2020 Turned Many Philly Couples’ Wedding Plans on Their Heads. Here’s a Look at Where They Are Now
We pay homage to 14 of the couples who shared their stories.
Y’all, it’s been a year. Since the coronavirus hit in early March and changed the way we gather and celebrate (and everything else) for at least the immediate future, Philadelphia’s soon-to-be-weds and the wedding industry at large have had to rethink nearly every aspect of marriage. Do you cancel or postpone? Cut the guest list and still get hitched? Elope in the backyard, or hold a micro-wedding? And what is a virtual wedding? The one mainstay through it all was, and is, the beauty of love, no matter what comes our way. That’s why we’re paying homage to some of the Philadelphia pandemic weddings we’ve covered through our Coronavirus Wedding Diaries, taking a look back at these couples’ experiences and sharing where they are now. There are, of course, challenges that many of these duos continue to face. But there are positive moments and memories that help us believe in the future — and give us hope for many happy “I do’s” to come.
Then: Fairmount duo Jordan Walden and Rachel Wolfheimer had a 15-hour window to cancel their 198-person wedding at Tendenza on March 14th and make the call to get married at their intimate Boathouse Row rehearsal dinner — a day early — instead.
Now: While the two had initially rescheduled for December, they’re now looking ahead to celebrate their marriage in September 2021 at Cescaphe’s pop-up outdoor venue at Franklin Square. “Since we’re already married, we’ll get creative with a ceremony, including vow renewals and a ketubah signing,” says Jordan. Read more about their story here.
Then: Lucy Huang and Daniel Lewis of Old City had set their small self-uniting ceremony for March 21st at their apartment. The bride’s parents were going to travel in from China. Then the coronavirus worsened. So during a stroll through Independence Park on March 15th, the couple decided to ditch their original plans, pull together an impromptu ceremony, and spend the next two years prepping for a larger celebration.
Now: The two took a cross-country road trip in July and have been staying with the groom’s parents in L.A. Before they left, they stocked up on Philly treats to keep them sated — New Liberty Distillery, Art in the Age, a rooster sculpture from Metal Menagerie. “Soon after arriving, we ordered cheesesteaks from Campo’s — yes, you can have Philly flavors delivered overnight,” shares Lucy. Her parents in Hubei have multiple wedding parties in the works, and the duo look forward to going when international travel is once again safe. Read more about their story here.
Then: Wilmington duo Samantha Butler and Jeremy Patterson were initially set to be married on March 21st at Springfield Country Club, but they had to cancel — without knowing when they could hold their reception. Rather than wait to say “I do,” they had an at-home ceremony on March 19th in the bride’s parents’ living room, presided over by their pastor.
Now: The couple have no plans for their reception. “It was too painful to try to plan something knowing it was most likely going to get canceled again,” says Samantha. However, they recently purchased a home and may try to do an open-house-style event in the summer, pandemic willing. Read more about their story here.
Then: Philly natives Erica Hamilton and Joseph Godio are no strangers to waiting. They began dating after he nearly passed away from bacterial meningitis in college. Eight years later, they set their Big Day for March 27th but were forced to postpone till October 23rd two weeks beforehand.
Now: Their wedding has been postponed three times — first to October 2020, then to March 12th, 2021, and now to October 8th, 2021 — because they don’t feel a micro-ceremony, no matter how lovely, is for them. They don’t want to rush; they want to do it when, and how, they’ve always dreamed. And after nearly 10 years, it’s about more than just a marriage. “It’s the light at a very long tunnel, from his sickness to everything we’ve overcome,” says Erica. “We want a celebration with everyone we love, to not only celebrate our marriage, but our lives together.” Read more about their story here.
Then: Louise Aka Ezoua and Michael Quoc Phan, who live in Port Richmond, had their sights set on March 28th and 29th for their traditional ceremonies (they’re of Ghanaian and Vietnamese heritage, respectively) and an American-style celebration. Some 175 guests were invited to join them at their venues, St. Peter the Apostle of Philadelphia and Vie by Cescaphe. They first moved everything to September. Then they rescheduled their American soiree one more time but held their cultural ceremonies at home on September 4th and 5th, blending some rituals to create a wedding unique to them.
Now: The couple is currently hoping for a May 16th American-style wedding at Vie. Read more about their story here.
Then: Elkins Park residents Mia Carson and Jimmie Greeno III — lovingly called “Groomzilla” by the bride — rescheduled their March 29th wedding at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where the latter works, to September 20th. Jimmie was sad, upset, and “ready” to make it official.
Now: This past summer, the couple decided to postpone again, to August 1, 2021, and are hoping to have the same guest count and design plans. It came down to keeping their guests safe; they were concerned about putting them at risk if they kept their second date on track as planned. Read more about their story here.
