Couples who intended to tie the knot in 2020 may have planned their weddings right down to the last detail — from the floral arrangements and the fun DJ's playlist to the seating chart and the signature cocktail menu. What they couldn't have planned for, however, was the coronavirus. Social distancing requirements may have forced spouses-to-be to get a little creative with their nuptials, but as the countless quarantine wedding stories show, love really does conquer all — even a global pandemic.
There's no doubt that this dramatic shift in circumstances meant many disappointments for engaged couples. Some had to consider a change in venue, rethink how food and drink were served, and even significantly cut down guest lists or pivot to a virtual ceremony to ensure the safety of everyone present. But as they say, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade — or in this case, a bottle of luxury champagne. And that's precisely what many couples did. They went back to the drawing board, reconsidered what really mattered, and planned a smaller, safer wedding (on a short timeline, no less) that felt equally special.
So, let's all raise a glass to these flexible, resourceful couples who were determined to enjoy their big day — despite the less-than-ideal circumstances.
A Zoom Wedding With Famous Officiants
Eric and his now-wife Rachel had been excitedly organizing a New York City wedding in September — but of course, the pandemic forced the couple to quickly devise a backup plan. That meant inviting just a close circle of loved ones for a smaller affair, and having other friends and extended fam join in virtually.
“It was looking less safe, especially for traveling, to have a big party, and [we] would need a lot of tricky logistics for enough space between tables — so it made sense to adjust to just immediate family in Rachel’s backyard and do a Zoom setup,” explains Eric, 33.
This was not your ordinary Zoom wedding, however — namely, because former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (who happen to be friends of the bride's family) were the officiants. If Cuomo and Clinton aren’t the ultimate tag-team to lead a ceremony, I don’t know who is.
And while a virtual ceremony and reception may not have been what Eric and Rachel were initially envisioning, Eric says the Zoom adaptation is actually what made it possible for these famous faces to participate, because an in-person wedding would have posed too many complex security issues.
Eric and Rachel are planning to do a larger Jewish wedding down the line when they can invite more family to be present. However, their civil ceremony was undoubtedly a smash success — and not only because of Cuomo and Clinton making an appearance. Their friends organized epic Zoom watch parties, they enlisted Wedfuly to run the logistics and navigate any IT issues, and they even sent out cocktail recipe cards so that guests could sip on the same libations while toasting the bride and groom.
A Small But Sweet Fête
Jennifer, 26, and her husband had more than a few obstacles to overcome before their big day. Not only did the pandemic throw a serious wrench in their plans for a large wedding, but their pastor came down with a fever the night before their re-imagined quarantine affair. Despite all the chaos, though, she was still able to pull off a beautiful celebration on June 6 in her New Hampshire hometown — which entailed a ceremony at an outdoor chapel with immediate family only, dinner in her parents' front yard, and drive-by visits from loved ones. The couple also streamed the ceremony in a private Facebook group so other guests could tune in from afar.
"Matt and I have been dating since we were in the eighth grade, so this day was a long time coming," Jennifer tells Elite Daily. "And even though it was painful to cancel our big wedding, this whole thing made me realize what was really important — us. Stressing over who wore what and seating arrangements and favors... I felt like I had lost focus on what it was all about. All that is great and we do look forward to a big celebration someday, but the memories from our wedding day feel that much more special."
Finding Romance In The Ruins
Less than six weeks before her big day, Lauren, 32, was forced to face the reality that the wedding she and her partner Warren had been thoughtfully planning for six months wouldn't quite come to fruition in the way they'd imagined.
"I was overwhelmed with so many decisions to make including the harsh reality that my friends and family (mainly my mother who is 22 hours away in Texas and immunocompromised) would not be able to attend, in addition to the fear and uncertainty that the coronavirus would bring," she tells Elite Daily. "Every day was a new revelation, a new setback, and unexpected mandate that left us no choice but to postpone the celebration — but not the commitment."
