Q: How did you feel when the coronavirus outbreak threatened to cancel your wedding?
We were very disappointed and frustrated that all of our hard work and planning seemed like a waste of time. We wondered how much longer we’d have to wait to finally be married. We knew our original plans would not be possible so we rescheduled the wedding with all of our original vendors on the only available Saturday – August 29, 2020. We also started thinking about how we could still get legally married on our original date of April 25, 2020. We postponed our planned honeymoon to Riviera Maya in Mexico for fear that we would not be able to travel. We did not want to risk leaving the country and getting stuck far from home. We haven’t rebooked our honeymoon yet, but we have until the end of the year to make new honeymoon plans.
Q: What was your backyard wedding ceremony like?
Kelsey’s parents live in a small Lake Norman neighborhood in Mooresville called Sisters Cove. Because we had been quarantined at their home for over a month, we got to know many of the neighbors as we walked, hung out in the backyard and had socially distant gatherings in the cul-de-sac. Two of their neighbors are musicians who play guitar and sing and they offered to play music for our backyard wedding ceremony. They set up their equipment on the dock and we erected a small tailgate-style tent to serve as the “altar” on the shoreline nearby.
One neighbor handmade a bunch of masks. A small group of neighbors donned masks and used sanitizer to set up the tent and a few decorations (including draping white tulle across the fence). They also put up pairs of chairs, randomly spaced six to eight feet apart so they could watch in person. Another neighbor made pulled pork sliders and cupcakes, individually wrapped each one, and set them on a table with wipes and sanitizers. We filled a couple coolers with Corona beer and gave each guest/neighbor a personalized Koozie with our names and wedding date on them. Another neighbor provided mini bubble favors for everyone to blow as we walked back up the makeshift aisle runner from Amazon!
Q: Did any of your wedding vendors/family help with the ceremony?
Our original photographer, Richard Barlow Photography, agreed to come to Lake Norman and photograph our backyard wedding ceremony – complete with mask and gloves and maintaining social distance the whole time. Natalie Huntley of Rabbit Foot Florals was originally contracted to provide flowers for the rehearsal dinner. Instead she made stunning arrangements for the lakeside ceremony, as well as the bridal party bouquets. Rhonda Mullen from Rhonda’s Cake Creations was going to do the groom’s cake at the rehearsal dinner – a replica of a box of Bojangles chicken and biscuits (groom Kyle’s favorite!) so she made it for the backyard wedding ceremony instead. We highly recommend all of these fabulous vendors.
Q: Are you re-booking any of your original wedding vendors for the future reception?
All of our original vendors are rebooked for the postponed wedding date, though we are not sure what kind of event it will be. Since we are already married, we will likely not redo the whole ceremony. Instead, we’ll have a party/reception with the rest of our friends and family. We hope to still do our first dance, father-daughter and mother-son dances, toasts and speeches, etc. Our wedding planner, Shawn Schindler (of Shawn Schindler Events) watched the backyard wedding ceremony on Zoom and will help us revamp the future celebration.
Q: What advice would you give other NC couples who are facing the same challenges with COVID-19?
Go with the flow! Think about your options and decide what is most important to you. In our case, we really wanted to be married on our original date, especially because we were able to work it out that both of our immediate families could be with us. As it turns out, an intimate family celebration is just as memorable and meaningful as a large gathering would have been. Zoom worked really well with both the officiant and viewing guests. Our wedding guests on Zoom all said that they felt like they “were there”.
Q: Did you find any silver linings through your COVID-19 wedding experience?
Our backyard wedding ceremony was better than we could have ever hoped for. So many people pulled together to make it all work. It was cozy and intimate and an experience we will never forget. Our two families have gotten to know and love each other and really worked as a team to make our day so special. We are so fortunate to have family and friends who loved and supported us and worked minor miracles in less than a month’s time to make it all happen. We felt blessed to be quarantined together at Lake Norman in a picturesque setting and still be able to work and earn incomes.
Looking for more backyard wedding ceremony inspiration? Check out Ariel & Zackary’s backyard wedding in Chapel Hill, NC.