Coronavirus forces couples to rethink big day

CHANGE OF PLAN: Port Elizabeth teacher Xanthe Vermaak and her fiance, Craig Wilson, have postponed their wedding as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic
CHANGE OF PLAN: Port Elizabeth teacher Xanthe Vermaak and her fiance, Craig Wilson, have postponed their wedding as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic

It is one of the most important days of your life, and months of planning goes into it, but before you know it a global pandemic puts paid to your wedding.

That’s the sad reality for Bay couples who have had to call off their nuptials amid the coronavirus scare.

Xanthe Vermaak said the postponement of her wedding, which was meant to take place on April 11, was a devastating blow but “we also can’t put our loved ones at risk”. 

Vermaak, 26, and her fiancé, Craig Wilson, 27, have been planning their wedding for a year, scrimping and saving for their special day.

“I’m a teacher and he’s in construction so we have really been sacrificing,” Vermaak said.

She said she and Wilson had made the decision on Monday to postpone the wedding.

“I cried on and off all day on Monday,” she said.

Vermaak said the couple had booked a beautiful venue in Addo and she had hoped they might still be able to go ahead with the wedding, as they only had 89 guests and so would not have been affected by the ban on gatherings of more than 100.

“But the venue owner called and said we would have to decorate with gloves on, have hand sanitiser everywhere, that the tables would have to be distanced and the barmen would have to wear gloves.

“He was also afraid some of his waitresses would not want to work,” she said.

Vermaak said she had also been told that, with the staff included, there would be more than 100 people at the wedding.

She said she briefly considered telling those flying in from other parts of the country not to come, bringing the numbers down.

“But two of my bridesmaids are from Cape Town,” she said.

Vermaak, who had her bridal shower last weekend and who had already collected her dress, said her service providers had been fantastic and would be on board for her as yet unscheduled wedding when it finally took place.

For Siobhan Moore, 23, the postponement of her dream wedding had taught her some valuable lessons, she said.

While she admitted being devastated that her big wedding — scheduled for today — would not take place, “we’ve been able to focus on what is really important — it’s not about a big extravagant wedding but about marrying each other”. 

With that in mind Moore and her fiancé, Matthew Scott, 25, will still get married today, but  at home and surrounded by close family.

Their big celebration will follow later.

Moore and Scott would have been married at Olive Glade in Lovemore Park, where they had intended to erect a Bedouin tent under the trees.

Moore said they had been involved in every aspect of the wedding planning, so she had been heartbroken about the turn of events.

Despite that, she said she had felt some relief when they decided on Thursday to postpone as many of their guests, including her grandparents, would have had to travel to Port Elizabeth.

“So we thought let’s do the responsible thing for them,” she said.  

Moore will keep her wedding gown for the bigger celebration and today will don a short, white dress “so I feel like a bride”. 

Mariana Lourens of Swan Lake Gardens in Kragga Kamma said she was fortunate that many of her large events were booked for only later in the year, but “we do have brides phoning wanting to know what to do”.

“No-one knows what is going to happen, so we will adopt a wait-and-see approach.” 

Lourens said their smaller functions would still go ahead and the venue would abide by World Health Organisation and SA department of health regulations.

“We won’t be unreasonable if something happens [to effect a postponement]," she said.

“We are all in this together, and it really is about people’s health and saving lives.

“We will give the option of postponements.”