Planning an elopement is typically a fun and easy undertaking, as it is one of the perks of getting eloped in general as opposed to traditional marriage. Being able to choose from a variety of fun activities in New Orleans to top of a lively elopement ceremony sounds like a dream come true, but what happens when you try to have your ceremony in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?
In recent weeks, it’s been a difficult realization for many couples all over the world that their wedding and elopement plans for 2020 have largely been dashed. Even as the prospect of businesses opening back up appears to come coming into focus, it’s hard to predict exactly what will be open and what won’t be, leaving many couples completely in the dark.
Many reason that it’s better to simply not plan at all, at least not for the next few months. However, there is still plenty of wisdom in planning for later this year or early next, because it is inevitable that the COVID restrictions will lift and life will return to normal. It’s just a matter of time.
However, for one couple that planned to get eloped before the weight of coronavirus took hold around the globe, their ceremony took place but was anything but ordinary. The truth is there is always magic to be had here in New Orleans, even in the middle of this pandemic.
A COVID-19 Elopement Story
Amanda and David decided to share their experience with us. Their story proves that love prevails even in the most bizarre of circumstances and even when everything that could possibly go wrong pretty much does.
How did you two meet?
We met at a Thanksgiving day celebration hosted by David’s sister Mary at her apartment in Little Rock, Arkansas. My mom and I had become friends with Mary and her daughter Sharon via volunteer work with Riverfest (a local nonprofit festival). After that time, it seemed as if our paths were constantly crossing, especially after Sharon’s unexpected passing. It all happened organically. The rest is history and boy are we blessed!
How did David propose?
It was Saturday at noon in Jackson Square. The church bells at St. Louis Cathedral were ringing, the street performers were vibrantly lining the pathways, and on lookers were everywhere. At that moment in time, David got on his knee and proposed. We were solely focused on each other and the excitement of the moment. When we finally looked around us hundreds of people were clapping and cheering - most noteworthy a bearded lady, a pirate, a golden statue, and a magician can be seen cheering for us in the background of the photos. Best of all, David had been teaching my mom how to video the entire thing for weeks. She made a mistake and filmed it all in slow motion.
How was your COVID 19 wedding?
As an Event Planner, changes are typically no big deal to me. Of course, things feel a bit different when it’s your own event and you’re in the middle of a pandemic. Throughout the course of things, it seemed that as one change was made it was already obsolete and needing to be changed again in a moment’s notice.
Here are a few of the highlights:
* They decided to close the office that issues marriage licenses. We got there with one minute to spare... on Friday the 13th.
* People started cancelling flying in as soon as we got in town. It ended up just being my mom, my best friend, David and myself.
* Every location we planned to visit or celebrate at closed.
* Restaurants we had scheduled reduced to 50% capacity and we were afraid we might have our reservations cancelled. In less than 24 hours, every restaurant in fact did close. I ended up breaking down in the middle of a restaurant in the Metairie. I would go from laughing to sobbing and back again. We ended up having our reception the day before at GW Fins and had our wedding meal delivered to our Air BnB. We ate in our pajamas.
* We canceled our post wedding celebration back home based on recommendations from the CDC.
*Our honeymoon was cancelled.
* The air conditioning at our Air BnB died 2 nights before the wedding. We were scrambling to figure out if we would need to find a different place to get ready. Luckily, the owner found someone to repair it quickly.
*Our violinist canceled at midnight the night before the wedding, so I walked down the aisle to no music.
* Its started to rain on our wedding day. Luckily, the rain moved out quickly and we didn’t have that to deal with too!
*When Marcia texted the day of the wedding we were afraid she was canceling too.
A few good points:
* We had the people most important in my life there with us. David, Mom and my best friend Chase braved it all with me and we managed to make some amazing memories even if most of them were inside the house. We can always find a reason to laugh which makes even the toughest days joyful.
* We had a beautiful, comfortable home with the most amazing owner who left us surprises everywhere like orange juice, bagels and cream cheese in the fridge.
* The locals on the Bayou St John / Mid City were welcoming. Whether it was on our front porch or at the grocery store, even in the midst of a crisis situation they welcomed us with open arms. After we were married, the neighbors came outside and cheered for us. They even brought us a bottle of champagne to celebrate.
*We found a videographer last minute to film the wedding for us. We can’t wait to see the coverage he got and share it with those that missed our big day.
* All the good movies were still at the Redbox at Rouses.
Currently, we are at home quarantined for the third time. After leaving New Orleans we were on mandatory quarantine because we’d been in a hot spot. Shortly there after, we contracted the virus even though we had been extremely careful. After we got better, our neighbor got sick with the virus which got us back in to quarantine, and then my dad’s doctor contracted it which led to our third quarantine.
We are afraid that too much time has passed since the wedding and celebrating with those we love most won’t happen. David waited 54 years and I waited 33 to get married for the first time. We feel that alone is worth celebrating. We hope everyone else will feel that way too when life returns to a bit more normalcy.
