OPINION: ‘Til death do us part; COVID weddings can wait
Story | A concerned 30-year-old from Cleveland
Editor’s Note: The writer of this commentary has asked to remain anonymous.
At its most cynical, a “traditional” wedding in the U.S. these days is a party for 100+ of your closest friends to celebrate you and your partner. You offer an open bar, a nice meal, dancing and a party favor, but in return you’re expecting guests to bring a gift, sometimes travel and oftentimes stay in a hotel. But in 2020, nothing is traditional and guests are also expected to put their health on the line.
I recently attended a wedding amid the global coronavirus pandemic. The day of the wedding there were 1,542 newly reported COVID cases, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The county in which the wedding was held had the highest amount of active cases in the state. Many places started shutting back down the week leading up to the wedding after cases in the U.S. began soaring anew. The day before we headed down to the wedding, Governor Mike DeWine (R) made a plea to citizens to avoid social gatherings, including “family reunions and block parties,” to try to slow the climb. My partner was in the wedding party, so we couldn’t easily excuse ourselves from the festivities.
I was anxious leading up to the weekend and wondered if I was being selfish for not wanting to attend, but every way I looked at it I just never came to that conclusion. Having a large gathering right now is risky. Between silent carriers and varying incubation periods, there is no way to ensure that everyone at your event is COVID-free short of asking them to quarantine for two weeks in the same place before the big day. For a wedding, you’re asking those you’ve selected as your nearest and dearest to potentially expose themselves to a virus that science still doesn’t have a handle on.
Beyond that, you’re asking those you hold closest to come to watch your nuptials, but to not touch, hug, or get too close – taking the social parts out of a pretty personal weekend. 190 people attended my wedding in 2019. The memories I cherish most would not have occurred with this summer’s social distance mandates.
The anxiety I felt at the COVID wedding certainly affected my experience, but I’m happy to have supported friends during a stressful summer. From the start, a wedding is a selfish affair. I feel comfortable admitting that as a 2019 bride. But would I have hosted a COVID wedding? No. But is a COVID wedding more selfish than a regular wedding? Yes.
I’m very lucky that after two weeks of extreme distancing after the wedding, I did not get sick– and I haven’t heard of anyone else getting sick that attended. With more than 5 million confirmed cases and nearly 200,000 deaths in the U.S. stemming from the virus, that is the biggest wedding gift a 2020 couple could ask for.