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.
Emily Phelps, a consultant at M3 who is part of the team responsible for the supply chain efforts of the N95 mask, and Marc Massie first met while growing up in Wayzata, Minnesota. They had played in the same pool at their country club and took the same golf and tennis lessons, but their three-year age gap kept them in different groups. It wasn’t until they were re-introduced in 2016 that they really hit it off.
Emily had just graduated from St. Lawrence University and was about to leave for New York City. A serious relationship was the last thing on her mind, and yet, she couldn’t help but ask Marc on a date. “I even picked him up!” she adds. Their planned happy hour date devolved into spending the entire evening together. By their fourth date, Emily was smitten. “Despite everyone telling me not to move back home for a boy, I wanted to see what the future had in store for us.”
The future had a lot in store for the couple. Three years later, Marc proposed on her August 13th birthday. Emily laughs, “Marc’s proposal foreshadowed our wedding plans. Nothing went as expected.” Marc intended on proposing before her birthday dinner, which would feature her whole family. But that afternoon, there was an implacable storm that hovered over the city. Before Emily returned home from work, Marc had to figure out another proposal route.
He rented out their apartment rooftop, filled the space with flowers and candles, and had a bottle of their favorite tequila ready. The proposal was a complete surprise for Emily. If she had anticipated it, she admits that she wouldn’t have painted her nails hot pink beforehand…
Considering that their story began at their country club, the couple knew they wanted the special setting for their wedding venue. They planned their August 1, 2020 wedding, complete with a 330-guest list and Minnesota theme. “From local produce and fish to native flowers and greenery, we wanted to pay tribute to where we call home,” Emily explains.
By March, however, the couple was anxious over how COVID-19 was unfolding across the globe. Their wedding invitations were supposed to be printed around this time, but they never placed their order. “After two months of lockdown, we knew the wedding we had planned was no longer an option,” Emily says. Instead, they decided to have a more intimate ceremony on their original date and host a large celebration in the summer of 2021.
The couple kept their wedding list to family and friends who lived in Minnesota. “I am incredibly close to my mom’s side of the family and they all live along the West Coast, so this was not an easy decision,” Emily insists. “Our Minnesota-based family and our wedding party maxed out our guest list. Unfortunately, my matron of honor, Katy, lives in New York City and wasn’t comfortable flying. My 93-year old grandfather couldn’t fly from Oregon. He is who I look up to on how a person should love—not just how to love your partner but to love all that life has to offer. What was the worst cherry on top, was knowing my uncle Michael, our officiant, would not be there. We hoped restrictions would loosen up for him to fly from Los Angeles, but two weeks before the wedding, Marc, Michael, and I knew that it wasn’t going to happen.”
Emily and Marc discovered that planning a micro-wedding was easier than expected. This doesn’t mean the process was simple. While laboring over the aesthetics and guest list, Emily told Marc they should just consider eloping at the courthouse. Marc convinced Emily to stay with the micro-wedding, and, with the support of Emily’s mom, they kept planning. The hardest part was navigating summer social distancing restrictions. “My mom and I were so used to the plans changing that two nights before the wedding, we had multiple backup plans in the event there was another new COVID restriction.”
For her bridal outfit, Emily wanted a dress that was simple, chic, fitted, but still allowed her to dance. The fourth dress she tried on—Jaclyn Jordan‘s Sophia gown was exactly this. “Currently, I plan to wear it for a portion of our 2021 celebration,” she confesses. “Few, if any, brides have a reason to wear their dress a second time!” Sherry Fredkove styled her glowing makeup, while Emily J Beauty fixed her hair.
She completed her outfit with the ultimate accessory—her Graham Jewelers engagement ring. “I used the diamonds from my grandmother’s bracelet for a shared prong wedding band,” she adds. Emily dazzled in her Graham Jewelers earrings and matching tennis bracelet.
Marc was supposed to get a custom suit from Judd Frost Clothiers in Wayzata Minnesota. But due to the COVID lockdown and supply chain issues, there wasn’t enough time to get his suit made. Making do, he wore the blue suit he bought for his sister’s wedding. He topped off the outfit with a green fly fishing flies tie.
The wedding party originally had a soft-hued dress code, but like all of the wedding plans, Emily and Marc pivoted. They returned these coordinated garments and instead asked their party to wear semi-formal clothes.
“A few days before the wedding,” Emily recalls, “we changed the ceremony location, again. We picked the 16th tee box for its beauty, and for the joke that Marc had his worst golf tournament performance on that same hole the year prior. It is located next to a small pond that’s surrounded by cattails, and a gathering of white pine trees.”
The couple asked Marc’s brothers-in-law to be the de facto officiants. Throughout the ceremony, they joked and poked fun at Marc for being “a goofball with severe youngest child syndrome.”
There were quite a few minor hiccups throughout the day. “My bouquet was missing for half the photos. The lush, tall grass in our ceremony background had been mowed,” Emily rattles off. The most notable surprise? “I only printed 80% of my vows and didn’t notice until the ceremony when I was reading them to Marc,” Emily answers. “I improvised the ending and read the rest to Marc after the ceremony.” But Emily acknowledges that “in the moment, none of the issues mattered.”
“Marc and I were in a dream, and all we cared about was getting married,” Emily confides. “It could’ve stormed in the middle of the ceremony, and that would have made it feel even more like a COVID wedding. While I won’t say [that] I wouldn’t change a thing, we made the best of what we had to work with.”
After the ceremony, the newlyweds enjoyed cocktail hour with their guests. And before being seated for the meal, Emily and Marc shared their first dance to Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.” Dinner was served and well worth the wait and ended with a sweet treat…but not cake. “Neither of us are big fans of cake, so we served mud pie for dessert!” the bride exclaims. “It’s a coffee and chocolate ice cream in an Oreo crust with drizzles of fudge.”
After the father of the bride and best man speeches, dinner became an “open mic.” A dozen guests walked up and shared their messages to the newlyweds. Emily’s uncle even stood and shared a letter from her grandfather, reading this line, “Being the only daughter of my only daughter explains, a little, of why you have always been ‘the apple of my eye.’” And, yes, Emily absolutely teared up.
Shortly after dinner, one guest plugged their phone into a speaker and started a dance party. “We convinced the bar to fill a cart with wine, beer, vodka, and tequila. We danced on the patio under cafe lights and a spectacular moon. Before we knew it, it was 1:30 and my mom and mother-in-law were trying to figure where to have the after-party.” They decided they would keep the party going in the morning. Emily smiles, “We had ourselves a Sunday Funday at the lake playing lawn games, grilling, swimming, and boating.”
Upon reflecting, Emily says, “We missed our loved ones that couldn’t join our micro-wedding.” But the couple plans to have a one-year anniversary party on July 31st, 2021. “Nothing sounds better than ringing in our first year of marriage with a party full of our favorite people, dancing, and of course, tequila!”