Get the Best of Both Worlds with a Mini-mony and Delayed Reception
Four couples who found a way to keep their 2020 wedding date and still host a COVID-safe celebration the following year
No-Pressure Round Two: Kaitlyn and Adam Thomas
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, Kaitlyn (Rohde) and Adam Thomas had already been planning their wedding—set for December that year—for months.
“We thought by December, we’d be in the clear,” Kaitlyn says. But by November, new coronavirus cases were on the rise, and travel was discouraged.
“At that point, our guests had started cancelling, because we were planning to get married two weeks before Christmas,” she explains. “With the holidays, they didn’t want to jeopardize potentially not seeing family, so we just decided to postpone the party.”
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Their venue, Jorgensen Farms Oak Grove in Westerville, offered to let them keep their original date, if they decided to go ahead with a small ceremony. So on Dec. 12, 2020, with only 16 close family members included, Kaitlyn and Adam tied the knot. Kaitlyn’s uncle officiated, and celebrations included dinner at Vittoria in Powell and a small morning-after brunch.
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“Adam would say that he really wanted a small, intimate wedding, but we both come from pretty big families,” making a smaller event impossible under normal circumstances, Kaitlyn says. “He really enjoyed the small, intimate wedding, and I did too. It ended up being really fun.”
But, for Kaitlyn, a few things were missing. “I didn’t get to wear my dress, and I didn’t get to do my hair and makeup,” she says. “Doing all that fun stuff was kind of the point of round two.”
That took place on July 26, 2021, when roughly 270 guests showed up at Jorgensen Farms to celebrate. “We thought that by having a summer event, we could at least be outdoors,” Kaitlyn notes. Despite being on a Monday, the evening followed a traditional schedule: a ceremony at 4 p.m., again officiated by Kaitlyn’s uncle, followed by a cocktail hour, dinner and dancing.
“It was almost like we were acting the second time around,” Kaitlyn says. “The nervousness that goes into your wedding day was missing, because we had already done it.”
A Surprising Benefit: Sameen Dadfar and Jonathan Groleau
When Sameen Dadfar and Jonathan Groleau realized that they weren’t going to be able to safely keep their Aug. 1, 2020, wedding plans, they got creative: They hosted a Zoom wedding in their backyard.
“Not even our parents were there,” Sameen says. “It was completely virtual.”
They invited about 50 to Zoom into their intimate outdoor ceremony, plus two friends to help capture the day on-site through photography and videography, which proved serendipitous. “There were technical difficulties here and there, so we were really happy that we actually had a film to follow-up with Zoom,” Sameen notes.
A few things surprised the couple about the small event.
“I’m Persian, and so every wedding I’ve been to has been huge. For me to say, ‘We are doing this big thing,’ and have no people around, at first I was really surprised at how special it was just to focus on Jon and not who’s in the crowd,” Sameen says. “It just felt intimate and perfect.”
She was also surprised by the reactions of friends and family. “We were one of the first Zoom weddings for a lot of people, and everybody just thought it was really cool,” she says. “They said … it helped give them a little bit of hope—that there’s still love, and life is continuing during this pandemic.”
A year later, on July 31, 2021, they tried again, this time in person at Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center. “The Zoom wedding was all about me and John getting married, ticking it off. This one was the show, for our friends and family, to highlight the traditions,” Sameen explains. “In some ways, it was perfect, because I got to kind of focus on two things—both the friends and family supporting us and that intimate moment [the year before] with Jon.”
Keeping Safety in Mind: Amy Lipp and Silas Baronda
For Amy Lipp and Silas Baronda, Oct. 17, 2020, was supposed to be a special date: their wedding. But with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic that fall, they decided to move their big day to the following February. “We wanted to keep our guests safe,” Amy says. “We didn’t want to have a super-spreader event.”
But by the new date—Feb. 6, 2021—things on the pandemic front weren’t much better, so they changed tacks, once again postponing their 150-plus person event.
“All of our vendors were amazing, so that made it easy,” Amy says. “No one gave us any issue with the date [change].”
But they didn’t want to delay their marriage, so the pair hosted about 20 guests at Rockmill Brewery in Lancaster for a casual mini-mony, officiated by Amy’s brother, on Feb. 6.
Having a smaller event proved to have a few unexpected perks, including a special guest: “Our dog, who’s like our baby, got to be there the whole day,” Amy says.
Through the process, the couple learned a few things sure to serve them in their future together, namely being flexible. “COVID in general helped with that,” says Silas, “making sure we were … prepared to make changes if we had to.”
In April 2022, they plan to move forward with a version of their original event—complete with a full guest list, Amy’s wedding gown and more—at High Line Car House. They don’t plan to redo the entire ceremony, though.
“One benefit [of the small event] was that we didn’t have to do a ceremony in front of people; that’s always nerve-wracking,” Amy says. “We really just want to celebrate with everybody.”
Feeling Gratitude Despite Grief: Ashley and Dwight Owen
Ashley (Martin) and Dwight Owen had planned on a big wedding with 180 people in early May 2020. But with the temporary ban on mass gatherings and the bankruptcy of their original venue (and subsequent loss of their deposit), they pivoted to a scaled-back ceremony at Short North Church on Aug. 7, 2020.
Since then, Dwight’s father has passed away, as has the couple’s beloved dog, Bella.
“Part of the reason why we really wanted to go forward with the small ceremony is that we didn’t know how long we could have either [of them],” Dwight says.
To ensure safety at their August event, the couple’s parents and wedding party members quarantined for two weeks beforehand and followed masking and distancing guidelines the day of. Extra precautions accommodated Dwight’s father’s medical needs: They rented a hotel room, sanitized everything and traveled with a HEPA air purifier. “We took that thing everywhere,” Ashley says. “We called him R2-D2.” (R2 makes a cameo on the couple’s wedding crest, along with Bella.)
Even with a small crew, the couple wanted to make the day special. “We had a first look; I wore my full dress and did hair and makeup,” Ashley says. After the ceremony, Ashley changed outfits and the party walked to Paulie Gee’s, where they downed pizza and salted-caramel cake, drank beer and danced.
“[Our pastor] really made it feel like a day that reflected us. We did not walk away from that day feeling like we missed anything,” Ashley says. It wasn’t the day that she and Dwight had planned, she admits, “but it became a perfect day. … We made it a day that felt like us.”
One year and one week later, on Aug. 13, 2021, the Owens held a Friday-night bash at the Columbus Museum of Art that Ashley says also “felt like us.” They invited 120 people to the ceremony and vow reading, cocktail hour, dinner and dancing. An iced coffee bar honored Dwight’s father and his love of the beverage. “It was really emotional,” Dwight says.
“Anytime I reflect, I feel gratitude,” Ashley says. “The wedding is the least important part. It came down to this: We have a lot of people who love us a whole lot.”
This story first appeared in the spring/summer 2022 issue of Columbus Weddings, published in December 2021. The print version and an earlier web version of this story included an incorrect spelling of Jon Groleau's first name.