Coronavirus still rages. Businesses shuttered. Restaurants closed. Flights canceled. And weddings postponed.
In such times, have we any right to bemoan the cancellation of weddings? After all, what does a wedding matter against the backdrop of a global pandemic?
Except, in some essential way, it does. At a time when we’re all so isolated, it’s more important than ever to honor the ways we come together. And what is more important, in the face of death, devastation, and fear, than the celebration of love and commitment?
In the past few months, friends and acquaintances have had to cancel, postpone, or completely rethink plans for their big Indian weddings. Relatives can no longer fly in from distant places. Banquets and destination weddings are completely out of the question.
So how does a couple in love cope? Of course, one option is to postpone until large gatherings are allowed again. We don’t know when that date will come, though, and it could be a year or more away. You could put down a large deposit and hope for the best, but that’s a thorny path.
How about another strategy? Have a flexible, tiny, socially distanced wedding that minimizes contact with those beyond your immediate family.
At this moment, your options for a socially distanced tiny wedding may be limited. Your county clerk office may not be issuing marriage licenses. Your family may live far away. But this type of small gathering will be allowed far sooner than any large-scale event, requiring far less planning and allowing far more flexibility.
And here’s the thing – I’ve done it both ways. I’ve had a 300-person destination wedding in India with three extravagant events, and people flying in from around the world.
I’ve also had a super tiny wedding that would abide by many of the rules of social distancing. There were six guests in total: all immediate family members, including one newly-ordained sister. Everyone wore something they already owned, did their own makeup, and styled their own hair. I wore my mom’s old wedding sari. Our three-minute ceremony took place outdoors and was captured by an iPhone on a tripod. We exchanged garlands by the water and wrote our own vows. A photographer took a few portraits from a distance.
The first wedding cost tens of thousands of dollars, culminating in months of stressful planning and aggravated family tension. Two years later, the marriage was over.
The second wedding cost under $500 (the cost of a license and 30 minutes of a photographer’s time) and was planned in under a week. It was the most romantic day of my life. Two years later, that marriage is a daily source of comfort and joy.
A socially distanced tiny wedding means no hair stylist, no makeup artist, no florist, no wedding planner, no caterer, no dress fittings, no dance floors, and no banquets. It means minimizing the number of people you come in contact with, outside the few people most dear to you. But this style of wedding offers an unparalleled opportunity to fully be yourself on your wedding day. You will be far less concerned about pleasing all the distant aunties on your guest list. You will have full control over the way you look, and you’ll get married looking like yourself.
At the time of my tiny wedding, my fiancé and I worried that friends and relatives would feel excluded and hurt. We came to realize that everyone who loved us, understood. I can assure you that no friends were lost as a result of our tiny wedding.
We had friends come to us after our wedding and say, “I wish I could do what you did, but my Indian mom just wouldn’t understand.” Even in the best of times, I assure you – moms inevitably come around to these types of decisions. And quite frankly, if you really need a reason, what better excuse than a global catastrophe?
So, if you’re excited to be married but feeling doubts about big wedding plans, consider the socially distanced tiny wedding when the time is right. You will spend less money, less time, and less emotional energy. And honestly, what better way is there to spite a pandemic, than to celebrate love?
Bhavya Mohan is a marketing professor and Bay Area native.