Thornbury Brides in New Bern, NC
Photography by Anna Clark
COUPLE’S WEDDING STORY:
Tyler and I were actually random roommates. He moved in and we realized how much we had in common. We ended up spending a lot of time together because we both enjoyed traveling, baseball games and hanging out with friends. We both were online dating when he moved in and would come home from our respective dates with other people and compare them. Eventually we came realized that maybe we should date? The rest is history.
He proposed on July 4, 2019 when we were at the beach, which is one of our places to travel. It was a complete surprise as I had convinced myself he was going to propose in September. My college football team, James Madison, was playing football at his college, West Virginia, and we had planned a huge tailgate with all our friends and family. Everyone in his family is a WVU fan while my family is all JMU fans. I thought for sure I had it figured out, so when we were visiting with my brother and his girlfriend for 4th of July I had absolutely no idea when we went to dinner he had a whole different plan setup.
Since July 4, 2020 was a Saturday we decided in Fall 2019 that was the perfect day to get married. Well, 2020 had different plans. Before COVID-19 was even a known household phrase, the venue we had originally selected to host our reception let us know they were unable to do so according to the contract. They thankfully let us out of the contract, but then we were five months away from our wedding date with no reception venue. Thankfully, we were able to secure a new reception venue right before everything started shutting down. I remember Tyler saying when we signed the new contract, “Well if this is the wedding drama we have to deal with, at least we have it figured out now.” Boy was he wrong!
I think everyone who has ever planned a wedding would agree it is stressful. Planning and re-planning a wedding countless times during a global pandemic is on a whole different level. We were supposed to attend a friend’s wedding in England in March and when that got postponed, I remember everyone saying to me, “Thank goodness your wedding is in July so you won’t have to deal with coronavirus!” Well, sadly this has lasted and continues to for much longer than everyone imagined or hoped. It seemed like we were updating plans and making changes daily. We got lucky in that our home state of Virginia entered Phase 2 about two weeks before our wedding, which meant we could have a gathering of 50 people. Our guest list of 250 was painstakingly reduced to 48, since Tyler and I counted as two in the maximum number allowed. Let me tell you, limiting the guest list to 250 was hard. Reducing to less than one-fifth was next to impossible.
We had originally planned a church ceremony as it was always my dream to get married in the church I grew up in. Well, when churches closed for in person services, we weren’t sure if getting married in the church was going to be an option so we began contingency planning. The church was absolutely wonderful about communicating information as they received it from the governing board of Virginia. We had to set a seating chart for our guests for the ceremony to ensure everyone was six feet apart in the sanctuary. One week before our wedding we were told everyone including us would have to wear masks, despite already respecting the social distancing. We decided that as much as we wanted to get married in the church, saying our wedding vows with masks on was less than ideal. Five days before our wedding date, we moved the ceremony to our reception venue, Country Club of Fairfax. Everyone there, especially the Director of Catering, Lauren and Catering Assistant, Claire, were so amazing. With such a short notice, they quickly pivoted and found a space inside for us to have our ceremony since getting married outdoors at 4 PM in Virginia in July is probably more risky than getting married in the middle of a global pandemic.
Well the day finally came and despite mostly everything being different than what had been originally planned, we had a beautiful ceremony. My best friends and bridesmaids figured out with just a few days notice how to host the ceremony live via Zoom so our guests that were unable to join us in person could at least view the ceremony virtually. Another great friend who is a wedding DJ stepped up and helped us with even less notice when we moved the ceremony to the venue and were unable to use the church’s sound system as planned. She also made it so we were able to have a semi-normal reception with dancing, socially distanced of course.
When we had to cut the guest list, we sent a note to everyone and asked them to save a date in September for our “Reception Round 2.” Unfortunately, with numbers continuing to rise, we have decided to cancel that event for everyone’s health and safety. We would feel terrible if anyone were to get sick from celebrating our marriage so rather than tempt fate we postponed the larger reception indefinitely. This was not a decision we arrived at easily. We really wanted to be able to celebrate with everyone and it broke our hearts cancel with no future plan.
At the end of the day, Tyler and I were married on July 4, 2020. Despite being unable to share in the day with so many of our loved ones, having the small intimate ceremony allowed us to focus on ourselves and just enjoy making this commitment together. We ended up with wonderful pictures and a beautiful wedding video that make it seem like it was the absolute perfect day. We will cherish those forever and oh my goodness, what a story to tell our future children!
Hair: Ally Posey & Perry Warren
Makeup: Alexis Keller & Emily Clark
Venue: Country Club of Fairfax
Church: Floris UMC
DJ: Lauren Bobby
Desserts: Bijou’s Sweet Treats
Rings: Manly Bands & Johnny Jewelry