Lauren realized that "nothing was going to stop her" from marrying the love of her life, Warren on April 25 — a date that's significant because it marks their two-year anniversary. So, after grieving the postponement, they made the difficult decision to say "I do" with his father and our pastor in attendance. While Lauren admits it was hard not having her family physically present (they attended virtually via FaceTime) she says they both felt "celebrated and loved" throughout the day. Their wedding planner (Melissa Williams at B Astonished Events) not only gifted them personalized vow books but also decorated their bridal suite at the Four Seasons DC with rose petals, cake, a personalized cake topper, candles, champagne, balloons, floral arrangements and more.
Ultimately, Lauren says she hopes that their intimate wedding reflects what their marriage will be about: making the best out of any situation together. How inspiring is that?
A Legendary Love Story At A Drive-In Theater
Bri, 32 was mere weeks away from marrying her wife-to-be Lindsey when gatherings of 10 or more people were prohibited in Austin. Luckily, their wedding planner (at Brides Best Friend) came up with a genius new plan: a wedding at a drive-in theater where guests could safely watch the ceremony from a distance in their own cars.
They only had 17 days to plan an entirely new wedding, but they managed to pull it off: On April 28, 85 local loved ones parked at Doc's Drive-In to witness Bri and Lindsey say their vows. Friends and fam who were out of state were able to join in virtually via Instagram Live, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live. Their officiant was none other than New York Times-bestselling author Jen Hatmaker, who just happens to be a close friend of the couple.
Many safety precautions were taken to protect everyone in attendance — for example, Doc's staff wore gloves and masks while serving up food to-go style.
While there were many memorable aspects throughout the day, Bri says the moment that stands out to her the most is when Lindsay surprised her during the vows by singing an original song she'd written for her.
"Even though this wedding was completely untraditional it was truly epic," she adds. "You would think having a socially distant wedding that there would be a sense of disconnect since we couldn’t fully embrace our guest and engage with them the way we wanted to, but in all honesty, we felt the power and energy of their love from the honking, cheering, and car light flashing. We felt such an overwhelming amount of support of love on our very special day. All we missed was the hugging and dancing!"
A Quaint Backyard Affair
Katie, 28, was planning a June wedding with about 250 guests when the pandemic hit — and given not only the headcount but the fact that attendees would be coming from all across the country (and the world), she and her fiancé Adam decided to push off the full celebration till next summer. However, not wanting to wait to get married — they had a simpler wedding in her parents’ backyard.
“We had special boxed meals for all our family that were there so everyone would feel comfortable eating, and we gave out hand sanitizer and stayed outside the whole time,” Katie explains.
There were only about 16 guests at her quarantine wedding, but regardless, Katie calls it “perfect.” They still got to walk down the aisle, enjoy their first dance, cut the cake together, and even enjoy a toast with family.
“We had other family who couldn’t be at the ceremony drive past my parents’ house with balloons and signs in a makeshift parade, which was so lovely!” she adds. “There was a lot about the day that was so memorable and wonderful that we never would have experienced if not for COVID-19, and I think it gave our family a lot of joy during this really difficult time. We made the most of it and I’m so happy we did.”
Even though it may have been challenging to make so many changes to the original plan, Katie notes there was one unexpected perk.
“Now I don’t even care about some of the dumb details for next year’s celebration that I was so stressed about originally before the pandemic hit," she says.
A Safe Spin On Chic
When lockdown orders began in mid-March, Alyssa, 24, was just gearing up to send out invitations, and her now-husband Ross was right in the middle of his bachelor party festivities. The couple instantly knew that they'd have to make some tweaks to their June wedding in order for it to still be possible. Sure enough, Alyssa's shower cancelled in April, and her bachelorette party cancelled in May. Ross, along with his younger brother and many of his friends, is in the U.S. Marines — so when the travel ban for service members went into effect, they were forced to postpone. Fortunately, their venue and other vendors were super accommodating in helping to push off the celebration for next year.
Since they had their heart set on getting married on the original date they chose, Alyssa and Ross planned a much smaller church ceremony followed by a dinner reception outside the restaurant they initially planned to have the rehearsal at. To make the affair both safer and more stylish, Alyssa's aunt made special masks for the bridesmaids to match their dresses, as well as black masks for the groomsmen.
"The weather couldn’t have been better, we were surrounded by our closest friends and families and we live-streamed the ceremony for everyone to tune in and watch," adds Alyssa. "We wanted it to be memorable even though it wasn’t where it was supposed to be. We had a limo and some time together just the two of us, we booked a hotel room for the night just to have a mini getaway, my mom ordered us a tiered wedding cake and we even had our first dance, too."
