A reader named May recently reached out to share her wedding with me and agreed to write a guest post for the blog today! I’ve been hearing from a lot of you guys about rescheduling and/or planning weddings during the pandemic and May and I agreed that it was helpful to hear how other couples had gone about the circumstances! Take it away, May:
We got engaged on April 14, 2019 and planned our dream wedding for July 18, 2020. When it became clear that a big wedding wouldn’t be possible this summer, we canceled it. While we definitely still want to have a big celebration with all our friends and family in the future, we didn’t want to put our lives on hold indefinitely. We decided to still get married this summer in a small, intimate ceremony with our immediate families!
We considered lots of options for the small ceremony. I thought about wearing a shorter dress and saving my wedding gown for the bigger celebration. But in the end, we felt that this was going to be our wedding day that we remember forever, so we wanted it to feel like a traditional wedding —just smaller! Our thought process was: down the road, when we look back at memories of our wedding day, how do we want to remember it? For us, that meant making it special by picking a venue we loved, wearing our original gown and suit, and having a traditional ceremony, flowers, a nice meal, a cake cutting, and a photographer to capture it all.
Our first weekend trip together as a couple was to Newport, RI, and on that trip, we had lunch on the lawn at Castle Hill Inn. We both loved it, and that day we even said that maybe we’d get married there someday! A few years later when we got engaged and were planning our big wedding, we looked into having the wedding there, but for a few reasons we picked a different location. When we inquired about doing a small wedding at Castle Hill, they were so helpful and everything fell into place. It felt like we were meant to end up here all along! It was also a perfect location for most of our family members to travel there and back in one day in case they didn’t feel comfortable staying in a hotel.
Even with a small wedding, there was a lot of planning involved, and coronavirus added a few complications. Castle Hill was great about accommodating our requests, like having the chairs at the ceremony grouped into family “pods” and spaced six feet apart. We also wanted everything to be outdoors for safety reasons, so we had a rain date. With a few days to go, the forecast said rain on our original date AND our rain date! But since we only had nine guests and three vendors (photographer, florist, and officiant), thankfully everyone was flexible and we were able to move to an earlier day!
Of course, the hardest part was not having our bridal party, friends, and extended family there with us, but we still 100% plan to have a bigger party in the future (once we can do so with absolutely no worries of coronavirus in the back of our minds), so we know we’ll get to celebrate with everyone eventually.
Another challenge was doing my own hair, makeup, and nails! I’m not too skilled at any of these, but as much as I would have liked to get everything done professionally, I wasn’t comfortable doing so during a pandemic. I did some research, ordered some new products, and practiced a few times in the weeks leading up to the wedding, and I think it turned out pretty well!
Our Wedding Day
We stayed at Castle Hill the night before, so the day of our wedding, we woke up early, took our dog for a walk around the gorgeous property, and had a room service breakfast on our patio. It was the most relaxing morning – and I’m not sure how many brides can say that about the morning of their wedding! When our photographer arrived, my husband left to go meet her, and my sister came in to help me finish getting ready and put on my dress.
We did a first look in the garden at Castle Hill, and then took photos in a few different locations around the property. My dad walked me down the aisle, and we had a beautiful ceremony overlooking the water. We said vows that we had written together, along with the traditional “I do’s.”
After the ceremony, we had a cocktail hour on the lawn with appetizers, champagne, and toasts from family members. Then we moved to the restaurant terrace for lunch – clam chowder (a must when you’re in Rhode Island!), a delicious salad with prosciutto and burrata, and lobster for the main course. We had a mini wedding cake featuring pug cake toppers made by my talented sister! She also put together some family photos from both families as part of the centerpieces for the table, I made place cards, and we reused bouquets from the ceremony. Other than that, we didn’t do any decorating since we had such beautiful scenery around us!
We were gifted a few small heirlooms from my family, including a silver cup that was given as a wedding favor at my great-great-grandparents’ wedding, and monogrammed silver napkin rings from my great-grandparents’ wedding. I loved having a little family history incorporated into the day.
After most of our guests departed, we took the stairs down to a little private beach – it felt so good to take off my heels and dip my toes in the water! I called this our “after party.”
Advice for Current Brides & Grooms
This is definitely not an easy time to be engaged. Wedding planning is stressful enough without a global pandemic thrown on top of everything! My advice would be to decide what feels right for you and your future spouse. If you can’t imagine getting married without everyone on your guest list there (and I will say that was the hardest part for us), maybe postponing or waiting until next year to start planning is the right answer for you. But if you are thinking you might want to go for it this year, I hope this post encourages you and gives you some ideas!
Note: This is what we decided was best for us, and we are so happy with how it turned out. But what’s right for you might look different, and truly, anything goes right now! This year I’ve seen beautiful backyard weddings, casual City Hall weddings, elopements with just the couple and their officiant, and everything in between. There is no longer one right way to have a wedding, and to me that is honestly a silver lining of this whole situation. If there’s ever a time to throw societal and wedding industry norms out the window, it’s now!
Venue: Castle Hill Inn
Photographer: Maria Burton Photography
Florist: Sarah Rodgers Florals
Officiant: Honorable Robert Hardman
Dress: Jenny Yoo
Suit: The Groomsman’s Suit