It’s not junk mail, exactly, but at this point in their wedding-planning marathon, even Kyle Hemingway and Patrick Harris know their various rounds of save-the-dates are becoming a little much.
The men got engaged at sunset on a beach in Ogunquit, Maine, on Memorial Day weekend of 2019, and quickly settled on a May 2020 wedding. Their “save the dates” went out in July.
In April, amid a raging pandemic and after much anguish, the Dorchester couple mailed a second card, now for an August 2020 event: “Good things come to those who wait just a little longer.”
A third mailing went out over the summer, this one for a May 2021 wedding: “Patrick and Kyle promise they’re still getting married.”
The fourth cards are on the dining room table awaiting stamps. “Patrick and Kyle know this is getting silly,” they read. “They hope this is the last time.”
The wedding is now “scheduled” for Sept. 12, 2021. “But,” Hemingway, a graphic designer at MIT, said cheerfully, “no one believes it’s going to happen until we’re finally standing in the venue.”
Even before COVID-19 became the world’s worst guest, wedding planning could stretch for a year or more. But the pandemic has so lengthened and complicated things that some couples who got engaged in 2018 are now eyeing dates in 2022.
Better hope you still like your theme — and fiancée.
In Boston, marriage-license applications dropped by a stunning amount, from 5,073 in 2019, to 2,167 in 2020.
Nationally, slightly more than 40 percent of weddings that were originally slated for June to December of 2020 are being rescheduled, according to Guestboard, an event platform for group events (the rest either went virtual, micro, or were canceled).
All these postponements have turned “save the date” cards into the new on-trend wedding element — “third time’s the charm,” “love is very patient,” “let’s try this again” are among the samples on a popular wedding site — and have also triggered intense “wedding fatigue,” according to wedding planners, who are themselves suffering from wedding fatigue.
“No one wants to talk about centerpieces right now,” said one planner, who requested anonymity so as not to be publicly seen as “negative.”
It’s hard to get giddy about an event whose size, date, and location remain unknown. And if the fun part of wedding planning is tasting hors d’oeuvres and choosing the band, forget about it. Many couples are spending their time bickering with vendors over cancellation policies.
You may now sue the venue ….
In Reading, Emily McCleary, who got engaged in 2018 and spent 18 months planning a 110-person wedding that didn’t happen, has had enough.
“I never thought I’d say it, but I’m tired of being a bride,” said McCleary, a dental hygienist who’s training to be a myofunctional therapist.
McCleary and her fiancée actually already got legally married — in a tiny ceremony that did not satisfy relatives who Zoomed in. Now she’s being — let’s say — nudged to host a proper wedding this summer.
McCleary wants to focus on starting a family and her new career, but is instead fielding questions about the rehearsal dinner.
There’s also the question of her dress, which was altered to fit the size she was for the original wedding. “God forbid I lose or gain any weight.”
Considering that the whole world is in shambles and that people are losing their lives and their jobs, a delayed wedding is hardly the stuff of tragedy. Brides and grooms, many of whom have also experienced loss, know this.
And yet, many couples feel their lives have been put on hold.
“We are in this weird purgatory place right now,” said Caitlin Moakley of Sharon, a consultant for the natural products industry.
In her case, the pause is visual, and on display in her closet, where the lovely almond and ivory embroidered wedding top hangs alone, with no skirt in sight.
“That’s as far as I made it,” she said.
With the pandemic still raging, and dates that once seemed beyond safe now a question mark, some couples are trying to avoid postponements by planning way into the future.
“We’re booking into 2023,” said AJ Williams, founder of AJ Events.
“Couples who rolled over their 2020 dates to 2021 and want big weddings are now choosing to skip 2021 and moving straight to 2022,” she said. “2022 dates are already starting to fill up.”
The Tuesday wedding has yet to become a thing, but weekends, particularly at outdoor venues, are getting competitive.
“I have a bride who’s settling for a Thursday date,” said Hermela Belachew, owner of Boston’s Behind the Design.
No one can say when big weddings will be back, but the dispirited founder of a Facebook support group for pandemic-jilted brides isn’t optimistic. She’s changed the name of her group from 2020 Pandemic Brides to simply Pandemic Brides, of which she is one.
“I have no excitement about the actual day,” said founder Anna Kaplan. “But luckily my dress still makes me cry.”
If there’s a bright side to postponement, father-of-the-almost-bride, and local attorney, Richard Brooks is seeing it.
“You know what I said to my wife?” he said. “It’s good we haven’t had the wedding yet because it would be a distant memory, and now we have it to look forward to.”