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Couples make it work during pandemic weddings

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To have a beautiful, well-organized wedding celebration usually requires months of painstaking preparation. In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic shook up all those carefully laid plans. Though they had to contend with pandemic restrictions to pull it off, local couples found ways to make their wedding days special and safe for them and their loved ones.

 

Jeremiah and Krystine Opinion

 

As they stared down their impending May 2020 wedding date, Jeremiah and Krystine Opinion knew they had a decision to make, but didn’t know what to do. So they prayed a novena to St. Rita, a patroness of impossible causes, whose feast day, May 22, was their planned wedding date. “The answer we kept getting was to keep our date,” said Krystine. “As we got closer to our wedding day, the more we realized the most important part is to be able to hold onto the sacrament instead of the party part of our wedding.”

 

Thanks to livestreaming, even more people could see the wedding than they originally planned, including relatives in Europe and the Philippines. In person at St. Leo the Great Church in Fairfax, their immediate families and Father David A. Whitestone, pastor, witnessed them exchanging vows. Friends and family members then greeted them in the parking lot, where they danced their first dance as husband and wife to a tune played from a Bluetooth speaker.

 

“Right after we left the church, we were surrounded by love,” said Jeremiah.

 

In October, they had a bigger celebration on the date of both of their parents’ anniversaries. They started the day with a vow renewal Mass at St Leo, then celebrated at a restaurant in Manassas. After all the speeches, the couple announced to their parents and all the guests that they were expecting.

 

“We got to celebrate our own marriage along with both of our parents who have helped us get to where we are now. It felt really good to share that with everyone,” said Jeremiah. He noticed there was another perk of two celebrations, too. “What girl doesn't want to wear their wedding dress twice?”

 

Cindy and Fredys Vasquez

 

It was a difficult few months for Cindy Vasquez. At the start of 2020, both her grandmothers died. Then her parents contracted and eventually recovered from COVID-19. Then she and her fiancé Fredys decided to postpone their wedding, moving it from June 20, the anniversary of their first date, to Oct. 10. They spent the summer rearranging all the details, including reducing the guest list from a 130-person celebration down to 50 people.

 

But they were grateful for how their wedding turned out, that their closest family members were there for the ceremony at Queen of Apostle Church in Alexandria, that the date was close to the feast days of Our Lady of Fatima and St. John Paul II, and that Fredys’ grandmother was able to travel from El Salvador to attend.

 

“It was a beautiful ceremony,” said Cindy. “When we realized it was the end of the day, we couldn’t believe that so much planning and so much hassle went into it and everything went by so quickly. We were very happy. I felt my two grandmothers were there with me that day so that was very special.”

 

Though they had hoped to get married earlier, God had better plans, said Cindy. “We did remember June 20, but we celebrated with even greater joy on October 10,” she said. “Being able to see how many things we were able to overcome and see that God was there made it a lot better.”

 

Liza Karlin and Chris Maggio

 

Elizabeth “Liza” Karlin and Chris Maggio met and fell in love at Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington. They looked forward to sharing their beloved church with extended family and friends at their wedding, set for Sept. 5, 2020.

 

“We began our planning in December of 2019 — and, of course, began shifting plans in March of 2020,” said Liza, who’s from New Orleans.  “At first, we just took a wait-and-hope approach. We really thought maybe we wouldn't have to change too much,” she said.

 

But by late spring or early summer, “we realized our wedding would be very different than expected. We just couldn't ask people to travel and risk contracting COVID and bringing it back to their families.

 

“In the end, it was just 13 of us there in person: 10 beloved friends, Chris, Father Tim (Hickey) and me,” Liza said. Everyone present participated in the ceremony. And they were able to have a few members of one of the church’s choirs sing. “The music was exactly what we would have done with a full church and a full choir,” she said. “And I was still able to distribute Communion, as I'd hoped.”

 

Chris’ sister and brother-in-law were there, but many other family members and friends, including Liza’s mom, cousins and aunts in New Orleans, participated via livestream.

 

“They told us later they had small, local watch parties,” Liza said. “They felt like they were there; they got to know us and our family and friends through the chat function.

 

“We felt deeply loved and supported,” she said, and both “ended the day married to our best friend.”

Leslie Miller contributed to this article. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021

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