And can we talk about that skyline? With a backdrop like that, it's safe to say this wedding still turned out romantic AF, regardless of the pandemic.
A Day Full Of Surprises
Chungah, 32, got married on June 20 on her rooftop with a small group of loved ones — and while it was a stunning affair, it was certainly not what she originally had planned.
"We didn’t have our 100+ guest list, our bridesmaids, our groomsmen," she explains. "We didn’t have a dance floor. We didn’t have a photo booth. We didn’t have our three-tiered donut cake."
Not only that, but the forecast indicated there would be thunderstorms for the entire day, and the winds were so strong that some of the decorations got knocked over and broke. Luckily, she and her now-husband Ben took these setbacks in stride.
"We wouldn’t have it any other way," she wrote. "Everything worked itself out and the rain even held out for us with just enough sprinkle of rain after the ceremony."
Not to mention, rain is believed to be good luck on your wedding day. So, it seems these two have many happy years ahead of them.
(Mostly) Virtual Matrimony
Despite the fact that Julie, 29, had to postpone her big Brooklyn wedding this spring, she and her partner Ben still wanted to get legally married on the same date they'd already chosen (April 18). So, given the circumstances around the pandemic (and the fact that Ben's family lives in a different state), they opted to do a virtual wedding so that loved ones could safely be involved. Immediate family and those in the wedding party were the only people invited to the live Zoom of the ceremony and reception, but the couple sent out a video and photos to all guests the next day. Since their wedding happened during the height of the first COVID-19 wave, only her parents — who they had been sheltering in place with at the time — could be there in person.
Julie admits that setting up a Zoom wedding turned out to be a bit more complicated than she expected.
"I had so many thoughts running through my head," Julie tells Elite Daily. "I was worried about everyone being able to hear us, hear the rabbi, see us, and see the rabbi."
Fortunately, it all went remarkably smoothly, and the couple was able to celebrate with a special dinner and dancing afterwards, followed by individual calls with friends and fam.
"We are so glad we did it and we know we made the right choice," she tells Elite Daily. "Our friends and family were so supportive and made us feel really loved and appreciated. It turned a potentially very sad and disappointing day into something I will never forget."
After the pandemic broke out, Jasmine, 33, gave new meaning to the phrase "save the date." She and her husband Avneet, whom she met on Hinge in 2017 before sparking up a long-distance relationship, reduced their 300+ guest list down to just three family members so that they could still become husband and wife on April 25.
The couple had spent almost a year meticulously planning their Punjabi Sikh wedding, taking countless trips to California to get every detail just right. Jasmine even traveled to India last fall to customize multiple bridal outfits. Once they realized that their multi-day dream wedding, which included Avneet being on horseback during the procession, was no longer possible, they came up with a new plan.
After securing a license and officiant just days before, they said their "I do's" at a civil ceremony on a path New Jersey's Maxwell Place Park. In the interest of safety, they specifically chose an area that was removed from other pedestrians. Later on, they surprised our family and friends with photos and videos from the day over Zoom. There were over 250 people of all ages across five different continents and time zones who were able to witness their life-long commitment to each other.
"We feel so fortunate to have solidified our union with a socially distant, waterfront wedding," says Jasmine. "Fate really just has its own way of working things out — whether it be the logistics of a (really) long-distance relationship, or planning a wedding. We know we can really tackle anything life may throw at us. Two continents, an ocean, and a six-hour time difference couldn’t stop our love story — just proof that love does, in fact, win."
When The Stars Align
Even though COVID-19 forced Nikki and her husband to delay their original wedding plans until the fall, they were determined to keep their OG date. After all, they'd already had it stitched into his wedding suit and engraved it into the wedding bands and hundreds of custom can coolers.
"After almost a year of planning, it was heartbreaking to learn that we needed to postpone/cancel our wedding," says Nikki, 29. "There were plenty of tears shed on my end, but then we learned how to accept it and to be thankful for what we have and each other."
