The coronavirus outbreak has shifted lives in a matter of weeks — parents are home-schooling their children, employees are working in makeshift home offices and events are being canceled. Some of those events are weddings, and engaged couples have been left with the difficult decision to postpone or have last-minute backyard celebrations.
With this sudden change of plans, heartbreak and disappointment can surface quickly. For months, soon-to-be brides have been dreaming of the “best day of their lives.” Seeing all those days of detailed planning and joyful anticipation come to a halt can be disheartening. Here are four ways to process the disappointment:
Embrace disappointment with prayer
Erin Smalley, counselor and spokesperson for Focus on the Family’s marriage department, encourages couples to pray and let their hearts embrace any sadness or discouragement. They should first allow themselves to feel what they’re experiencing in this situation.
“First and foremost, allow yourself to grieve what you thought it was going to be,” she says. “But then really take that to the Lord and let the Holy Spirit speak into it.” 1 Peter 5:7 reminds us to cast all our anxieties on him, because he cares for us.
Kathryn Foreman is one future bride facing a possible postponed wedding. She and her fiance, Casey Shultis, plan to marry on May 17, 2020, but depending on government restrictions by then, they may have to postpone. The couple already has had to cancel showers, dress fittings, venue walk-throughs and more.
At first, acknowledging the possibility of postponing their special day was difficult. “It hit me that the exciting season I had been dreaming of since I was a little girl was going to look a lot different than I thought,” she says. After processing through this, however, she surrendered it in prayer and asked the Lord how she could use this experience to bless and pray for other people.
Cling to what is good
While facing disappointment is necessary, refusing to dwell on it is just as important. Romans 12:9 tells us to “hold fast to what is good” — a lesson Kathryn has been learning throughout this process. One day, while sharing her thoughts and emotions about the wedding situation with some close friends, she accidentally shuffled her music playlist to the song “Life is a Gift.” The lyrics reminded her of the goodness of God’s character, which she says is the most important lesson she’s learned throughout her life.
“When I was upset, I wasn’t thinking of the good He was doing in the possibility of our wedding date being ‘messed up,’ ” she says. “However, this song quickly reminded me of God’s goodness in every season and that He does not waste anything. He only gives good gifts.”
In many ways, holding on to goodness looks like living with a grateful heart. Instead of focusing on the negative factors, remind yourself of what you still have. Maybe set aside a time to journal a list of all the things you are still thankful for.
Maintain a hopeful perspective
While processing the emotions involved with a postponed wedding is necessary, looking ahead with a hopeful lens is key to overcoming the disappointment. One way couples can keep a positive perspective is to see the change of wedding plans as an opportunity for something even greater.
Several opportunities have arisen for Kathryn and Casey because of the coronavirus quarantine. Since both of them aren’t working or attending school at the moment, they’ve had the chance to continue premarital counseling with a pastor over FaceTime. This has led to valuable discussion about deep and vulnerable topics they may not have had time or space to discuss if they were not quarantined in their own homes.
Remember what’s most important
Engaged couples facing this difficult situation should remember that in the long run, the wedding itself is a small part of a couple’s life together. Smalley reminds couples that though their change of plans may be troubling, they should try to “home in on what’s really important — and that’s the marriage — versus the day.” The real goal is a healthy marriage they’ll have to treasure for the rest of their days.
On March 23, Kathryn made an Instagram post about the moment she realized she and Casey might have to postpone their wedding day. She explained that when she spoke to him about her disappointment, he responded gently, “Kat, don’t be upset. I get to marry you no matter what happens — and that is the joy of my life.”