Sally Malek was dreaming of the day she got to pull on her custom-made wedding gown and walk down the aisle to marry her partner, Ash.
Her bridesmaid’s dresses and groomsmen’s suits were all hung up and ready to go. The flowers were organised, the perfect venue was booked in Silvan – where her and her partner first lived – and the bomboneire were dated 3 May 2020.
But as the day came closer, Mrs Malek’s excitement turned to disappointment and devastation.
The Covid-19 restrictions on weddings meant the couple’s perfect spring wedding in Silvan had to be postponed from May 3 to October 4.
“It was really disheartening. I had to ring all the vendors and had to see who, if any, would give us our deposit back,” Mrs Malek said.
With not many vendors willing to refund their deposit, Mrs Malek and her partner Ash decided to get “legally” married at her parent’s house on their original date of May 3.
“We decided to do that because we already paid our celebrant $900, and we thought at least we might be able to use the dated bomboniere and cake topper,” she said.
They got married in an informal ceremony that was “just the legalities of it”, with only Mrs Malek’s parents present as witnesses alongside the celebrant.
“It was really hard to get my head around it, I just focused on the fact I got to marry the man I love and got to do it on the original date we had planned.”
The couple did not exchange their vows and did not tell anyone about their marriage. At that stage, they still had a ceremony planned for the post-poned date in October – and wanted to save their vows to share with family and friends. They were excited to surprise everyone on the day with a big reveal that they had already legally married.
Their excitement was devastatingly short-lived, with the second wave of Covid-restrictions forcing them to reschedule the October date as well.
“At the time (of the formal marriage) I had the excitement of keeping it to ourselves until we did our big reveal, but that was taken back because when we had to reschedule the second time there was not much more to look forward to,” Mrs Malek said.
The couple have since re-booked for a third time, with a date set on 11 April 2021. However, with Covid-19 taking its toll financially, the couple are uncertain as to whether they will be able to afford their dream wedding with family and friends present.
“By the time April rolls around I don’t think we can justify putting that much money towards a wedding. Unfortunately we’re just going to have to lose our deposits,” she said.
“We just can’t justify another 10 grand or something to put towards a wedding. When you add up the deposit and money spent for everything and put that figure together, and realise you’re not get anything out of that – it’s hard.”
Mrs Malek described the whole experience as “disheartening” but said she understood it from the perspective of the vendors who are also trying to survive.
“It’s no one’s fault. There’s no one to blame. It’s just disappointing.”
“It’s not just the fact were missing out on our big day, but other (elderly) family members are going to miss out on seeing us marry because it’s not safe for them to travel,” she said.
For now, her dream wedding dress hangs in a wardrobe at her Mum’s – with Mrs Malek deciding to save herself the heartbreak of having to see it in hers.
The thought of a hens night, getting ready with her bridesmaids and walking down the aisle in front of her family and friends is now a distant thought.
“I would love to have that day to celebrate it with friends and family and do all those little bridesmaid things, whether it will happen or not…,” she said.