On the 15th of march after the president’s address to the nation, I turned to my husband and asked, “Now what next?” There was fear in my heart and my eyes were close to tears. We’d spent a whole lot of sleepless nights planning our wedding and just a week to the wedding, the president announced a ban on all public gatherings including church activities. The signs on my soon to be husband’s face were that of worries. I asked again, “Dear, what do we do?”
He stood there thinking for a while and he said, let’s call the pastor tomorrow and see what we can do going forward. I asked him, “What do you think are our options?” He said, “We have only one option; to get married next week but we have to find a way first.”
So the next morning, he called the pastor. The phone was on a loudspeaker and I was sitting close to him on the sofa. The pastor asked, “Can you postpone?” Eddie looked at my face and I shook my head. The pastor continued, “The ban is only four weeks. It gives you more time to plan on the details and also think about your next steps after the wedding.” My husband looked at me again. I shook my head and waved my hands simultaneously to tell him we are not postponing. He asked the pastor, “So let’s say we don’t want to postpone, what are our options?”
My husband looked at my face again and I gave him a thumb up.
“Yeah if you don’t want to postpone you can have it but it only means you’ll have to do it in an empty chapel.” The pastor said. My husband looked at me and I was silent. He was waiting for my feedback but I was thinking about how awful it would be to say I do to the pews and fans and drums in the church. My heart started beating fast but my husband kept looking at me for feedback. Finally, I nodded. He said to the pastor, “We don’t really mind as far as the two families would be there to witness the occasion.”
He said, “Hmmm that’s not a bad idea but I need to speak to some authorities and hear their interpretation of what the president said. He said funerals are allowed to go on with only twenty-five persons present but he didn’t say anything about a wedding. So let me consult and get back to you.”
So that morning, we drafted the most difficult message of our lives to tell people not to come to our wedding because of COVID-19. We had to send the message to friends on Whatsapp and had to call those we had to call. Most of them were sympathetic. Most of them asked, “So what next?” Others were like, “Dawg corona and let’s have a wedding.” And there were few who asked, “What are you going to do about all the expenses you’ve done so far?”
So later that day, We called the food vendor to halt preparation because we were not going to need food. She said, “But I’ve purchased all the items already ooo. It wouldn’t be possible for us to do a refund.” My husband asked her, “Not even when we split the cost?” She answered, “Everything had been bought.” I snatched the phone from my husband and told her, “Go ahead. Prepare the food. We’ll come for it.”
We called the decoration lady. We told her we wouldn’t need it because of the situation at hand. She was very sympathetic. She said, “That’s too bad. I’ll do a refund in the coming days but if your hotel would allow it, I can decorate the room for the honeymoon for you.”
We called everyone we had an agreement with. Most of them were kind enough to waive, others split the cost with us and some also didn’t bother. The next day, the pastor called, “I spoke to someone in authority and he said twenty-five people are allowed so if you still want to go ahead with it, then twenty-five persons, nothing more.” We told him, “Yeah we would go ahead.”
On Thursday, the food woman called us, “I’ve thought through the whole thing. I’ll refund 50% of the money so you wouldn’t have to waste money preparing food no one will eat.” Agreed.
Early Friday morning, we had a very small traditional wedding. The total number of people in attendance were sixteen including the photographer. We had fun doing it and nothing was lost. On Saturday morning, I held my father’s arm and walked through the aisle of an empty church to my husband. In my imagination, the church was full of people cheering me on and screaming “dondooo!” Nobody could hear it but I could. It was my wedding.
The whole ceremony lasted for only 45 minutes and ended on “I declare you husband and wife.” I could hear the screams that followed. My best friend Nancy, her voice was the loudest but she wasn’t there. We took our pictures and drove away from the church.
In the evening, we went to our hotel room and we were blown away by the decorations in there. Gold and white curtains here and there. An oval-shaped flower bouquet was placed on the headboard of our bed with flickering lights showing through. I ran and jumped into the bed. My husband followed. On the little table next to the bed, we saw this huge paper card on it with the inscription, “Love will find a way. Always.”
Our story told in only five words by our decorator.