By T Michele Walker, images submitted by writer.
Couples spend years planning their dream wedding. The wait became longer and more complex for weddings planned spring of 2020.
The world is on edge right now, as the coronavirus creates uncertainty. Many businesses and schools have shut down or created work-from-home policies. It’s also causing a major strain on the wedding industry, as venues scramble to react to the news and create preventive measures for upcoming events.
How are newlyweds adapting?
Newlywed Lisabeth Almeida had to react quickly to the changes brought on by COVID-19. “Our original plan for the wedding was to get married at our church. We started planning the day after getting engaged, although I had planned a little on my own.”
But it wasn’t meant to be, once the lockdown was announced in March. Couples have had to adjust with the times.
“We were not able to have our big wedding,” explains Lisabeth, “but we still wanted to get married on our date so we went to the campground where we are camp counselors and we decided to get married on the exact spot where he proposed, with some friends and family watching through Zoom.”
Stories of ceremony changes during the time of COVID-19 are plentiful and affect young and old alike.
There’s the story of Joe Newman of Sarasota, Florida. When the 1918 influenza pandemic broke out, Joe was 5 years old. Today, he’s 107 and lives in a community for seniors in Sarasota, Fla., with his fiancée, Anita Sampson, who just turned 100 on March 28. They met 16 years ago.
Joe has memories of the flu pandemic in 1918. He remembers when the neighbors’ young son died and officials attached signs to the door of their house. “The family with the disease was quarantined,” Joe recalls.
Though their combined age may be 207, Joe says, “The years we can look forward to, whatever they be, whether they be many or few, and even if they’re just days, we look forward to them. And then hope for another one,” (NPR.org).
What about businesses tied to weddings?
It’s not just the brides and grooms that are facing challenges. An entire enterprise is built around weddings. June is the month that pays the bills.
Wedding photographer Misty Higgins has been working in this business since 2012. “I shoot around 25 weddings a year. Most brides book six months to a year out and pay a non-refundable retainer, which has created a lot of issues with photographers and clients this season.”
However, Misty has worked with all of her brides. “For me, personally, I have refunded retainers for canceled weddings and have worked with all my brides to move dates and reschedule with no additional fees.”
“Navigating through this as a small business owner has been challenging at best. We went eight weeks with no income, shut down as non-essential and the entire wedding industry crashed overnight.”
Lisabeth refuses to dwell on the negatives and looks to the positives, “One thing that we have learned throughout all of this is to trust in God. We have also learned how truly blessed we are by our families and friends.”
When asked what she will tell her children and grandchildren about their special day, Lisabeth says, “I would love to tell my future children to never lose hope! We never lost hope because we knew at the end of the day we would marry each other. God is good. Love always prevails!”
Misty adds, “Everyone in the wedding industry has had to get creative in order to survive. I have loved the art I have seen come out of the pandemic and the photos of intimate COVID weddings. I have loved seeing my fellow artists adapt and get creative and to continue to pick up their cameras to capture life and love and weddings and show the world to itself in all its beauty, even during a pandemic.”