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.
Just before their senior year of high school, Meredith Pace and Elliott Brewer met and fell in love with one another at first sight. While traveling to Winston-Salem in North Carolina during Easter weekend of 2019, Elliott suggested they take a detour and visit his grandfather’s farm in Clemmens. Unbeknownst to Meredith, Elliott’s family collaborated together to turn the property’s pond and picnic table into an idyllic milieu for a springtime proposal. Newly-planted azalea bushes bloomed and freshly-cut roses lined the picnic table, thanks to Elliott’s parents’ horticultural skills.
The floral arrangement was carefully adorned with a silver bell. Every year that they’ve been together, Elliott would give Meredith a new silver bell. After admiring this sweet basket, Meredith turned around to discover Elliott on one knee. After an emphatic “Yes!” the couple popped Veuve Clicquot Rosé Champagne and carved their initials into a tree.
Thankfully, Elliott’s brother was there to document the entire event. Hiding in the nearby woods and donning a complete camouflaged ghillie outfit—face paint and all—Elliott’s brother snapped shots of the proposal. Afterward, the couple went to Meredith’s family’s home and toasted to their wedding. As Meredith remembers the proposal, she admits, “It was perfect.”
The couple began planning a wedding to follow the perfect proposal and reserved the Centenary United Methodist Church and Graylyn Estate for September 19, 2020. By May, however, they postponed the large ceremony. “The health and safety of our families and friends was the biggest factor in deciding to postpone our reception,” Meredith explains. “We also had to consider the numerous vendors we were working with and the various guidelines and restrictions that were in effect.” With this in mind, they pushed the large reception to August 2021.
The couple always knew they wanted to get married on September 19, 2020, even if all of their guests could not be there in person. “That was always most important to us,” Meredith adds. “When we decided to postpone our large reception, we then focused on the wedding ceremony itself and plans for an intimate family celebration.”
While they were steadfast in their decision to have a micro-wedding, Meredith admits that the pivot was not easy. “Honestly, it was quite emotional. It was pretty tough to shift gears from planning our original, large-scale, dream-come-true wedding to a small, COVID-friendly wedding. However, with the support of our family and friends and the best wedding planners around, we powered through and had the most beautiful, intimate wedding.”
Meredith browsed online to look for a wide swath of designers she liked before visiting a bridal atelier. She narrowed her list of favorite designers to Amsale, Lela Rose, and Monique Lhuillier. Monique Lhuillier’s entire Spring 2020 line caught her eye, particularly the Bloom dress. She made sure the salon she visited in Raleigh had the dress available for her to try on. With her mom, dad, and sister in tow, she tried on a variety of dresses before deciding that Bloom was the one.
And that wasn’t everything Meredith found that day…”I discovered my Deborah Moreland hairpiece the same day as my wedding dress,” she says. “It just so happened to be on the shelf at the bridal salon and couldn’t have coordinated any better! It was like the hairpiece was made for the dress.” She complemented the piece with her older sister’s wedding veil, her mother’s diamond studs, and champagne-colored Sophia Webster sandals with stacked heels of pearls and rhinestones. Herita Jones applied Meredith’s makeup, achieving the natural but romantic glow the bride wanted.
The groom wore the Black Tux. “He went back and forth on various styles and the Black Tux worked out perfectly,” Meredith explains. “He was able to rent a style earlier in the year for a black-tie event. This helped us narrow down the exact fit and style he needed for our wedding.” The bride also secretly went ahead and bought an extra tuxedo shirt, getting “Love you good” embroidered on the cuff. “Elliott’s maternal grandmother Annie was his hero. She passed away several years ago, so I wanted to do something special for him from Annie.” Annie’s trademark phrase of “Love you good” was the most touching tribute for their special day. Meredith arranged for her soon-to-be brother-in-law to deliver the shirt to Elliott that morning.
The wedding party dressed to impress. The bridesmaids wore emerald gowns by Jenny Yoo, and the groomsmen were fashioned in a traditional shawl-collar black tuxedo from the Black Tux.
On September 19, 2020, Meredith and Elliott married in their family’s church, Centenary United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem. The ceremony began twenty minutes late because Meredith had accidentally left Elliott’s wedding band behind! Her father saved the day and quickly fetched it.
With the band secured, to the tune of “Gabriel’s Oboe,” Meredith and her father descended down the candle-lit aisle. A soloist performed a beautiful melody, and Meredith’s mother and Elliott’s mother both read scripture. Meredith remembers, “It was a very traditional Christian service, which I am thrilled we were still able to have.”
After the ceremony, everyone rode a double-decker London bus through downtown Winston-Salem to the Graylyn Estate. “My dad actually purchased the London bus, which is named “Cashmere” after my mom “Cathy,” my sister “Ashley,” and myself, after my sister had used it to transport her wedding party several years earlier and upon me finding out that it was out of commission. Having the best dad in the world, he bought the bus, refurbished it, and is now in the party bus business!”
Once the wedding party was shuttled across town to the Graylyn, they snapped photos and adjourned to the SpringHouse for dinner. The meal was accompanied by a three-piece jazz band. They played into the night as the newlyweds shared their first dance. Meredith and Elliott later cut into their cake, which fell apart earlier in the evening and had to be pasted together again! Later, they sipped from the loving cup Elliott had bought while studying abroad in South Africa.
The loving cup is rich in history and has a romantic love story of its own. “It was created by a young Silversmith who fell in love with a princess whose father would only allow her to marry him if he could create a chalice that two people could drink from simultaneously without spilling a drop. The young Silversmith created the chalice that we drank from on our wedding day, which is a woman whose dress serves as the main cup and she is holding a basket that swivels and allows another to drink from without spilling a drop,” Meredith recounts. “The story perfectly embodies our vision of love and was the perfect toast to our marriage.”
While reflecting on this night of dancing, sipping, and toasting, Meredith and Elliott couldn’t be more pleased with the micro-wedding they had in 2020. “We had the most beautiful wedding on September 19th, and I wouldn’t change any part of it!” Meredith adds. “Making the early decision to postpone our large reception and focus on a small family wedding helped with the logistics of rescheduling vendors, but always in the back of my mind was the thought that we postponed too soon and perhaps we could make the big wedding work. Now, of course, I see that would not have been the case and am so glad we made the decisions we did!”