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.
Rosa Heyman, the deputy editor at Cosmopolitan, called off her September 5th, 2020 wedding with 175 guests at her uncle’s home in Tiverton, Rhode Island due to the spread of COVID-19. Here, she’s sharing how she and her husband, Josh Benchimol, shifted their vision to a summer micro-wedding on their original date.
Right as New York City, where the couple is based, shut down in mid-March, they started talking with Sarah Crowell of Mavinhouse Events about postponing, but the two “dragged our feet until about May.” “Looking back, we knew so little when we were trying to make these decisions about the future, but now, I kinda can’t believe it took us so long to scale things down,” Rosa admits. “I know people have, uh, been having ‘normal’ weddings during the pandemic, but that kind of stress—re: will my wedding be reported on national news for being a super-spreader event?!—on top of the stress of just living through 2020 was not appealing to me.”
After emailing guests to let them know they were calling off the party, Rosa and Josh had to decide if they wanted to fully postpone for another year or apply the deposits to some kind of COVID-adherent event. “Josh and I tried to focus instead of what we wanted to happen in spite of all the things we couldn’t control,” the bride says. “And that was to get married in front of our immediate families.”
They invited 13 people to their outdoor micro-wedding at Rosa’s uncles’ home in Rhode Island, who quarantined and were tested beforehand. And to help stay on top of little details, the couple hired Erica Phillips, a senior event producer of The Catered Affair. “Erica went from being our catering contact to the brains behind the whole operation,” Rosa says. “She even pressed play on the speaker, so that we could walk into the ceremony to one of our favorite Talking Heads songs, ‘This Must Be the Place.’”
Days before the city shut down, the bride-to-be had settled on three wedding outfits, including a Rime Arodaky jumpsuit with a train. The one-piece was the most bridal of the options and ended up being perfect for her micro-wedding. On the day of the wedding, Rosa borrowed a pair of pearl drop earrings from her mother and completed the ensemble with pink Zimmermann sunglasses, pink Cult Gaia sandals and a clutch, and a bouquet by Greenlion Design.
Josh wore a tan suit with a white button-down shirt from Knot Standard and a pair of brown, woven loafers from Taft. “My friend Jordan Crystal worked at Knot Standard at the time, and so she helped Josh get a suit made for the occasion,” Rosa says. “He looked very handsome.”
The ceremony was Rosa’s “favorite part of the entire day,” which might not have been the case had she been “champing at the bit to get on to the party.” The couple walked down the aisle together, holding hands. And Josh’s brother’s fiancée, Morgan, officiated.
“I’d say our ceremony was Jewish Lite,” Rosa says. Josh’s mother recited several traditional Jewish wedding blessings, and his father spoke about “L’Dor V’Dor,” the idea of sharing traditions and values to the next generation.
Rosa and Josh recited their own vows and exchanged their rings from her family’s 100-year-old company, Oscar Heyman. And to end the service, the two both stepped on the glass—a modern twist on the Jewish tradition— and then went on to sign their Ketubah. “Though the day and the whole experience of getting married in a pandemic felt pretty surreal, the ceremony remains vivid in my memory to this day.”
After taking in a few moments alone to let it sink in that they had just gotten married, the newlyweds rejoined their families for cocktails and lawn games. Then, a leisurely lunch was served in another section of the yard, where toasts were given.
Looking back on everything now, Rosa is “really, really, really happy” that they got married. Her family got to spend time with Josh’s family instead of everyone tending to their own guests. “In general, it felt very relaxed,” she says. “I even showed up 15 minutes late because my hair appointment had taken longer than anticipated, but I didn’t feel stressed because I was only holding up 14 other people, and I knew they already had a very go-with-the-flow type of attitude about our event.”
“Sometimes I feel sad that my closest friends and the rest of my loved ones weren’t there to witness this major moment in my life,” Rosa admits. They still want to have a blow-out party, “where everyone can smooch on both cheeks,” but they’re waiting until things feel more stable from a public health perspective. “I mostly feel really freaking lucky that I spent this beautiful day with my family during such an awful year.”