Now that it’s crystal clear that hosting a big wedding at this time is just not possible due to the spread of COVID-19, we’re sharing the experiences of real couples navigating the re-scheduling, cancellation, and civil and commemorative wedding processes in an attempt to help others make informed decisions and to spread our support to all during this time.
Alexandra Santinelli, the client manager at School House, and Michael Grinfeld were both traveling to Tokyo for New Year’s when their mutual friends introduced them, and they immediately hit it off. Three years later, Michael arranged a romantic dinner date in Brooklyn. Nervous but determined, he asked Alexandra to marry him in what she fondly remembers as a “low-key as hell” proposal.
The couple planned their wedding for April 11th, 2020 at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, but by March 11th, both Alexandra’s parents and Michael’s parents brought up the possibility of postponing the wedding. “We were in pain, but numb and fragile,” Alexandra says about the notion of having to postpone their celebration.
By the following week, however, they sent their guests an email. This decision was the culmination of considering “everyone’s safety, discomfort, and not knowing what the hell was going on,” Alexandra admits.
When an incredible work-opportunity arose for Michael in Miami, the couple took this as a sign to leave New York City. In the spirit of new beginnings, the couple also decided to throw a micro-wedding. Alexandra marvels how “within one month, we went to Miami to look for a new home, came back, and planned a 25-person intimate wedding.”
The planning process was remarkably fun for the couple. They whizzed through it with ease, just feeling grateful and lucky for the opportunity to marry in the midst of such a crazy moment in history. They wanted the micro-wedding to resemble the original wedding as closely as possible, so they remained steadfastly committed to their vendors—this included Hudson Botanica for the florals, Chances with Wolves for the music, Shayna Gold for makeup, and Ryan Austin Hair for hair styling. And when their original planner Sara Landon wasn’t able to step-in to be the day-of coordinator for their smaller event, Stillwell Events was brought on as a co-planner.
And from the beginning, the bride knew she wanted to wear a Danielle Frankel dress—she just wasn’t sure which one! As a college student, Alexandra worked in creative services and advertising at Vera Wang and got to know gifted designers under Vera—including Danielle Frankel. Back then, she was just “Danielle” to Alexandra. Nevertheless, Alexandra had always been impressed with the CFDA runner-up’s vision. “She changed the landscape of bridal design,” Alexandra insists. “I loved being able to work with her to find the right dress—elegant, ethereal, and nontraditional.” Alexandra’s wedding party consisted of her mother and sister, who wore Oscar de la Renta and Erdem, respectively.
It was a perfect New York day on September 27th, 2020, when Alexandra and Michael stood on the Bowery Hotel rooftop. Alexandra’s younger brother officiated the ceremony, and the couple exchanged heartfelt vows in front of 25 guests. “I wouldn’t have had my wedding any other way!” Alexandra recalls.
The next day, the newlyweds began packing for Miami. When looking back on how everything unfolded, Alexandra says, “It’s okay to pivot. It’s okay to not have everything you thought you would. You don’t need the things that ‘everyone else’ is doing.” She smiles and adds, “Count your blessings and move on!”