The couple had to make many tweaks to the whole shebang. Nikki did her own hair and mani, a friend did her makeup (in a mask and gloves), and they picked up a bouquet and boutonnière from a local florist with curbside pickup. They also had a local baker deliver a mini wedding cake for the big day.
Their thoughtfully-crafted plan B hit a snag when heavy downpours began on their wedding day. Magically, Nikki says that "the stars aligned" and the sun came out just in time.
The couple FaceTimed some her husband's friends beforehand who sweetly enough, dressed up in what would have been their wedding guest outfits. Then, they packed up the car with the florals, wedding cake, confetti poppers and champagne, drove one mile to Kraft Azalea Gardens, and finally got to say their "I do's."
"Cheers to officially being a husband and wife during this crazy and uncertain time," says Nikki.
A Heartwarming Celebration At Home
Jackie, 31, had to cancel the large wedding she and her partner Derek had been planning this spring — but she still got married on May 2, with a ceremony in the garage and a reception in her backyard. Just the 10 people in the wedding party were invited, but that didn't stop them from having a memorable day, which included father-daughter and mother-son dances, toasts, and cake cutting.
"It was really special," says Jackie. "We can’t wait to celebrate with everyone once it’s safe."
They also held a Zoom celebration with 16 other family members who couldn't attend.
"My grandpa passed away a week before the wedding, and we obviously couldn’t have a celebration of life service due to COVID — his wife was on the Zoom call and held up his photo (in a tux) and it was such an emotional, sweet moment," says Jackie.
Last-Minute But Lovely
Shortly before shutdowns began, Dayspring, 30, was planning quite the epic wedding with her partner Shane: A Southwestern mid-century cocktail hour reception in downtown Los Angeles with 125 friends and family, local tacos, an open bar, a photobooth, and a doo-wop group. The Sunday before their big day was scheduled mid-March, however, the governor announced that restaurants and bars would be closing for business due to the coronavirus.
They decided to still get married on their original date, but when Shane's family happened to be in town earlier that week (and were anxious about getting home), the couple decided to have a small intimate ceremony at their apartment on a few hours' notice. The only guests? Shane's parents, his best woman and her husband, one of their dear friends, and their cat Memphis — who really "hammed it up" for the occasion.
"We couldn’t bear the idea of not being husband and wife in these uncertain times," says Dayspring. "We cleaned our apartment and picked up an instant camera, a cake from a local bakery, and flowers from our neighborhood florist. We pulled some decorative lights out of the garage and tried to make it as nice as we could. We ordered our favorite Long Beach classic, Deans Thai Food Pizza, and we were even able to serve one of the beers we had brewed. It wasn’t what we planned at all, but ended up being quite a fun day."
While she was putting together floral arrangements, Dayspring received several flower deliveries from friends all across the country, which moved her immensely.
"It was so touching to be thought of when there is so much going on in the world and everyone was upending their daily lives," she explains.
A Laid-Back Kind Of Love
When the pandemic hit, Atlanta-based Chancey Charm wedding planner Sofia Ocampo had already spent 13 months helping one couple plan their special day. After the couple made the difficult decision to postpone their elaborate affair, they realized it was important to them to get legally married on their original date. So, Ocampo helped them to plan another last-minute celebration that would ensure the safety of the couple and guests.
The new venue? A park, right next to a picturesque fountain, where the rabbi and immediate family gathered for an intimate ceremony. To set the scene for romance, they enlisted a florist to decorate the fountain steps.
The bride said "I do" in an on-trend white jumpsuit (which she was originally planning to wear rehearsal dinner) and the groom rocked an olive green suit with retro Nike kicks.
"They were the definition of effortlessly cool," says Ocampo. "It was not the wedding we had planned during all of those months, but it was perfect."
A Happy Day With Hilarious Hiccups
When the stay-at-home order set in on March 16 — just one day after her bridal shower — Jillian, 32, realized her fantasy Savannah wedding might not pan out after all. So, with their hearts set on becoming husband and wife regardless, she and her partner Joshua decided to have a virtual wedding on March 30. Over 100 people were able to be a part of the wedding via Zoom, including their pastor, who was quarantined in Savannah.
There were a number of snafus that went down on the big day — but those only made the occasion more unforgettable.
