My Special Coronavirus Wedding
Coronavirus didn’t ruin my wedding. It gave me and my husband a historic, once-in-a-lifetime event for which we are truly grateful.
When Guy and I got engaged, coronavirus was the furthest thing from my mind. An epidemic in China – unfortunate, of course, but not something that could affect me personally.
Two and a half months later, I realized how wrong I was when my mother got a phone call from my grandmother saying her flight to Israel for the wedding was cancelled. One call followed another, and in less than an hour I understood that no one outside my immediate family would be able to make it to my wedding.
I didn’t know which phone calls were harder – the ones of family members crying and me comforting them, or the ones of them comforting me. The most strengthening phone call was with my grandmother in Florida who is a Holocaust survivor: “Everything’s for the best, it’s no use crying,” she told me cheerily. “You get someone to FaceTime me and I will get dressed and be at your wedding!”
A few days later, the Israeli government passed a new law limiting the number of invitees to any event down to 100, including personnel. That left us with around 40-45 people on each side.
In no time, we had a list of only the closest people to us and started mass WhatsApp and phone calls informing people that, unfortunately, they would not be able to be attend our wedding.
Somehow, we managed to get the small event under control. Everything seemed smooth sailing the week before the wedding, and we were finally starting to breathe normally when we discovered that new laws would be passed after Shabbat – two days before my wedding.
At 9 PM the whole family anxiously gathered round the TV to listen to Bibi speak. He spoke a lot about hygiene, hand washing, and then he dropped the bomb: no more than ten can attend weddings.
I was in shock. We all were. Two days before the wedding, everything’s derailed.
But my parents immediately jumped to action. “Don’t worry!” my mother comforted me with a wide smile. “You know where you’re going to get married?”
“Right here in this house!” my father said.
I stared at them both. “But…I wanted to get married in Jerusalem” was the only thing I managed to let out.
“There’s nothing to do about that,” my father told me gently. “It can’t be in Jerusalem, but it will be here and it will be stunning.”
“We’ll help!” my younger brothers chimed in. “We’ll make you two the most awesomest wedding ever!”
Sunday morning everyone was on their feet – building a DIY chuppah in our backyard using a Sukkah skeleton and curtains, cooking, setting up tables, and decorating the house. We would be having a grand total of 20 guests – no more than 10 in each ambiance, in accordance with the law. My family worked wonders with candles and flowers and before I knew it, the house looked more beautiful than any wedding hall I’d seen.
Monday morning, we started getting ready as if it was any regular wedding. Hair, make-up, everything was running. As I got ready, I could hear my father in the backyard, following orders from his friend’s wife who has a flower shop. Standing on tip-toes, he painstakingly threaded flowers and plants into the chuppah frame as she directed him: “A bit higher…lower…longer…there! Don’t move, now tie it, tie it! Perfect!”
My mother was finishing to set everything up with help from my brothers – the makeshift catering team – and my friend Shani, who was a real bridesmaid in a surreal wedding.
At around four in the afternoon, there was a knock at the door. I was finishing with my make-up, taking turns with my mother who was continuously checking on the food in the oven. One of the kids will get it, I thought absently.
I was surprised to hear a voice that sounds like one of my friends. A handful of my friends burst into the house with balloons, calling out “Mazal Tov!”
I jumped out of my seat with a scream and ran to hug them. They decided to come before the wedding to be with me. Some of them were dressed in party clothes, some not, and to me they looked like the most beautiful group of people in the world.
“Don’t cry, don’t cry, you’ll ruin your make-up!” they laughed, but it was too much to ask. I couldn’t believe they were all there, on this crazy wedding day.
The photographer came soon after, snapped a few pictures of my friends and me, and then got the whole family into wedding-picture mode – in our backyard, which had been transformed into a beautiful wedding venue. As we took the pictures, I noticed the make-up artist taking food out of the oven.
“Mom,” I whispered to her, “please pay the make-up girl so she can go home.”
My mom smiled. “I paid her three hours ago,” she said, “and she refuses to leave. She said this is the most amazing wedding she’s been a part of and is so touched by the atmosphere and the friends and neighbors helping out, she wants to help out and be a part of it!”
So my make-up artist became my caterer!
Soon enough, everyone arrived, and as we’d planned, the siblings watched the chuppah from inside, in accordance with the law.
It was the most beautiful chuppah in the world – small, intimate, only the closest family, the people who loved us the most. As the Rabbi spoke, I looked around, at the chuppah my father and our friends built, at the garden my brothers decorated, at the tables my mother set, at the food she made, and my eyes filled with tears.
There had been so many tears that day; of joy when my friends came, of sadness when I spoke to my family from abroad on FaceTime. But the tears I shed under the chuppah were the most powerful of all. They were tears of gratitude, of love, of awe.
My wedding was nothing like anyone imagined. But it was special, beautiful and unique. Coronavirus didn’t ruin my wedding – it gave me and my husband a historic, once-in-a-lifetime event that we are truly grateful for.