Thoughts on Getting Married During COVID-19

I hope this note finds you and your family well, managing all the changes and emotions that arise from our current global health crisis. I want you to know that I am thinking about you and the frustrations that go along with the uncertainty of the times right now. Especially when planning a wedding!
I understand your frustration.  After dreaming about your wedding day for a long time and not knowing how things will look or play out in one month, six months or a year from now is more than frustrating.  And the possibility that things may look different than you originally anticipated adds to the frustration. 

We don’t know how long this will go on.  We hope things will go back to normal soon, but as some of the ‘stay at home’ and ‘shelter in place’ restrictions ease up, more than likely there will still be requirements for social distancing and limiting numbers for a longer time.  How will this affect your wedding and what difficult decisions will you have to make?
Two thoughts:  1).There is beauty in simplicity, and 2) You are still getting married.

I would like to offer you the stories from my March 2020 weddings.

Small gathering of 10 people or less.  On March 21st, Kristina and Matt’s wedding was changed from a large gathering of over 100 people to ten people…their parents, three attendants (out of 6), the photographer and officiant. 
Luckily, their original venue was open to have this small wedding take place.  Kristina looked lovely in her wedding dress and veil; and the mothers and maid of honor were sparkling in their sequined gowns. Matt, the fathers, and two groomsmen were sharp in their suits, ties and fishing lure boutonnieres!  The only difference was a friend from work who filled in for the photographer; the couple replaced the DJ with music from an iPhone; and the empty chairs.

But, with the beauty of a smaller group at a social distance, we were able to take it slower, stop and fix audio problems as needed and enjoy this special moment in time. The groom, who is a pretty shy guy and uncertain about standing in front of a crowd, was relaxed and focused with a smaller group as he stood facing his bride to say “I do”.
After being pronounced husband and wife, pictures were taken with all smiles (lacking social distancing!), and we had cherished memories of an intimate ceremony and a couple ‘over the moon’ to be married.  A large reception was put on hold for the future and everyone went off to their individual homes to celebrate. It was lovely!

Postpone the ceremony and reception for a later date. Cassie and Zach also decided to keep their wedding date because they had their license and the date had signficance for them.  But, they are postponing the ceremony and celebration at a later date that works fits the venue and vendors.

They were able to celebrate at home in their sweats…with their dog, decorations and cake their parents left on their front doorstep. In order to do this, they sent me their marriage license in advance signed by two witnesses, I added my signature and dropped it in the mailbox on their wedding date. Happy to be married, they are looking forward to celebrating with family and friends in the near future.

This is what Cassie had to say about going ahead with the wedding date…

There’s nothing like being less than two weeks away from the day you’ve been waiting for, for a lifetime and having it be impacted in such a way. For Zach and I, wedding planning was fun and stress free. We’ve had a great experience planning our special day and being fiancé’s.

Our wedding was cancelled in two different stages and I think that was the hardest part. Our wedding date was March 28th, so right in the middle of COVID’s impact rapidly changing in the US.

At first, our venue cancelled only our reception but offered to still host our ceremony if we wished. We were all for this idea. We are high school sweethearts and have been looking forward to this day years! After just a few days, the Safer at Home order was put in place and our wedding/ceremony was cancelled as well.

For us, not getting married wasn’t an option. We didn’t even really have to talk about. We already had our marriage license and it was really important to us to be married on our wedding date. Our wedding date was our nine year anniversary.

We chatted with Joan about our options and decided to have our Moms sign our license and then mail it to Joan, so she could sign it and mail to the court house. I can’t say this experience was glamorous but we are so glad this is the decision we made.

We woke up Saturday, March 28th laughing because well, I guess we were married. Zach couldn’t wait to have his ring, so we held ourselves our own little ceremony, which included us exchanging the vows and love notes we wrote for each other.

Woo, was this an emotional moment and I don’t think we would have experienced a moment like that if our wedding went on as planned.  My family made a surprise appearance outside our door which really helped make our day feel special too.

There’s something so special about knowing we are husband and wife now. I hope Zach never stops doing his daily ‘ring check.’ Additionally, we are both so much more excited for our wedding and reception! The nerves are gone because we are already married. We are so excited to celebrate! I truly believe we are going to enjoy our wedding more now and we can’t wait!

The point of this message is that while couples made changes, they still got married.  The most important outcome of any wedding is to become husband and wife.  With or without a huge party and celebration, the ceremony can be the same.  Your lives will become joined and you will begin the next step in your journey of married life together.   

If things need to change and look different, the ceremony can still be held and you can get married. It can be disappointing, but there is beauty in simplicity.

In closing, amidst the challenges and uncertainty of these times, may you remain hopeful and positive, focusing on the love you share.  And…think of the stories you can tell your children about getting married during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020! 
May you stay well and safe.

Rev. Joan Fergus
Ceremonies by Joan

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