Pandemic weddings: Vowing to go on
Eleven years after they met, LeErin Humbracht and Bret German ’05, were finally getting married. She lost hours of sleep obsessing over centerpieces for her June 6 wedding, which she’d been planning over a year. More than 200 guests were expected from as far as the East Coast–and then a global pandemic hit.
In March, they got the call they were expecting from Toni Tucker, director of the Ewing Cultural Center. Due to a statewide executive order limiting public gatherings, it was unlikely they’d be able to hold their June wedding at Ewing. They decided to push their date to August 1, and hold the guest list to 50.
Humbracht started sending out “disinvites,” which was the hardest thing she ever had to do. The bridal party and guests would be local. They didn’t want to ask any of their guests to travel, possibly increasing their risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19).
On the morning of the wedding, the bride was sitting in a salon getting her hair done when she checked the weather forecast. There might be a stray shower at 3 p.m., but she wasn’t worried because the wedding wasn’t until 5 p.m.
A steady rain began shortly before the ceremony, and didn’t stop for three hours. When the first drops fell 15 minutes before the ceremony was to start, the groom ditched tradition and ran upstairs to meet his bride in the dressing room, asking what she wanted to do. The procession could be changed to a shorter walk, and the bridal party could carry umbrellas from the courtyard to the back lawn.
“We had to replan our wedding for about the fourth time,” LeErin German said.
But that was OK, she said.
“It was really beautiful and it all turned out perfectly. To be truthful, I could not imagine having had 200 people there. It was so intimate.”
The 10-minute ceremony was supposed to be livestreamed for remote guests. Everything was tested the day before, and the day of the ceremony, but at the last minute, there were technical difficulties. The guests received a link to the video shortly after.
Tucker said Ewing had nine weddings scheduled this year, two in the spring and seven in the fall. She offered couples the option of canceling for a full refund, rescheduling for 2021, or going with a smaller ceremony. Some postponed, while others scheduled smaller weddings. There are three scheduled for September.
Although she dreaded making those phone calls, no one was upset.
“They understood this is the way of the world right now,” she said. “They’ve all been so sweet about it.”
LeErin German couldn’t have been happier the way it turned out.
“I actually enjoyed the small ceremony more,” she said. “All things considered, I wouldn’t do it any other way. It was very, very peaceful.”