By Haleigh Couture
Having to plan a wedding during a pandemic is grueling. For these southern Maine couples, the recent months have been emotionally draining. Faced with the dilemma of having to either cancel or postpone their wedding has been a difficult decision.
Newlyweds from Topsham, Alyssa Charette and Zachary Hartman, started planning their wedding immediately. The couple picked their date back in October of 2020. But things quickly came to a standstill when restrictions continued to pose as a lingering uncertainty.
“Back in December and even January of 2021, we heavily considered postponing the wedding,” said Charette. “In April, we called our venue and they said the state and board of directors still haven’t approved for a dance floor. What is a wedding without dancing?”
Hartman explained that he comes from a large family in Ohio, and getting his family to coordinate travel plans to Maine for a wedding that may end up being canceled, was his initial concern.
“We couldn’t say with a hundred percent certainty that we would have our July wedding,” said Hartman. “We didn’t want to spend a ton of money just to have our guests look miserable because the ones that do come have to wear masks, and social distance.”
The couple searched for new trends in various wedding blogs, trying to craft their own version of fun, safe alternatives for their guests if dancing was out of the question.
“When I was researching, a lot of people did these fun games to entertain their guests or even had a drive up where guests could see the wedding projected onto a big screen,” said Charette.
In April, the couple announced to their guests that their July wedding would go on as planned. The couple received an email from their venue the Woodlands Country Club in Falmouth, notifying them that because of the lifting of state restriction on May 24, their wedding can now hold full capacity and function without limitation.
No masks were worn, and no love was having to stay distanced. The couple had their wedding as planned on July 2, 2021.
“It’s been such an emotional rollercoaster,” said Charette. “We had tears of joy when the venue finally told us we could have our wedding.”
For Britt Bartlett and Keyko Torres from Lyman, their wedding planning began in March of 2020. After signing a contract with their venue, they decided to cancel their wedding altogether in July. The couple stated that they cancelled their wedding because of personal reasons but mainly because the uncertainty of COVID-19.
After thinking more about their plans, they decided to keep their date and try something different. “So, we decided to do a hybrid wedding,” said Torres. “It will be recorded as a smaller backyard wedding and the main focus will be the Zoom portion.”
Between the lack of time and resources to plan for another grand alternative wedding, the couple decided they just wanted to go through with it despite having to limit their in-person guests, deciding to cap their guestlist at 40 people. Even with the lifting of restrictions on May 24, the couple said things would remain the same.
“We couldn’t keep up with the lifting of restrictions, so it was a little too late to change anything because things are done ahead of time,” said Torres. “That’s just not how weddings work—you can’t just change quickly.”
With restrictions lifted and the disbursement of vaccines, family members were eager to hear that the couple would be extending the in-person invite to everyone.
“I was having to kind of clarify with family members that the wedding will still be a smaller wedding, and we do want to still go through with it being a Zoom focused wedding,” said Torres.
The couple expressed that planning has become much easier without having to be fearful of everyone’s vaccination status. According to the couple, having to sit down with each individual person and ask them to be vaccinated prior to the wedding, is not something that would sit well with their families.
“Not everyone in our family recognizes science, so it would be a very difficult conversation having to ask them to get vaccinated,” said Torres. “We both decided a Zoom wedding would work best for everyone involved.”
The expectations for those attending is that they must be vaccinated and if not, the couple will have rapid tests available. “Because it is going to be a closed wedding, we know that all of our in-person guests are vaccinated or they know that we are asking for that,” said Torres.
The couple has very distinct expectations for their guests. All of the people in attendance have a purpose to be there. The couple said, each person must have a reason to justify why they are attending the in-person portion. Both expressed a strong concern for not wanting to have more people there than what is necessary.
“Everyone will be working the wedding in some fashion,” said the Torres. “Whether they are part of the bridal party, setting the flowers, DJ, or working the Zoom portion, etc., everyone will have a shift and be there for a reason.”
Incorporating a social element to the Zoom portion of the wedding is a major focus for the couple. They want all their guests to feel included and part of their special day. Providing special drink recipes to give a toast, a playlist for everyone to hear during the ceremony, and even encouraging guests to dress as if they were going to be attending the in-person portion, is all part of the couple’s expectations.
“We are also asking for a dress code for those attending virtually—that way they feel like they are also attending the in-person part,” said Torres. “We will also be doing breakout Zoom rooms, so Britt and I can go around and talk with everyone separately.”
Asking those who were invited to the in-person portion of the wedding, in advance, if they felt comfortable attending was something both of them felt was a necessity. The couple didn’t want to make anyone feel pressured to get vaccinated so they gave all those invited the option to attend the wedding virtually.
“The biggest issue that we are concerned about is that some people had just received only their first shot and not their second yet,” said Torres. “And then there’s those who haven’t received any of the vaccines and will fake that they have. I just don’t trust people.”
Choosing to continue as planned or postpone for the future is never an easy choice. Not wanting to disappoint guests can be difficult, but it is a possibility.
“This pandemic is not over, and we did plan for our wedding during a pandemic, so we are keeping things as planned,” said Torres. “Even if it’s virtual, I think a lot of weddings are going to happen this summer.”