When COVID-19 crashes your wedding
For couples who planned to tie the knot this year, the suspension of large gatherings during COVID-19 outbreak has meant not only disruptions but also divine interventions. We chatted with four couples to get a glimpse of what an unconventional marriage journey looks like.
Our lovebirds, along with their marriage dates, are:
- Linus Chua (35) and Vivien Lee (28) – February 15
- Joshua Xiao (32) and Toh Wei Ni (25) – February 29
- Matthew Yeo (28) and Hillary Tan (24) – April 14
- Jonathan Sim (27) and Deborah Leo (25) – April 25
What were some of the challenges you faced?
Linus: Vivien and I are both frontline healthcare staff.
So in the weeks leading up to our wedding in February, there was a real danger that we would get upper respiratory symptoms and have to cancel our wedding. We were still seeing patients daily at the time and came into contact with suspected cases up until the wedding day.
Three days before the wedding, I was asked to stay home as a colleague’s husband was suspected to have COVID-19. Thankfully, she tested negative in the end. Vivien had a cough and sore throat two days before the wedding – but it was due to the chilli padi she ate for dinner!
Our faith was tested and stretched. However, through the ups and downs, we learnt to let go wholly and to trust God for all things.
Hillary: We found it tough to scale down our wedding as it meant having to forfeit a significant sum of payments.
And with one month to go to our wedding, we’re still not sure we have the final plan because the coronavirus situation is still evolving.
Initially, I was quite disappointed that a once-in-a-lifetime event would have to be changed so drastically. However, knowing God remains sovereign over all our plans has been very comforting. While we have to give up much financially, we know that God is our provider and He knows just what we need.
God has been gently guiding us to a point of surrender, to recognise that our upcoming wedding isn’t about satisfying our dreams and wishes but honouring Him.
What came to your mind when you first realised COVID-19 would affect your wedding?
Matthew: I was secretly happy because I knew we’d probably have to scale down – I’ve always wanted a small and private wedding!
Vivien: We joked about the idea of having an e-wedding with livestreaming like in Wuhan. But there was a strong sense of uncertainty and a dilemma between personal desires and public responsibility; between doing too little and over-reacting.
Deborah: Initially, I felt a little stressed out. But I’ve always been the optimistic sort, so I just wanted to wait and see what would happen since my wedding is one more month away!
Why did you decide to continue with your wedding instead of postponing it?
Vivien: There weren’t any absolute reasons not to continue. We prayed and had the peace to go ahead with the wedding. God gave us a beautiful assurance in the form of a rainbow four days before our wedding, on the way to our wedding rehearsal.
God has always assured Linus through rainbows during difficult times in his life. When the rainbow appeared, we had no doubt it was God’s assurance to us.
Deborah: It wasn’t difficult to make new arrangements because of the strong and practical support I’ve received from friends and family.
There has been some opposition, but as long as Jon and I are on the same page, that’s what matters. I believe that as long as safety precautions are met and people are socially responsible, it’s safe enough to continue with the wedding. Life has to go on!
Matthew: Hillary and I don’t want to postpone our big day because our wedding is about our decision to commit to one another. The point of our wedding is the vows we make to one another before God and a few trusted witnesses.
What are some safety measures you’ve implemented?
Vivien: Besides temperature screening and questionnaires, we had plastic gloves for guests to take their buffet food and flip the photo-books. We also took away the guestbook to minimise shared contact.
We decided to make the programmes shorter by removing songs, items and translations so that everyone was in an enclosed place for a shorter time.
Joshua & Wei Ni: We respected the venue’s restrictions and carried out the safety measures that they set, such as implementing an online contact tracing form for all guests, temperature checks and hygiene measures.
Deborah: We’re arranging for food servers, temperature takers and people to walk around with hand sanitisers. We’re very blessed to have so many friends who are willing to help!
Weddings are intended to celebrate a couple’s love for one another. But in times like these, what does showing love to your guests mean?
Jon & Deborah: Showing love to our guests means making the occasion as safe as we can, and not making them feel bad if they cannot join us in the celebrations. Although it’s our wedding, it’s not just about ourselves, but also everyone else who is coming to celebrate this special day with us.
Hillary: Loving our guests in a time like this is very different from loving our guests during “peace time”.
Right now, the most sensible thing is to protect our friends and family by not exposing them to a large gathering. This is why we are downscaling our wedding.
Do you feel that your wedding is less special?
Linus: Well, it’s probably more special! It’s a “COVID-19 wedding”! Having a lot of unique arrangements makes it more memorable, doesn’t it?
Joshua & Wei Ni: Not at all. We were blessed to have family and friends who were still excited to celebrate with us regardless of the situation. Our solemniser, Pastor Alvin, also reminded us to focus on what’s most important.
Along the way, our focus had shifted towards how our guests felt about the programme. We were busy managing all the different opinions and expectations, on top of our own concerns.
Pastor Alvin reminded us that our wedding is about our vows to each other before God and the witnesses present. It’s about the marriage and the start of the journey together as one in Christ.
Hillary: Actually, I think with a smaller setting, having to choose those who are closer to us made it all the more intimate.
Also, knowing that our guests would willingly attend our wedding in this season also humbles me – that they would care enough to still be there with us!
Our marriage is not determined by the success of the wedding event.
Through this planning process, I’m reminded again of why I decided to commit to Matthew.
I saw how he seeks to love our guests even when it means not having the wedding we initially hoped for, and I’m once again reassured of my decision to marry him. I think that makes for a beautiful start to our marriage journey.
7. Any advice for couples whose weddings are coming up?
Linus: Focus on what is important in a marriage. Spend time understanding each other better as a couple, such as how you each deal with difficult situations.
Support and encourage one another, and spend time in prayer committing a lifetime of marriage to God, who gives us the strength to love one another.
Start off your married life well by making wise and responsible decisions. Don’t be afraid to postpone your wedding if it’s for the best. A wedding is just a day (or two); marriage is for a lifetime, so spend time building a strong marriage.
Deborah: Stick with those who lift you up and give you good counsel. Man plans but God decides.
Don’t fret over things you can’t control, just pray and hope for the best. Things may not turn out exactly or even close to what you want, but it doesn’t mean that God isn’t taking care of and watching over you.
Joshua & Wei Ni: Our marriage is not determined by the success of the wedding event. What matters is our journey with Him.
Hillary: This season can be rough because of the disappointments and uncertainty that you will face. But take heart and be glad that we have a God who knows us full well, who loves us and cares for our needs. Even amid all the changes, He remains constant and we can be assured that He will provide and be with us through it all!
Additional reporting by Gracia Chiang
THINK + TALK:
- What does a wedding mean to you?
- Know someone’s who getting married this season? Drop them a text to encourage them and pray for them this week!
- In what area do you need to set aside your own desires/wants in order to love others?