Love in the Time of COVID-19

How a Pandemic Stole the Wedding We Prepared for a Year — and Why We’re Still Winners

It’s probably one of the stories I’m going to tell my grandchildren: a pandemic postponed lolo and lola’s wedding.

With only seven days before our big day, Metro Manila was declared on semi-lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Which came as the bittersweet conclusion of nights of lost sleep. We thought, at least now our suppliers won’t charge us for the postponement.

The emotional toll of the postponement also turned out to be more manageable than we had feared. A few tears were shed, but then came the thought that a later date is going to help us execute our wedding plans better, probably gain the guests who couldn’t attend on the original date and, above all, truly keep our guests and family safe. (And with all the wine we already bought for the wedding toast, it now seems we’ve “hoarded” enough “alcohol” to fight this pandemic!)

Seriously, though, this crisis has become the dramatic climax of the series of lessons learned over the course of our engagement. Elsewhere I’ve said going through our engagement period helped us to rediscover the reason of getting married in the first place: to be gifts to one another and to give glory to God through whatever challenge life throws at us. Well, COVID-19 is quite the challenge. And when we overcome it, boy what an honor it will be — like a scar earned in battle.

In the meantime, I will just savor the fact that my loved ones are all safe and healthy. I suppose this pandemic has truly brought us to our knees to thank God for our blessings, feel that that we are all one army fighting one enemy, and cling on to the hope that soon all will be well again. I guess, in a way, that’s how you cancel a pandemic.

The Thrills and Necessary Throes of an Engagement

On this day last year, the love of my life said yes to marrying me.

With only a few weeks left before our wedding day, here are some of the things I learned in our yearlong engagement.

  1. Wedding-planning is the opportunity to have a big, shared project. From the beginning, Kath and I thought of our wedding as a sort of baby we have to plan, take care of, and of course cherish. The task of planning, organizing, documenting, and meeting suppliers tested our mettle, but it also gave us joy to see the event start to become tangible (e.g. souvenirs and invitations). I suppose wedding-prepping is the trial run of our life together as dreamers and doers of big, beautiful things.
  2. Getting engaged is knowing yourself more, and deeply. In the past twelve months, I discovered many things about myself, things which I could not have imagined without the context of ‘forever in marriage’. Sometimes the exercise of self-knowing flew to the theological: I realized that the wedding ceremony has an eschatological dimension. No wonder weddings bring us happy tears : they are the earthly equivalent of meeting God in heaven; every person’s deepest, sometimes-unrecognized desire.
  3. The period of engagement is the most intense time to know your beloved — like, *really* know her! Since we got engaged, Kath and I became keener in spotting our quirks, virtues, and errors. Thus this was also the time for us to exercise forgiveness and correction with greater finesse — an act like counting the strands of a feather — an art and duty that’ll do us well for the rest of our lives together.
  4. Talking to God about your beloved — and talking to Him *with* her — makes the relationship stronger. Adopting a particular “Prayer for Marriage” was our best decision since getting engaged. It’s a prayer we say daily at the same time wherever each of us was. It’s a prayer that reminds us about our decision to get married in the first place: to be gifts to each other and to glorify God. With that prayer and our usual acts of piety, we gain a peace and direction that simplifies our life.

But the greatest lesson for me, of course, is how lucky a man I am. My vanities and frivolities lay in ruin at the unassuming simplicity, wisdom, affection, strength, virtue, and beauty of one Katharine Sta Maria, my future bride.