Danny Wohlsdalaeger was all set to get married this month, but the recent COVID-19 pandemic altered all his plans.
The central Indiana man and his fiancée had their wedding and reception all mapped out when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Indiana government stepped in and threw a wrench in their preparation.
“It pushed the actual ceremony/reception back, yes,” Wohlsdalaeger said, “But we still wanted to make sure we could start our lives together regardless of current circumstances.”
The recent coronavirus outbreak has adversely impacted not only the restaurant industry, but the special event trade, as well, canceling and postponing local wedding ceremonies and receptions, as local, state, and federal authorities work to contain the outbreak.
Due to the COVID-19 scare, area brides, grooms, wedding planners, and venue rental agents, are seeing a downturn in business, while some couples are shifting up their ceremonies in an effort to avoid the current trouble.
One local woman who had planned to tie the knot in late May says the virus has thrown some of her wedding plans into the air, as guests must travel from around the country, and sports events get delayed.
Jaclyn Goldsborough, the digital marketing and public relations manager for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, said that the recent uproar has affected her nuptial planning.
“Honestly, it’s just created some stress and concern, because we’re getting married and inviting our families to travel in for the wedding,” she said.
She and her fiancé, Mason Kirchubel, are supposed to get married May 23 at Salomon Farm Park in Fort Wayne.
“We are not from northeast Indiana, so we were having most of our guests traveling from all over the country to come to Fort Wayne for our wedding,” she said. “From Denver and Sacramento to Florida and Michigan, we have guests from all over!”
The couple had planned to celebrate their rehearsal by treating about 50 guests to a TinCaps baseball game at Parkview Field on May 22. But because the start of the team’s season – and the rest of their games – have been delayed indefinitely due to the virus, the couple is instead just having dinner at a local restaurant.
Goldsborough said she also had trouble with some accessories she planned to order for her big day. “I’ve been trying to order some stuff to help do my hair for the ceremony through Etsy,” she said. “And I just placed an order for tablecloths and napkins for the reception, but they say I won’t be able to get some of the international shipments until the third week of May, so the orders are taking longer than usual.”
Godsborough, who was expecting about 120 people for her ceremony, said right now, the whole affair is just wait-and-see, because their wedding date is set for two weeks outside the CDC’s recommendation of cancelling large gatherings such as weddings.
“Mason and I told our friends and family that we are watching the news and making decisions as information develops,” she said. “We have a responsibility to protect our friends and family and we are willing to make any necessary decisions as recommended by the experts.”
Wohlsdalaeger said he and his (now wife) pushed back their wedding ceremony and reception because of the recent pandemic.
He said he and his wife, Devyn, had planned a wedding at a church near their home in Westfield, Indiana, the Westfield Friends Church, with a reception to follow at a local restaurant, the Grand Junction Brewing Company.
Wohlsdalaeger said because of the recent uncertainty, the couple went ahead and got married by a judge who signed their marriage certificate in March of this year. They still hope to have a ceremony and reception later this year when the coronavirus has subsided.
“All of our groomsmen and bridesmaids bought their suits and dresses, so we’re telling them not to gain weight until after this thing is over,” said Wohlsdalaeger, a 26-year-old instructor at a facility called NinjaZone, which trains youngsters in Ninja competitions and gymnastics.
And even firms that rent spaces for weddings and cater such events are being hurt by the trouble. “It’s really affected everybody across the board,” said Joe Ceruti, owner and president of Ceruti’s Catering in Fort Wayne. “But we’re doing everything we can to keep these events going.”
“In 43 years in this business,” Ceruti said, “I’ve never seen anything like this. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, weather events, none of it compares to this thing.”
“It’s an hour-by-hour, day-by-day kind of thing,” Ceruti said.
Ceruti noted, however, that his business isn’t penalizing anyone for cancelling or changing event dates.
Another official at a local party planning firm said they’ve seen pretty much every spring event scratched because of COVID-19, which as a new virus, means humans aren’t immune to it.
“We’ve had pretty much every order and event canceled,” said Teresa Police, the director of special events for local party planning firm A Party Apart. “From late March through June, pretty much everything’s been canceled or postponed.”
“It’s had a major effect on us,” Police said. “This is just the start of our busy time of year, the start of wedding planning season, so it’s caused a lot of disruption.”
Police said the virus scare has trickled down to events and rentals as small as ice cream machines for church socials and popcorn machines for bank lobbies, because gathering of more than 10 people are discouraged now, and because banks have closed most of their lobbies.
One Steuben County couple decided to move up their ceremony to sidestep the current COVID troubles.
Blake and Ashley Stevenson had originally scheduled their wedding for April 18, and planned to invite about 150 people, but the COVID-19 gathering limits derailed those plans. The Rev. Tracey Zimmerman, who performed their revamped wedding, said the couple instead got married on March 21 at the Fremont United Methodist Church, with only 10 people in attendance.
“”The only people who were there were the couple, their siblings, their parents, one best friend, and me,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman noted that the couple already had canceled their caterer for the original wedding date, and “as the weeks kept going, they just decided it was best to do it now.”
Wohlsdalaeger said even with all the uproar and delays caused by the recent outbreak, he and his now-wife decided to bypass all the planning trouble, and just get hitched at their local courthouse.
“We didn’t want to let COVID-19 get in the way of us doing what we know we needed to do,” said Wohlsdalaeger, who originally was set to get married April 4 but will now have a March 17 anniversary date, “so we went to the courthouse, had a judge sign off on our certificate of marriage, and legally became married on St. Patty’s Day.”
Zimmerman, who is a reverend at both Freemont United Methodist Church, and the Nevada Mills United Methodist Church, said she expects other couples to follow the lead of the Stevensons, and try to push up their big day. She’s currently performing pre-marriage counseling with two other couples, one through a Facebook Live portal, are is advising them that moving up their ceremony might be the best plan.
“I think we will see more of this happen as we go forward,” Zimmerman said. “People are thinking, ‘We can do this and we can do it with who really matters, no matter when it is.’”
Zimmerman, the pastor, said despite having to move up the wedding — and pare the guest list down to 10 people — Ashley Stevenson kept a good attitude about the whole thing.
“At the wedding, I heard the bride say, ‘I would have married you behind a hospital next to a Dumpster if I had to,’” Zimmerman said.