Or downsize. Or cancel. Or whatever.
This is what I would say: This sucks.
A hugely unpredictable, uncontrollable event came and crapped all over your year and my year and everybody's year. And I'm not here to tell you to "stay positive" or "look at the bright side" in this.
Chances are, you've got enough people in your life telling you that already. Maybe you yourself.
If I could tell you one thing that I truly believe to be more important than any other piece of your mental/emotional journey during this time, it would be this:
ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE UPSET
Let yourself cry. Go scream into a pillow until your neck hurts and your ears are ringing. Watch a sad movie with a glass of wine until the tears are hard to stop. Go for a walk in the woods to a place only you know and throw little rocks as hard as you can.
Yes, I know people are dying and much worse things are happening. Yes, I know it's "just a wedding." I know that coronavirus can't stop your love, or even your actual marriage. I know you two can still end the day married, no matter what happens.
But I know this isn't how you planned it.
IT WASN'T SUPPOSED TO BE THIS WAY
A wedding is a major life event: one you spent hours, months, maybe years planning. Thousands of dollars that (depending on your vendors) may be gone for good. A vision you've held since you were a little girl (or boy) that you would walk down that aisle, surrounded by EVERYONE YOU KNOW as they watch you say your vows. Now, all that is replaced with a small room, perhaps a backyard, and 15 people with a cell phone livestreaming it to everyone who couldn't come. No, this is not how you planned it.
I promise I'm not trying to stir up misery and unhappiness in everyone for no reason. So why am I doing this?
I really do think we need to give ourselves permission: to cry, to be sad, to be angry. To wonder why it's happening to us.
Because if there's one thing I know about emotions, it's this: we can't 'will' them away. There's an analogy that emotions are like a beach ball: we can try to shove them under the surface, but they will pop up in unexpected places.
And you know what I think could happen? If you are forcing yourself not to think about it, not to experience the sadness and disappointment that are crowding in right now--where do you think it might pop up? Perhaps on a day that's both exciting and stressful, one when you might not have gotten great sleep and reality suddenly comes crashing in--perhaps your wedding day?
I'm not saying if you let out these emotions now, you will have a perfect wedding day. But I will almost guarantee that all that pent up emotion is going to come bubbling and spewing all over everything like some weird sorta science experiment if you don't let it out in little bursts now.
I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE
It's nothing like what you guys are dealing with now. But I, too, know what it's like to have a wedding day that's nothing like what you expected. One that just...isn't right.
My mom wasn't there. She died 6 months before we got engaged. How does a girl plan a wedding without a mother? Without her help and excitement and all the joy that I got to witness as my sister got married a few years before? Without her face in the pews of that white chapel where we said our vows? There was a lot of good on my wedding day, but there was still something wrong. There was someone missing. I know what it's like to realize this day isn't going to be like you planned and there's not much you can do about it.
No, it's not the same, but I want you to know I'm right there with you.
Whether you get to do it all how you planned it, just 6 months later. I'm here with you.
Whether you are cutting 90% of guests and losing all your deposits. I'm here with you.
And for the record, I know I'm just a wedding photographer (I might not even be your wedding photographer), but if you need an ear who will listen, someone to scream and cry to over a telephone and who won't judge you and tell you that "other people have it worse," I'm here for that, too.
I'm ending this with a quote from Barbara Brown Taylor, because I think it's so powerful. It hits me right in the stomach because I need to hear it. I run from sadness. I avoid and procrastinate.
But it's a wonderful promise:
if you let yourself live this sadness now, you will not sink.