Getting hitched during lock-down

With research done by the University of Washington estimating Texas’ recovery date from the pandemic being somewhere around the end of May or the beginning of June, many long-standing plans set to take place until then teeter on the edge of postponement or outright cancellation. Many of these plans can be moved to later dates, but some, like weddings, are products of amassed preparation, thousands of dollars and lifelong expectations. Unsigned marriage licenses have expiration dates, reservations can be missed, and dreams of the perfect ceremony can subsequently be shattered. Many engaged couples have taken to social media sites to announce private ceremonies and cancel the long awaited gathering. Dresses and suits will go unrented or unworn, color-palettes will go uncoordinated and aisles will not be walked down.

“I’m sorry, you cut out for a minute there. Was that an I do?”

In Randall County, the County Clerk has released new rules regarding the issuing of marriage licenses and the application for one. Until further notice, licenses will be issued by appointment only, after applications, which can only be done online, are sent to the Clerk for approval. Couples must come alone and with their own pen to sign.

Social media sites are now hosts to a slew of couples mournfully announcing private weddings and cancelled ceremonies. Many may live-stream the wedding, or put pictures of friends and family in the pews as compensation. Some may postpone, but for a few this isn’t an option.

Two students of West Texas A&M University find themselves in this predicament. Having been engaged since the summer of 2019, they had the ceremony fully planned out and an apartment waiting.

“Our wedding is set for May 30th, 2020, and we will still get married that day, but now it may look very different,” said Allison Hurst, a senior broadcast journalism major. “We haven’t made a final decision yet, but if we have to change it we’ll get married in an office or backyard with just our immediate family.”

Allison and her fiancé SaVanté Wallace, a senior social work major, were featured in The Prairie News’ Valentine’s Day story about WTAMU couples. In it they had discussed their excitement about becoming a family.

“We are still so excited to get married and, if anything, this all has just reminded us that it’s about the marriage not the wedding,” said Wallace. “We look forward to celebrating with all of our friends and family whenever we can, but are so excited for what is to come. For us, marriage is a picture of the gospel and we cannot wait to start the next chapter of our lives.”

A wedding is perhaps the worst and best scheduled celebration to have ruined. It carries with it a lifetime of dreams and expectations, and having those crushed can seem life-altering and endlessly disappointing. But it’s also a celebration between two people so devoted to one another and something so deeply personal, that no setback or interruption can truly disrupt what it symbolizes.

“You don’t think that when you’re planning your wedding you need to make a contingency plan in case of a pandemic,” Hurst said. “But it will make for a good story later.”