I Got Engaged During the Pandemic! (And Why I Don’t Mind Waiting to Get Married)

Nick and I have been together for a while. We actually met back in 2010, while working at a local movie theater! He was a projectionist, and I was working the concession stand (close proximity to snacks has always been a motivator for me). We casually dated over the next few years while I finished undergrad; and we made our “short distance” relationship work between Chicago and Milwaukee, while I attended law school. 

Kat Connor, founder of XO Marshmallow, with her fiancé Nick

In 2015, I moved back to Chicago, and almost immediately threw myself into the world of gourmet marshmallows. I traded my late-night study sessions for late-night recipe testing, and later, swapped weekends for working at our amazing little cafe. Through it all, I was lucky to have a partner who supported me during the highs and lows of starting and growing a small business. Enter: the moms. 

Kat's fiancé Nick tries XO Marshmallow for the first time

Both of our mothers live in Chicago. Both of them are strong, opinionated, loving women. Unfortunately, they have each other’s phone numbers. And they talk. A lot. So, it didn’t take long for them to start dropping hints about how nice it would be if we thought about settling down. Nick and I had talked about “the big M” but -- I’ll be honest -- I pushed aside conversations centered around our future for a long time. Mostly, because I wasn’t sure I was ready to be a married person. I was busy! Nick was busy too -- film projectionists were largely laid off due to advancing technology, so we were both working pretty much non-stop. 

Being married felt like a huge undertaking, both emotionally and financially. I felt like I just “didn’t have time” and those thoughts made me worried I wouldn’t be a “good” wife. We were usually on the same page, but there were tough times too. It took a lot of patience, and a bit of therapy to find a balance of work/home life that worked for us. I came to realize that I was perhaps too concerned with being defined by my relationship and it was keeping me from celebrating the aspects of being with Nick, that I loved -- regardless of our marital status. 

Then, On New Year’s Day 2020, alone in our apartment with his grandmother’s ring, Nick proposed. Our entire relationship flashed before my eyes, and filled me with hope, and happiness. I said yes! Promptly 2 weeks later, the severity of COVID-19 started trickling into the United States. In March, we faced the reality of being frontline workers during a global pandemic. The early glow of sharing our engagement story had faded, and we stopped answering questions about venues, dates, and bridal parties. Like so many others, I became a #coronabride. 

Kat Connor and her fiancé, Nick, enjoy popcorn in their favorite Chicago movie theatre, The Music Box

Somehow, both Nick and I became even busier this past year. XO saw a huge increase in online sales, which meant we were able to make some pivots but keep our team safe and secure. Nick’s job faced some layoffs, and in the summer, was deeply affected by the looting and violence that took place downtown. What has kept us both grounded has been that same core respect and understanding of each other, and the support of knowing that no matter what we have each other’s backs. Even with our mothers. 

For a while we considered having a smaller ceremony, whether that be a micro ceremony, a minimony, or simply eloping. Our moms continued having weekly phone calls, picking alternative sites, and suggesting dates. While the creative solutions are definitely the right option for some, nothing felt right for us. One night Nick said, “I just want everyone to have a good time -- and if that means waiting, then ok.” I agreed. For us, the focus of our wedding is going to be the food, the music, and the people. We knew our families would be uncomfortable with any social gathering, and rather than ask them to suck it up, we’ve decided to wait it out.  Kat Connor holds a s'more with her engagement ring inside

Now, with restrictions slowly lifting, and us both getting vaccinated (thanks Dolly!) we are picking up the pieces of our wedding planning duties, and are thinking sometime in the spring of 2022. I don’t know where it will be, or how big the guest list will even be. What I do know, I share freely: You are important, and you should prioritize how you spend your energy, and with whom you share it. If you are in a relationship with someone else, it’s important to communicate your own needs, boundaries, and expectations (because, how else will they know?!). The “right” partner will accept you and will meet you where you are, and if you’re lucky, they’ll also push you to be the best version of yourself. 

These days I feel pretty lucky, indeed.  

XO Marshmallow CO Founder, Kat Connor's end signature for the blog