It's been a tough year. But the actress (and newlywed) made the most of it with a backyard wedding to the love of her life.

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Niecy Nash
Niecy Nash with her wife, Jessica Betts (left), on their wedding day in August.
| Credit: Robert Ector Photography

At the beginning of 2020, I was excited. I was taking my 50th trip around the sun, and my goal was to have five parties — one for every decade I’ve been alive. I was also filming the fourth and final season of my TV show Claws, and I was falling for the love of my life. Then the pandemic hit. 

Things started happening so fast; you didn’t know what to take as fact versus rumor. And I have three children. Their worries, concerns, and fears became my own, especially when lines wrapped around the grocery store and you started running out of essentials. The social injustice [following George Floyd’s murder] was also horrific. It hit close to home when my son [Dominic, 28] was stopped by the police in June. They pulled a Taser on him for rolling past a stop sign in my neighborhood. During that time, I really had to gather myself. But I always try to find the good or the blessing in every situation. If you don’t, you’ll go crazy. And I love that I’m now married to someone [singer Jessica Betts] who thinks the same way. When I forget to find the silver lining, she reminds me that there is one. 

Jessica and I first became friends when I would send her encouraging messages every day on social media. Then she guest-starred on Claws, and we got to know each other better. Eventually, we fell in love and built a life together. Now we’ve been married for four months during a pandemic, and we’ve found ways to create experiences at home that make us happy and bring our family closer together. We have picnics in the backyard with music on. If we’re going to watch a movie, I make popcorn with real butter, because real butter makes everything better. [laughs] And — Jessica doesn’t even know this — but sometimes I wake up early while she is sleeping and listen to her music by myself. There’s something about her voice that is so comforting to my soul. 

Really, though, happiness is about mastering how to love yourself, so you can give love back. That's the magic. In quarantine, fixing myself up was a real personal mood booster. My grandmother used to say, "A little bit of hair and a little bit of paint make a woman what she ain't." [laughs] And you gotta lean into what you're feeling in the moment. I might feel one thing in the morning and then be like, "You know what? I need a lunchtime wig change." Or I'll put on something beautiful. Like, I bought this silk gown with a robe to go over it. There's something about silk fabric — it does it for me every time. I can either walk around in raggedy sweatpants and a T-shirt or put on that silk ensemble and sashay through the house. 

Listen to InStyle's "Ladies First with Laura Brown" podcast to hear interviews from Emily Ratajkowski, Michelle Pfeiffer, Niecy Nash, and more!

If anything, this year has taught me that life is short — too short to be sad all the time or hold grudges or be angry. The thing that you want to do, you need to get to it. Stress and anxiety come when you want your situation to be something other than what it is, so just be a part of the solution. When Jessica and I got married, I would have loved to have 200 people in a beautiful ballroom somewhere. But instead, I curated an event for 24 people in my backyard, and it was perfect. You just find a way because you can’t stop living.

For more stories like this, pick up the December issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download Nov. 20th.