Pandemic Wedding: Sara Hamilton

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Pandemic Wedding: Sara Hamilton

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Wolf: What things did you have to change for your wedding to happen? (i.e. limit the number of people, venue changes to outside venues, or making face masks required)

Hamilton: My situation was very unique from a lot of COVID-19 weddings in that we were nine days away from our date when we decided to postpone the celebration. Everyone told us we were crazy and to just do it and Florida shut down less than a week before our original date. Because it was so close to the date and we already had our marriage license we decided to have a super small and intimate ceremony with 13 people including us and the officiant. Our original RSVP number was 152 people. Everything was shut down on March 22nd but we did our ceremony in my in-laws backyard. They built an arbor, put flowers everywhere, socially distanced all the seats and nobody was allowed inside the house except to use the bathroom. We did not wear face masks, but this was really before that became the responsible thing to do. Nobody got close to each other except my husband and I and we only had a champagne toast and cut a small cake before we all split off. It was so opposite of everything that we had planned that day but I am so glad we chose to do a small ceremony because we certainly did not know what the future held and we still don’t.

Wolf: What was the biggest concern you had about having your wedding during a global pandemic?

Hamiton: For us the biggest concern was travel and people not being able to get back home amidst the beginning of the pandemic panic. We also have a lot of older people attending and we could never forgive ourselves if anyone we loved became sick because of coming to our wedding. And as I so think we are allowed to be selfish about one thing, another concern was that it just wouldn’t be the dance party we envisioned. We are both relatively relaxed and wanted to have the “big party” without people worrying for their own safety. For these reasons, we still have not had our big wedding.

Wolf: Did you have any reservations about having your wedding at all? Did you have to push back your wedding?

Hamilton: We had so many reservations. How could we be selfish and have the wedding no matter what when there is a global pandemic going on? Millions of people have died, and we want to celebrate our love even if it means not having those that have supported us in our partnership throughout the years? It just did not feel right to either of us. Our dream wedding is not about all the expensive and luxurious things… it is about having the support system that has been there for us throughout the years. Without that, it is not the wedding that we want. It has been extremely devastating, but we try to remember WHY we have made these decisions. I am tearing up as I think about it. Yes, we have now pushed back our wedding three times. We had an original date of March 22nd, 2020 and on March 17th, 2020 we chose October 18th, 2020 to be our second date. In August of 2020, we decided to postpone our October date to March 21st, 2021. We were confident we could safely make it happen but come January with reservations from both of us and our families, we decided to indefinitely postpone the big celebration until the world feels safe enough. Come July 2021, we will sit down to discuss if we will move forward with a fall/winter date or if we will push back to 2022.

Wolf: What issues, if any, did you have with the vendors that you had scheduled for your wedding?

Hamilton: We are incredibly blessed and have had minimal issues with all our vendors. We chose to support local for all of our vendors and everyone that we picked is people that we personally know. Most people cannot say the same as us, especially after postponing three times. We only “lost” one deposit from our DJ but he is giving us a discount when we do rebook. We had to pay an extra couple of thousand for our venue (The Riverhouse) as our contract was only for 2020 and we had gotten a generous discount, but they were so gracious to us and all of the money we have put forward is being saved on an invoice for whatever date we end up choosing, regardless of if its in 2021 or 2022. So basically, all of vendors saved our money and will apply it to our new date when that time comes. This is very fortunate and we do not take that for granted, by any means. Our wedding was paid in full so with our vendors being so flexible with time and money, its taken a lot of stress of our shoulders and has made postponing multiple times a lot easier because we don’t feel pressured to move forth due to time and money. If it did not go this way for us, I’m not sure what we would’ve done…weddings are expensive.

Wolf: If you had to push your wedding back, were vendors really flexible on giving you a new date/refund?

Hamilton: The first time around everyone was incredibly flexible and actually gave us first dibs on a new date since we were only nine days away from the big day when we decided to postpone. Second postponement wasn’t as easy but everyone still stayed flexible. Upon our third postponement, we were worried we would get backlash at saving a date then cancelling which is why we decided to postpone indefinitely until we feel its safe so we aren’t taking a date away from another couple and not stopping our vendors from making money on that day, since we are fully paid. We aren’t sure what will happen when we do choose a new date as that will require signing new contracts but because everyone has been so flexible and generous to us, we have no problem paying extra money for every vendor we chose. We chose each vendor because we really liked their work but we will stay with all of them for how they have treated us. We will pick a date that works for them all because they have done so much to keep us comfortable and we couldn’t imagine our day without them being by our side. We have not asked for any refunds nor will we.

Wolf: What does it feel like to have gotten married during a pandemic?

Hamilton: I could come up with a lot of adjectives to describe how it has felt as we are closing in on almost a year since our “mini mony” as they now call it. It is overwhelming, devastating, beautiful, and happy. (Here I am crying again) On March 13th, as I stood in my wedding dress for my final dress fitting, I cried with my mother-in-law as we were receiving calls, emails, and texts left and right about people not being able to make it due to the arising concern. It was there that we both knew what was needed. We drove home and broke the news to my husband and asked him how he felt. He agreed but didn’t say much. His mother left and we cried. We cried hard; we were SO mad. How could this happen SO close to our dream wedding? It took a few days, but we accepted it and decided to do the small ceremony anyways and wear what we had planned to wear. It was the happiest day of our lives, regardless of what had happened prior to 5:00 pm on March 22nd, 2020. So, while its been one of the hardest and disappointing things we have had to go through, it has made our marriage strong, honest, loyal, and committed. If we can get through our first year of marriage during a global pandemic postponing our wedding three times, I think we can do most things. I got to marry my best friend and the love of my life and I would be so disappointed in myself now if we had let postponing the wedding stop us from getting married. The big party will happen one day and this has taught us one very important life lesson: patience. So while I don’t wish this circumstance on anyone and so many have gone through it, I don’t regret that I got married during a pandemic. What a story for the kids one day, eh?

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