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Love that transcends: Planning a wedding amid a less-than-ideal circumstance

By Jenille Munoz

A friend posed this question to me last night:

What has it been like to plan a wedding in the middle of a pandemic?

For the most part, it's been the same as what it would've been like under normal circumstances (based on what I observed from my siblings' preparations)— ticking off one supplier after another, one task after another, one requirement after another from a standard checklist. On some days, though, it could be frustrating.

It doesn't take a whole lot of thought to surmise how difficult it can be to navigate an event set against so much uncertainty. I know, I know— it's just a wedding. It's just a day. There've been innumerable worse things to have happened the past year, but given that it's a day that'll only happen once in my life, please allow me to feel my feelings.

Definitely the most discouraging consequence that my fiancé Alec and I have needed to accept is not being able to have all our loved ones with us on our special day— not just due to IATF guidelines, but due to questions such as: Would it be selfish of us to ask our closest relatives from abroad to travel all the way over here? And what about our grandparents, would we be risking their lives to have them still be in attendance?

But back in January, before any of us could even foresee the absolute shitstorm ahead of us, I was frustrated over a completely different reason— not having my mom be here to see me get married. So much so that I even asked Alex half-jokingly if he'd mind if we just eloped, just so I wouldn't need to plan a wedding without her.

See, I had already prepared myself for the reality that she won't be at my wedding. On some level, I might have even learned to be fine with it, even though in my brattiest moments, it still feels really unfair. What I hadn't anticipated, however, is the heaviness of her absence in all the memories I could've had with her leading up to the big day— getting her opinions on pegs and suppliers, going to fittings and food tastings together, asking her for practical tips for the life after 'cause God knows I know next to nothing about living independently (lol), and having the #1 enabler of all enablers on my side.

So many of the first decisions Alec and I ever made centered on the intention to have my mom's presence be felt as starkly as possible. We chose the same church where my sisters got married, and as Alec and I were lined up at the parish office, I found myself tearing up at the thought that this is as much of her residual spirit as I'm gonna get. I decided to have the pews decorated with carnations, her favorite flowers, so I could still have the sense that she'd be walking me down the aisle. I'd also very nearly gone with a different designer for my gown just because he was the last person to have dressed my mom for my brother's wedding (the same gown she was buried in a few months later).

But ultimately, I realized that as much as these things bring me comfort and somewhat patch up a hole that will forever be a part of me, they're completely unnecessary. I never needed to make it a point to have her be present on our wedding; she already will be solely on account of how well she loved me, and I believe that somewhere out there, she continues to— deeply and transcendently.

In the same vein, many of the people most important to us won't be there in person, which is truly heartbreaking for me and Alec, because as much as it'll be a celebration of our union, it'll also be a celebration of these people and the significant roles they've played in our lives as individuals and our story as a couple. But we've come to understand that the love we give and the love we've been given is love that transcends— be it from heaven to earth or from the altar to a laptop screen.

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