At the top of many brides’ list of wedding stressors: how the rapidly spreading coronavirus will affect travel plans for themselves and their guests. Ana Zuniga, 25, who lives in Berlin with her fiancé, is scheduled to be married in early April in Miami, where her family resides. The couple is planning to entertain 110 guests from Germany, Sweden, New Jersey, Texas, Missouri, and Florida. They had their legal ceremony this week and Zuniga is en route to Miami to be with her family, but her fiancé will remain in Berlin until April 1 when he flies to the U.S.
“If the coronavirus outbreak becomes more serious and they don’t allow my fiancé, his family, and friends to travel on April 1st, money, flights, and time would be lost, as well as a dream,” she says. “I would be completely heartbroken.”
For those who are already at their destination weddings, they fear that if the coronavirus keeps spreading, they might not be able to come home. Stephanie Castanon and her fiancé William Gendron from Miami had their wedding in Lima, Peru this weekend. Instead of a traditional honeymoon, the couple opted for a “buddymoon” to Machu Picchu with 70 of their friends. The wedding party has invested in $1,000 of non-perishable foods in case they have to extend their stay and third party travel insurance in case someone gets sick. “Who knows how bad it could be by then,” says Gendron. “If things go sideways, I will want to have U.S. healthcare available.”
The coronavirus isn’t the first disaster the wedding industry has had to navigate. Couples and wedding planners have worked their ways through natural catastrophes like Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the Zika Virus in South and North America, as well as political conflicts in locations like Greece and Venezuela. Duailibe says it’s important to stay positive in turbulent and uncertain times. “Don’t give up. This is your dream, and you should have the most amazing wedding of your life,” she says.
Megan Avellar, 29, is planning a June wedding in Orvieto, Italy and trying to keep an open mind. The couple’s budget for the wedding is $85,000 and they’ve already paid deposits to the Italian wedding planner, venue, catering, photographer, and videographer.
“We’ve been planning this wedding for almost a year and a half, and who would have thought that a pandemic would potentially ruin it,” she says. “However, at this point it’s out of our control. We will roll with the punches if we inevitably have to cancel or postpone,” says Avellar.
Coronavirus isn’t halting all weddings in their tracks. Many couples have gone on with their ceremonies despite the virus and taken precautions to ensure everyone’s health. In an annual government-sponsored mass wedding in the Philippines that took place in late February, 220 couples underwent health and travel checks and wore face masks as they said “I do” in a crowd of other newlyweds. Couples held hands after rubbing them with sanitizer and kissed through surgical masks.
Whether couples sacrifice their dream weddings, push them to a later date, or go on with the ceremony using masks and swab tests, the most important thing about love in the time of coronavirus is the love.
Minhae Shim Roth is a writer and reporter based in Northern California. You can often find her running around with her husband and son in the San Francisco Bay Area.