Special Ways to Mark Your Cancelled Wedding Day

In the run up to my own wedding, my excitement became a living, breathing thing inside me. We had worked hard to plan the day we wanted, with the right suppliers and surroundings to really express us and our love; the imminent arrival of this dream day was filled with excitement, anticipation and pride.

So when the UK Government announced the cancelling of all Weddings and other public celebrations/ceremonies with immediate effect, due to the continued spread of the Coronavirus, my heart sank.

So many couples and families have been building towards their dream wedding day and suddenly have had it taken from them; both cause and control completely out of their hands.

© Chris Seddon Photography

If you are one of those couples, or are family to one of those couples, then my heart truly goes out to you. I know you have a vast amount of re-planning and uncertainty to wade through now, on top of the continued restrictions and discomfort we are all living in.

I want to encourage you, within all that, not to let the date of your cancelled wedding go by unmarked. Instead of letting it pass unnoticed or filled with frustration and regret, carve out a little space and time to honour the ‘Day That Would Have Been’.

Mark it with something special, to acknowledge its significance and keep all the hope and dreams alive until your new Big Day comes around…

1. Gather (Virtually) Everyone

Social distancing may be putting a halt to even the smallest of gatherings but that doesn’t mean we have to be alone in our sadness or joys.

Video conferencing platforms such as Zoom are becoming hugely popular now that we are all on lockdown, so why not invite your erstwhile wedding guests into your home via the internet?

Granted you may not be able to invite everyone, but there might be a select few who were looking forward to this day almost as much as you were, that you know would really appreciate being invited and who would support and uphold you during this time of loss and uncertainty.

Whether you choose to have any formal acknowledgement of the date or simply gather to share, drink and celebrate is up to you! As wedding favourite Jack Johnson says “it’s so much better when we’re together.”

a woman wearing a long white cardigan stands beside a mown field, looking towards a sun setting through trees. her long blonde hair falls down her back. she is wearing a white trilby hat with a black band
photo credit: shixart1985 Young redhead girl in the field via photopin (license)

2. Grieve What Is Gone

The loss of your expected wedding day might be stirring up a storm of feelings including denial, anger, frustration, helplessness and desperation. If we look at the five stages of grief, it is fair to say that you are likely grieving the day you expected to have.

This may sound melodramatic, and you might even have people telling you just that, but don’t treat your feelings so lightly. You have put time, energy and deep feeling into planning this day that will not happen. More importantly you have been preparing mentally and emotionally (as well as practically) for a huge transitional step in your life and to have that process interrupted is going to be jarring and uncomfortable and will inevitably trigger a type of grief.

A teaclight candle lights up a glass holder which had dots on the frosted glass and a small daisy charm attached to sting around the jar rim. Beside the jar is a pile of books.
photo credit: stacypelzl In the Still Hours via photopin (license)

So allow yourself the time and space to mourn for the loss of the day, the missed expectation and all the hundreds of possible joys and memories that will no longer be.

light a candle
write in a journal
share with someone you trust will uphold the validity of your feelings

You might then write all the things you will miss, regret or that feel lost to you at this time before (safely) burning or burying that list, as an act of acceptance and release; leaving the emotional slate clear to start your journey towards marriage anew.

3. Have an ‘at-home’ Handfasting

Handfasting is a simple yet powerful ritual that embodies the commitment of two (or more) people joining in love and shared intention. Nowadays, the binding of hands is used as a symbolic act of marriage, but originally it was a sign of betrothal, or the intention to wed in future.

Bride and Groom in Viking clothes stand together and smile at one another. Their hands are bound with Handfasting cords by Keli Tomlin. The image is in black and white.
© Matt Thompson Photography

So, when the day of your ‘almost-wedding’ comes around, you might take some time with your beloved to perform your own at-home Handfasting, with the to honour your betrothal and with the intention to make the commitment full and lasting on your new wedding day.

The process actually requires very little, just yourselves and something to tie your hands together with; something beautiful, something meaningful or something functional, you decide.

You might choose to say something, together or to one another. Some suggestions include:

sharing what you love about one another and why

making promises to support one another during the continued crisis and what lies ahead

sharing dreams or wishes for your eventual wedding day

making a vow to focus on an aspect of yourself or your partnership during this ‘extra time’ that needs your (sole or mutual) attention, love and care.

You could decorate a room or the garden, dress up in your nicest clothes and celebrate with a nice meal for afterwards. Or get your nearest and dearest together on a Zoom call and do it in front of the webcam. Or you might sit quietly together, on the bed, in your pyjamas and do it just before going to sleep.

What matters isn’t the format but the intention behind it.

a pink rose in full bloom peeps out from between the black bars of a fence
Keli Tomlin

4. Plant a Seed of Hope

There is nothing quite so grounding and humbling as connecting to the cycles of life and growth embodied by the natural world. Nature continues to turn her seasonal Wheel and the trees, plants and animals are continuing to flourish despite the confusion of the human condition.

To honour the knowing that your wedding day will come around eventually, and to tap into some of that calm and cyclical certainty, why not plant some seeds with your beloved that will bloom and grow over the coming season.

If you have limited space outdoors you might plant a few chosen seeds in a pot that can be cared for indoors or on a windowsill. Alternatively if you have a garden or an outdoor space you have permission to use and can access safely (without breaking the rules of social distancing) then consider planting blooms outside.

Before planting, take the seeds in your hand and take a deep breath.
Think or speak your hope for new possibilities and new joys on your extended wedding journey and affirm your trust that life will guide you, and your partner, back to your special day when it is safe to do so.

You might choose to plant seeds for one another, for specific aspects of your day or simply in honour of the ‘day that would have been’ and the ‘day that is to come’.

Now you have something to care for and to focus on that you then might be able to use as part of a bouquet, wedding decorations, confetti etc. Fresh, dried or pressed these blooms will be a beautiful memory of your hope and loving care.

colourful petals of red, pink and blue are scattered across a mossy, grassy ground
Keli Tomlin

However long your plans are put on hold for and whatever struggles you face when it comes to rearranging suppliers etc, I truly believe that marking the day of your cancelled wedding will not only lift your spirits and soothe the part that is feeling cheated or lost, it will also be an opportunity to build strong, fertile ground for the weeks and months ahead, which will then come to be an even stronger foundation upon which your eventual wedding day will stand.

So take care folks, stay safe and dream for the future; it’s on it’s way!

~

As part of supporting my clients and others in honouring and marking their cancelled wedding day, I am offering some new services which you can read more about here.

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