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What To Do If The Pandemic Has Affected Your Wedding Plans

Here's how to not let COVID-19 ruin your upcoming wedding day.

Life & Travel

COVID-19 has taken a lot out of most of us. So much of what we used to take for granted, especially socially, has transitioned into a new normal that looks like it's here to stay for the foreseeable future. This means a lot of kids won't be going to school. A lot of us will be missing out on live music at concerts. And weddings? Yeah, that's definitely something that has to be switched up in a major way. All of the people. All of the food. No social distancing. Not to mention that if you're trying to travel to another state or country (or people are trying to travel to where you live), that's totally up in the air too, due to different places having different mandates on how long you should quarantine once you go (or they come) elsewhere.

Lawd. All of the constant shifting really is enough to drive an engaged couple crazy—at the very least, push them to their complete and total limit. If you're someone who falls into this category, first let me say that I'm sorry 2020 has played out in such a drastic and even semi-dramatic way for you. Wedding planning is stress-filled enough without trying to make it happen during a pandemic. But if you're looking for a few suggestions on how to give yourself, at least a little bit more peace of mind, this article could help you to relax, relate, release and figure out what to do now that will still make your wedding day one of the best days of your entire life.

Meet with Your Wedding Planner

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The first thing you should do is set up an appointment with your wedding planner, whether that's meeting with them in person, by phone or a video conference call. Remember that the reason you hired them in the first place was because they are experts when it comes to making sure that your wedding day goes smoothly and also connecting with venues and vendors so that you can get the best rates possible.

While COVID-19 is new to all of us, postponing or canceling a wedding is something that any reputable wedding planner should be able to handle with a good amount of ease. They can talk to you about what some of your options are, the amount of money venues and vendors are willing to refund back to your account(s), and they can share with you if, in their opinion, it's better to push the date back at the same place you already had booked (in order to possibly not lose any of the money that you've already spent) or to cancel altogether and go a totally different route.

(If you don't have a wedding planner and you were doing everything on your own, the website Here Comes the Guide has offered up a list of 40 different questions to ask a venue about your wedding during this particular pandemic. You can check those questions out here.)

Check on What Mandates Your Mayor Has Put into Place

If you still want to move forward with your original wedding plans, the next thing that you should do is check with your mayor's office to see what the mandates are as it relates to COVID-19 in your city. The reason why I say "mayor" instead of "governor" is because, if you're like me, I live in a city that has a health department that is separate from the rest of the state. This means that my mayor can put other plans in place than the governor does. Knowing what "phase" your city is in and how long it plans to be that way can play another intricate role in how you should move forward. All you need to do is go to your favorite search engine and put "mayor's office" and "COVID-19" in the search field. It should automatically pull up a page with details about how your city is currently handling the pandemic—and for how long it will be doing it that way.

How About Throwing a Virtual Engagement Party or Bridal Shower (in the Meantime)?

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Say that your wedding is planned but it's scheduled for some time next year. While it's still up in the air if the pandemic will directly affect your wedding day, it could alter your engagement or bridal shower plans. If that's what you're currently contemplating, an option to consider is throwing something that is virtual. Most cities/states are allowing small gatherings to take place, so why not have a few friends (around 10 or so) come over and then invite everyone else to join you online? You can shoot an online invitation to the people who you'd like to participate, along with a dress code and menu of what you'll be eating, should they want to pick up some of the items and join in with you. As far as the music for your party goes, you can create a streaming playlist for the event and then share it with the guests who RSVP. When it comes to toasting you and your boo, if you want to have a favorite bottle delivered to your guests (or specifically to your wedding party or family members), Drizly is an alcohol delivery service that can totally help you out. If it's a bridal shower and folks want to give you presents, you can still create a gift registry as usual (only have those items mailed to you directly). Or, you can point them in the direction of a site like Givingli, where they can purchase a gift card for you and yours from the convenience of their own smartphone.

Ask Yourself If You’d Prefer to Get Married Now and Have a Wedding Later

An engaged couple that I worked with had big time wedding plans for this past spring. It was set to be a destination wedding, but with this pandemic (and states and airlines) being all over the place, they decided to push their wedding back. In February, they tentatively rescheduled their wedding for this coming fall. But since folks out here don't wanna wear masks or stay in the house (SMDH), with talks of a second (or even third) wave coming, they decided to push their wedding date back indefinitely. Problem is, although they already live together, this has put a real strain on their relationship, mostly because one of them has semi-recently had a spiritual change of heart and isn't comfortable simply just living together anymore (especially with no "change of status" in sight).

