When Love is in the Air… but so is the Coronavirus

No one will ever know just how many weddings were cancelled, postponed or were never planned this year due COVID-19.

Few people realize the preparation, time and expense that goes into planning a wedding, not to mention the hopes and dreams of a young couple in love.

There’s the venue, the guest list and invitations, the cake, catering, music, flowers … and the list goes on.

But this is 2020 and there’s more than just love in the air. Enter the coronavirus.

With so many couples struggling to decide what to do, a website has been set up by a wedding planning service called The Knot to help couples navigate the crisis.

Here are the stories of two brides-to-be whose wedding plans were altered due to an uninvited and unwelcome guest: COVID-19. These young ladies are first cousins and both happen to be in the nursing profession.

“When all this started in February, we never thought our May wedding would be affected,” said Casie Contos, who works at the Cleveland Clinic. Casie and is engaged to medical student Tyler Karras. Tyler is about to start a residency at Mercy Health in Youngstown.

“Slowly, the realization came that this MIGHT cause us some problems,” said Casie.

The couple came up with a Plan B, to have an intimate backyard wedding ceremony. “We still didn’t take this plan B too seriously. This coronavirus thing would all blow over soon, right?”

Casie said there were so many things to consider when deciding if they should postpone the wedding.

“Will we be able to confidently hug our guests? Am I going to make someone feel uncomfortable if I get too close? Do I have to pay hundreds of dollars for new invitations? Will there be a different date available that works for us and our vendors?”

“How do you make a decision for an event in May when information on this virus changes daily?” the future bride questioned.

The fact that the couple works in health care added another dimension to the problem.

First, Casie decided that it would be best to cancel her March bridal shower. Then Tyler cancelled a bachelor party cruise. Then Casie called off her bachelorette party.

The couple continued to hang onto the hope that the wedding could still happen.

“Finally, today, we gave in to the inevitable and made the heartbreaking decision that it was no longer safe to move forward with our May 30, 2020 wedding,” said Casie. “This decision came after many sleepless nights, emails, long conversations, etc.”

The couple had already paid for or made deposits on a photographer, a DJ, a minister, a florist, a hair stylist and a chair rental company, each under a separate contract.

“Do you think every one of these vendors will have the same date open to reschedule for us? Probably not,” said Casie. And having their payments returned if they decided to cancel was also unlikely.

Then there was the venue that the couple had already paid several thousand dollars to reserve. “They said if we cancel our wedding, we will only get back 50 percent of what we have paid,” said Casie.

“There have been moments where we hope our venue just cancels on us. At least then we would get our money back. Isn’t that crazy? The biggest day of our lives. We planned for this day for two years. And we hope our venue cancels.”

In addition to this, some counties in Ohio are not issuing marriage licenses, so getting legally married may not even be possible anytime soon.

“We aren’t sad – we haven’t cried,” said Casie. “We’re just completely speechless and utterly dumbfounded.”

Planning a wedding around the coronavirus poses a challenge to these two Ohio couples and many others like them. Top: Casie Contos and Tyler Karras; Bottom: Brandy Contos and Nathan Nichols

Brandy Contos, who is Casie’s cousin, said she and her fiancé have not decided yet if they will postpone their July wedding in Nashville, TN.

Brandy  is employed at an outpatient surgical center that has temporarily closed. “I have applied to every site, willing to be on the front lines with my fellow nurses but have not been contacted,’ said Brandy.

“Obviously, we will have to make sure our bills are paid and food is on the table, over the costs of a wedding,” she added.

Brandy’s fiancé Nathan Nichols is from San Diego and works in the hotel industry.  Though Nathan’s line of work has been impacted by the coronavirus, Nathan is still working.

The couple resides in Chicago.

“I didn’t go through the extent of planning like Casie, so I really feel for her,” said Brandy. “We still have a number of months yet and the direction of this virus isn’t clear. For now, we are just staying informed regarding the virus and mandates/legislation and stay-at-home orders” said Brandy.

The future bride said the unknown course of the virus has prevented them from committing to floral arrangements, a bakery for the wedding cake and a justice of the peace, among other things.

“I can only imagine the economic stress this must put on those small businesses,” she added.

Another uncertainty is their venue, which is a hotel. Many hotels have now closed or have limited staff.

Brandy recently cancelled her May bachelorette party.

“And, of course, our honeymoon is booked so we will have to see what to do with that,” she said.

“I’m currently thinking that if we have to postpone or cancel the wedding, that we just won’t have a wedding,” Brandy said.

“I don’t want to start over. I just want to marry my best friend.”

The CDC also offered some advice for couples who choose to go through with their celebration on the original date.

“Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene and social distancing,” the new CDC guidelines said. “When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.”