Getting married in general is a nerve-racking experience. Getting married in the middle of the pandemic is nothing different. With public health guidelines changing constantly, every 2020 wedding is unique; a wedding in May will be completely different than a wedding in September.
Here’s what my 2020 wedding was like:
My husband and I got engaged in June 2019 and planned to get married the following year.
Our original wedding date was set as March 21, 2020. Then COVID-19 hit the United States, and everything completely shut down. I got a call from our original wedding venue to say that they had to cancel our reservation because they were having to close. I was frantic and was so disappointed that our plans had to be changed.
We had to make the hard decision to reschedule our wedding on a different date. We even had to change venues; I looked everywhere in the area and even in my hometown in Alabama. Of course, everywhere was closed no matter what state I looked in.
I would have never guessed that this lockdown would last as long as it did. I looked for weeks for absolutely anywhere for us to get married. We had our hearts set on getting married as soon as possible, and everything was ready. The only thing we were missing was the venue.
Finally, I was able to find a chapel in Gatlinburg, Tenn. This small, adorable chapel right outside of the national park opened in May for small ceremonies. There was, however, a catch.
We were only allowed to have 20 people maximum in attendance. Because my husband and I both have decent sized families, the only friend that got to come to our wedding was our photographer. In addition to the limited number of guests, everyone was expected to test negative for COVID-19 before attending.
My family had to travel from Alabama and that gave me some uncertainty; traveling between states caused a higher risk of picking up something contagious while they were on the way.
At the venue itself, the dressing rooms were closed, and we had to be dressed and ready to go before we got to the chapel. Thankfully, mask mandates were different in May than they are now and everyone in attendance tested negative for COVID-19 before the big day, so only the venue’s employees wore masks, except during the ceremony itself. The ceremony was requested to be shorter than normal due to social distancing guidelines and the need to be able to assist other couples who were waiting to get married as well.
Unfortunately, we were not able to get all the pictures that we wanted at the chapel to maintain social distance guidelines and because of the short ceremony. We decided that both families would meet at Cades Cove after the ceremony to take photos since we already had a photographer with us and wouldn’t have to stay socially distanced from our family members.
We also could not find a reception venue, even with a small number of people. We ended up having a small gathering at the hotel where my parents were staying. It was more intimate than a large reception and a special time to spend with our families.
Even though our wedding wasn’t at all what I imagined it would be, I am still so happy I had the opportunity to get married to the love of my life.