Like most other events in 2021, the exchange of wedding vows may look different this year.
Many couples were forced to cancel or reschedule their big day last year due to attendance limits on indoor events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those cancellations caused lost venue deposits, along with the unrecoverable cost of wedding invitations, unusable personalized décor, and much more.
The pandemic has brought with it a great deal of loss. But although the coronavirus is still with us for the time being, who doesn’t want to find the fun, love, and excitement that a wedding can encompass during such uncertain times?
Resilient couples are seeking alternate venues. They’re finding ways around the obstacles, so they can still celebrate their special day together.
Many are hosting their events outdoors with fewer guests, so they can social distance.
Here are the stories of two couples planning weddings for 2021, and another couple who were married in 2020:
Ariel and Jason
Residents of Mount Morris, Jason Carpenter and Ariel Guarino purchased their first home together in August of last year. Jason, 41, works in debt collections and Ariel, 34, is an activities director at an assisted living facility in Rochester. The couple got engaged Feb. 14, 2020, at Fratelli’s, in Avon.
“We had gone out for Valentine’s day dinner with two other couples that we are close with and Jason had apparently already talked about his plan to ask me to marry him. After we had gotten done with dinner, we were all in the parking lot talking and I remember it being so cold and windy that I had turned away from Jason because of the wind and then one of my girlfriends said something like ‘Aww, look,’ and when I turned around Jason was standing there with his arm extended out holding an open ring box!” Ariel said.
“I started to laugh, and he said ‘Will ya?!’ and my response was, ‘Of course,” she continued. “One of our guy friends said to him that he needed to get down on one knee, but he told him that if he did, it was so cold out that his knee would probably freeze to the ground ... When we got in the car to leave, he handed me a card and told me that he was so nervous that he forgot to give that to me first. So, I opened it and it said, ‘Will You Marry Me?’”
As they pass the one-year anniversary of their engagement, the couple is planning to exchange vows June 5 at Oakland Wesleyan Church, in Nunda, followed by a reception at the Genesee River Reception Center, in Mount Morris.
“I bought my dress at David’s Bridal and I am very lucky that my mom is so talented that she is going to be making all our centerpieces, as well as my bridal bouquet, the bridesmaids’ and groomsmen’s boutonnieres.”
The couple is purchasing their cake from The Cake Place, in Avon. Their DJ is Kevin Eustace, of DJ Kevin, and their photographer is Larry Tetamore, of Tetamore Photographic.
With an upcoming, 180-person indoor wedding, Ariel and Jason have had to overcome some obstacles, so they can have the wedding they foresee for themselves.
“Oh, my, there have been so many obstacles that we have hit it’s not even funny,” Ariel said. “Everything from rescheduling trying on wedding dresses multiple times to having to discuss our wedding cake via Zoom.
“I had to wait to try on and even purchase my wedding dress until December,” she said. “When discussing our wedding cake, it was a lot of texting pictures of what I was looking for in a wedding cake while we were on Zoom and then (Melissa Savino, owner of The Cake Place) sending sample cupcakes for us to try home with my mom.”
Jason and Ariel will not be wearing masks on their big day, and their guests will not be asked to wear masks either.
“I am totally against making my guests wearing masks on my wedding day. I want to look back on our special day and be able to see people’s faces and not just their eyes. The church is not very big so that might be hard to social distance in, but in the reception center we have the two large reception rooms so if people wanted to social distance they could,” said Ariel.
Although the couple has faced some hiccups with planning their wedding, they have still been able to plan according to what they hoped for and haven’t had to go without anything at this point in the planning process.
“So far, knock-on-wood, there hasn’t been, but I’m sure with the way rules and regulations change daily I may have something that I will need to go without at our wedding,” Ariel said.
When asked if she felt she was still able to have the wedding she’d always imagined, despite a hovering global pandemic, she said:
“To be honest I do not feel as though I can have the wedding I want despite the pandemic. When I was growing up dreaming about my dream wedding, I never would have imagined that I would have to be wearing a face mask when going and trying on wedding dresses or that instead of me walking out of the dressing room with the dress all zipped, buttoned, and tied for my mom who is sitting there anxiously waiting to see if ‘this is the dress,’ I would have her in the dressing room with me to help me get in the wedding dresses instead of the employee at the bridal shop.
“I did not imagine that I would be constantly worrying that I am going to have to push my wedding back due to the possibility of the state shutting back down; that I am going to be told that all of my guests have to have a COVID test before my wedding and if they don’t they can’t attend; that I can only have so many people at my wedding and that I cannot have dancing and if I do have dancing then everyone has to wear a mask and be socially distanced. I am so blessed that my family — mom, aunt and uncle — are doing everything in their power to give me my dream wedding, but due to this pandemic it just makes it very hard because there are so many ‘What if’s.’”
Both Ariel and Jason are looking forward to becoming husband and wife, even though they will celebrate with friends and family differently than they planned.
Samantha and Tim
Newlyweds Tim McGorray and Samantha Tripi-McGorray, of Bliss, were married Oct. 30, 2020 at the Sterling at Arrowhead, in Akron.
With an original guest list of 130, state COVID-19 guidelines forced the couple to reduce their list to 50 people.
“That was really difficult because we have a big family, so that took up a lot of the spots and then we just had really close friends …,” said Samantha.
Hosting their ceremony outdoors allowed for some wiggle room, but the venue was only permitted to allow 50 people inside for the reception, with the exclusion of vendors.
Despite the disappointment of having to don a mask on their wedding day, the McGorrays’ guests wore masks to the event to ensure they met state guidelines and followed safety procedures.
In addition to a reduced guest list and masks, the couple could not enjoy their time on the dance floor with their guests.
“Cuomo’s mandates also made it so we weren’t allowed to dance,” Samantha said. “We did get a DJ anyway as background music but decided to hire a comedy hypnotist as entertainment and that was a lot of fun. He took volunteers from my wedding guests to be hypnotized.”
Although Samantha never considered postponing her wedding due to COVID, she did consider changing the venue to better accommodate their wedding checklist.
“I never considered postponing the wedding, but I didn’t know if it would happen regardless of what I wanted,” she said. “We were getting married to have a marriage not a wedding, so the idea of postponing was not something I considered.”
Jessie and Ron
One bride has her sights set on a beautiful outdoor wedding on her family property in Arcade.
Jessie Stablewski, 29, and Ron Snyder Jr., 28, both of Lancaster, will tie the knot, joined by family and friends, July 3, 2021. Since Ron proposed last July 4, the pair is thrilled to celebrate their love during another Independence Day weekend celebration with a red, white, and blue themed wedding.
While Jessie and Ron are still planning to have the wedding they anticipated, they have had to stay conscious of the constantly changing COVID guidelines and restrictions.
“When we first started planning, summer 2020, some vendors we reached out to were not available for booking or giving quotes until January and February of 2021,” said Jessie. “… Instead, we worked with other vendors who were accepting clients.”
With a smaller than originally anticipated guest list of 50 guests, all attendees will be expected to wear a mask, as will their officiant.
“We have lots of space for social distancing. Guests will wear masks,” said Jessie. “… We always wanted to have a backyard wedding, it will just be much smaller than we originally wanted.”
Newlyweds Tim McGorray and Samantha Tripi-McGorray.