Countless Hollywood movies end with the wedding kiss followed by the beaming couple riding off into the sunset to live happily ever after, but chances are you know someone who has postponed or canceled a wedding in the last two years. It seems not many people are in the mood to get married with masks on and everyone six feet apart.

But might you plan a wedding during the height of a pandemic to bring about a miracle? There’s a little-known Jewish custom called a “black wedding” or shvartze chaseneh, and it worked for the people of Pinsk in The Wedding that Saved a Town.

In times of widespread sickness, a community finds two people with few prospects in life: orphans, the homeless, or the poorest among them. The couple is offered an all-expenses paid wedding and a pledge for support in setting up a household.  The black wedding, which was said to take place in a cemetery, is a public display of tzedakah (charity) and a demonstration of an intention to live life to the fullest, all while staring death in the face.

If only a wedding was all it took to rid us of COVID-19! Marriage rates have fallen during the pandemic, but there has been an uptick in engagements in recent months. Could this be a harbinger of brighter days ahead?

These wedding stories from pre-pandemic times might also make you smile: The Flower Girl Wore Celery, Don’t Sneeze at the Wedding, and Sammy Spider’s First Wedding.