In midst of coronavirus pandemic, couples reschedule weddings

leeanne shepherd jeffrey noel
With limits on social gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic, Leeanne Shepherd and Jeffrey Noel have had to reschedule their wedding. (Courtesy Leeanne Shepherd and Jeffrey Noel)

Spring is usually the time of year when you hear lots of wedding bells. But with the coronavirus outbreak, the ringing you are hearing is of phone calls rescheduling weddings for many couples.

“April 4 was when we planned to get married. We had everything planned,” Leeanne Shepherd and her fiance, Jeffrey Noel, said.

They were planning a wedding on the Chesapeake Bay, when the virus that causes COVID-19 started spreading.

“We anticipated this being an issue for both our jobs because we both work jobs that are human service jobs,” Shepherd said.

They also had a number of health care and human services workers on their guest list, as well as people coming from different states that have been hit hard by the pandemic.

“His two groomsmen were coming from Connecticut and Washington state,” Shepherd said.

As the days and the spread of the virus progressed, the number of people allowed at gatherings started to dwindle, at first from 100 to what is currently not more than 10.

“We had 162 guests confirmed. At that point, well it was like, we’re not going to tell 62 people they can’t come,” Noel said.

They also realized that almost 40% of their guests were over 65. At that point, they knew it was not going to be feasible to put on a wedding in April.

But while the logic was clear, it didn’t make canceling the date easy.

“We spent so much time planning for that specific date,” Noel said. “It has a little sentimental value for myself. My grandparents and parents got married on May 4. I wanted to get married on the same day; however, it didn’t work out.

So we planned for a month prior, so April 4 was not May 4, but our fourth. I even had a custom vest made, and inside the vest it has our April 4 date in it. So, wearing that on Aug. 29, our new date, is going to be a little reminder of what influenced our life during this time frame.”

Unlike other situations when people cancel weddings, this one went pretty smoothly. They said all of the vendors were understanding and supportive of their decision, and it only took a few hours to reset the wedding to Aug. 29.

It’s a similar story for so many couples, including WTOP’s Mike Murillo and his fiance, Heather Curtis. Their wedding date was May 16.

mike murillo, heather curtis
WTOP’s Mike Murillo and his fiance Heather Curtis have rescheduled their wedding to next year because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy WTOP/Mike Murillo)

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced its guidance Sunday that no gathering of 50 people or more take place for eight weeks — until May 10 — Murillo and Curtis realized that although their wedding date was a few days later, it could not proceed.

“It was a very big disappointment for us. The day is almost here, and then something nobody could have foreseen happens,” Murillo said.

But considering that both their families have a lot of older and immune-compromised members, he said the decision to postpone the wedding was easy to make.

He said when it came to working with their vendors to change the date, it went very smoothly.

“We’ve been very lucky,” Murillo said. “A lot of them were willing to work with us. We know it’s hard on them. Because they’ve lost so much business throughout the year, and I really feel bad for them, as well. You have the venues, the caterer, all the different people who make a wedding possible going without a lot of money.”

So for now, the wedding favors that fill Murillo and Curtis’ living rooms have to go back in a box until next year.

“We’ve scheduled it for next April,” Murillo said. “Honestly, we thought about maybe doing it in the fall. But you hear a lot of the guidance. They’re not sure when a vaccine will be out, when people will actually feel safe enough to go do things. The last thing we want is to put people in harm’s way.”

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Editor’s Note: Michelle Murillo is the sister of WTOP’s Mike Murillo.

Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

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