When I presented to them the option of getting married now and having a wedding or reception later, they both said, "We want everyone to be present for our day and we want to do it on the beach." When I responded with, "What if that is a year or two from now?", you could hear the deep sighs through the phone.

Listen, if there are two things that this pandemic is teaching us, it's 1) life doesn't always go how we want it to and 2) we've got to seize the day and make the most of every moment. If getting married, eventually, is the goal, then this particular point won't matter much. But if you want to wait until, who knows when, in order to have a picture-perfect wedding day, surrounded by hundreds of people you know and love, you might want to alter those plans, just a bit.

In most states, you can still meet in small groups, so why not turn your big wedding into a smaller one? Not only will that help you to save a ton of money (because weddings, on average, run about $34,000), but it can give you the chance to prepare for something even bigger and better, once COVID-19 is finally a thing of the past.

Consider Live Streaming Your Nuptials

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If there is a silver lining to this pandemic, it's definitely forcing us to get more innovative and creative. When it comes to throwing a wedding, some couples are opting to live stream their nuptials. While it's definitely not as awesome as having everyone's physical presence on your wedding day, this option makes it possible for many people to witness your nuptials without putting you or themselves at risk in the process. The main thing to remember with this particular choice is you need to make sure that you use a reliable platform like Freedocast, so that you're able to record a live high-definition broadcast while using multiple devices. Look at it this way—people who plan destination weddings oftentimes do this very thing. It's not "weird"; it's just different (and safer…and convenient). Anyway, if you'd like some tips on how to livestream your wedding, so that everything goes off without a hitch, click here.

Or Consider Having Drive-Thru Service

Back before COVID-19 literally took over the world, a lot of people found couples who went through wedding chapel drive-thrus to be cheesy (and that's putting it mildly). But now? It's actually becoming a very popular option. I'm not just referring to two people literally driving through a venue that will perform a ceremony like some people order a value meal. I mean holding an outdoor service in the parking lot of a place, so that family members and friends can witness your nuptials while practicing safe distancing in the process. I know a few people who have used the property of their church in order to do this. If you do it when the weather is nice and you've got a reliable sound system, it can be like they are watching a love story on film—only it's not a movie; it's actually your real life. And yes, there is something that's uniquely romantic about that thought.

If You’ve Already Sent Out Save-the-Dates, Send Out Change-the-Dates

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If you and yours do mutually decide to postpone your wedding and save-the-dates (or even wedding invitations) have already gone out, there is nothing to feel embarrassed about. How could you have known that 2020 was gonna go all rogue like this? To keep your guests abreast of your change of plans, all you need to do is send out some change-the-dates cards. Etsy is just one of the many sites that feature a variety of different change-the-dates that come at an affordable price (click here to check some of them out). And what if you don't know the new date? Share that too. The people who love you will be waiting to celebrate your "I dos", whenever they happen. Believe that.

Don’t Knock Eloping

Who knows if I'll get married someday. But if I do, I'll tell you what, eloping is looking more and more like the way to go. Matter of fact, I'm so much of a fan of this approach that I wrote about it (check out "7 Solid Reasons To Strongly Consider Eloping"). Eloping saves money. Eloping makes the day be just about you and your partner. Eloping can help you to feel more financially secure about the future. I know many couples who said that they don't regret one thing about eloping because they had more money to make the day extra special and/or to create the kind of honeymoon that they wouldn't have been able to pull off any other way. So yeah, don't look at eloping as a concession. Choose instead to see it as a blessing in disguise. Because it very well could turn out to be just that.

Again, I know that most of us have specific dreams and desires for our wedding day.

Please don't allow COVID-19 to rob you of those. Whether you choose to postpone or simply modify your original plans, just remember that if there's one thing this pandemic can't do, it's affect (or infect) the love between you and your beloved and change the reasons why you chose to get married in the first place.

If you keep these points in the forefront of your mind, you can get through this. In fact, this mindset can actually prepare you for other marriage tests to come. Look at how the Universe works, y'all.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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