Samantha Morris and Jordan Robertson are engaged to be married on June 5, but they are unsure if their wedding will be allowed under state-mandated social distancing. Courtesy: Hayley Pethel Photography
The day many little girls dream of is turning into a planning nightmare for many women. Spring brides all over the world are facing the task of trying to get married and plan a wedding during a pandemic.
“There are several things in your life that you only get once and that’s marriage, childbirth and you just don’t get those things back so we need to keep them special,” said Sherri Lewis, who owns a wedding venue in Weaverville, N.C .
Lewis has had a dozen brides cancel or postpone their wedding dates at her venue. The normally packed months of April and May are now completely empty, and Lewis and her husband, Dwayne have already lost around $25,000 in income. They believe in giving their brides full refunds because of the coronavirus circumstances.
“It’s my job to try to make it easier on them. They’ve already lost so much that they can’t get back,” Lewis said. “I have brides crying, and it just breaks my heart because I love my brides.”
Bailey Wood, of Charleston, and Samantha Morris, of Columbia, have gone through a rollercoaster of emotions trying to plan for their June weddings. Both brides are trying to “wait out” the virus and see what government regulations look like in a month.
“I cried a lot, I still cry somedays about it,” said Wood. “Everyday is different in how I deal with it and my thought process through it.”
Wood planned her wedding to her fiance, Preston Dawes, at the Summerville Country Club and has everything to the last detail paid for and planned out. Her plan B is to elope on her June 5 wedding date and postpone a big ceremony and reception to September. One of the hardest parts for brides is letting go after months and months of planning.
“It’s hard to grieve those expectations,” Morris said. “I don’t think the hardest part is things being cancelled; I think it’s that you have to let what you’ve been planning for over a year or so go.”
Another bride, Christine Ambrose, of Columbia, was planning her wedding for the same first weekend of June, but has already cancelled her formal ceremony.
“In the beginning, we were extremely upset and had the mindset of ‘of course us’ and envied all of the couples we knew that have been able to have their dream wedding,” said Ambrose.
Ambrose and her fiance, Will Bonnarigo, are now planning a small ceremony with family and friends. They are even prepared to get married with only an officiant present if the risk of the virus spreading is too high. Ambrose and Bonnarigo are thankful that their wedding will now be less expensive and have decided to look at the positives.
“It’s all part of God’s greater plan,” Ambrose said. “If we are meant to have a small, intimate wedding even just the two of us, we are excited regardless.”
One thing all of these women are holding onto is their belief that marriage is more than just a ceremony and a white dress.
“When you ask someone what they’re excited about getting married, it’s never all of the things that you spend thousands of dollars on,” Morris said. “The real intention of marriage is celebrating two people coming together as one person.”
Morris invited about 200 people to her wedding at The Farm at Ridgeway in Blythewood, but has only received 15 RSVP cards. She is prepared to hold a backyard wedding instead. Wood is also gearing up to elope outdoors if her wedding plans fall through.
“I think fighting for why you’re getting married is a good way to cope with this time,” said Wood.
Many venues like Lewis’s are now offering elopement packages in order for couples to still experience a smaller wedding. Lewis is encouraging her brides to wait out the storm and send out Evites a couple weeks before the wedding in lieu of traditional invitations.
“Breathe and let’s see how this plays out has kind of been my advice,” Lewis said. “Sometimes those smaller weddings are more precious anyway.”
“Hell yeah I’m excited to get married, but I feel like I can’t celebrate yet,” said Samantha Morris. Courtesy: Hayley Pethel Photography
Bailey Wood and Preston Dawes hope their June 6 wedding will still be a possibility during the coronavirus pandemic. Courtesy: Bailey Wood
Christine Ambrose and her fiance Will Bonnarigo cancelled their formal wedding on June 7 to do a smaller ceremony. Courtesy: Christine Ambrose
Sherri and Dwayne Lewis own a wedding venue with a rustic barn and outdoor pavilion in the mountains of Weaverville, N.C.