"Josh was freaking out thinking he deleted his vows, and I don't do well with makeup and hair so my friends were coaching me on FaceTime because I was freaking out," Jillian says. "Josh also slipped on champagne and fell during the ceremony — and we still watch that video and laugh."
The best part? Jillian and Joshua were shocked at how many guests dressed up for their virtual wedding, which she says made it feel extra special.
A Canine-Friendly Celebration
Wallis, 29, had a dream to get married on a particular farm in Austin, Texas, named Eden East, where they served dinner on wooden benches from a food truck. She told her now-husband Josh, and he took note — the chef not only proposed to her in Austin on August 9, 2019, but that evening, they celebrated their engagement over dinner at Eden East. The couple then booked the venue to get married there on April 4, 2020.
Wallis and her SO spent the next six months planning everything from the menus to the airstream photobooth. Once the pandemic was in full swing, they were forced to not only scrap many of those ideas, but also rethink the entire celebration, since their families were scattered all around the country and unable to travel. Ultimately, Wallis and her partner opted to keep things simple by having a judge come to do the ceremony in their backyard, and then inviting friends and family to join in via Zoom. They even did a virtual rehearsal dinner the evening before.
"Thankfully, Josh and I have many wonderful friends and connections that made everything come together for our special day," Wallis tells Elite Daily. "The day was absolutely amazing with a beautiful flower backdrop, we enjoyed wedding cake, and even had one of our favorite local restaurants make our dinner."
The only actual guests in who attended the wedding live were the judge who officiated, a photographer and videographer, and their two dogs, Quinn and Tina.
"It was definitely nothing we planned but absolutely the best, most intimate occasion," says Wallis.
A City Hall Ceremony
Though it wasn't easy, Kristine, 35 opted to postpone her larger wedding, which was scheduled on May 7, for the sake of loved ones' health and safety. Still, she and her now-husband Conrad were determined to legally become husband and wife on their chosen date, so they planned a private civil ceremony at Yonkers City Hall.
In keeping with social distancing guidelines, the judge performed the ceremony outdoors, remaining eight feet away from the couple, and the judges stood from a safe distance while live-streaming the ceremony for friends and family.
Remarkably, the back steps of the historic building proved to be a stunning backdrop for photographs.
"What stands out as most memorable about it is their genuine joy," says Amy Anaiz, their wedding photographer. "They were so happy to just be together, healthy and safe during this uncertain time."
Brie Owens, the lead Atlanta wedding planner for Chancey Charm, had been planning a Memorial Day weekend 200+ guest affair for one couple when they had to rethink the whole celebration in mid-April.
The new plan entailed a small backyard celebration with immediate families only, and leading up to the big day, they requested that all 30 guests quarantine as much as possible so that everyone could enjoy the festivities while remaining safe. There were other measures in place to protect the health of everyone involved, too: Guests sat with their own family clusters at both the ceremony and the dinner reception, hand sanitizer was distributed to everyone who attended, and a plated dinner was served from a staging table so no one directly interacted with the catering staff.
"Their main concern and hope for the day was to reflect love and respect, so keeping everyone safe was really important," says Owens.
The day was such a massive success that the couple decided to cancel their postponed larger party because they ended up having the exact wedding they wanted.
A Cozy Ceremony At Home
When the pandemic hit, Tamar and Stony, both 36, had a royal-themed wedding in the works at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco with a whopping 140 invitees. As worldwide shutdowns began, they decided to postpone those plans and quickly shifted gears into quarantine wedding mode. They ordered a pair of matching his and her sweats, booked two witnessed to stand 6 feet apart and asked their photographer friend to both officiate and take photos.
"Our new wedding theme was 'rolling with the punches,'" Tamar tells Elite Daily.
Secretly, they say they were thrilled at the opportunity to have a "low-key, no-drama" wedding — and they were still able to have a Zoom-ception with family and friends the next day, at which they shared the video from their ceremony.
"The most memorable thing from our quarantine wedding was our resilience and that we work together as a team to pull off a pretty hard task of getting married during a global pandemic," says Tamar. "It made us feel like we could conquer anything as long as we are together."
I'm not crying, you're crying.
Brie Owens, wedding planner
Sofia Ocampo, wedding planner