Love in the time of quarantine. Our world looks and feels vastly different than it did just one month ago, but love still remains constant.
4 weeks before Alisa and Kevin’s March 21st wedding there was talk about the newly uncovered Coronavirus but things were still moving forward as planned. Three weeks before some family members expressed hesitation to travel, two weeks prior it became clear that the grandparents wouldn’t be able to attend. In the final week a mad scramble began, plans were being made to reschedule their wedding reception but immediate family was still going to be there for a smaller scaled-down ceremony. 3 days prior everything changed… and by the two day mark it was clear that the couple would be getting married solo. Just them in the church with the priest, the musicians, a photographer (me) and the videographers (hooray for LEAP weddings!).
But you know what? Everything’s ok. Alisa and Kevin displayed such grace and humility as they watched all of their well laid plans get pulled out from under their feet, but they knew they wanted to be married no matter what. So there we were, just before the “shelter-in-place” went into effect in Chicago, just before Old St Pat’s closed it’s doors to the public for what could be weeks, maybe months.
Here are 19 things that didn’t go as planned, but were turned around and made into a positive.
1. Their hotel room became unavailable when the Chicago Athletic Association closed due to the coronavirus. One of the few remaining open hotels was the Intercontinental, and due to the very limited number of hotel guests (3 rooms booked in the ENTIRE hotel!) Alisa and Kevin were upgraded to one of the best rooms in all of Chicago, the Presidential Suite!
2. Without a bridal party there was now no need for the full hair and makeup team. With only the bride to prepare pans were shifted, luckily the amazing Kate Johnson of Kate Johnson Artistry stepped in and worked her usual magic (not that this gorgeous bride needed much!)
3. Getting ready alone. Of course it’s extra special to have your best girls and moms there to help with zipping the dress, putting on the shoes and jewelry (and this will happen next time!) but Alisa impressively hopped into her own dress and zipped the zipper! She made it look so simple and graceful, as easy as slipping into a pair of PJs!
4. Their first look was originally supposed to happen at their wedding venue, the Chicago Cultural Center. The grand staircases would have been part of our backdrop but hey, this hotel room had a killer staircase and amazing natural light so BAM!
5. No wedding party. Kevin’s brother was able to travel from New Hampshire to be there, he was the best man, the ring bearer, and took over all of the church readings. But best of all, he made us laugh until we cried when he split his pants from knee to inseam while getting into the limo. My handy emergency bag of safety pins was put to good use, haha!
6. Although their families were not present the church offered a live stream of the full service, family members gathered in their homes across the country to watch, close to 80 people tuned in!
7. Being in an empty church was surreal, surrounded by empty pews. But the priest’s homily was extra tender, the circumstances made the wedding seem that much more poignant, and the acoustics were unbelievable.
8. The energy and sound of the Blue Water Kings was missed (but they will play next time!) but the church musicians and singers who kindly performed for this intimate ceremony put in 200%. To say the music was spectacular would be an understatement, their voices and instruments filled the room with awesome sound and brought us all to tears. It was beyond beautiful.
9. There may not have been a crowd of family and friends cheering as they excited the church but that did not diminish this couple’s joy and excitement as they burst through the doors, newly married.
10. An empty city. As of 5pm that day the Shelter-In-Place ordinance went into effect across Illinois. The streets were eerily quiet but we were provided with a truly unique opportunity of being the only people out, with no one on bridges or sidewalks and no other wedding parties taking photos at our location. Honestly it’s a photographers dream come true! We were respectful of the situation and didn’t linger, we headed back to the hotel after just one stop.
11. No cocktail hour. Mingling with all of their favorite people would have been great (and will still happen at a later date) but because we weren’t in a rush to attend the cocktail hour we were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset.
12. The Chicago Cultural Center is an iconic building full of rich interiors. Our photos around the inside spaces would no-doubt have been lovely but with the building closed to the public we made the most of it and visited the also-iconic Lyric Opera building exterior. It turned out perfect!
13. Hearty Boys Catering would have served up a delectable menu (which we all look forward to!) but luckily room service was still offered, and with Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse downstairs the three of them were able to have a wonderful steak dinner.
14. The centerpieces and room decor provided by Atmosphere Events were missed but Alisa was still able to enjoy a stunning bouquet.
15. Normally couples and wedding guests are encouraged to put their phones away and enjoy the moment, to be truly present. This was one time where the opposite was best, parents were in video calls before Kevin or Alisa walked down the aisle, and video calls post-ceremony allowed their family to participate from a distance. Kevin’s dad even wore a bow tie!
16. There was no champagne toast or blessing before dinner but all of the immediate family gathered in their separate living rooms around the country and shared a group video call to celebrate with the couple. Technology is pretty awesome! (Plus, more champagne for Alisa and Kevin!)
17. No hugging… ok we didn’t really adhere to this one. A couple of weeks ago social distancing was not as much of a thing and honestly it is pretty much impossible not to hug people when you’re feeling so emotional. We kept it just to the goodbye hug, it wouldn’t have felt right to share such a sweet and love-filled day with these two without at least one hug. You’ll have to forgive me on this one.
18. No honeymoon, but this is TBD and something to still look forward to. And I bet ticket prices will be amazingly low, they can go anywhere!
19. No dance party (unless the three of them decided to tear it up after I left!). Partying with their friends is still to come, and you’d better believe they will party all the more after this postponement. It’s bound to be quite the rager!
Last but not least is the only thing that matters, #20. two people were able to marry the person they love the most in the world. All of these obstacles don’t matter, this day was the perfect reminder of what matters most. I think a quote from Kevin sums all of this up perfectly:
“Yesterday I married the love of my life at the church where we fell in love. The ceremony was small—Alisa, me, our priest, my brother Eric, and a few extraordinary musicians—as our family watched via livestream. But as I looked out at the empty pews, all I could think was that this holy place was just overflowing with love—our love for each other, the love of our families and friends, and God’s love for us all. Social distancing doesn’t stand a chance against that kind of love. It was the best day of my life, and we can’t wait to celebrate with everyone else once everything gets safer.”
What a memorable day, congrats Alisa and Kevin!
Ali Hassing of The Simply Elegant Group deserves a HUGE pat on the back for helping everyone navigate through so much uncertainty and for helping Alisa and Kevin put a beautiful wedding ceremony together. You’re AWESOME!