Coronavirus Wedding Diaries: We Planned Our Independence Park Ceremony in Under 15 Minutes

This Old City couple texted some friends, grabbed flowers from Reading Terminal, and said “I do” in the open air.

independence park wedding coronavirus

After coronavirus halted their original plans, Old City couple Lucy Huang and Daniel Lewis put together an impromptu Independence Park wedding. Photo courtesy of the couple

The coronavirus crisis has upended life in Philly (and across the country) in more ways than we can count. With the strictest guidelines focused on large group gatherings, weddings as the grand celebrations we know and love them as are effectively halted. While there’s no perfect roadmap for how to proceed, there is something to learn from every couple’s story as they navigate postponing, canceling, and changing their wedding plans in the wake of COVID-19.

This story is part of Philadelphia Wedding’s on-going Real Talk series, where real Philly couples share their unique approaches to wedding planning and marriage. If you have a unique story or experience worth sharing, we’d love to hear about it.

The couple: Lucy Huang, 27, and Daniel Lewis, 28, of Old City

Our original wedding date: March 21st. We were going to have a small ceremony with friends and family at our apartment. We had the self-uniting license to allow us to marry ourselves and just needed two witnesses to sign. After, we were going to have a celebration dinner at Hungry Pigeon. We discussed the menu with chef Scott over the phone. We were really looking forward to their trademark lasagna and fried chicken!

When we started thinking about canceling: Daniel’s family lives in California and they were planning to fly in on Thursday. Some of our friends who live in DC, Boston, Chicago and Denver also planned on coming. My parents live in China. They are healthy but can’t travel due to the coronavirus quarantine. I knew they were having a major fear of missing out as we slowly expanded our tiny 12-person wedding to 20.

Our impromptu decision: It was a sunny, crisp day on Sunday [March 15th]. As we were walking down Third Street and seeing how lovely it was in Independence Park, I said to Daniel, “Hey, what if we just get married in the park today?” Daniel, being the easygoing person he is, agreed. We texted our Philly friends and asked, “Do you guys wanna do the wedding today?”

RELATED: A Guide to Philadelphia Weddings During the Coronavirus Outbreak

It took 15 minutes to change our plans: Our local friends really stepped up for us in a pinch. We assumed that it would be small, but people showed up dressed up and with homemade macarons and chocolate cake. My bouquet was sorted in 20 minutes from Market Blooms in Reading Terminal, and we plucked one of those flowers to decorate Daniel’s suit jacket’s buttonhole. Our friend Mike wrote a beautiful ceremony that he delivered in the park.

We weren’t able to get our wedding rings in time: But we think that was okay. We will be glad to pick them up once this virus passes.

We did submit our signed marriage certificate: On Monday, we found out that all nonessential city services would be closed starting Tuesday, and had to rush to City Hall 30 minutes before closing to submit our signed certificate. When the staff gave me the certified copy of our marriage certificate and said, “Hey, congratulations, okay,” I almost got teary. I’m so happy we managed to get married, and that’s all that mattered.

Our advice: Keep an open mind and anticipate that things will change rapidly. Thanks to my parents in Hubei (not in the city of Wuhan), who experienced the progression of the situation a month earlier, Daniel and I were warned that all services will become limited or shut down very soon and were mentally prepared.

What’s next: We’re spending the next two years planning for a big wedding that all our family and friends can attend.

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