We Completely Replanned Our Wedding in 13 Days, and It Was the Best Decision Ever
After wrapping up a client call on a Monday afternoon, I walked upstairs to grab a snack and a smooch from my fiancé, Ras. There was a mixture of tension and anxiety in the air. We were a week away from "the big day"—and no, not our wedding. It was our deadline to provide a final decision to all of our wedding vendors in Denmark if we were moving forward with our plans.
We worked out a clause with our venue, photographer and other vendors that if Denmark wasn't open to vaccinated Americans by June 1, we were off the hook financially. (Ras is from Denmark, hence our desire to have a destination wedding there.)
While this gave us a good financial cushion, there was no protection from the emotional windfall. As the date approached, we still didn't have any updates from the Danish government, so we began talking about our Plan B.
We knew one thing for sure: We wanted to get married on July 17, 2021. Although the date didn't mean much at first, it became everything to us after my father passed away in January. It was the date we told him we would become husband and wife, and it was handpicked by my mother—an astrologer and my go-to expert on the stars and their infinite wisdom.
As things began to look more promising with the pandemic, we grew hopeful that we could get married on that date.
But then everything changed and that aforementioned Monday afternoon arrived when we were forced to confront our Plan B. We discussed our alternative being a romantic elopement a few hours away from Copenhagen at the historical, quaint bed and breakfast where Ras proposed. We'd have a big party at a later date, but we'd be married. This plan was quickly foiled. The bed and breakfast was booked through mid-October. I felt myself crumbling. I knew the flood of tears was coming.
In truth, there have been many more significant things to cry about over the past one-and-a-half years: My father's exit from this world, a pandemic that's claimed millions of lives, and a shared sense of loneliness, uncertainty and despair that feels heavier each day.
Our wedding was a sparkly beacon of optimism in an otherwise painful year—something I'd been looking forward to for months. (Or, if I'm honest, for a lifetime.) I had finally found my forever partner, my best friend. I wanted to share my life with him—so why did the logistics have to be so complicated?
"What are we going to do?" I asked Ras through tears. My family couldn't come to Denmark, and his family couldn't come to the US.
"Well, we could get married twice," he suggested.
It was an idea we had tossed around in the early stages of planning when the borders seemed indefinitely closed. It wasn't ideal since we both wanted an event that would bring our families, cultures and histories together. But it could work.
"We are going to North Carolina next week for our engagement party," he continued. "Many of our friends are already flying in for it."
"But what about your family?" I asked.
"Well, we could still celebrate in Denmark," he said. "On July 17."
That was on Monday, May 24. Our engagement party was on June 6. After considering our options, we decided to get married—for the first time—on June 5.
We went out for oysters and a bottle of champagne, and we started figuring out what could be a reality. We called our wedding party and invited them to a last-minute microwedding in Asheville, North Carolina. Most were already coming; an additional five people booked last-minute flights.
I called the bridal shop where my dress was being altered to see if they could push it up a week. They could, and they did. Ras found an incredible house on top of a mountain where our small guest list of 18 could sleep comfortably. We booked it.
We asked my uncle if he would be our officiant. He was honored, and all three of us cried over Zoom.
I assigned my bridesmaids jobs: find hair and makeup, find white underwear for the wedding day, find cake toppers and find a videographer. And because they are the incredible women I've intertwined my life with, they did it all.
I posted cryptically on Facebook looking for a florist and other vendors. I reached out to a high school friend who was the founder of a successful photography business to see if she could recommend anyone of her caliber who might be available with 13 days' notice. She knew someone: herself. It was her only Saturday free all summer.
So within 48 hours, we had a wedding complete with a videographer, photographer, florist, wedding coordinator, private chef to cater the event, a crate of Krug champagne sent all the way from France, a bazillion packages from Amazon for decor, menus printed from Staples, and, of course, a "dog of honor" bandana for our dog, Charli.
Sure, it was stressful, but it was also the first time we could truly get excited about getting married. Of all the anxieties and uncertainties surrounding wedding planning in a pandemic when half of your guest list lives in the US and the other half in Europe, not being able to feel joy was the hardest part.
There were too many question marks surrounding the wedding: Could it happen? Would it happen? What would it look like? All of these kept us from feeling the sweet splendor of being engaged. We couldn't order invites. We couldn't assure our guests their flights would be fully refundable. There was so much "couldn't" that left me feeling far from a bride. And Ras, far from a groom.
That is until we finally took back some control by deciding we would not only have one special day—but two. Finally, we were able to design floral arrangements we knew we would see. Pick menu items we would serve to our loved ones. Write vows we would actually read to one another. Order the champagne we truly wanted, knowing we would clink glasses with our friends and family.
However, the universe wasn't finished with its tricks yet. The tourism agency of Denmark emailed me letting us know that starting on June 5 (our new wedding date), Denmark would allow in all vaccinated travelers, including Americans. We laughed because it was the only thing we could do. Our original wedding could have happened after all.
The timing of their announcement was just a nod from something larger than both of us letting us know we made the right choice.
And we did.
June 5 was a beautiful, sunshine-filled day. It started with a private yoga class at our venue for the weekend and it continued with mimosas and breakfast. Hair and makeup were seamless, and our day-of coordinator took all of the stress off setting up the space. The flowers were prettier than I could have ever imagined. The air was filled with love, hugs were given freely, and it was much calmer than a big bash would have been.
Ras read his vows and as soon as I started reading mine, it began to downpour. Luckily, our photographer thought to bring umbrellas, and two of my bridesmaids rushed to cover us. It was yet another "thing that went wrong," but it felt meant to be in reality.
If we've learned anything in the past year of wedding planning, it's that we can get through anything together as a team. So a little rain? It's no big deal in comparison. The evening was full of speeches, champagne and dancing. It honestly couldn't have been more memorable.
Several weeks later, on July 17, Ras and I said our "I do"s for the second time. Our second wedding wasn't technically a wedding since legally, we can't get married in both countries. But we read our vows to one another again in a private dining space at a restaurant in the heart of the meatpacking district of Copenhagen. And because the border did in fact open, my mom and my uncle were able to attend.
I never anticipated that I would plan my dream wedding in a matter of days. But in hindsight, the intimacy of our big day is something I never knew I needed. I had time with every person at each wedding celebration. I was at ease. I wasn't anxious or nervous. There weren't details to think about or people to worry about impressing. There was just me and Ras, and everyone we loved the very most right by our sides.