The Perfect Pandemic Wedding
by Donna Scrafano
Two years before the pandemic, my granddaughter, Mariah, and her fiancé, Chris, began planning their wedding. Their first thought was to have a destination wedding in Jamaica. After several family meetings and many discussions, however, they decided that a destination wedding would be too complicated for some family members, and it would eliminate a few rather important guests.
So, while ending their search for an out-of-the-country wedding venue, they began to research places in the Carolinas. They were thinking of possibly having a beach wedding near a resort that could provide accommodation for approximately 120 guests. They would rent a large beach guest house for close family members who attended. Again, after many more discussions and research, it didn’t seem that this new plan was going to work.
Exhausted from researching, planning, un-planning, attempting to meet the needs of attendees while at the same time meet their ideal of what they wanted for their wedding, they decided to look for a venue in the Lehigh Valley area, where they lived. Most of their guests and family members are from the Lehigh Valley as well. Finally, a plan that worked for everyone involved! And, quite frankly, Mariah was more than OK with a smaller, more intimate venue.
In November 2019, the bride- and groom-to-be were off and running to a five-star restaurant to discuss the menu, then off to find a quaint place for the marriage ceremony, and, last but not least, off to find and schedule someone to officiate. The date was set for June 19, the guest list pared down to eighty, reception venue in booked, ceremony site chosen, officiator scheduled, and all participants’ needs taken into account. Bravo! All done, or so we thought.
In January 2020, we began hearing about the COVID-19 virus. Confused about the contradictory information we were hearing, we weren’t sure what was going to happen. And then the focus shifted to just how serious this virus was and continues to be.
The world was shutting down, people were getting very sick, and so many were dying. How absolutely earth shattering! Sheltering-in, social distancing from friends and family, masks, gloves, sanitizer, finding toilet paper, and finding bleach and other disinfectants became our challenge and our reality. Gatherings of any kind were not allowed. Mariah and Chris contemplated changing the date. But to when? How far out would be far enough? The uncertainty about everything was overwhelming.
In April 2020, they canceled the wedding venue. Luckily their deposit was returned. They decided to follow through with the marriage, however. Mariah already had her wedding dress, and Chris had his suit. And the officiator was still willing to perform the wedding ceremony, outside and masked. So, why not?
At the time, the number of people allowed at an outside event was limited to ten. Having only ten people meant that only three participants were not already in our safe circle. The search began to find an outside area that would be quaint, lovely, and would meet the restriction standards. One such area was the Allentown Rose Garden.
As we walked through the rose garden, we noticed beautiful gazebos where the ceremony could be performed, beautiful scenery for pictures, and plenty of space for social distancing, all enhanced by the plentiful rose bushes that adorned the entire park.
As the wedding date drew nearer, the restrictions eased up a bit. The allowable number of people rose from ten to twenty-five. So, the guest list changed once again. This new number permitted the inclusion of all close family members. The change suited Mariah and Chris very well.
On June 19, 2020, at three in the afternoon, Mariah and Chris’s wedding ceremony finally took place. It was a beautiful, bright, sunny day. The roses were in full bloom, and everywhere you looked you saw beauty. The wedding was small, intimate, and just lovely. It was perfect. Honestly.
Following the ceremony, there was a catered reception at our house. As we have a very large yard, social distancing with twenty-five people was easy. Again, perfect.
Although there were so very many challenges along the way, we as a family certainly knew that during such tumultuous times our challenges were minimal in comparison to what others were experiencing.
This wonderful, beautiful, intimate wedding, despite the almost overwhelming complications, was indeed one of the greatest highlights for our family during such uncertainty. We are forever grateful for our Pandemic Wedding.
Photo provided by Donna Scrafano.
Donna began her journey in Human Services in 1983. During the next 35 years she held various positions and formally retired in 2018. She writes on an array of social issues. Donna's relaxation time includes walking her Lab, Roxy, having fun with her seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, writing for Silver Sage, spending time with friends and family. Her last full-time position was providing care to her father. Since that has ended, Donna is taking the time to invest in her own self care and interests.