A few of your comrades-in-white share their COVID-19 wedding stories and offer advice on how to keep calm and carry on amidst this crisis.By: Bénja Gladden
The COVID-19 pandemic may have swept the world (and weddings) in a way that no one expected but nothing stands in the way of love. Whether you're in the beginning stages of planning, have postponed your big day, or intend to move forward with your wedding in a new way, chances are you've been feeling some added stress. You most definitely are not alone in! Here, a few of your comrades-in-white share their COVID-19 wedding stories and offer advice on how to keep calm and carry on amidst this crisis.
Intimate Zoom Wedding: Shaylene and Adam
Shaylene and Adam are an Orange County, CA couple who met on Bumble in 2017. Shaylene is a 31-year-old pilates instructor/lifestyle blogger and Adam is a 35-year-old financial planner and consultant. Adam proposed to Shaylene in the same place they had their first date — a small, private beach in Corona Del Mar. After one of their usual walks, Adam led Shaylene over to a beach blanket with yellow roses and champagne. Adam got down on one knee and popped the question. Shaylene said yes and the planning for their special day began.
Shaylene and Adam originally planned to tie the knot on May 9, 2020, at Calamigos Ranch. They invited 150 guests and were looking forward to celebrating the day with their family and friends and tearing up the dance floor with the amazing DJ they hired. To ensure the safety of their family and friends, Shaylene and Adam decided to exchange vows in a small, intimate setting on June 18, 2020. Only their parents and siblings will be present. They have hired a photographer to capture the special moment and will have to share the ceremony live via Zoom for the family and friends who can’t be there in person.
Shaylene commends the vendors she worked with, who were all very understanding about her change of plans. She says that moving the wedding from May to June actually gave her more time to plan her perfect day, and she was less overwhelmed. She is sad about waiting a little longer to say “I do” to her best friend, but knows that time is a gift.
Advice to Other Brides: The best advice Shaylene can offer other brides whose weddings have been postponed or canceled due to the pandemic is to do what is best for them as a couple. For Shaylene and Adam, that was to still get married even though it will look different. She had planned the wedding of her dreams, but now she’s reminded that it’s better to have the man of your dreams.
Postponed Wedding: Aubrey and Kainan
Aubrey and Kainan live in Palm Beach, FL. Kainan is a 28-year-old project manager for an IT company and Aubrey is a 25-year-old small business owner and stay-at-home mom with two daughters, Iris (age 3) and Lorelei (age 2). Aubrey and Kainan met at their new job orientation with Best Buy in 2015. On December 23, 2016, Kainan surprised Aubrey with a trip to Exploration Tower in Cape Canaveral. Kainan asked Aubrey to look through the viewfinder that was pointed at a sign that said, “Aubrey, will you marry me?” When Aubrey turned around, Kainan was down on one knee.
Aubrey and Kainan’s original wedding date was March 28, 2020. They were expecting 80 to 90 guests from all over the country. They were looking forward to seeing family and friends who live far away but decided to cancel the ceremony two weeks before the event. Aubrey said she and Kainan didn’t feel comfortable having family and friends travel during such uncertain times.
Aubrey and Kainan decided to postpone their wedding until early next year. The venue they chose was able to accommodate the new date, so they didn’t lose any money for the facility rental. People were very understanding for the most part, and willing to either give refunds or accommodate the new date, Aubrey says, although they did lose out on some deposits and insurances. Besides having to wait until she can finally call Kainan her husband, Aubrey missed out on her dad and stepmom meeting her youngest daughter for the first time. She knows those things will still happen, but it was initially pretty heartbreaking to accept.
Advice to Other Brides: Aubrey advises other couples who have been affected to remember what really matters. She knows she could wallow in self-pity about how unfair the delay is, but it doesn’t do any good. The postponement made her appreciate Kainan and what they have together even more, and she knows that their life together will never be defined by a piece of paper. Their daughters are happy and healthy, and they are all together. The perspective this situation gave Aubrey on her life is something she wouldn’t trade for the world.