Prevailing Over COVID-19
While the coronavirus has certainly shaken the world and has caused untold chaos for couples everywhere, don’t let social distancing and quarantine deter you from going through with your elopement. Start planning now and monitor the situation closely.
Eventually, whether it is later this summer or at the end of the year, things will return to normal and business will be booming back in New Orleans. The more you plan and save now, the better your elopement will finally be once everything gets back in order. There’s no rush, you simply have to remember that your love is bigger than a few mishaps and delays.
And as always, I’ll be here to help you have an amazing elopement here in New Orleans. Get in contact with me if you want to start planning now!
Amanda’s review of Ibay Photography:
I have been to weddings with various planners in New Orleans. When it came time for my own New Orleans ceremony, I chose Marcia Ibay Grover at Ibay Photography. As an International Event Planner, I can be extremely picky especially when someone is handling most of the details of my event for me. Marcia was easy to communicate with, very talented, offered multiple options and had an incredible team. I absolutely made the right choice in picking her company.
You and the love of your life have been together for quite some time now and you have considered planning a day to tie the knot, but you may be wondering, how do you know exactly when you should do it? How do you know when it’s the right time to elope?
This is going to be different for everyone, and in light of recent events surrounding COVID-19 and new social distancing rules, you may be more confused than ever in regards to when it’s appropriate to actually get eloped.
There are a few general guidelines we can give that not only will help you decide when, but how to approach this whole social distancing thing as it pertains to getting married.
Get Married on Your Terms
One of the fundamental benefits of eloping is that you get to set the pace of your ceremony. You’re not bound by the schedules of 100 different people or the availability of your local church. Everything is in your hands as to when to actually get eloped.
So the question then becomes, what works best for you? What theme are you going for and what are you most comfortable with? If you are planning on a beautiful beach elopement, obviously you want to aim for the summer months, or the spring or fall depending on what part of the country. Or perhaps you want to stroll around downtown New Orleans, or walk through the parks. Well, your decision as to when to have your elopement will depend on what you want to see and the general temperature you mind.
New Orleans has the wonderful benefit of being relatively mild even during the winter, so if you are looking for a place all year ‘round that will allow you to get eloped outside or enjoy some nightlife, New Orleans is the city for you! However, there are certain trees that are more attractive in the fall, and if you would prefer temperatures that are less extreme, you may consider avoiding the summer months altogether and sticking with the cooler months of the year.
The key here is, it’s all up to you. When you get eloped, every time is technically the right time, so long as it aligns with what you are looking for in a romantic elopement ceremony. Whether you are trying to line up your elopement with a certain festival, or if you plan on sightseeing through the botanical gardens and parks, the choice is yours. You simply have to plan accordingly.
What About Family Expectations?
This is where things get a bit trickier. Managing family expectations for when and how you’re supposed to get married can often be complicated. The most important thing you have to remember is to only do what you are comfortable with and not to let outsiders influence the decisions of your relationship.
If you feel like it’s the right time to get eloped, it’s the right time. The more input you seek from other people, the higher the chance is that someone, somehow, for whatever reason, is going to be against it or try and talk you out of it. Waiting around for family approval or for a mystical time in the future when they are “ok with it” is not going to do anything for your relationship.
The right time to elope is when you and your partner agree that it’s the right time. When you are comfortable, have an agreed upon location, a venue picked out, and a theme, you have everything you need. You are ready and you shouldn’t let anyone tell you different.
It can admittedly be difficult. Ideally you want your family completely on board with elopement. It’s good to keep in mind that the right time for you isn’t going to be everyone’s “right time.” Understanding this, it’s a lot easier to simply forgive and forget and move on. Your job isn’t to please everyone. If you feel like now is the time to get eloped, that’s your business and no one else’s, besides your partner.
What to do About Coronavirus Restrictions?
Times are changing and with all of the recent quarantining rules and social distancing advice, it’s become substantially trickier to get married in any way. You may feel like it’s the right time to get eloped, but there are some points you may want to keep in mind.
If you have your destination picked out and you don’t need to hop on a plane to get there, and you are only having a very small intimate elopement with a couple close friends and family, and you don’t mind not really going out to eat or doing anything significant before or after the ceremony because all of the businesses are closed, then by all means, get eloped right this second.
However, it may be wise to take a step back and plan for the future. Eloping in this climate is not going to give you the most optimal experience. What you can use this time for at the moment is researching exactly where you want to go and where you want to do, and being smart with your money so you can afford to live it up when you’re on your elopement.
If New Orleans is your elopement destination of choice, you can take the time to plan for a date in the future after the Coronavirus restrictions have lifted and you are able to have your elopement exactly how you want it. There’s no reason to limit your ceremony by getting married right this second. In fact, you’re only going to be taking away from yourself if you go that route. Better to wait awhile and have your ceremony your way, without the restrictions and limitations.
Until then, hunker down, practice safe social distancing, and plan your ultimate elopement exactly when you want it…after the restrictions have lifted!