Walking down the aisle to the gleeful cheers and the teary eyes of their closest family and friends, and saying “I do” is a fairytale moment most women dream of for years. But for unlucky couples who planned to tie the knot last year, getting married in a Covid climate has proven to be an uphill battle with all the fluctuating restrictions in place.
Breaking into Phase 3 was a beacon of hope for many engaged couples, especially those who had put off plans to get hitched in 2020 with many rushing to plan their weddings before cases surged again.
From losing thousands of dollars in vendor deposits to rushing to make alternative plans, these three brides detail the struggles they faced with the sudden Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) restrictions and how they weathered the storm.
Note: Some names have been changed to protect the identities of the individuals.
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Movies such as Bride Wars and 27 Dresses have primed us for the organised chaos that goes on behind the scenes of planning a wedding. But to add fire to the flames, those with weddings planned in May had to work their plans around a couple of unforeseen circumstances.
Jocelyn originally planned to have a 250-pax guest list when she first started planning her wedding two years ago. With Phase 3 in effect, she’d already shaved down the guestlist to 100 pax earlier in the year.
PET for illustrative purposes only
Image credit: MOH
She’d even gone as far as to wait until one month before the actual date to send out invitations in case something else cropped up. Life threw them another curve-ball a mere two weeks before their wedding day with the announcement that all unvaccinated guests had to undergo Pre-Event Testing (PET) – something their hotel couldn’t accommodate.
Having to burden their guests with the inconvenience of getting tested was one thing, there was also the issue of who would foot the cost of the test which was around ~$50 per pop. Then came Phase 2 Heightened Alert and its set of rules.
“One week prior to the wedding, we had to cancel our banquet. We discussed whether or not we should postpone or cancel the wedding. It was definitely one of the toughest decisions to make as we had planned this more than 2 years ago.” shares Jocelyn who only went ahead with her solemnisation in the end.
Even if you’re not the least bit superstitious or into all the hocus pocus of numerology, it’s always nice to have your wedding fall on a date that holds a special place in your heart. After all, this date will be the one you’ll be celebrating for the rest of your married life.
And for one bride Clara and her husband, this day was 22nd May – the same anniversary of their couplehood. This wedding had been two years in the making, and the onset of Covid last year had already driven her and her husband to push the ceremony back to May this year in order to kope the date they had set their hearts on.
But with just days to the actual wedding, the announcement of the no dine-in rule threw their wedding plans into utter chaos with all wedding banquets effectively cancelled.
Then came the mad rush of contacting multiple vendors to push back the wedding date. “This gave us a lot of stress because not only did we have to replan everything, but our deposit money was also on the line,” recounts Clara.
And while Clara managed to reshuffle her vendors, bride Jocelyn, wasn’t as lucky and ended up losing a few thousands. The bridal company she had signed up with – and a pretty big name in the industry, at that – had turned her a cold shoulder following the Phase 2 announcement. The couple initially paid for three gowns and two suits, but with only the solemnisation on the agenda, they only needed one outfit each.
“We were quite disappointed with the way they (bridal company) treated us after the regulations were released because we were so willing to pay up when they upsold us.”
Jocelyn had reached out to propose splitting the costs of the damages and was willing to foot a small penalty fee for the last minute changes, only to receive sporadic replies from the company with little to no solution even though her ceremony was days away.
Most Chinese weddings begin in the wee hours of the morning with the gatecrash. An epic customary showdown where the groom and his posse battle a series of hilarious obstacles to claim his bride – only when the bridesmaids are appeased and monetarily compensated with big angbaos, that is.
Not being able to have a gatecrash was one thing, but for a third bride Tasha, it was complying with the 2-pax limit that posed an issue.
Photo for illustration only
Image credit: Kimberly Wong
Having only two visitors per household had her pulling all stops just in order to go ahead with her solemnisation and tea ceremony. Her makeup for the day had to be completed at someone else’s house as the photographer and her husband already made up the numbers.
Then came the sacrifice of giving up the videographer. She had wanted both a photographer and videographer to be present to capture every moment of the day as a memento for them to look back on as they grow old together, but something had to give.
Every bride remembers her shining moment walking down the aisle, flanked by her closest family and friends, the love of her life waiting for her at the other end. But these brides will always remember a masked march-in. On top of that, the restrictions in place also meant that there would be no official husband and wife kiss, as the removal of masks was not allowed.
Image credit: Clara Choo – Taken by Mathias of Yipmage
“I couldn’t help but feel a little upset, being unable to see the faces of my family and friends because everyone is protected and covered.”
“At the same time, it’s epic because it’s still a unique ceremony in masks. No one would’ve thought to experience this (before Covid). I can also proudly say that our relationship made it against all odds!”
With all deposits made and invitations sent, it was the sheer tenacity and the support of loved ones that helped these brides follow through with their solemnisations. And while there were sacrifices to be made in terms of guests, forgoing the tea ceremony and gatecrash, there was a silver lining to this dark Covid-cloud too.
Choosing to remember her ceremony as a joyous memory in a chaotic time, Clara says it was heartening to witness the unwavering support and patience of those around her as they put up with endless changes, and “risked their lives, going above and beyond to give their blessings and attend the solemnisation.” She went on to share the indescribable feeling of being overcome with emotions as she “turned around after signing the papers, to see a garden full of people celebrating along” with her.
For Jocelyn, it was being able to have open and clear communication with her partner when there was a whole laundry list of things to do to adjust to the ever-changing regulations. Splitting the responsibilities to speed things up and relying on each other helped them build a stronger bond in spite of the mountain of challenges they faced on the road to marriage.
And when asked if they had any tips for couples stuck in the same rut, here’s the sentiment they echoed: In tumultuous times, how you choose to perceive a certain change can make or break your special day.
On this note, Clara strongly urges couples to “Stop and smell the roses. Try to enjoy the process and appreciate the intimate, genuine moments with people who truly care. The rest of the world can wait.”
And on top of keeping your fiancé/fiancée as your right hand man/woman through all the planning, Jocelyn advises “maintaining good communication and finding a common ground whenever you have differences in opinions.”
She goes on to share that it’s wise to “trust your partner to make good judgement calls, anticipate changes, and have a back-up plan.”
Image for illustrative purposes
Image credit: Kimberly Wong
And though no one can confidently say when life will resume as usual, these married couples have embraced their reality and ridden out the storm. There’s still hope that at the end of this mini Circuit Breaker, good news awaits them and all engaged couples looking to proceed with their wedding banquets.
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