In a normal year, spring is generally known as the season for new love. There’s something about the chirping birds, the shining sun and the warmer air that has a near-universal effect of drawing the singles out and making the mingling happen. And, of course, spring marks the start of annual wedding season, as the temperatures become more hospitable to outdoor receptions and wedding photographs.
Of course, that applies when times are normal, and 2020 has thus far shaped up to be anything but. Although there are plenty of single people out there, almost no one is ready to mingle. Sadly, many wedding venues remain empty as the #stayathome initiative has put many a wedding celebration on hold.
For the most part, love and social distancing don’t really mix. No matter how hard one smolders, it is almost impossible to gaze seductively into someone else’s eyes from a socially responsible six-foot distance. Romance, it would seem, will be joining commerce, travel, school, wearing pants and gatherings of more than 10 people as yet another thing that we as a species have put on hold for the time being.
But appearances can be deceiving – because, as the band Yes sang in 1987, “love will find a way.”
Even in the time of COVID-19.
Keeping the Romance Alive – on Zoom
Just because people can’t go to the movies, go bowling, eat in restaurants, get coffee in a shop, get a drink in a bar, go dancing or stand near each other doesn’t mean they can’t keep on dating – as long as they are willing to broaden their definition of what constitutes a date.
Because just as office meetings can be held via Zoom teleconference, so too can dating go digital, mediated by platforms like Zoom, Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Google Hangouts – and, according to recent reports, usually moderated by dating platforms like Match.com and Tinder.
There were early concerns that the $6 billion online dating industry would soon find itself facing similarly dire straits as the travel and restaurant industries due to social distancing. But as it turns out, human beings are still looking to connect in the age of social distancing – in fact, according to Tinder CEO Elie Seidman, even more so than usual.
“While we are socially distant, we definitely aren’t disconnected. More than ever, having someone to talk to can make a world of a difference,” Seidman told Forbes.
A difference that apparent means Tinder users are getting a bit more open-minded than usual.
“In quarantine, I’m way more likely to swipe right,” 23-year-old Tinder enthusiast Kylie Renwick told Forbes. “I need social interaction.”
As for the digital dating experience itself? Uneven, according to most reviews. Amusing stories include being on a digital date on a chat platform, only to have a different digital suitor attempt to buzz in to initiate some spontaneous “hang out” time.
“I mean, what excuse was I supposed to give him for why I couldn’t talk tonight? Tiger King?” the embarrassed digital dater noted in an interview with Vogue.
One TheNextWeb writer – who is now digitally dating his new paramour, Hilda – says that while activities like ordering the same take-out dinner and eating it together online are fun, it’s just not quite the same.
“We can’t go anywhere together. I wish we could catch a movie or go for a walk in the park. We can’t even see each other in 3D. Instead, we stare out the window at the sunshine and wonder when this will all end.”
And while that is frustrating, there are more frustrated people out there right now.
There are those who had already met their “Hildas,” gone to the movies and decided they wanted a lifetime of seeing each other in 3D. So they planned to get married in the spring of 2020. And then a virus came along and rewrote all of their carefully planned, expensive and largely non-refundable days.
But, again, love finds a way – and improvises
Social Distancing at a Wedding
Valeska Pretelt and Joshua Board had planned to have a 55-person wedding event at a Brooklyn restaurant in April – something that became an impossibility when the restaurant closed, their friends and relatives could not fly in as planned and they couldn’t safely place dozens of people in a room together. So, they told Vogue, they postponed the big event, secured refunds on deposits from their very understanding vendors and had a six-person ceremony on the balcony of their Brooklyn apartment instead.
Eugene, Oregon couple Nova Connolly and Edwin Nunez also pared down their wedding guest list to fewer than 10 people, and moved their May 23 wedding to April 1 in their backyard. All guests stood a minimum of six feet apart, according to USA TODAY reports. That would win the award for best simplification, were it not for the Arlington, Virginia couple who included only themselves, their neighbors acting as witnesses behind their windows and an officiant standing on the sidewalk in front of their home wearing a mask. The couple kissed. All other participants waved.
And while all couples noted that the big switch was a bit stressful, at least for Pretelt and Board (the Brooklyn couple that got married on the balcony), they ultimately think the alternative wedding – with a dress ordered two days prior from Net-a-Porter and a lot of guests attending virtually on Zoom – was better than what they’d initially planned.
“As impromptu as our ceremony turned out, it felt so us and so perfect. The funny thing is, Josh and I joked about eloping even before we got engaged,” Pretelt said. “And after the emotional roller coaster that COVID-19 brought, it became clearer than ever that this day was always about us and our love for one another. To me, less is more – and this reaffirmed that the big wedding was never for us. We were right where we were supposed to be.”
And for those who decided to hold out for what they’d planned instead of gambling on the perfect impromptu wedding? Good news for them, too: There was the possibility of free beer.
Can Beer Heal All Wounds?
While some couples bravely forged on with their weddings at reduced scale in the face of COVID-19, some have elected to postpone the event until their guests can attend in person. And for those sitting home on their wedding day, likely drowning at least some of their sorrows, Anheuser-Busch has decided to reach out a very special helping hand.
Or helping keg, more accurately.
“Your wedding plans may be on ice for the time being, but we wanna give you a wedding gift of ice-cold Busch. FOR A YEAR,” Anheuser-Busch posted on Twitter earlier this week. “Post a photo of yourselves and tell us how you’re planning to celebrate, along with #BuschWeddingGift and #Sweepstakes, for your chance to win.”
The contest is officially open until May 1 at 11:59 p.m. A random drawing on the May 2 will select 250 winners. And if you are single and thinking you won’t get any free beer, we have good news – well, goodish news.
With the hashtags #MyFriendsWedding and #Sweepstakes, there is a chance to win Busch merchandise.
And if that fails to make you feel better, and if it seems like love in the time of COVID-19 is perhaps not quite as good as the in-person version, we urge you to think about J. Lo. She is now engaged to Alex Rodriguez and was supposed to be holding a lavish wedding this summer.
So that has been postponed, as Italy is now Europe’s leading hot zone for COVID-19. But is J. Lo discouraged or becoming convinced she is under some matrimonial curse? Nope, she’s just waiting to see when it will be safe to hold what we are sure will be an amazing celebration.
“I said, ‘If we’re going to be together for the rest of our lives, what is the rush?’” Lopez told Oprah in February.
Now that’s the spirit. Love does conquer all, after all – including Zoom.