major anxiety attack. I came out of our bedroom sobbing and unable to sleep, and I was wracked with guilt over making Daniel pause the “Battle of Winterfell” episode of Game of Thrones.

“I know you and I are in a better place, but the last time I took a big trip like this with my boyfriend, we broke up less than a year later, and I’m just scared,” I confessed.

“Well, you don’t have to worry about that,” he answered, pulling a tiny box out of his pocket. My tears of fear changed to shock.

“Are you fucking kidding me!?” I shrieked, and thus, we became engaged to be wed.

A magical day! (This was before JKR was openly TERF-y, so the Wizarding World was quite magical)

Daniel had been married before we met, and that wedding consisted of a simple elopement at a local courthouse. He was not willing to do that again, and as much as I preferred the tiniest to-do possible, I warmed to the concept of throwing a party for our closest friends and family. We set a date: September 26, 2020. We picked a venue, a guest list, and a photographer. I bought a dress and found a seamstress to alter it. We were in the midst of planning the menu, scheduling cake tastings, and getting the rest of our ducks in a row when the world shut down. During a difficult and tense conversation in March 2020, we opted to cancel our September nuptials. My concern was being sure that we had the legal aspect of our marriage done; we could get the boring part out of the way first, and when it was safe, we could have a big party. A close friend offered to officiate for free, so we set our sights on a late April ceremony.

At the time of our nuptials, the state of Virginia was in lockdown. A government ordinance had restricted the number of people gathering to ten people. Masks and hand sanitizer were in high demand, and the news coming out of European countries and major metropolitan areas in the U.S. painted a grim picture. We decided to pare down the guest list to Daniel’s child, his mother and stepfather, our officiant and his wife, and my best friend. Eight people would be legal, and the group was isolated enough that any potential contact tracing would be easy if necessary. Most venues were understandably closed, so we went with a gazebo in a public park near our house for the ceremony itself. For food, Daniel bought a catering order from the restaurant where he works. I did my own hair, makeup and nails, and with a quick trip, I bought a sweet springtime bouquet from a grocery store. I wore a dress I bought for under $10 at a thrift store months previously since my actual wedding dress had not been altered. The pieces came together, and on a rainy weekday afternoon, I married the love of my life.

Ah, newlyweds!

A part of me was sad to see the work we put into planning a bigger wedding go to waste. I do not know if or when we will be able to have a bigger celebration, and that is a disappointment. There is very little I would have done differently; I would have forced my husband to take his shirt out of the package, hang it up, and iron it before the day of our ceremony. (I tell myself to let it go, but it’s something I see in the photos and I get so annoyed at myself for noticing it.) Still, I am grateful that we were able to get married, have lovely photos, and share company with kindred spirits. It was not the wedding I had envisioned, but I am thankful to share my home and life with someone who gets me.

Next week, we will have another installment of Face Off. Stay warm and healthy!

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