COVID-19 outbreak silences wedding bells

Rock Hill, S.C. senior Sarah Mayfield and her fiance, Alum Alan Michael Le Grice, must put their plans for their large wedding on hold as COVID-19 spreads. Photo courtesy of Alison Heffington

By Claire Van Zee | Reporter

With wedding season just around the corner, engaged couples around the world are scrambling to change their spring and summer plans in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Engaged Rock Hill, S.C., senior Sarah Mayfield is concerned about how the virus might alter the plans she and her fiance, Alum Alan Michael Le Grice, made for their May wedding.

While family and friends were beginning to make arrangements to attend the Waco wedding after graduation this May, Mayfield and her fiance had to put everything on hold as they wait out these unprecedented times.

“I’m really hoping it’ll be relatively normal by then since it is still two months away. Things have changed so fast, I literally have no idea what two months from now will look like,” Mayfield said.

Local wedding planner Lois Ferguson, who has been working in the Waco area for about 30 years, has four weddings planned for this upcoming spring and summer.

Ferguson said while those planning June weddings should wait before making any definite decisions, couples planning May weddings are beginning to worry, and those with weddings in April are getting pretty serious about making alternate plans.

“Of course, the further out it is, the more time they have to wait it out,” Ferguson said.

When it comes to changing plans, there is a lot to take into consideration. Couples are overwhelmed with questions such as: Will the venue still be available a few months out? When will it actually be okay to reschedule and is August too early?

But Ferguson said the real question for the bride and groom should be asking is ‘How important is it that they get married and have a license signed on the day of their anticipated wedding as compared to waiting to get married in six months?’

“For some couples it won’t matter, but others have made big life decisions based around the date,” Ferguson said.

Within the last few weeks, it has become more common for couples to put off the big gathering and instead say “I do” in whatever way possible. Some have chosen to wed via live stream while others have chosen to say their vows while standing outside a building where an officiant leads the ceremony by leaning out of his apartment window.

“I think that’s what we’re going to see most of. People are going to go ahead and get married because there is so much of your life that you’ve scheduled around that date,” Ferguson said.

This is especially true for Mayfield and her fiance, as both of their leases end in May and they plan to move across the country over the summer.

“We’re not even sure if we’ll be here after May,” Mayfield said.

The wedding ceremony isn’t the only thing that is disrupted because of the virus. Things like bachelor and bachelorette weekends, bridal showers and honeymoons are up in the air as well.

For Mayfield, the bachelorette weekend is likely going to be cancelled because none of her attendees will be in the same place for the next few month. Her bridal shower is postponed for an unset date and the honeymoon in Bali is cancelled due to travel issues.

While the situation is far from ideal, Mayfield is choosing to look at the circumstances in a different light.

“I haven’t felt super anxious or upset yet. I’ve just been processing it and taking the outlook of: ‘At the end of the day, we’re going to be married and that’s the point. The point isn’t to throw this big party, even though that’s fun.’ I’m just trying to be optimistic and hopeful,” Mayfield said.