Engagements and Weddings Covid Style


How couples have joined together during a time of isolation

Since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, most soon-to-be brides and grooms have had to put a pause on their wedding or engagement plans. Others, however, are adjusting to the new normal. I interviewed two of our fellow Sunbirds—Jessica, currently planning her wedding, and Brian, who recently married his wife Kristin—and asked them a few questions that will, hopefully, be helpful or encouraging to those who are going through the same process. 

What were your feelings about getting engaged/or married during the pandemic? 

Jessica Dondlinger (Kinesiology): “After getting engaged, I was so excited and happy. I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life with anyone else, so despite the weird circumstances of COVID, I was so excited! I saw the engagement as a huge positive in the negative and hectic time we had just entered.”

Brian Whaley (Residence Director): “My wife and I weren’t panicked or nervous. We were very happy, aside from the pre-wedding jitters, that is. The wedding ended up being on short notice because all of her family was moving out of state, and it was getting to be hard for her to find a place to live. We had already talked about marriage and felt that we wanted to spend our lives together, so it was more like bumping up the timetable by a lot than any sudden move. The pandemic and restrictions on gatherings actually gave us the excuse to have a small intimate wedding with just us and our parents, which in hindsight we are grateful for. This made the ceremony a very intimate and special occasion that turned out to be what we really wanted, as we are both fairly private people.”

What is it like trying to plan a date to get married, without knowing when things will open up again? 

Jessica: “Planning a wedding during this time is proving to be slightly more challenging. Me and my fiancé got engaged in early April, right at the start of everything, so over the summer we began to plan our dream wedding. With this being said, we found it very difficult to get a hold of venues, get any solid information on availability and even struggled with getting the opportunity to tour venues. Many venues did not contact us back at all or told us that they had no idea when we would be able to get married at their venue. We are hoping to have our wedding in May of 2021, so we are not currently getting pushed out, but just trying to have solid communication with vendors and venues at this time has not been easy.”

Brian: “Planning our date was actually extremely arbitrary for us, since we had our wedding in our backyard here on campus and it was so small. We ended up going with 05/20/2020 since it was easy to remember.”

Do you think that the pandemic made it more difficult to plan a wedding?

Jessica: “I do think that the pandemic is adding challenges to planning a wedding, but it is not impossible. Despite the lack of communication from some venues and vendors, others have been wonderful. In a sense this has made it actually easier to pink a venue!”

Brian: “I think the pandemic made it easier for us, since we didn’t jump through nearly as many hoops. We decided to go with a very small wedding. Her father performed the ceremony and my mother is friends with a caterer who put up some decorations. For food we ate Maria’s Tacos, which we both love. My wife didn’t even get a ‘real wedding dress,’ it was a nice-looking emerald dress. So I think that the pandemic stripped away the possibilities of doing all the typical things that weddings usually have of inviting a lot of people, renting a venue, a reception, etc. and allowed us to focus on what mattered most to us which is our family, who raised us, and our love for each other.”

How are the wedding venues helping to ease the stress of planning? Are they helping ease some stress? What precautions are they taking? 

Jessica: “The venue that we hope to get married at has been the most helpful and communicative venue since the start. They allowed us to tour their venue and meet to have a consultation. This has made the whole process a lot less stressful; just knowing that they are doing their best to provide whatever they can to make our day special as well as the process leading to the day as easy and smooth as possible. The venue is large, so I know they are utilizing social distancing, as well as the necessary cleaning, to make everybody comfortable and safe.”

 Brian: “Doesn’t really apply to us but we didn’t feel comfortable getting married in any venue besides a home since my mother is in an at-risk category for COVID.”

Was your wedding still everything that you wanted or imagined?

Brian: “My wedding turned out to be everything I wanted and it’s something that I will always cherish forever. Without the pandemic, I don’t think it would’ve happened like that, which meant I would’ve missed out on that experience that I cherish.”

I hope that after reading these responses those who are also planning a wedding during COVID will be encouraged to keep pushing through. It might seem like the hurdles of planning a wedding in the midst of this pandemic are too hard to surmount, but it can be accomplished. Just keep that positive mindset and know that there are others who have or are going through the same process. 

Author: Marisa Kaleva | Staff Writer

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