What planning a COVID-free wedding ceremony throughout a pandemic taught me about neighborhood care


I got married last month and it was the most fabulous party of my life. We had a ABBA cover band, golden disco balls and, best of all, no known resulting COVID-19 cases. It was the perfect celebration of love, not only because we had toilets and desserts for all genders for the lactose intolerant among us, but because we took responsibility for everyone’s health, following a tradition that queer communities and organizers have long shaped.

A masked ceremony may have been all the rage in 2020, but most of the wedding photos I’ve seen this year look more like the pre-pandemic celebrations than the outdoor micro-weddings of the previous two years. Many people are willing to risk COVID on their wedding day, but my current spouse and I were not.

I was lucky and privileged to avoid catching COVID until last spring. The acute stage of the infection was enough to make me fear a re-infection, and the months of long-term symptoms that followed sealed the deal. So far, I’ve been lucky enough to avoid the worst prolonged symptoms of COVID, but I know that reinfection could potentially increase my risk for lingering side effects.

Even before we came down with COVID ourselves, neither I nor my fiancé at the time wanted to risk the safety of our loved ones as the price of admission to our wedding. And it was also important for us to avoid infecting the many vendors and service workers involved in making the celebration happen. So from the jump, we knew we were planning a COVID-cautious event. I’m really proud of the way we did it, and our wedding reminded us that community care is essential to get through a pandemic and throughout life.

We are not meant to go through a pandemic alone.

Despite the known COVID risks, we wanted an in-person wedding. Getting together with family and friends was the main goal, and all the other choices we made were in service of that. As humans, we crave companionship and community. This is perhaps more true than ever in the third year of a pandemic.

It’s a lonely time to be a person who still cares about avoiding constant reinfections. It seems that we have entered a kind of « you do yourself » phase of the pandemic, despite the fact that each new variant of SARS-CoV-2 seems to evade immunity better than the previous one. And although President Biden may have declared With the pandemic over, almost 30% of the world’s population has not received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which in many cases is due to a lack of access.

If an individualistic approach to a pandemic sounds counterintuitive, that’s because it is. The abandonment of « you protect me, I protect you » is no accident, in my opinion. Leaving decisions such as masking, vaccination and testing up to each person means we can blame individual people, rather than policies or public health messages, for the spread of the virus. And a new study in the journal Nature also suggests that this sense of personal responsibility may be a key factor contributing to the severity of the pandemic in countries that score high on individualism (such as the United States). It may even dilute the effectiveness of COVID-19 policies in these places, the research suggests.

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