Love is patient, love is postponed
2021 might be the year of the rescheduled wedding.
The families of engaged couple Gloria Oyervides and Montel Caruthers have never met. Many of Oyervides’ relatives live in Mexico, and the Wisconsin-based couple’s union was meant to be a meaningful meeting and merging of their kin.
“In Mexican culture, weddings are a huge reason for families to come together to celebrate the couple, and oftentimes families save up to not only travel to the wedding but also help the couple with the wedding expenses,” Oyervides says. “It’s considered an honor for family to be able to help with the wedding in those ways. … Montel also has a big extended family that would love to come, especially since they all still live in the Kansas City, Missouri, area.”
But that will have to wait. The couple is planning a smaller gathering for February 2021 with a larger reception to follow when COVID-19 is no longer a factor in planning an in-person event.
“We had to make some hard decisions out of love and care for our families, especially for those who are at higher risk for COVID-19,” she says. “However, reducing the numbers was extremely hard for both of us. Firstly, because that meant my extended family from Texas and Mexico wouldn’t be able to come, which is almost all of my family.”
They’re among so many couples — and one of local wedding planner Deanna Wheeler’s 15 clients — who have had to rethink their wedding plans due to the ongoing public health crisis.
The $78 billion wedding industry, previously called recession-proof, had a disastrous 2020 season, putting thousands of small businesses and vendors in jeopardy of going out of business. Two wedding venues, The Eloise Wedding Barn in Mount Horeb and The Tinsmith in Madison, had just opened their doors in 2020, only to have to cancel or postpone events for many of their first clients. “Some people are already talking about 2022 weddings for venues, and some vendors are like, ‘We might not even be a business in 2022,’ ” Wheeler says.
Wheeler had one client cancel their wedding indefinitely, three ended their contracts but still got married, nine postponed to 2021 and two decided to have microweddings. “Microwedding” refers to an intimate vow exchange that has at most 10 to 25 guests.
Two of Wheeler’s clients, Kylee Ritschard and Danny Kraemer, decided to have a microwedding with an invite list of 19 — 21 total if you count the bride and groom. Their plan is to tie the knot on New Year’s Eve at The Eloise if the state allows for indoor gatherings by then.
“We started to realize around July or August that our 200-plus person wedding was not going to happen so we started to cut down our guest list to 150 people, then 100 people, then 50 people, and each time we had to cut it down I felt like I was going through somewhat of a grieving process of what I thought our wedding would be like,” Ritschard says.
But given the circumstances, a microwedding was the right answer for Ritschard and Kraemer, who were ready to get married and start their lives together. “I [was] beyond excited to have such a personal and intimate setting for our big day,” Ritschard says.
Wheeler faced many unexpected challenges in 2020, which was only her second wedding season since launching her wedding planning business, Olive Branch Events Co., in October 2018. “I feel like I’m kind of a pseudo public health expert now,” says Wheeler, who had to constantly check regulations for gatherings in multiple Wisconsin counties. “But the point of being a wedding planner is you have to be able to problem-solve and figure out solutions no matter what,” Wheeler says.
Wheeler says she definitely sees the microwedding trend continuing even after a vaccine hits the market, but big weddings will never go away.
“People are still getting married right now,” she says, “regardless if it’s a small chapel, microwedding or getting married now and doing the reception later.” They’re going to want the big celebration with many family and friends once COVID-19 goes away, she says. This year is already shaping up to likely be one of the busiest years for wedding planners and vendors alike for postponed weddings or delayed receptions.
“2021 is going to be pretty insane,” Wheeler says. She already has every weekend in July and September booked, sometimes with two weddings on the same weekend.
Molly Lippold and Alex Meinholz’s postponed wedding is scheduled to take place in September this year. When news of COVID-19 first hit, the original August 2020 date still seemed far enough away for the local couple, who have been engaged since January 2018. But reality set in as days passed. The bridal shower was postponed, the church’s rules changed and conversations about family members having to risk their health to be present made the decision clear: They had to postpone.
“I remember feeling so empty, so heartbroken — I knew 8/8/2020 would no longer be ‘our day,’” Lippold says.
But with flexible vendors, a little faith and the guidance of their wedding planner, Wheeler, they settled on a new date.
“By the time we get married on Sept. 25, 2021, Alex and I will have been engaged for 1,360 days,” Lippold says. “As they say, ‘love is patient.’ ’’
Andrea Behling is the editor of Madison Magazine.