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.
Mary “Jenny” Janette NeSmith postponed her July 25th wedding at Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, NC because of the spread of COVID-19. Here, she’s sharing how she and her husband, Zachary Aaland Pancoast, made the final call and decided to have a micro-wedding on their original date at her childhood home in Atlanta.
After deliberating for a month, the couple decided to postpone their North Carolina wedding to April 24th, 2021. “When ultimately making the decision to postpone, it came down to 1) do we feel that we can safely host more than 250 guests on July 25th? and 2) which option—postponing or not—gets us closest to the wedding celebration and guest list we’ve envisioned all along?” Jenny says. “The answer to both of those was quite clear, and although it was a difficult one to make, we haven’t looked back once.”
After the decision was made and relayed to guests, they gave themselves three weeks to decide whether or not they wanted a small ceremony on their original date or to wait until their bigger wedding. “Zach and I dated for eight years leading up to our engagement, so we were both quite eager to begin married life together,” the bride explains. That and the uncertainty around the next year or two factored toward the push for the micro-wedding at Jenny’s family’s home in Georgia.
The mother-of-the-bride took the lead on coordinating to help design the new day in July. Britt Wood Designs was hired for florals, and Soiree Catering Atlanta and Lush Cakes took on food. The couple invited their families and a few of their closest friends to the ceremony. “The other key element for us was having my long-time minister, Dr. Gil, officiate the wedding,” Jenny says. “When we found out he was willing to join us in July 2020 for a small celebration, the show was on!”
“The goal became to host a simple, garden party that underscored Southern tradition and elegance,” the bride remarks. The day before, they had a rehearsal dinner and 31st birthday party for Zach, hosted by his family, and on Saturday was the outdoor ceremony and reception (and the father-of-the-bride’s birthday!).
To walk down the aisle, Jenny worked with local stylist A. Hendee and designer CQuinn to create a one-of-a-kind dress that came to life a few weeks after the sketching process. And prior to saying, “I do,” the bride’s grandparents, who attended via Zoom, gifted her diamond drop earrings with butterflies to symbolize endurance, change, hope, and life. Zach’s family also gifted her a beautiful necklace that belonged to the groom’s great-grandmother.
Zach himself looked handsome in a sustainable and plant-based outfit from Suit Supply and Bonobos. The jacket was made of 100% bamboo, and the trousers were 100% Italian linen. And on the day-of, face masks and umbrellas with their wedding monogram were available for guests.
By 1:00 p.m., the house was ready for the wedding; however, moments later, a huge storm struck the area and caused a power outage. As soon as it cleared, the yard was flooded, and neighbors, who had watched the morning set-up, came to help put everything back in its place. “The fathers went as far as to drive around the neighborhood in search of the Georgia Power Team,” Jenny explains. By 3:00 p.m., the house was back to perfection, with the exception of electricity, and an hour later, three generators were installed, so the show could go on.
In the front yard, Jenny and her father walked to the porch, passing by rails styled with gorgeous white roses, to meet the minister and Zach. As soon as they were pronounced as “Mr. and Mrs. Zach Pancoast,” a saxophonist started playing from the side garden to usher people around to the back of the house.
Thankfully, the home’s backyard allowed for social distancing, so everyone felt comfortable being together, as they danced, sang, and gave toasts. Both families stayed at the NeSmith’s home, so when the newlyweds returned on Sunday from their night at the St. Regis, they enjoyed coffee with their parents together and reminisced about the previous night’s celebration.
Looking back on everything now, the two are so grateful to have celebrated their marriage on their own terms with their closest family and friends in a meaningful setting. “Our day was chaotically beautiful—a perfect start to this wild and exciting life together,” Jenny says. “It’s been the uncertain moments that have made us more certain than ever that love is the ultimate gift in life.”