In Sickness and in Sickness: Weddings and Honeymoons in the Time of Coronavirus

PHOTO: Carey Nash Photography

Ahh, love in the time of a pandemic.

A couple got married on a New York street with their officiant self-isolating on his balcony five floors above them. Princess Beatrice was supposed to get married on May 29 and then have a Buckingham Palace garden party, but is postponing the wedding due to COVID-19. The new coronavirus is severely affecting daily life around the world–and even love isn’t safe from it.

Wedlock Under Lockdown

Whether you’re planning a wedding at home or abroad, or want a honeymoon further than your bedroom, the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting you.

Small weddings are becoming tiny, if they’re taking place at all. The CDC recommends canceling U.S. events of more than 10 people. In the U.K., the bride and groom can each have a witness, and the officiant brings you to the max of five. In Germany, it’s just two people, so you’d need an officiant on a balcony like that NYC couple. In Italy, weddings are completely postponed for the time being.

If you’re planning to fly somewhere, that’s almost impossible right now too. Borders are closed to non-nationals, international flights are mostly for repatriation as more and more airlines hit the pause button, and most countries require two weeks of quarantine or self-isolation upon arrival from abroad. Some countries are under complete lockdown (which might be ok for your honeymoon, but certainly not your wedding).

When Will It All Be Over?

Knowing when normal life—especially happy gatherings like weddings and dream trips like honeymoons—can start again would make self-isolation a little easier. Unfortunately, experts don’t know when the COVID crisis will abate.

There’s evidence that there might be a few waves of illness and that it might last until spring 2021 or maybe beyond.  It’s pretty hard to plan weddings and honeymoons right now, and it will be at least several weeks before we have a clearer picture of what the next year might look like. Some studies say that social (physical) distancing may need to last for months. That means happy hugs with all your guests after you say “I do” might be off the table.

What Do We Need to Consider If We Go Ahead?

For at least a month or two, you should expect travel bans of non-nationals, mandatory quarantine periods, bans against group gatherings, and flight cancellations to continue. Slowing the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible and preventing deaths is the most important consideration. The Government of Canada’s advice on risk-informed decision making for large events might help your considerations.

Slowing the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible and preventing deaths is the most important consideration.

Do you already have a wedding date and venue booked? Katie Patnode, at Hotel Canandaigua in New York’s Finger Lakes Region, says couples need to decide what’s most important to them for their wedding. If that’s having guests from abroad, she says “consider postponing or making accommodations to keep those guests present ‘in spirit.’” You could use technology to have a video call so your guests from afar can still watch your ceremony, even if they can’t be there in person.

Being as flexible as possible will help. Patnode, who will oversee Hotel Canandaigua’s wedding bookings when it opens in October 2020, says that given the unprecedented times, she hopes “hotels and venues [are] willing to postpone dates and even process cancellations without penalty,” and adds that, “those of us working in the hospitality industry realize how important the special day and honeymoon are for couples.”

A wedding planner helps make destination weddings, no matter how far distant in time or place, incredibly smoother. Planners at private islands like Cayo Espanto in Belize can take care of every detail you can imagine. You can minimize exposure to others by booking the entire island with its seven villas for yourself and your wedding guests if you want. Grand Palladium resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean have dedicated wedding coordinators who can help you evolve your plans as COVID circumstances change. They also have outdoor wedding venues to help your guests maintain physical distance protocols while admiring the bride and groom in the stunning scenery.

What About Wedding Insurance?

It is possible to get wedding cancelation insurance, but it doesn’t cover everything. In the midst of the pandemic, many types of insurance are almost impossible to buy. In normal times, wedding insurance covers things like a flood at your venue, a fire at your wedding dress shop, and sometimes the illness of a member of your wedding party. It doesn’t cover last-minute decisions to elope, changing your mind about the wedding altogether, or new laws prohibiting gatherings of groups. Read the small print carefully, whether you have an existing policy for your wedding or are planning for the future.

Look at the Bright Side

Most couples who plan a honeymoon dream trip right after their wedding can attest that they wish they’d done it differently. Weddings are exhausting, even if you had a wedding planner take care of everything. Many brides and grooms just want to stay in bed after their wedding, and that’s to catch up on sleep more than anything else!

So having to postpone your dream honeymoon because of COVID-19 means you’ll be well-rested when you can finally go. You’ll have the energy to swim with the whale sharks in La Paz, Mexico, hike a volcano or go surfing in El Salvador, ride every rollercoaster in Orlando, wake up for dawn game drives on safari in South Africa, climb every hill in Cusco, Peru, and try a new-to-you Thai dish at every single meal in Thailand. Looking for #TravelSomeday inspiration? Here are 10 gorgeous places for a destination wedding and 10 under-the-radar honeymoon destinations in Asia.

Love Is the Thing

Maybe your romantic beach wedding in the Maldives doesn’t work out. Maybe your far-flung family can only witness your vows via Skype. Maybe your honeymoon has to be next year or in five years. What’s important is that you love each other, that you’re together, and that you’re healthy.

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