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Heartbreak of wedding postponement

Local

Bianca Vallelonga and her fiancé Agostino Sergi were due to be married on August 8 in St Patrick’s Church, Grote St. They are one of the many couples who have had to change their plans as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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With Bianca, 25,  and Agostino, 26, both coming from large families, the guest list for their wedding numbered 500 and there was no way they could cut it back to five – the maximum number allowed for weddings under the coronavirus restrictions.

“Having five people present wasn’t an option as this would mean that not even our parents could be there when we married, and for us our family is everything,” Bianca said.

“It just felt so unreal, we really couldn’t believe that we would have to cancel our big day which we had been waiting so long for.”

Bianca and Agostino are not alone. Close to 40 weddings scheduled for St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral or St Patrick’s and Queen of Angels churches have been cancelled with dozens more still up in the air as couples decide whether to postpone or wait and see if the restrictions are lifted.

Some couples are finding their suppliers have gone broke and they have lost all their deposits while others are not sure if family who live overseas or interstate will be able to get here.

Priests have been forced to cancel marriage preparation sessions and provide couples with online resources such as
www.smartloving.org

Bianca said she and Agostino were “so disheartened by the whole situation” they hadn’t had the “energy” to do any marriage preparation online. But she said their priest, Fr Roderick O’Brien, had “guided them through this difficult time” and would now be marrying them on January 17 next year in St Patrick’s, on a Sunday instead of Saturday.

Bianca and Agostino both attended Holy Family School, where Fr O’Brien was parish priest, and completed their schooling at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College and St Paul’s College respectively.

The couple said their family and friends had been “a great support” despite their own disappointment.

Bianca’s advice to other couples in the same position was to be patient and talk about how they are feeling.

“As hard as it can be, especially for those who were counting down the time, don’t let it consume you,” she said.

“With a little faith, patience and some manoeuvring, you will get there.

“Talk to your friends, family and other couples who are in similar situations, as it really does help to talk about it.”

Asked if it had made her rethink what was important in a marriage or relationship, she said: “Yes, 100 per cent.”

“This whole experience has shown us that as long as you have each other and your health, all the other material things don’t matter.

“It really has shown us the bigger picture and made us appreciate each other; along with keeping us grounded and reminding us the true meaning of a wedding. It’s not about the fancy photos for Instagram, it’s the fact that you can have all your loved ones there with you on your special day.”

From a practical point of view, she said one of the “hardest parts of the ordeal” was trying to get refunds or re-book places and people.

But the majority of suppliers had been “amazing and very accommodating”.

“In particular, at Varacalli Couture, Caterina has been more than accommodating with my wedding dress,” she said.

“Especially since she had begun to work on a winter dress and now it has to be a summer wedding dress, and with such a short amount of time.”

Bianca and Agostino are hoping that by January the restrictions will have eased and they can have as many of their friends and family as possible at the wedding.

Centacare Catholic Family Services Relationship Education team manager Jeannette Fiegehen said there were a number of online resources for couples preparing for marriage and those involved with Centacare’s counselling program were sent an information pack containing lists of helpful books, links to videos and other resources.

“Our educators encourage couples to consider their highest priorities, such as whether it’s more important have a ceremony attended by numbers of friends and family or to cement their relationship,” she said.

“Could they marry now and have a bigger celebration later on with all of the guests they were hoping to have attend?

“Educators also suggest keeping things simple, focusing more on what matters most.”

If a couple was separated geographically due to the travel restrictions and were also in isolation this could add another complication of distress.

One positive impact noted by some of the educators was that people were reflecting on their lifestyles and priorities as well as what they value.

She said couples grieving the postponement of their planned ceremony and celebration could seek counselling through the Family Relationship Counselling program (phone 8215 6700).

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