The Big Day. Ever since you’re little, you spend years thinking of a fairytale coming true, and that one day being the most perfect one there ever is. The wedding industry which is a multi-million dollar one faced a huge setback as a result of Covid-19. While some couples had their wedding date postponed indefinitely, there were others who decided to take the jump and get hitched. Getting married during a global pandemic is certainly the likes of an adventure.
Couples tell Bingedaily just how they made this herculean task work while the world was pure chaos.
Getting married during the pandemic meant striking close ones off the guest-list
Bhavya Bhatia Kaur and Harpreet Singh, after 7 years of courtship, had their big day planned in the last week of March 2020. Covid-19 had not yet brought life to a standstill just yet. A week prior to their wedding, there was some leftover shopping that the couple were doing at Karol Bagh when they tuned in to the Prime Minister’s live speech.
“I remember us holding hands tightly hoping that nothing would go wrong at the last minute. But the shocker was on its way - a nation-wide lockdown. The following week flew past rather quickly as offices introduced the work-from-home norm and our parents decided to postpone the wedding with a very heavy heart. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement,” says Bhavya.
The wedding was rescheduled to November 2020 with a 50 person guest limit. However, a few weeks prior to the date, the couple was infected with COVID. It soon spread among the family. “The weeks I had planned shopping, booked appointments and shoots, including the Diwali week and my fiance's birthday were now gone in recovery. We lost some loved ones during our wedding month due to COVID and it didn't make things any easier for us.”
A huge distress was narrowing down the guest-list to just a few close people. The couple had a number of common friends who they shared special bonds with right from their engineering days. “Shrinking our invite list was heart-breaking. Having said that, on the day of our wedding, all the people who were close and special to us were somehow able to make it, and we had a blast! It was a small wedding but was definitely special in its own way!” says the couple.
Harpreet says that the year was a phase when no one had any inclination of what would happen next. “From lockdown notifications to guest limitations, family's health and both our mothers working in the hospitals - we have dealt with a lot. That is why, when things finally fell into place and we were married, we danced our hearts out, and couldn’t stop feeling like this was indeed a dream come true.”
“While the pandemic has changed the way weddings are perceived, I feel the lavishness or the intimacy of the wedding is not something society should dictate. You do you!”
Wearing masks was the new trend of getting married during the pandemic
Vaani and Shrey are on the way to be married but celebrated their roka (engagement) in the thick of the pandemic. The constraint was inviting people, and the couple invited limited family members and had their functions at home for safety reasons. They had planned the event months prior in order that things run smoothly. Part of the preparations were disposable cutlery, sanitisers, masks and virtual guests in order to prevent risk and crowding.
“The bright side of getting married during the pandemic was that things went smoothly even though we were anxious about it. Of course, extra added precautions such as wearing masks and maintaining distancing had to be there. But well, that’s the norm now. Technology has made it so convenient. It was wonderful to have our family all there with us, even if it was virtually,” says Vaani.
Shrey emphasises on the one stress that the couple had after the ceremonies. “We needed to ensure that no one had gotten sick,” he says. “We called people a week later to check on them.”
The pandemic has minimised costs and while this has impacted the wedding industry, couples need not splurge as much as they did in earlier times. “Since the ceremonies were conducted at home, it was more manageable. For Vaani, there were three things that I knew would make her day - a photographer, a cake, and everyone dressed in their best,” chides Shrey.
“All the three were available and thus I would say the pandemic was no hindrance. Weddings were a lot of showbiz in the past. The good thing now is, you go minimalistic and still make the best of it.”
Getting married during the pandemic involved couples being more self-sufficient
While the date wasn’t postponed, the guest list was reduced in the case of Candida and Jimmy’s wedding. Masks, social distancing and thermal checks were in place. “The year was a stressful one for all with the pandemic turning our lives upside down. Thus, getting married during the pandemic was like ending the year on a positive note.”
While everyone couldn’t be called for the celebration, the virtual mode helped greatly. “Friends who were far and unable to make it they were taken on a video call so that they could enjoy the wedding with us,” says Candida.
For Jimmy, getting married during the pandemic meant no added stress as the number of guests greatly reduced. “As we were in a long-distance relationship during our courtship period, we knew how to manage things during the pandemic. To enjoy our wedding preparations all the more and due to the restrictions, we planned on doing almost everything by ourselves that made it all the more special.”
These included making personalised ‘thank you’ gifts, baking the wedding cake, and even doing the bouquets themselves.
The bidaai was done across a screen
“Our date was set for November 25th but with all the overbookings of people who had their weddings postponed, we could barely find a location, and finally settled for one that was still under construction,” said Swati and Shree Ram Sankhla.
Getting married during the pandemic did seem like giving up on a lot for this couple. “Our friends couldn’t come to spend time with us a few days before the wedding. There was a surge of COVID cases around the time and what I missed the most was my girl brigade, who couldn’t be fully involved,” says Swati.
However, what worked in the couple’s favour was that they had a lot more time to spend together right before the wedding, as there were only a few guests to attend to. This in contrast to the scores of people who would have been there if the wedding was held in normal times.
Every wedding has its own series of anecdotes, and similarly in the case of this couple. “The hotel room that was booked to get ready for the wedding was not allowing more than 2 people at a time. The photographer and videographer couldn't really do their best as the hotel management wasn’t allowing them to get into the room due to COVID norms. It definitely was stressful to see that everything was done,” said the couple.
“Add to this wearing a mask with all the heavy make-up. It was something we had never pictured. Another element in every Indian wedding is the bidaai (farewell) ritual. My real sister could not fly down from the U.S.A. and she watched all our rituals happen on our YouTube channel. She was sitting there all decked up and was very much a part of the celebrations. Bidai was a little too emotional as she was on the other side of the screen crying and sending me all the love. We hugged virtually.”
Meanwhile, Shree Ram Sankhla says that he made the most of being a part of every minute detail and preparation. Something he enjoyed to the fullest. “Right from finalizing the outfits for everyone in my family to finalizing the venue, decoration and food, I was involved in everything. This indeed was an amazing experience.”
Cancellations, no refunds, and a simple ceremony later, this couple did have the fairytale
Niharika and Manak did have a roller-coaster of a wedding. Scheduled to happen in April the previous year, everything had been booked well in advance and then COVID made its appearance. “We didn’t get any refunds and it was certainly disappointing. The lavish wedding couldn’t happen. We also avoided the celebrations as it was alike to taking a big risk and posing a threat to our loved ones’ health. In Punjabis, rituals are a big thing, and we couldn’t really see them through.”
Things seemed to get worse. Manak had booked his air tickets to India for April and they were cancelled with no refund. But after a phase of this tumultuous back and forth, the fairytale did come true.
“We had our marriage in a Gurudwara with only our parents and siblings present there. This way they were safe, and the chances of them getting Corona was reduced. By God's grace everyone was safe,” says Niharika. “While COVID had done everything possible to change our plans, as we sat there in the Gurudwara, side-by-side, life partners forever, it felt like everything was indeed worth it. Lavish or simple, it didn’t matter. It was special in its own way.”