From the Anthology 

Pandemic Writing

“Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity," wrote T.S. Eliot. To help make productive use of our self-isolation and social distancing, Lit Cleveland is offering free writing challenges each week via our newsletter. The following piece is a response to the "How To" prompt.

How to Have the Small Courthouse Wedding Ceremony You Originally Wanted When You Proposed, But Instead Planned a Large Reception for Months That Eventually Was a Four Person Ceremony In Your Living Room During the Pandemic

by Jess Van Ness

Step 1: Propose. She says yes!

Step 2: Plan. You were both married before and had beautiful ceremonies. What should you do this time around? Do you elope? (Say: Yes!). Do you go to the courthouse? (Say: Yes!) Do you get married in our living room and tell everyone about it later? (Say: Yes!) Don't do any of those ideas and instead plan a guest list, line up a caterer, shop for wedding dresses and schedule pedicures. March 20th sounds good. Three twenties in the date. Good luck, right?

Step 3: The WHO declares the Coronavirus a pandemic. Ohio hasn’t been hit yet, you should be ok.

Step 4: The Governor shuts down schools. Both of you will start working remotely, March 16th.

Step 5: Relatives share their concerns about the wedding. Some plan to stay home to stay safe.

Step 6: Restaurants and bars close. Take out only.

Step 7: After numerous conversations, decided only your parents will attend.

Step 8: Call parents crying, decide to cancel the entire wedding. Too dangerous to be together, both of your parents are in the susceptible demographic.

Step 9: Lay in bed Wednesday night and cry. Debate. Discuss. Cry. Decide. You want to get married. You want your love to be legal. Your eighteen year old Goddaughter, Abbey, will still come on Friday to do the ceremony. You will video conference with your parents. You will record it for everyone else. You will have a big party TBD.

Step 10: Call parents on Thursday. Tell them the plan. Hear your mother say, “Oh, Jess,” pause and then start crying. Call your father later, he says he’s looking forward to watching it online.

Step 11: Get up early on wedding day. Play around with various online platforms. FaceTime. Google Meet. Zoom. Connect and practice with both sets of parents.

Step 12: Shower, shave legs, and apply all the makeup tips and tricks you’ve ever learned and get ready while Tiffany is on a conference call and Abbey curls her hair.

Step 13: Abbey’s brother, Clayton, comes along and sets up the devices: laptop, iPad, three cell phones. Connects chargers with extension cords. Places ladder in the living room to hold various electronics.

Step 14: Tiffany comes down the stairs and you film your first look at her. She’s breathtaking and radiant and smiling like you’ve never seen before.

Step 15: Practice your vows and ceremony in the kitchen. Light candles on the mantle. Log in and see your parents on the screen.

Step 16: Abbey performs a beautiful ceremony. Tiffany’s vows are moving and filled with tears. Yours pale in comparison to hers. But the gist is this: I will love you all of my days, through sickness, health, and pandemics.