As COVID-19 has captured news headlines for weeks on end, it's also thrown a wrench in many couples' wedding plans. Brides: we feel your pain, and we support you in each and every decision you make. We know this time is not easy, but we look forward to when we can celebrate with you all again. After all, love isn't cancelled; the party is simply postponed!
Below, Justice Fuegen, one of our first Barn brides to take the plunge into the unknown, offers some valuable advice on communicating with your significant other, making adjustments, notifying vendors and guests, and processing griefs. She also shares their COVID-19 elopement story! We hope it brings some peace and comfort to your hearts!
Steele and I met in 2017 while we were both in high school. It took over a year for us to spend time together and another year for us to actually start dating. Steele proposed while we were on a short trip to Portland in November of 2019, and we planned to be married by April of 2020. From the outside, I’m sure our relationship seemed rushed to some, but I have never been more sure of something before. When planning our wedding, we talked about the values we wanted to exemplify. We decided a medium-sized wedding would be perfect because we wanted all of our loved ones there to celebrate our new marriage with us. Once we finished putting names down, our guest list was approximately 150 people. We decided April 25th, 2020, was our date and had invitations out two and a half months prior. Through the planning process, we created a wedding website for RSVP-ing, a gift registry, a bridal party shoutout, and venue details (we were so excited to book the Barn!). Once I had decorations bought and food lined up months in advance, it seemed that it was all coming together (dare I say), very easily. Unfortunately, as many others are feeling the effects of right now, the COVID-19 virus completely blindsided us. Seemingly overnight, our easy little wedding that we had become so excited for began to look a lot different.
“Do you think this will effect your wedding plans?” she asked. “No, I think this will blow over by next week and we’ll still be okay to have our wedding as planned!” I said.
Hindsight is always 20/20. Within a few days of talking with my fiancé’s grandmother about COVID-19 in early February, the situation had escalated drastically, and our wedding plans started to look grim. About two months before our planned wedding date, other states began to limit travel, schools started to shut down, and fear and uncertainty were on the rise. This raised serious questions about whether or not we should continue with our plans as usual, or consider postponing the wedding. Because we were still over a month out, Steele asked to wait for a week to see how things progressed before we made the final call. During that time, as calmly as we could, we considered several scenarios.
What if we continued with the wedding but half of our guests showed up for fear of infection? What if a family member contracted the virus? What if we eloped now and had a ceremony later? Would we regret it?
When it came to having those difficult conversations, we learned that following our gut feelings and tuning our ears to each other were incredibly important and helpful. If you're faced with a similar situation, I encourage you to talk most with your fiancé- rather than friends or parents. In the end, what the two of you want matters most. Ask each other questions like, “Why did we want to have a wedding? What was our original motivation to
have a wedding instead of elope? If we eloped now, would we regret it?” These questions will flush out real answers over the massive emotions that come along with the thought of postponing. If after a few days of sitting with this decision you are both at a loss on what to do, then it may be time to make a mutual decision to seek advice from a role model or family member. Do not to seek advice without your partner! After all, it was a mutual agreement to get married, so now is not the time to leave your partner’s opinions and thoughts out.
From our original date (April 25th), we made the decision to postpone about a month and half in advance. When it came to the decision to elope, we made that final call about two weeks before it happened. That was easier because there were less moving parts and less people to keep in the loop, so the event was much more fluid than the full-scale wedding we had planned. In our case, we found that a Facebook event page was the easiest way to notify all of our guests of the change, and we were able to livestream our elopement ceremony! I think this was a great way to follow social distancing guidelines while honoring our guests. We had very few vendors (I’m a very hands-on, do-it-yourself kind of gal), but the ones we already had booked were gracious and understanding. When we first felt like we needed to postpone, there weren’t a lot of other people doing it yet. At that point, postponing with our vendors simply took sincere conversations, explaining why we felt it was necessary. Now that the virus has continued, my hope is that this is still an easy process for brides who are adjusting their plans. Businesses/business owners recognize the need to change what business looks like in this season, and that's been one of the inspiring parts of it all!
To be honest, the hardest part of postponing our wedding celebration was the massive amount of “advice” that we received that was (probably well intended, but ultimately,) rather hurtful. We were asked several times why we were "rushing" into elopement rather than waiting to have the full wedding day later in the year. This is why we found it so important to lean on each other and limit the amount of outside voices and opinions in the decision making process. Overall, we made the decision that was right for us, and we couldn't be happier!
On April 3, 2020, we eloped with only a handful of people present. Despite various concerns and fears, the ceremony was absolutely perfect and we don’t regret a moment of it! We still had a processional, dressed up in our wedding attire, had a minister, wrote vows to each other, and even had our first dance. Instead of having a reception, we had a family dinner and ate my family’s famous white chili. We made a small cake for ourselves and opened gifts from our loved ones. It was sweet, intimate and incredibly memorable. Additionally, our wedding party made such a beautiful effort to make our day special. We still had bachelor and bachelorette parties, though they looked more like guys/girls nights in! This was such an important piece for us to keep in our plans, despite the other adjustments. While the honeymoon we originally planned was canceled, we still made an effort to have a weekend together as newlyweds! We were gifted a room at The Hotel Alex Johnson and spent the weekend there soaking up all the goodness and taking time away from work.
If we can encourage you in anything, it would be make your little elopement exactly what you want it be. If you want family or friends present, ask them to come!
Do it somewhere meaningful to you. We held ours in the back of Pure Bean Coffeehouse because it’s a second home to us.
Eat with your loved ones, make it a celebration. Don’t settle for less, just make it small!
Now, we have rescheduled and still plan on having a large reception in August once the dust settles. Thankfully, the Barn was willing to work with us to adjust the date, and we’re hoping the majority of our family and friends will still be able to come!
Looking back on it, I believe we are stronger for walking through this unprecedented situation. We have a better grasp of grace for ourselves, and have realized we complement each other’s personalities more than we knew previously.
Lastly, when it comes to handling the grief that comes with postponing your wedding, I advise you to cry...a lot! As much as I was upset that we had to postpone, it was the lack of real direction that took me for a spin. So mourn the big ceremony together, but don’t wallow in that grief for too long. It might look different, but you'll still get to celebrate! After all, it’s about starting your beautiful life together- not about how the chairs are arranged or the center pieces look.
Thank you for sharing your story, Justice!
Remember Barn Brides, we are always here for you. Please reach out with your concerns, and we will get through this together!
The Barn at Aspen Acres