Three weeks before their planned wedding April 2020 Sam Lebow and Meghan Dworschak wrote the caterer one last check for their reception.
“Two days later,” said Sam, “we had to postpone the wedding.”
The reason? COVID-19.
In 2019, Doug Dwyer officiated at 11 weddings. In 2020, he officiated from zero.
“They all canceled, every single one,” said Dwyer, senior pastor at Addisville Reformed Church in Richboro, Pennsylvania.
The reason? COVID-19.
When Abby and Logan Misegades signed the papers to buy Margot Hill, an East Texas wedding venue, in early March 2020, they were planning 25 weddings for the remainder of the year. They had eight.
“We had dedicated our lives to this new town and our new business,” said Abby, “and we had no idea when we could achieve our dream.”
The reason? COVID-19.
The Rockies YMCA in Estes Park, Colorado hosted 105 weddings in 2019. In 2020, this number fell to 65. This year it will be 140.
“Postponed a third to 2021,” said Holly Cross, wedding and special events coordinator at the 124-year-old facility. “A third canceled and decided to get married closer to home with fewer people. A third decided to continue without even knowing who was coming the week before. We booked some at the last minute from other venues in the area that had all canceled their weddings. “
The reason? COVID-19.
In 2020, much attention was rightly drawn to the coronavirus and its subsequent deaths; about the courage of health care workers; in the event of closings and reopenings; about the vaccine – in short, about the suffering inherent in a pandemic. But it also applied to traditionally happy occasions.
There were 2.02 million marriages in the United States in 2019. In 2020 that number dropped to 1.26 million.
In 2019, 2.02 million marriages were concluded in the United States, according to The Wedding Report. In 2020 that number dropped to 1.26 million. This year, the organization is forecasting 1.9 million weddings – although the Delta variant could cut that down – and 2.5 million in 2022.
These are the numbers on paper. Here are real life stories of the people behind these numbers.
Sam and Meghan, who live in Washington, DC, met in December 2017 and got engaged over Memorial Day weekend 2019. They set the date and location: a beach in Charleston, SC, near where much of Meghan’s family is alive. When the lockdown began, they changed the date but kept the location. Then, for security reasons, they decided to keep the location but limit the guest list to the family.
“About a week before that,” Megan said, “my twin brother called and said he had COVID, so we even had to postpone the smaller ceremony. We said forget it; There were just too many moving parts. We decided that my parents could go up here and we had the wedding in Sam’s parents’ garden. “
That was August 1, 2020. Meghan was wearing her wedding dress and both parents, Sam’s sister Nora and the cantor who performed the service were present. Originally, Meghan’s uncle, a Catholic priest, was supposed to perform the ceremony in Charleston, but the cantor stepped in when the venue changed. If the wedding takes place by the next scheduled date, September 26th, her uncle will officiate.
“Then if we can’t, we won’t,” said Sam. “My parents rented houses for the family and we have to cancel 30 days before the appointment or they will lose the money. The caterer said we can’t reschedule so we have more money. We told the guests that they had to be vaccinated to participate, so our guest list is already smaller. “
Many invitees hold back the question of whether they will be there, what Sam and Meghan understand.
“Everything is going so fast,” remarked Meghan. “People don’t want to commit to something that will happen tomorrow, let alone in a few weeks.”
The past 18 months or so have been more stressful than they ever expected. Not only do they work in busy education positions, dealing with ever-changing wedding plans and lost deposits, but they recently purchased a home that will close days before their final wedding date. Plus, Sam has been planning his Greek honeymoon for two years – keep your fingers crossed that it’s not affected by the pandemic.
“People don’t want to commit to something that will happen tomorrow, let alone in a few weeks.”
But with the support of their families and mutual support, they stay emotionally afloat and look forward to the future.
“I just feel like there’s no point in worrying when we can’t control something,” Meghan said. “We figured out where we take turns, who’s upset one day and who is upset the other. That helped a lot. We know that we can rely on each other. “
Abby and Logan toured Margot Hill, the place that would become their home and livelihood, for the first time in January 2020. The couple, who have three children, signed the papers in March. Lockdown began two weeks later.
“Our faith was the only thing that survived the miracle of getting this place,” Abby said. “I didn’t know anyone in Malakoff, the city we moved to. I didn’t even know it existed. I thought to myself, ‘Jesus, you have to come up and take care of yourself. We are against all odds at the moment. ‘”
They expected 25 weddings in 2020. In reality they had eight. For everyone, they have put up signs warning of the risks of COVID-19 and emphasizing the need for social distancing. They ordered copious amounts of hand sanitizer and masks.
“We had 11 people at our first wedding,” she said. “That was even a rule violation, because at that time the limit for a group was 10.”
A wedding had to be postponed because the groom and his mother tested positive for the virus less than a week earlier.
“They wanted to keep the same salespeople, so we had to coordinate with photographers, caterers and florists to make sure everyone had vacancies,” Abby explained. “It was a logistical nightmare as you can imagine. But they had the wedding two weeks later. “
With the lifting of restrictions and the availability of vaccines, the number of weddings scheduled at Margot Hill has increased. So far, according to Abby, the delta variant has not caused any cancellations. As of July, 24 weddings had been held; another 21 are on the books for the remainder of the year.
The number of guests has obviously also increased. But, said Abby, “it’s still low. It seems that the trend now is to attract your most important, closest people instead of everyone you have ever met. I like that.”
Speaking at the Rockies’ YMCA, Holly said restrictions were in place during the pandemic. Self-service buffet lines were no longer allowed. The guests only had to enter through one door and exit through another. Everyone had to wear masks.
“We were in constant contact with the Larimer County Health Department and followed their guidelines,” she said.
The demand for the facility is so great now that couples are ready to get married any day of the week, not just the weekend.
“People feel pretty safe here at the Y, in the mountains and out,” she said.
When the pandemic broke out, Pastor Doug said weddings weren’t high on his list of concerns.
“I had other worries,” he explained; namely the safety of the parishioners and the smooth running of the virtual church services. The church put nearly $ 40,000 in streaming devices and cameras. Although the physical doors of the Church have been reopened for more than a year, many members still choose to worship online.
“I give kudos to the two or three couples who planned to get married last year and went to the justice of the peace instead and then waited until this year to marry them,” he said. “The others have just postponed and rescheduled for this year. I’ve done six so far and I’ll do a few more in the future. “
Not all of them were held in church. When you’re in a different place, he just follows the rules for masks and social distancing.
“For couples, I would say you have to stick to your plans,” advised the pastor. “There is no guarantee that you can do what you want to do. For some, if they have to cancel their wedding again, they will be heartbroken. I would probably tell you to have a little ceremony and I would like to do it. And when it gets quieter, we can hold a bigger wedding. “
Above all, he advises them to heed this verse from Isaiah: “Do not be afraid, for I am God.”
“I don’t think you should run around in fear,” he said. “You don’t want to live your life in fear, but take appropriate precautions. Use the common sense the Lord has given you. “
Leslie Barker Garcia is a freelance writer based in Dallas.
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