March 31, 2020 In the Media

Wedding bells delayed as virus concerns grow

If wedding planning wasn’t stressful enough for many couples, coronavirus restrictions have often complicated matters as the heart of wedding season approaches.

Couples across the country have had to reconfigure upcoming weddings due to the coronavirus, as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton issued orders to limit the gathering of multiple people and called for the closing of restaurants, bars, fitness centers, beauty salons, barber shops, and nail salons. Ohioans have been discouraged from traveling, as well.

A Maumee and a former Findlay couple, who were each set to be wed in May, have since had to make changes to one of the biggest days of their lives as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country and government officials continue to call for social distancing and no travel. 

While both couples said it was one of the most challenging spur-of-the-moment decisions, they knew it was the right choice to move their wedding dates to the fall.

Ashleigh Weddington, 26, met her fiance, Matt Walker, 31, through mutual friends while she was completing her master’s degree at the University of Findlay. The couple, who now reside in Columbus, originally planned to get married on May 21 on the beach in Destin, Fla., followed by a clean and airy-feeling reception on a beachside pool deck.

Miss Weddington was feeling relatively relaxed with her vendors booked. She had to complete tasks like the seat chart and welcome sign. 

“I was pretty chill and then all of this started happening and I was no longer chill,” Miss Weddington said of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. “It crossed my mind when it first happened, whenever the first cases were. But at that point, it was almost three months out. I thought it would be fine.” 

Last weekend, she and Mr. Walker were confident that the day would work out. But on March 16, Miss Weddington followed the news of the coronavirus and it was evident the couple couldn’t take the risk of going forward with the May destination wedding, she said. 

“Inside I was freaking out, but I wanted to be strong. I try to stay very logical and calm about things,” Mr. Walker said.

The couple postponed the destination wedding, with support of family and friends, to Oct. 22. Since it is a Thursday wedding, most of the same vendors are available, Miss Weddington said, which has provided much relief to her and her fiance.  

“There’s a lot of factors that go into this. I decided it was best to protect everybody,” she said. “If we didn’t [postpone] it, we’d be stressed out for the next nine weeks waiting to know if we could have our wedding and that’s just not how you want to spend your days leading up to your wedding.”

Her wedding planner, April Gladieux of Your Perfect Day, agreed.

Ms. Gladieux told The Blade while it depends on the client, most of the weddings she oversees have either been canceled, postponed, or the guest list has been significantly reduced. While one of her weddings has kept the same date, the near 180 person guest list has been slashed to 18 people. In total, she estimates 50 of her coordinated weddings will be impacted by the coronavirus. 

“Most of my clients have been very understanding and they have come to me before they were in full panic mode. We have talked things through,” Ms. Gladieux said. 

Ms. Gladieux said she provides a neutral mindset for couples and she will help them proceed with whatever they feel is best. Many of her weddings are falling in a timeframe that may be affected by the coronavirus, she’s finding it may be best for many of those weddings to be postponed. 

While she understands it’s a big day that many couples have been planning and looking forward to, “let’s postpone until this thing is fully behind us,” she said. 

“She knows she’s crushing you, but it’s really important to trust her [or any professional.] Trust your gut and be disappointed, but also move on with your life,” Miss Weddington said. “We can’t sit here for the next six months and be sad. We still have the opportunity to get married — that’s not being taken away from us.” 

For those couples who may have to postpone the date, Ms. Gladieux suggested rescheduling weddings on a Friday or Sunday so the potential that the venue and the vendor team is more likely to be available. 

Chris Offenburg, owner and wedding DJ of Life Celebrations, said that while he has not run into any conflicts of couples needing to reschedule, he acknowledged that some vendors will not be available for every rescheduled event, even if they have already received a down payment. 

“I am hoping most vendors will do the right thing and return any money that has been paid if they are not available for the new date. At the very least I am hoping as vendors we can pull together and have each other’s backs and help out a bit and trade some services with each other if we need to,” he said. “This is a great time for the wedding industry in Toledo to step up and work toward the goal we should all have, making wedding celebrations run perfectly so the wedding couples, parties, and families can relax and enjoy their special day without worries.”

Anne Reed of Shady Brook Acres, a rustic outdoor venue north of Napoleon, said their first wedding is scheduled for May, and the venue is offering extensions on due payments because of the current economic circumstances. 

This isn’t the first time that Kristine Jerwers, 25, of Maumee has had to change her wedding date. She initially had a date scheduled, but she had to start from square one due to a vendor issue. She was again placed in a similar situation due to the coronavirus. 

Miss Jerwers and fiance, Tyson Yungmann, 25, both grew up in Ottawa, and they met in middle school. They have been together since high school and have their first home together in Maumee. 

Mr. Yungmann proposed on Feb. 9, 2019 outside near a campfire at a local winery, where her family and friends were hiding and watching. The couple originally planned to get married on May 23, but they learned in July that their original venue had canceled their event. 

Miss Jerwers said the couple found another venue in Wapakoneta, Ohio and they’re set to exchange nuptials on May 9 with greenery and accents of gray, gold, and light pink. 

“We were truly blessed to have all of the same vendors be able to change their date for us. It all worked out in the end — until this past week,” Miss Jerwers said. 

As talks of the coronavirus began, she never thought it would impact her wedding plans. Her bridal shower was canceled for March 28. The next day, officials announced allowing maximum gatherings of only 50 people.

That’s when the couple again decided to postpone their wedding. 

They felt a whole range of emotions from completely crushed but still blessed that they can celebrate the day together with family and friends. They’ll now be celebrating on Sept. 25. 

“I truly believe it was the right move to postpone [the wedding date,] because as an ICU nurse [at ProMedica Toledo Hospital,] I see this firsthand. It is nothing to mess around with. I would never want to put my family and friends at risk,” she said. “I also want everyone to feel comfortable and be able to hug, kiss, and slow dance as they celebrate our special day with us.” 

Miss Jerwers has similar advice to other couples who may be in a similar position with an upcoming wedding.

“Honestly, just smile and power through it,” she said. “Take it seriously and remember that your wedding day is all about you and your husband. It’s just a date. I know we don’t always understand why it happens, but that’s life. It has its ups and downs, just like a marriage will.”