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A Covid wedding

For thousands of years, we humans have celebrated weddings with sacred ceremonies, solemn vows, and DJ music that’s loud enough to curl your shoelaces.

So, mankind knows how to do weddings. But how do you pull off a wedding in the midst of a pandemic?

This is a question that has presented itself to numerous couples, many of whom became engaged and set a date before the word “Covid” became the focus of conversations all across the globe.

Our niece was one of the brides-to-be who found themselves suddenly struggling with a wedding date that coincided with the initial peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The original wedding date was May 2,” said the father of the bride. “But you can’t wait until May 1 to change things. We had to figure out what we were going to do back in April. It was a difficult call to delay the wedding. A lot of tears were shed on the day we made that decision.”

The venue where the wedding was to be held was totally shut down when the pandemic struck. Its owners used the downtime to perform a deep clean of the premises and upgrade its ventilation system.

More than two months after the planned date, our niece and her father stood at the back of the venue, gazing down the long aisle. They would finally take their slow march together, a father escorting his little girl for the last time before she became a married woman.

The venue had high ceilings and you could feel the constant flow of filtered air. Many in the congregation, including my wife and me, chose to wear masks.

The bridesmaids and the groomsmen made their stately way down the aisle. Weddings normally have an equal number of bridesmaids and groomsmen, but that was not the case during this ceremony. A pair of the bridesmaids opted not to join the wedding party after being informed that they would have to self-quarantine for two weeks upon returning to their home states. That would mean two weeks without pay from their jobs in the healthcare industry.

The moment arrived for the flower girl and the ring bearer to walk down the aisle. Suddenly overcome by severe stage fright, the flower girl froze in her tracks, her eyes fixed upon the floor. The groom, who is also the flower girl’s uncle, came down the aisle, knelt by the flower girl and whispered to her. He took the flower girl by the hand and gently led her to the front of the room. The little girl never lifted her eyes from her feet.

Another hitch during the hitching process occurred when the sound system failed during the scripture reading. After a few awkward moments of silence — which must have felt like eons for the bride and the groom — a functional microphone was located and put to use.

Years from now, these minor hiccups will be all but forgotten. It’s not the ceremony that makes the marriage. It’s the love of the two people who are so crazy about each other that they are willing to stand before their friends and relatives and publicly declare their commitment.

Following the ceremony, wedding guests were seated at tables that were spaced to allow for social distancing. Bottles of hand sanitizer sat on each table. Wine and beer weren’t the only forms of alcohol at this celebration.

Off to one side, I saw the bride’s personal attendant pinning up the substantial train of the wedding dress. It appeared to be an undertaking that demanded nearly as much time and effort as the invasion of Normandy.

I later chatted with the bride.

“It took a long time for you and Nick to find one another,” I noted.

“Yes,” she replied. “And then we had to delay the wedding for a couple of months because of the Covid. But all good things come to those who wait.”

It soon was time for the bride and the groom to have their first dance as husband and wife. They swayed slowly across the dance floor as “At Last!” by Etta James poured down from the sound system.

Next came the traditional dance with the father of the bride and the bride. We watched as my brother and his little girl — now all grown up and a newly married woman — danced to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole.

I noticed that my wife seemed to be having trouble with her eyes.

“Now I know why you should wear a mask at a wedding,” she said. “It helps you hide your tears.”

I knew exactly what she was talking about.

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