Alabama Elopement: Katie and Cody
Katie and Cody live in Knoxville, TN, but will soon relocate to Idaho Falls, ID. Katie is a 29-year-old director of a local non-profit daycare and Cody is a 28-year-old who recently received his Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering. Katie and Cody met online in 2017, both in professions that didn't allow them to easily meet people. Last August, Cody popped the question at the Biltmore in North Carolina, where they planned a daytrip together to enjoy some much-needed alone time. Since they had about an hour to kill before a tour of the estate, Katie suggested they walk to the top of the grassy hill overlooking the grounds. Cody interrupted Katie’s exploring and asked her to "watch the groundhog in the treeline." When Katie turned around to tell him she didn’t see a groundhog, he was on one knee and proposed.
Katie and Cody originally planned to say their vows on October 10, 2020, but decided to get legally married in May, instead. Due to local social distancing restrictions, it was the best scenario for them to have a private ceremony out of state, in Alabama. They still intend on having a wedding celebration in the fall, and continue to work on booking vendors. They hope their 150 guests will be able to attend and look forward to seeing all of the friends and family they have missed during isolation. Since they are already married, they will be a bit more accepting if they have to postpone the event. The plan is to host everyone as long as it is safe to do so, says Katie. If it’s still unsafe, they’ll put the celebration on hold until everyone can attend.
Advice for Other Brides: Katie suggests that brides concerned about postponed or cancelled wedding plans should make sure that any contract they sign is flexible, and they should look into wedding insurance just in case.
Wooded Park Ceremony via Facebook Live: Rachel and Thomas
Photo Credit: Josh Brown
Rachel and Thomas live in Arlington, VA, but will soon relocate to Richmond. Rachel is a 30-year-old teacher of the deaf and a Ph.D. student, and Thomas is a 29-year-old partner at a consulting group. They met via Tinder in 2015, and their first date was at Busboys and Poets, a specialty dining and community locale. They had been dating for four years when Thomas proposed. They had talked about getting married for a while and actually designed Rachel's engagement ring together before Thomas popped the question. He was planning a very elaborate proposal, but when the custom order finally arrived, he felt like the ring was burning a hole in his pocket. He couldn’t wait to give it to Rachel and proposed the very next day in front of a fountain while they were on a neighborhood walk with their dog.
The couple originally planned a ceremony at Boathouse at Rocketts Landing in Richmond on the James River. They were eager to share their special day with their 130 guests on April 4, 2020. Rachel was looking forward to wearing her dress because right after they became engaged she underwent major spinal surgery to correct severe scoliosis. Before the surgery, the crookedness of Rachel’s spine made her uncomfortable wearing a dress. She had trouble walking and standing and before surgery, and she didn’t know if she’d be able to dance at her wedding.
After the CDC advised banning groups of more than 50 people, Rachel and Thomas decided to postpone their wedding until August 2020. Rachel’s parents are older and she didn’t want to risk their health or the health of the other guests. Because the big event had already been paid for, they tried planning a mini-wedding with just immediate family and the wedding party. But, Rachel was too worried about COVID-19 and they decided to elope on their original wedding date. Rachel and Thomas were married in a beautiful wooded park in Northern Virginia, with their families watching via Facebook Live. The couple’s two closest friends came as witnesses and to sign the Ketubah, a Jewish rite of passage. There was a Zoom reception after the ceremony for additional family and friends. Rachel and Thomas popped champagne, ordered steaks, and had their first dance while their friends watched. People made virtual toasts, dressed up, and made the couple feel loved.
Most of the vendors were willing to change the event date from April to August at no charge, but now the couple has decided to push the celebration back even further until April 2021. So far, the photographer, florist, and DJ have not charged rebooking fees, but Rachel doesn’t know if this will still be the case once the wedding is postponed again. Some of the vendors are starting to throw in incidental charges, and the couple is paying several thousand extra for the date change. Rebooking fees have been especially painful, and revising the honeymoon itinerary has been a nightmare. The couple arranged their trip with Wanderlust Travel, who specializes in Morocco vacations; and while there is no rebooking fee, they must pay the increase in hotel costs, and flights have been difficult to switch or cancel without financial penalty.
Advice for Other Brides: Rachel wants to remind couples that marriage is more important than the wedding. Whether you decide to postpone, elope, or have a smaller version of your wedding, getting married is what matters the most. As long as both of you are there and healthy, it will be special, she adds.
To learn more about how COVID-19 is changing the world of weddings, check out Inside the Micro Wedding Trend >>