If you talk to any professional in the Wedding Industry, they all have one or two wedding disasters they could recall. Almost all of these disasters have teachable moments on how to avoid them in the future, but sometimes there is simply nothing that could be done to alleviate the mishap. The following story is personal because it happened to me. My wedding, like many others whose wedding has been recently affected by this pandemic, was truly rattled by a much larger reason back in 2001.
I was a blushing bride-to-be with an abundance of excitement for my upcoming nuptials. I had been planning for close to a year and finally I was only a short six days away from my dream wedding. My fiancé and I had scrimped and saved every last penny to be able to afford the (destination) wedding of our dreams, which was to take place in Orlando Florida at the Walt Disney World Wedding Pavilion on September 17, 2001.
My groom and I both worked for an aviation company at the time and were both at work when all of the planes on our company’s fleet had to be immediately grounded. The USA had been compromised and this horrible day has since been simply described as “9/11”. Since we still had 6 days until our wedding day, it was not immediately clear how this travesty was going to impact our plans. Our focus was on the safety of our company and the horror that was being reported and revealed. 9/11 was a dark time in American history and nothing can ever prepare you for such a shock and sadness.
The attacks happened on a Tuesday but we weren’t scheduled to get married until the following Monday. Our plan was to arrive in Orlando by the end of the week because we had to obtain our wedding license (during weekday business hours) so that we would be all ready for nuptials on Monday. As the days ticked on, however, panic began to set in. At the time, flights out of Columbus were very few and far between. We did not have any idea when or if we would be able to get to Orlando by Friday to secure our license. On top of that, our family and friends were all traveling from our home state of Colorado to our Wedding in Orlando. The same situation was going on there with uncertainty of whether or not anybody would be able to get on a flight as very few flights had resumed for days after the attack. This week of not knowing was torture, combined with immense guilt. I was completely devastated but also felt selfish for feeling horrible about my situation while the world was mourning a much bigger disaster. I had to keep reminding myself that if my biggest problem was not being able to go through with my dream wedding, then I was still doing MUCH better than so many people who had lost so much more on 9/11. This was something I had to keep in perspective. The Thursday before my wedding I still didn’t know if we would be able to get on a flight or if anyone else could attend. It was then that we made the very hard realization that without flights, we would have to cancel our wedding. Since we had to obtain our marriage license by Friday, it was not likely we would make it in time. It was heartbreaking and completely out of our hands.
Later that night, we received a call from Delta Airlines advising us that flights would indeed be resuming on Friday morning and that we could get on the first (early morning) flight of the day. We swayed back and forth all night- pulling an all nighter trying to decide to move forward with our wedding (which was going to be what we felt a burden on our guests at this time) or cancel. The last thing we wanted to do was to put any of our guests in danger or make them feel uneasy in any way. We spoke to numerous friends and family members who wanted to move forward with their plans. So many had been planning and put such expense into this trip and I felt horrible canceling on them. I also had friends who simply didn’t feel comfortable flying so I knew our guest list was going to be diminished.
After going back and forth all night, we got on the first flight out of Columbus to Orlando and drove straight to obtain our marriage license. With the delays because of security, on top of horrendous September weather, our guests slowly made it to Orlando over the next couple of days. We had a very odd and surreal weekend in a very empty Walt Disney World, but we made the most of it. Our wedding day came and our event was beautiful. It turned out to be a lot smaller than I had planned but we still enjoyed the day as best as we could despite the looming sadness going on in the world at that time.
I know many engaged couples who very likely feel the same way I did right now with restrictions being put on their weddings. I feel for them and understand the frustration of having something so big that it can’t be helped. I understand their guilt for selfishly thinking of their event when so many have been sick and died. I understand the mourning of a plan and idea that very likely consumed them for months before everything abruptly came to a halt. I most certainly understand the torture of having to make decisions to move forward or not.
To this day I don’t know if I made the right decision to move forward with the wedding. I felt robbed of the ease and happiness that I so much wanted while experiencing what I thought would be the best day of my life. Its was a good day, but it was certainly tainted by an enormous amount of stress and disappointment. The good news in all of this is that I ultimately got what I completely lost sight of during the ordeal, which was my husband.