02 Aug 2021

Three’s a Charm: A COVID Experience

By the Mother of the Bride, Carol Cheli

It was December 27, 2019, shortly after my daughter Jillian and Paul were engaged when they found the wedding venue of their dreams… A sprawling 1840 castle with all the historic charm and character, yet recently renovated and modernized with hand blown crystal chandeliers, stone terraces and a grand ballroom overlooking the majestic Hudson valley, at Le Chateau, South Salem, NY a short distance from most of their family and friends in NYC. Their wedding date was to be April 23rd, 2021. I am the mother-of-the bride and am writing this story so years ahead when my grandchildren ask why their parents have three wedding anniversaries, we can share with them their experience as they strived to make the most memorable day of their life a reality through the most challenging times in our history.

It is now February 2020, and my daughter Jillian is working in her Chelsea NYC office in full swing planning the wedding of her dreams. She shops for and orders her 5th Ave Pronovias bridal gown, deposits were paid to the DJ, florist, photographer, and the bridal party was formed….We were planning for the engagement party. Everything seemed to be set.

It is March 2020 and Jillian is now fully working from home. There is a deadly virus, called COVID 19, spreading fast across the world. The world has stopped, no social engagements, no parties, no weddings, no travel. Everyone must cancel events. We postpone the engagement party. Jillian and her fiancé, Paul, are locked up inside their apartment, fearful of getting and spreading the virus to friends and family. They convinced themselves that their wedding would still be a reality as it is way off in the future, a year later when this virus beast should be gone. They continue planning amidst the pandemic, designing the wedding invitation, made the guest list, took engagement photos for the “Save the Date”, ordered the bridesmaid gowns and set the floral design. They would honeymoon in Hawaii.

Fast forward to August 2020 and Jillian and Paul purchase their first home in Bedford, New York. Excited about this, and still fearful of indoor gatherings we hosted an outdoor engagement party at their new home, maximum 20 people based on Governor Cuomo’s guidelines. “Save the Dates’ for the wedding were sent out.

Fast forward to January 2021, three months prior to what would be their wedding date and we are required by the venue to decide whether we want to hold a 50 person wedding where social distancing and masks are required without dancing, postpone the wedding, or cancel it altogether. The virus is still with us now approaching 500,000 deaths in the USA. This was not as envisioned, a grand ballroom event, so it was decided to postpone the now called “Macro-wedding”, a full year, to April 29th, 2022. We contacted the wedding vendors and fortunately the event postponement went well, however, Jillian said “We want to be married.” Jillian is not one who sees the glass half empty, so she decides to make lemonade out of lemons. As background, Jillian first met Paul the first day moving into their upper Eastside NYC apartment as roommates living with others about 5 years back. Their relationship advanced from roommates to friendship, to romance with memories linked to their favorite place, Montauk, where Paul also had a business and lived earlier years with his family. At the moment when they realized they would have to wait another year to be married, they decided to have a “Micro-wedding” in Montauk, exchanging their vows in front of the lighthouse on their original wedding date of April 23rd, 2021 “with immediate family only”. They would repeat their wedding vows at the “Macro- wedding”, the following year, in April 2022. Excited by the prospect, the planning begins, local photographer, florist, hotel, dinner venue at Scarpetta’s restaurant, hairdresser, makeup artist, and a second bridal gown to fit the mood; lacey and romantic. Both families dressed in formal wedding attire for the event. I purchased another mother-of the bride gown… Jillian’s future brother- in law to officiate the wedding. and a honeymoon, which was to be in Barbados (canceled last minute due to St. Vincent volcanic eruption), now in Tulum, Mexico following their “Micro-wedding”.

March,2021, the pandemic is still with us, but hope is in sight with three vaccinations now available. It is now really all about living life for the moment and following Jillian’s dreams. Jillian would start a new career and follow her dreams. They set the plans for getting their marriage license at City Hall and decided to have a court marriage ceremony there as well on March 19th, 2021 and reserve the changing of vows before God and family at the “Micro-wedding” in Montauk.

When my grandchildren ask, I would say that Jillian married the man of her dreams 3 times…3 wedding days; one at City Hall, one at the lighthouse in Montauk, and the last one with all of their beloved family and friends at the grand event at Le Chateau. Each and every event, special… Three anniversaries…. Three’s a charm 😊. A COVID experience.

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