It’s wedding season, but large gatherings aren’t permitted, few people are flying and most venues are closed for business. And the few weddings that have dared to violate state guidelines, have proven the immense risk of bringing your nearest and dearest together — like the wedding in Maine in August that resulted in 175 covid cases and seven deaths. Weddings have been hit particularly hard by the global pandemic, but unlike concerts and sports events, love can’t wait.
Weddings are usually a chance for couples to carefully personalize every detail of the day, but COVID has made brides and grooms think more deeply about what’s most valuable to them. The “dream wedding” is canceled—gone are the distractions of getting a cake, planning music, and choosing a perfect venue . . . So what’s most important?
Remembering what weddings are really about
Many weddings during COVID are more personal and intimate than they ever would have been with a big formal ceremony. They are less about the dress and venue, and more about the bond between two people.
Most couples are having these personal ceremonies, realizing it’s not the size of the event that matters.
Some are celebrating among strangers, focusing on the importance of the vows themselves instead of the friends watching. Faith Albers and Adrian Gerber embraced the idea of a very small, intimate ceremony by marrying at the County Courthouse in Leesburg with just their officiant.
The bride (pictured above) commented, “I lost sight of what was really important, and that is me and Kingsley spending the rest of our lives together,” says Cameron. “This really put the focus on why we were gathering: for us.”
A few examples of the creative weddings and celebrations couples are having:
- In March, when New York City was in complete shutdown, one couple got married on the street by their friend who officiated from the fourth floor, reading passages from In the Time of Cholera, with strangers cheering.
- One Oklahoma couple decided to have their wedding like a drive-in movie where guests got popcorn and listened from their car radios.
- A couple in Alabama shrunk their wedding list but the guests decided to surprise them with a parade and they had their first dance in the street in front of all of them.
- Carlos Muniz contracted COVID-19 the week of his wedding. When he beat it, the staff at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio celebrated by throwing him a wedding from his hospital bed.
Some couples are going BIG and having larger virtual wedding events, hoping to share this moment with everyone in their community: One couple in Georgia had a wedding with 700 attendees joining them during a Facebook Live Stream.
A few years ago, when Sarah Cummins and her fiance, Logan Araujo, called off their engagement only a week before their summer wedding in Carmel, Indiana, they were too late to get out of their contract for a $30,000 reception at the Ritz Charles. Instead of letting the reception go to waste, Cummins decided to donate the $30,000, 170-person dinner and party to the homeless. Local businesses also donated suits, dresses, and spring clothing for homeless guests to wear to the reception and keep afterward.
The coronavirus is giving us an opportunity to hit the reset button on how we celebrate, taking the focus off what we do to mark special occasions. Some of the best events I’ve attended were simple affairs where we sat around and talked or played games. There were just enough in attendance that you could have meaningful conversations.
The point isn’t to eliminate the celebrations but to shift away from over-done events. The conspicuous consumption that goes into celebrating far too often takes away from the “why” of the gathering.
Maybe, in the future, we can remember the value of this year’s event changes and consider putting money for these big events to more meaningful uses.
Highlight of The Week: One couple serves the homeless their wedding meal
Melanie and Tyler Tapajna paid in advance for their August wedding, but in early July, the Ohio couple got an email saying their venue wouldn’t be open because of the pandemic. Instead of having the wedding somewhere else, they decided to donate the food to Laura’s Home, a Cleveland shelter for single women and mothers with children, and arranged to have their caterer deliver a meal worth about $2,000 to 135 people.
Then they personally volunteered to serve the food, dressed in their wedding attire.
Challenge of The Week: Help others with money you would have spent on an event or trip
You can turn any situation around.
My family planned to travel this summer but we had to cancel due to the pandemic. We decided to use the money we would’ve spent on our trip to buy gift cards for food for local individuals who’ve lost their jobs due to COVID.
With so many events canceled this year, including birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, vacations and weddings, why not give some of the money that we’d have spent to attend and celebrate to someone in need? I know times may be tough, but if you can, give and help someone else. Your heart will thank you.
And in case you need to cancel your wedding and have prepaid for key items, here are some ways to donate and help others.
Let’s turn dark skies into silver linings.
Let’s pay it forward.
Kendall Webb, Executive Director