Musings + Essays

Love in the Time of Corona.

By: Jen Shoop

Images above and below from Instagram account UnlikeBride. I couldn’t pick just one image — they have so many stunning bridal snapshots!

My youngest sister will be marrying the love of her life in a small ceremony next month. In the long shadow of COVID-19, she and her fiancee made the difficult decision to postpone the big Boston affair they’d dreamed of and planned for over the course of the past year and will instead tie the knot privately, without any of their immediate family: just the two of them, their outsized love for one another, an officiant, and a couple of cherished and lucky local friends. We’ll celebrate from afar over Zoom and then far more riotously when my sprawling clan descends on Boston whenever we are all able to fly out safely in, perhaps (I write hopefully), a year from now.

I am heartbroken for my sister. Every girl deserves the wedding of her dreams, or if not that, at least a day to be held up in love alongside her soon-to-be-spouse by all those who adore her most. My father, equal parts heart-on-his-sleeve and stiff-upper-lip, mentioned rather quietly, tucked in amongst other life updates over the phone one warm recent Sunday evening, that he regrets not being able to walk his youngest down the aisle. This admission and the somber acceptance with which it was issued has left me with my heart in my throat for the several weeks since. A slim, persistent grief that chafes.

And yet.

I am profoundly moved by their decision to tie the knot in private, in motivated defiance of this damned virus. As I have written elsewhere:

“If there is anything positive I can say about coronavirus, it is that it has reminded me that life finds a way. Babies are born, lovers are married, and still my three-year-old will come home in the afternoon with twigs in her hair and stories of the bee that crawled into her pink shoe.”

Life finds a way; love finds a way. It sprouts up beneath the sidewalk cracks, flourishes in the shade of a rusted-over car, emerges against all odds, tender and slender, from the smallest teacup of soil kept in the window-sill of our narrow Manhattan kitchen.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Magpie asked, rather sheepishly, whether he could carry that small potted plant from our sill with us on vacation a few weeks ago. I watched him make what must have been forty nine trips between the apartment and the car, weighed down like a pack-mule with pack-and-plays, floaties, too many swimsuits, gallons of sunscreen, bins of snack food, cases of wine, bags of dog food, and then this, the most unlikely of traveling companions: the tiny potted basil plant he placed gently in the cupholder of our car and then installed in the small garden of our rental home. This is love in the age of corona: a diminutive yet defiant sprout that must be nurtured to the extreme, ferried cautiously wherever we go, held up to the light, celebrated for the shock of its beneficence when much else feels unremittingly dark.

And so, an early toast to my sister and her partner, in full bloom despite these arid times.

Post Scripts.

+Finds for any bride to be, but may I specifically call your attention to this stunning white dress — 70% off?! (Hello, Elizabeth K! You would look ridiculous in this.)

+And this white romper — perfect for a bachelorette! (Also hello Elizabeth K.)

+My first dance with Mr. Magpie.

+Ah, siblinghood.

+I am so smitten with this counter spray (it smells SO GOOD; someone else wrote, “It’s as if Jo Malone herself is cleaning your bathroom.” Ha!). In response to a few questions I’ve received about it: I primarily use it for countertops/window-sills but would not use it for heavy-duty cleaning of a tub or greasy cooktop…not as powerful as Fantastik. Anyhow, I love the scent so much I am ordering the coordinating hand soap. This is big news since I’ve long been a devotee of the much-more-expensive Molton Brown.

+Swooning over this coordinating top-and-skirt set.

+Speaking of my sisters: things I tell them to buy.

+These bow earrings are precious for everyday. (More everyday jewelry finds here.)

+And speaking of bow earrings: these dramatic beaded beauties were just restocked!

+A little memory from my own wedding day.

+This gorgeous tiered, ruffled, and trimmed white dress is now under $100.

+Some of the colorways of this ultra-covetable face mask are restocked!

+This safari toile tunic dress is MAJOR.

+Absolute cutest little embroidered dress for a little lass.

+Under-$100 finds.

+Back to school finds for little ones!

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15 thoughts on “Love in the Time of Corona.

  1. Congratulations to your sister and her fiancée! I love your sentiments here, and find them incredibly important during these (extra) trying times. It’s so true! That said, I can’t imagine how hard it is on your dad (and the rest of your family!) in terms of not being able to give her away/be present, but hopefully you will be able to come to Boston next year to celebrate her and her partner and their union. I’m feeling a similar pain due to not being able to be in California with my youngest niece as she turns one this summer … COVID has thrown a huge wrench into so many of our plans! But, with your encouragement here, I’ll choose to focus on how love always finds a way. So important to remember.

    Those bow earrings are too cute! I love!


    1. Hi MK! Oh I know — missing all those moments we would have been somewhere or would have been doing something is so emotional.

      Anyhow, my parents have always been good models of moving forward without too much hand-wringing over what could be — and so on we go…


  2. Jen,

    Congratulations to your sister and future brother-in-law! I know its disappointing, but is there a better metaphor for marriage than choosing to jump into the scary, the unknown–together?

    Sending lots of love to your father as well ❤️


    1. Hey there!

      Soon to be sister-in-law here. Though I’ve been called bro many times, I’m more of a boi than a boy .

      Thanks for the well wishes!

    2. Thank you, Veronica!! Actually my future sister-in-law! So appreciate the congratulations — fun to have the Magpie community toasting them, too!!


    3. Oh, Cleo, so mortified! I definitely missed the extra in fiancee. Thanks for your graciousness. And congrats again 🙂

  3. My own already small wedding was scheduled for mid-August and we got word yesterday that receptions are banned completely in our state.
    My fiance and I are committed to getting married that day but we are starting the process of cutting our wedding down even more today and I have to say it hurts more than I thought it would.
    Cheers to your sister for celebrating her marriage. I hope to be able to do the same and that you get to celebrate with her soon!

    1. Hi Sandra – That must be so incredibly difficult! I am so sorry to hear this.

      Cheersing to you regardless!!! Happy you will be able to celebrate love anyhow.


  4. Caldrea can be bought from companies other than Amazon , as can many of the items you
    link , it is important to support other companies than Amazon

    1. Hi Gretchen! I see you are a first-time commenter — welcome! Glad to have you here. I appreciate the feedback and also the complexity of defining our own personal shopping ethics (where to buy from and why). I chatted a little bit about this subject with a lovely fellow Magpie, Holly, in the comments here:

      A lot to chew on for sure, and I think many of us will land in different spots.


  5. This may sound silly, but I find myself wishing I had a short family tree when you discuss your siblings. How many are there in total? Who is oldest? Names? You mention one that I think lives nearby more often; which one is that? Where do the others live? I’m sure they are private people and of course we don’t need any overly personal details, but would love just a general breakdown of who is who! 🙂

    1. Hi Liz! Yes! There are five children in our family, organized from oldest to youngest:


      We are all two years apart except for Eleanor, who is four years younger than Christina. Lucky to have been raised with so many siblings!!


  6. Congratulations to your brave sister! And the sweet comment from your father broke my heart. Please remind him to remember all the great times along the way of raising her. No one may have been watching, but he was a strong, hands on participant and has all the memories!

    My niece is supposed to marry (with a crowd) in October. We are hoping it will happen!

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