One week ago, I married the love of my life, not with the wedding we had planned, but with the wedding life had planned for us. Our original date was set for Jul. 5, 2020. Given my now-husband’s Australian-Greek heritage, we had planned an international wedding in Greece. This itself added layers of complexity even without a global pandemic. But in March, when this new reality began to set in, we had to consider what our wedding would look like during the Coronavirus pandemic — without family, friends, or carefully laid plans intact.
While we didn’t scrap our original wedding plan entirely (merely a postponement), it felt wrong to delay our next chapter of marriage during a time that emphasized what really matters — family. Also, in a time where we could all use some good news! So with not much more than a "let’s do it," we planned to elope. We've been quarantined in Aspen, Colorado (we're in the midst of relocating here full time) and we had also always envisioned tying the knot here, but originally decided against it since it’s not the easiest place to get to for our Australian family.
We settled on a wedding date of Jul. 4, the same date we’ll celebrate with our friends and family next year. But, with just a few short weeks to plan, I had to get creative, and be flexible. The #covidwedding hashtag became my go-to for inspiration, I began sourcing vendors via Instagram, and I ordered a new dress online. But, everything went forward with the knowledge that even the smallest of gatherings aren't currently possible.
Still, while our wedding was nothing what I expected in the weeks prior, it became everything I had wanted — and more.
Planning A Wedding During Coronavirus: The Choice To Delay
The decision to postpone didn't happen overnight. It was a slow progression, that was first considered well before stringent restrictions were in place — we had a gut feeling that moving forward wasn’t right. We started learning of family members who couldn’t travel, borders entirely closed, and the hardest being a close friend who passed away from COVID-19. It was in mid-April when we officially made the call — while looking at 300 embossed invites, now with the wrong date.
To my surprise, I immediately felt relief — and our guests did too. Relief knowing that when we could have a wedding, it would be a celebration, not a burden. With so much uncertainty, we reverted back to ‘save the date’ mode, emphasizing 2021 would be a bigger party and something to look forward to. Fortunately, all our vendors would also accommodate us. The sentiment being, we are all in this together.
Planning A Wedding During Coronavirus: The Actual Planning
With the decision to elope, I suddenly found myself planning another wedding! But this time it was simple and solely about us. Given we only had a few weeks, I prioritized finding our vendors such as a photographer, florist, and officiant — mostly sourced via Instagram. Everyone we met was eager, supportive, and played such an intimate part in our day. We were all excited to bring this day to life.
Of course there were minor challenges. With stores being closed, I found my dress (made by the talented Jonathan Simkhai) online and it wasn’t until our wedding day that I saw it fully on... because no one but my fiancée, George could help me zip it during quarantine. As for my shoes: white, pearly cowboy boots! They were sent to me the day we postponed our big wedding. I had joked that I'd marry George in anything, even cowboy boots. So yes, that came true!
We found George’s suit — a handsome number from Ralph Lauren — just days prior when the store re-opened. Browsing the store with masks on, we mixed and matched what I think became the perfect look. The staff made it fun and even managed to find a tailor on day's notice.
Bridal prep was basically non-existent. There were no facials, manicures, fittings, bridal showers, bachelorettes, or fancy workouts. I did do a makeup trial — in a mask. And my hairdresser colored my hair in her backyard — also with us both wearing masks. The details I had once Pinned, saved, and planned for all became irrelevant during this time. In the end, this is not what marriage is about.
Planning A Wedding During Coronavirus: The Wedding
I started the wedding day with a hike and a meditation. The best advice I had been given by a former college swim teammate shortly after I got engaged. It was also the last thing I did solo, before it all began.
We then checked into the beautiful Hotel Jerome. Built in 1889 it’s an Aspen landmark and quickly became our go-to cocktail spot when George and I first started dating (the lobby bar is a must). Upon settling in my room that overlooked the pool (George told them I was a swimmer!), I got my hair and makeup done, had a glass of wine...or two. It was extremely low key. No bridesmaids. No stresses. I spent the last hour or so Facetiming loved ones. Not a dry eye in the room.
While almost all of our family and friends couldn’t attend, I was joined by my mom and sister the day-of. My mom zipped my dress for the first time and drove with me to the altar — or in our case, into mother nature. I’ll never forget that car ride, a 30-minute drive outside of Aspen into a tucked away field that George and I discovered days prior. A field that when we arrived, had bloomed overnight with thousands of wild flowers (seriously!).
The ceremony was for us and only us. We choose every reading, shared letters, wrote our own vows. We cried, we laughed, and cried some more. While it all seems like a blur, it was so special. Things like cutting the cake and our first dance happened too — to the sounds of a (socially distanced) saxophone player that I discovered from the Aspen Music Festival.
It even rained ever so slightly, but I’ve been told that's good luck.
When we arrived back into Aspen, the entire town welcomed us. Everyone from kids to restaurant-goers clapped as we walked through the streets. We spent the evening celebrating safely distanced with local friends, lighting sparklers (given it was July 4th), and with a few toasts at our Western go-to Kemo Sabe — the iconic hat shop, complete with a bar that had been moved entirely outside.
Planning A Wedding During Coronavirus: Looking Back
Now that I've had a few days to reflect, I feel so at ease with what at first seemed like a challenge. While I do believe there is a time and a place for a big wedding — and hope to experience it — having an elopement allowed us to start our next chapter, just the two of us.
I chose my wedding band with horizontal set baguettes. A reminder that sometimes, life goes sideways, but together, it will be ok. Next year on our anniversary, I’ll add another band with a vertical set...for when life’s in parallel.
Until that day, I’ll be here enjoying my next chapter as I continue to just figure it out.