In the age of COVID-19, the phrase “in sickness and in health” has taken on a new meaning around Meridian.
Couples who’ve planned their happily-ever-afters this spring are reconsidering their choices of dates, venues, food vendors and honeymoons.
With advisories on social distancing, brides and grooms are having to make some tough decisions.
Allison Justus, a physical therapy student in Birmingham, travels back and forth to her hometown of Meridian to make plans for her May 2 wedding.
It had been planned for May 2, but over the weekend, they postponed it to Aug. 8.
Justus and her fiancé Christopher Brown have been monitoring the news daily, knowing they would have to decide whether or not to postpone the ceremony.
“My invitations already went out, and the honeymoon is already booked,” Justus said. “But, this is not the only tragedy in my life. My brother died a month ago, and he was in the wedding. We had a groomsman die a week ago, and he won’t be there either.”
Business owner Marilyn Hessler and her fiancé, Brett Shaffer, will wait a little longer to see how things play out.
So far, their wedding on May 30 is still on as planned.
“We’re hoping everybody takes the virus seriously and takes precautions to help flatten the curve,” Hessler said. “We have an awesome wedding planner, Terrica McKee of Southern Productions Weddings, and she is keeping us updated and calm.”
McKee, for her part, has been busy rescheduling weddings.
“Right now, my May couples have not rescheduled, but we will need to make that decision within the next week,” said McKee, who urges couples to reschedule rather than cancel their weddings.
“If they reschedule, vendors are being gracious by moving any money paid towards a new date,” she said. “If they cancel, they risk losing all of their deposits.”
For brides without planners, McKee suggests they contact their venue first to find out their policy on rescheduling and to take a look at available dates.
Next, they should contact key vendors to look at their schedules.
“You may not be able to get all of the same vendors, but hopefully, they will find a date that works for most of them,” she says.
At Generations Fine Paper and Gifts, Melissa Love says the shop has been “crazy busy.”
“All of our March, April, and early May weddings have been postponed,” Love said. “Although some have toyed with the idea of getting married on their original wedding date with a very small, immediate family ceremony.”
These brides have opted for mailing “change the date” cards for those celebrations later in the year. Many customers have selected wedding gifts just to boost up the morale of these brides-to-be, she said.
Over at World of Flowers, owner Albree Florey reassures her customers that the shop is open for business.
“Our vendors are receiving fresh beautiful safe flowers,” Florey said. “Our drivers and staff have not been out of the country, and we are practicing sanitary precautions.”
While the shop has had a small number of cancellations, they’ve also helped several brides who changed from destination weddings to their hometown.
“We are willing and able to assist these couples in such an important milestone,” Florey said.
Emily Ware and her fiancé Garrett Wright are taking it day-by-day for their wedding in early June.
“Right now, I have looked at my contracts to evaluate the details for each one,” said Ware, a pharmacy resident at St. Dominic Hospital.
“It is so heartbreaking,” she added. “With my wedding being in June, I am just hoping and praying that things can turn around quickly. You dream of this day for so long, ever since you got engaged or even before, and then something that is almost like one in a million occurs.”
“I’m holding on to hope that even if plans change, the new plans will come together and be completely better than anyone could have imagined,” she said.