Couples say 'I do' during the pandemic: 'Tomorrow is not guaranteed'

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Atlanta couple Kenna and Travis Grenier always dreamed of the day they would say "I do." While many couples are postponing their big day due to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the country, for couples like the Greniers, the show must go on.

While many couples are postponing their big day due to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the country, for couples like the Greniers, the show must go on.

While many couples are postponing their big day due to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the country, for couples like the Greniers, the show must go on. (Erin of Boston Photography)

"We had no idea this was going to happen, absolutely not! But we had to roll with the punches. As the news got worse and worse we just kind of decided, let's just do it for everyone, for everyone who can't come," Kenna Grenier said.

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She added, “During our ceremony Livestream, we were like, let's say our vows. We went over and privately said them and it was super romantic and sweet … I don't know if it would have been like that if we had a full ceremony. I could even see, you know, maybe couples who want that feeling of elopement … where you go to a secluded place and it's just you and your minister. It kind of felt like that.”

Atlanta couple Kenna and Travis Grenier always dreamed of the day they would say “I do”. With coronavirus crashing weddings around the country, many couples are postponing their big day. But for some couples like the Greniers, the show must go on.

Atlanta couple Kenna and Travis Grenier always dreamed of the day they would say “I do”. With coronavirus crashing weddings around the country, many couples are postponing their big day. But for some couples like the Greniers, the show must go on. (Elina Shirazi)

Kenna and Travis Grenier had planned for a guest list of over 200 people. Over 300 people decided to join their Facebook live.

Kenna and Travis Grenier had planned for a guest list of over 200 people. Over 300 people decided to join their Facebook live. (Elina Shirazi)

Florida couple Daphne and Chris Goujon planned to get married at a Florida clubhouse but instead tied the knot in their living room, where a guest list of 60 people turned into 3,000 viewers, and claps and cheers were replaced by emojis and digital comments.

Florida couple Daphne and Chris Goujon also planned to get married at a Florida clubhouse, but instead tied the knot in their living room where a guest list of 60 people turned into 3,000 viewers, and claps and cheers were replaced by emojis and digital comments.

Florida couple Daphne and Chris Goujon also planned to get married at a Florida clubhouse, but instead tied the knot in their living room where a guest list of 60 people turned into 3,000 viewers, and claps and cheers were replaced by emojis and digital comments. (Elina Shirazi)

“Our wedding date was originally planned for April 11, and it was probably around March 11 that everything started kind of getting real, and so we were originally just like, OK, maybe let's wait it out and see what happens," Chris Goujon said. "And then a lot of our guests were expressing discomfort with traveling and everything, and we didn’t want to make them choose. Then our venue closed, so we weren't able to have it anyway … We didn't really want to try to rebook a wedding three months from now. It was already kind of traumatic enough to have to cancel it."

“We did not want people to have to choose between their health and our wedding,” Daphne Goujon said.

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“It was his idea to do it on Facebook Live, he presented it to me and I was like 'Sure, that’s great.' We just researched kind of a generic ceremony script and tweaked it to be more specific to us. We used the decorations that we had around our house already and I ordered a mega pack of those tea candles to get some ambiance, and then we printed up pictures of our family so they could sit up there with us. One of my friends is an ordained minister, so he is the one that married us.”

“We did not want people to have to choose between their health and our wedding,” Daphne Goujon said. 

“We did not want people to have to choose between their health and our wedding,” Daphne Goujon said.  (Elina Shirazi)

“It was just about having our own wedding and our own story, something to tell our kids and our grandkids that during this really bizarre time we did something really cool,” Chris Goujon added.

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Washington, D.C. couple Blake and Ashley Smith decided to have a small ceremony. While they didn’t go virtual, the couple says they are planning to hold the full wedding in August.

The Smiths said that even though they did not plan on a virtual wedding, they don’t think it’s a bad idea for other couples who don’t want to postpone the date.

The Smiths said that even though they did not plan on a virtual wedding, they don’t think it’s a bad idea for other couples who don’t want to postpone the date. (Chelsea Photography)

The Smiths walk down the aisle in the presence of a few family members. They say they are grateful for the small ceremony they had and plan on having the real thing in a few months.

The Smiths walk down the aisle in the presence of a few family members. They say they are grateful for the small ceremony they had and plan on having the real thing in a few months. (Chelsea Photography)

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“We were monitoring the news very closely. Just one week prior to our planned wedding date of March 22, the CDC recommended that gatherings of 50 or more be canceled or rescheduled," Ashley Smith said. "Our wedding had 252 confirmed attendees, even after cancellations. The weight of the global pandemic began to weigh on our hearts and the health of our guests became a huge concern. On the Monday before our wedding, we postponed until August 23. We could not truly celebrate with the possibility of putting the health of our closest friends and family in danger. The silver lining is that we decided that we wanted to still get married.

“My mother is an ordained minister and performed our wedding ceremony. My father built the backdrop," she added. "Blake's mother read 1 Corinthians 13. In front of our parents, siblings and our photographer, we shed tears of happiness, anxiousness, and nervousness. I walked down the aisle with relics of my late grandparents and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect wedding. At that moment, I realized that my love for Blake is what made getting married special. We can't wait to celebrate with everyone, but this day will forever be ours.”

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Washington, D.C. wedding and event planner Tiffany Balmer said she isn’t crossing out the idea of virtual weddings being a new business model for future couples, although she doesn’t think it will replace face-to-face ceremonies. For now, she said she is willing to accommodate the bride and groom's needs, whether that means going ahead with the wedding virtually, in a small group, postponing the big day altogether.

“Whatever things that a wedding planner would typically do, we are still doing for these virtual weddings. We are willing to customize and do whatever we need to do. I think people are making the best of a really hard situation,” Balmer said.

Washington, D.C. wedding and event planner Tiffany Balmer said she isn’t crossing out the idea of virtual weddings being a new business model for future couples, although she doesn’t think it will replace face-to-face ceremonies.

Washington, D.C. wedding and event planner Tiffany Balmer said she isn’t crossing out the idea of virtual weddings being a new business model for future couples, although she doesn’t think it will replace face-to-face ceremonies. (Elina Shirazi)

Chris Goujon agrees with that sentiment.

“Obviously tomorrow is not guaranteed, so if you want to get married, do it.”

The Smiths said that even though they did not plan on a virtual wedding, they don’t think it’s a bad idea for other couples who don’t want to postpone the date.

“Virtual weddings, it's amazing! It is a great way to be safe but to still have people join in your union. Certain life moments shouldn't be had without the presence of your village. We are thankful that technology gives people the opportunity to share such a special moment.”

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“I think we all get so caught up in what our relationship looks like to others and you know, you really just need a four dollar Publix cake and your significant other and some music and a box of champagne,” Kenna Grenier said.

“Nothing went right for our wedding, but it is what you make of it," Travis Grenier said. "I don't know if to the state of Georgia we are married, but at least to us we are."