When we had to postpone our wedding we needed to start thinking about when can we realistically have a wedding? We had made several back up plans but how realistic are they and what should we do if we none of them work either?
A lot of couples planning their wedding are asking themselves these same questions, so I thought I'd put together some of my thoughts on when it's safe to have a wedding and what it depends on. These are all just my own thoughts, some assumptions may well be incorrect. By a "wedding" I mean one with several tens of people at least.
Some people think this summer is a terrible idea but I can think of a few reasons why it might not be. After everyone has been mainly home for the last two months the epidemic in Finland is dying down. So, there shouldn't be that many infected people right now. However, as time passes with less restrictions, the more people will get infected so the situation may actually be much worse in the fall, for example.
It's also possible that with time the virus will mutate to a much more dangerous one. MTV news reported that there is already a more infectious mutation going around. If the virus would also get more deadly, say by summer 2021, this summer would had actually been a lot safer option.
There are several reasons, why having a wedding this summer is not a good idea, though. The more time we have to learn about this virus, the better we can treat the disease it gives. We also learn better how to protect ourselves against it and how are at biggest risk. We also have more time to find good medicines against it and are more likely to get a vaccination.
So if we could be sure that a vaccination will be ready soon and it will be effective against whatever version is going around at that time, a wedding this summer would be an unnecessary risk. If, however, the virus gets more deadly - which we don't know if it will, if it'll infect more people in Finland - which it most definitely will and if we won't get a vaccination anytime soon, then there's a chance a wedding this summer actually could be safer than at some later time.
As stated before, the more time we have, the more we'll know about the virus. After the restrictions are loosened this summer we'll also know better what effect that has and how the weddings in the summer affected the spreading of the virus. It's also likely that unless we get a very quick rise in the number of people in hospitals, the government won't make new strict restrictions again, except for short periods of time. So most likely at least a 50 person weddings should be allowed.
There are some that claim that a vaccination should become available in the fall 2020 already. That would be amazing, of course, but seems very unlikely, some reasons listed on the MTV news (in finnish). There are other sources here's one person's view on it that predict a vaccination for winter 2021. Nobody knows when one will become available but I'm guessing we wont have one next winter yet. The other option would be to have herd immunity but I have no idea if we could have that by winter.
This is a difficult one as many have moved their wedding by a year thinking it's better not to take any risk. Based on what we know right now, (some reasons here, in finnish) it's very likely that we won't have a vaccination by next summer. As far as I know, there's actually no certainty that we'll ever have one. Virus, however, may have become even more deadly and infectious by then - it's also possible that it hasn't. On the other hand, it's possible that we have a vaccination by then and it's completely safe again throw a big wedding. What is certain is that we'll know more about the virus, the disease it gives and how to best treat it. But it is still a possibility, albeit a small one, that wedding in the summer 2020 would actually be safer than in 2021.
Sometime after summer 2021
So why have a wedding at all if there's the tiniest chance of putting people in danger? What if from now on weddings would be just small 10 person gatherings until we have a vaccination, if we ever will? From the safety point of view this is a great option. However, this is exactly what we just did in Finland for two months. Obviously it would make no sense to not have any weddings but still have people going to restaurants, museums, concerts, sports etc. I just wanted to point this out in case someone there is thinking that there's no reason in taking any risks for a wedding. But for some people it's a wedding, for some it's the kids hobbies, for some it's theater and for some its something else. We all need to get back to our normal lives at least to some extent and the society needs that too. I don't think I even need to write how hard it would be just emotionally if we were to sit at home for a year or even a few more months. It's not impossible, but the effects on quality of life, health and economy would be dramatic. And from the economy point of view, if you've ever heard people say that wedding are expensive, they are. In other words, they are also an important part of a country's economy and if people start postponing or canceling weddings for months, there are a lot of businesses that will go bankrupt.
There's one particular problem with weddings, though. It appears that the virus had spread more efficiently in events like weddings and large birthday parties than in some other activities. However, with current knowledge it's hard to say how large a risk these types of events are, and if there's a way to mitigate that risk. Perhaps a large wedding outside in a tent is relatively safe but a wedding inside with a buffet isn't?
Finally, a few other things to consider than just safety. How bad would you feel if you have your wedding but some guests are too afraid of the virus to attend or will have to cancel in the last minute because they've gotten sick? What if your own parent gets sick right before? Even if they wouldn't even get symptoms, they wouldn't be able to attend. What if you or your future spouse get sick right before? Or what if the guests that attend are too afraid of the virus to hug you, dance on the dance floor, talk to people or just won't be able to enjoy themselves due to the current situation? Even if this summer was safer than the next one - not saying it is, only if - I think people will be more used to the situation as time passes and would be able to enjoy a wedding more next year than this summer.
The final issue is family planning. Women are most fertile at 20-30 years and moderately at 30-35 years. There are still a lot of couples that want to get married before having kids. For me the fertility also goes down with age, though not quite as dramatically. So for couples in their 30s, every year that the wedding gets postponed adds to the risk of having problems with reproduction. For some couples the solution is to have a small ceremony now and a proper wedding later and this is a great option for those who are happy with that kind of a solution.
Not everyone is ok with that, however. When will you have your bachelor(ette) party or honeymoon then? A year after the wedding? With a baby? A wedding with a small baby or when expecting? A lot of couples already have kids by the time they get married and a lot of people don't find it important to do these things in the traditional order and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But for some people it does matter, and that should also be respected. Your wedding is one of the most important events in your life and you should be able to have it the way you want it in the traditional bacherlor(ette), wedding, honeymoon, babies order, if that's your wish.
So we are left with three options:
- Have your wedding when there are no restrictions banning it and accept the risks
- Wait and see how things develop, not knowing for sure if it would be safer to have the wedding now or later
- Have a small ceremony and cancel or postpone the wedding to the distant future
We really don't want to split our wedding to a small ceremony and a big wedding later. On the other hand, we would like to get married as soon as possible and aren't willing to postpone by more than a year. Right now, we're taking this month by month, trying to see how the situation develops and make plans accordingly.
I'm not going to say what the best option is for anyone as I obviously don't know. I don't want to judge anyone or tell anyone what to do, just go through different scenarios and share my thoughts and I hope this helped.