The pandemic may have forced these three couples to change up their wedding plans, but love still prevailed
By Nicole Frehsee Mazur
Featured photo by Kathy Davies Photography
Shawn Marie Calvin Calbus and Dustin Calbus of Northville
Wedding details: August 2, 2020 in a friend’s backyard in Northville
Photographer: Kathy Davies Photography
When Gov. Whitmer increased restrictions we were planning to postpone our wedding, but it wasn’t until the beginning of July that we had to re-position our entire ceremony and reception. We realized after grieving the original date that it wasn’t about the day, or the people who could/could not be there. It was about our commitment to spend the rest of our lives as one and we wanted to get that journey started right away. We have been dating for almost 10 years and couldn’t wait any longer.
My husband and I were fortunate enough to be flexible with our date, venue, and guest list, but boy-oh-boy was it a struggle! I did all of the wedding planning while working a full-time job from home. The biggest struggle was the feeling of it not ever happening. Even on the day of the wedding I had to pinch myself that it was actually going to happen.
To make our wedding Covid-safe, we provided a Zoom link for guests to virtually tune in. We kept the ceremony and reception outside, spaced people apart according to household/pod, and provided masks while people placed their order for food.
We had a live musician playing acoustic music which set the perfect casual backyard wedding scene. Our flowers and the way the chairs were set up surrounding the pool during our ceremony was my favorite. We had hard-scoop ice cream and a signature cocktail called “The Easton” after our pup.
There are so many favorite memories from the day: One, the rain stopped and the clouds parted as I was walking down the aisle; two, our pup sabotaged our ceremony; three, we felt so much love from our family and friends we call family. It was truly a magical day.
Accepting a “perfectly imperfect” wedding was such a challenge for me, but looking back on the day and remembering how much love we felt, all the struggle to have an event didn’t matter compared to our license to wed. — Shawn Marie Calvin Calbus
De’Ann Moses-Brown and CJ Brown of Detroit
Wedding details: October 10, 2020 at White House Chapel in Warren
Photographer: Mary Anastasia
Everyone wanted us to postpone our wedding and that just wasn’t going to happen — Covid or not. We have been engaged for three years and have been waiting for 10/10/2020 forever! This date not only means something numerically but this was the day we started talking to one another.
Covid made it difficult for all of our loved ones to join us on our day but it also made me realize something even more special: None of this really mattered. This day is for my spouse and me to commemorate our love, to vow to one another that we are in this for the long haul. It wasn’t to showboat in front of family, it wasn’t to spend thousands of dollars on food and venue and all that other fancy stuff. It was the day that I told my partner, “It’s us until the end of time.”
Still, there were a few bumps in the road, like the makeup artist cancelling on me the night before. I ended up being able to find someone and they did my makeup for free.
As much as I love a big wedding, my small intimate one was the wedding of my dreams. It was the dream I never dreamt but it was everything I wanted and more. My youngest brother walked me down the aisle and it was just perfect – so heartfelt. He is my favorite person in the world and it meant so much to have his goofy self walk me down the aisle.
One memory I will take away is the fact that my dad showed up. We are an LGBTQ Couple and my parents weren’t very fond of my relationship, so you can imagine how I felt when I saw my dad. We hadn’t talked for two months prior to the wedding but he still came.
I wouldn’t change anything about our special day, Covid or not. I got to marry my best friend, my forever partner and we couldn’t be more in love. — Dee’Ann Moses-Brown
Kyle and Jessica Henry of Birmingham
Wedding details: October 16, 2020 at Cafe Cortina in Farmington Hills
Photographer: Katie Grace Photography
Not six hours after getting engaged, Jess was already making spreadsheets and laying out pricing, requirements, all that.
In the months that followed, there was nothing non-traditional about our wedding planning process: We had our engagement party, we brought both families together for the holidays for the first time, and saved money very diligently to help cover the costs of our reception. It felt like our vision was slowly becoming a reality.
It was right around the start of March when the details started to become entangled — not just for us, but for everyone across the world.
The news of the virus making its way to the U.S. didn’t scare us at first because just like any other potential public health threat, we didn’t fathom that a disease would make its way to us all the way in Michigan. We were confident that things would be contained and we’d laugh about this later down the road. But it felt like each day became increasingly heavy. We began to ask ourselves the joke-turned-reality question: What if we have to reschedule? It was a moment of action laced with inaction; we didn’t know what we didn’t know.
The further we got into March, the reality of the virus making its way across Michigan became more and more evident. Still, though we said to ourselves at the dinner table each night “this is only temporary…it will work itself out and we will still get married in May.”
Then cases of infection around the state skyrocketed before our very eyes. Before long, we weren’t going anywhere. Our daily routine and things we took for granted were torn up and spit out. It was as if the world was turning on its side, waiting for someone to press the “play” button again.
It was around that time that Jess and I decided to move our wedding to October of 2020, when we were confident that, after five months, things would be back to normal. Besides, who doesn’t love a fall wedding?
Once we got to June, we weren’t sure what to expect come October, so we acted fast. We decided to get married in 2020 no matter what, even if it meant putting aside the “big wedding” we had envisioned. We focused on what was most important: becoming husband and wife. There’s a joke from “The Office” we throw around in our house that “I’d marry you in a beet field. It doesn’t matter to me.”
We postponed the big party at our original venue, Weller’s Carriage House in Saline, for May 2021 and in the meantime decided to have a small ceremony that would accommodate enough people to have a quiet reception but still adhered to health guidelines. We looked at vineyards, rental properties, and even beach homes along the coast of northern Michigan to make an off-the-cuff idea come to life.
We ended up discovering Cafe Cortina in Farmington Hills. We fell in love with the look of the place, and we settled on Cortina as a safe bet for having a beautiful, classy and intimate gathering. Luckily, we snagged their last available weekend for the season.
We were both surprised how easy it was to put together a small wedding and reception with just a few months to spare. The entire event was held outside, we brought in a day-of coordinator to help with the small details to make it easier on ourselves, and the rest was just gravy. We ensured our guests got tested and socially distanced properly so that there was little concern as we got close to the big day.
In a matter of just a few months, we went from envisioning a large, 200-person mostly indoor wedding to hosting an entirely outdoor 50-person reception not 20 minutes from our home. One of the bridesmaids, who just happened to be an ordained minister (thanks, Internet) married us in front of our closest family and friends, and rounded out the night with impeccable food, irreplaceable company, and the most beautiful ambiance. Fireplaces and big heaters kept our guests warm, and as we looked around at the closest people in our circle meeting and mingling, we knew we made the right decision.
Above all else, this process taught us what it meant to focus on one another; it was an exercise in marriage itself, that a union is only as strong as its respective parts. When you cut through the silly details of what makes a wedding a wedding, you’re able to return to the pulse of what a true partnership is: listening, remaining patient and humble, and making the tough calls together.
As Jess’ dad said in his speech, “You’re gonna have problems. A lot of the time it’s no one’s fault, and you have to accept that. You have to find ways of getting through it and moving on. I wish you problems, big and small, because that is the only way you’ll find out how you’ll understand how to love better.”
If that line doesn’t encompass 2020 as a whole, I don’t know what will. — Kyle Henry
For more pandemic wedding stories check out the first article of this series, Love and Flexibility: Getting Married During the Covid-19 Pandemic, Pt. 1