Then: Some 250 people had to quickly be informed when Center City’s Carrita Thomas and Jake Stein postponed their April 18th celebration at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center. But the smart duo kept their guests updated; they sent their initial email March 13th, before they were even sure they had to reschedule. They did two days later, booking their big bash for April 2021. In the meantime, they hoped to hold a small ceremony with family at a favorite restaurant.
Now: While it wasn’t a restaurant, Carrita and Jake ended up holding a micro-wedding at 660 Collective on July 3rd. (Stay tuned for more on that soiree.) As for their April 2021 fete? They still hope to hold it, but they’re prepared should things change again. Their Plan A is the wedding as originally conceived, if circumstances allow. Plan B: Shrink the guest count to 100. Plan C: Postpone again. Read more about their story here.
Then: What better way to honor what would have been than with a surprise? Stephanie Lynch and Bryan Foster’s friends, family and wedding team got together to celebrate their original wedding date (April 25th at 3:30 p.m., which was postponed at the time to August 8th) with a drive-by caravan on their street in Bryn Mawr — and the duo’s reaction to it all is priceless.
Now: The couple has rescheduled four times: The August date was moved to March 27th, 2021, and now it’s set for April 30, 2022, in hopes that the bride and groom can have the epic dance floor and 200-plus person guest list they’ve always dreamed of. “We’ve been together for eight years, and we know pushing it another year isn’t going to change anything between us,” says Stephanie. Read more about their story here.
Then: An emergency self-uniting license allowed Jasmine Zheng (a physician at Penn Medicine) and Benjamin Siegel-Wallace to elope on their Grad Hospital rooftop on May 16th — their original date, but a different location. (They postponed their 150-person wedding at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center twice, to July 25th and then to May 16th, 2021.) While there were a few snafus — dog poop, Zoom hiccups, an emergency-room call from Jasmine’s work —they took it all in stride.
Now: They’re still on for the 2021 date, but they expect it to be different. “No idea if the city or facility will allow us to have it on the same scale, and we expect most of our out-of-town guests won’t be able to make the trip safely, which is a bummer,” says Ben. “I imagine we’ll still have half or so of our original guests able to travel locally. Everyone will still probably be in masks, and we’ll just make the best of it.” Read more about their story here.
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Then: Kerry-Anne Perkins and Michael Gordon postponed their May 26th, 2020, wedding at Legacy Castle in New Jersey till June 2021. But the Montgomery County duo decided to move forward with a 20-person micro-wedding at the Logan hotel (which was offering free ceremonies in its outdoor courtyard for couples impacted by COVID-19) on June 6th. That ended up intersecting with a massive peaceful protest, and the couple’s first look amid it all became a powerful moment of pride, positivity and love.
Now: The newlyweds are still planning for round two. Kerry-Anne says one of the biggest concerns was moving all of their initial vendors to the new date, which they successfully achieved: “That took a big weight off our shoulders, as 2021 calendars were quickly filling up due to the high number of postponements.” The guest count is still in flux, but they’re hoping for at least 100. Read more about their story here.
Then: Rather than push off their nuptials for another year (the two had changed the date of their Ballroom at the Ben reception from June 19th, 2020, to February 28th, 2021), football pro Daryl Worley and Sierra Simmons chose to make it “official” with a family-focused micro-wedding in the backyard of their Swedesboro home on their original date. And they did it up in style, wearing their rehearsal-dinner garb for their special occasion.
Now: The couple is in talks to postpone again, to another date further out. In the meantime, Sierra is expecting child number three in March, and Daryl will be in Vegas through the end of the season — he was recently picked up by the Raiders. Read more about their story here.
Then: As he was releasing his musical tribute to the couples impacted by coronavirus, Brewerytown singer/songwriter Alexi Paraschos was in the middle of navigating his own pandemic wedding to Chelsea Holmes. The couple had moved their July 11th celebration — a ceremony at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Media and a brunch reception at the Warwick Hotel in Rittenhouse Square — till September (at least). But the couple had their license for the original date, so they decided to elope in Rittenhouse Square on July 26th.
Now: Their rescheduled wedding has since been canceled by their venue, so they’re relieved they said “I do” in July. “We are still enjoying each other’s company and figure if we can make it through this incredibly trying and strange time, that bodes well for the future,” shares Alexi. Read more about their story here.
Then: Marta Waraksa, who works at Penn Medicine and has dealt with the crisis firsthand, planned to marry George Benham on August 7th in Sopot, Poland, where she used to vacation after moving to the U.S. from that country. The two had also been considering holding a party in Philly at Four Seasons afterward. They waited till mid-May to decide.
Now: With their Polish escape and soiree at Four Seasons canceled due to travel limits and city restrictions on indoor gatherings, the couple got married at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul on August 29th, then held a small reception at the Logan’s outdoor courtyard and terrace. Stay tuned for details on how that worked out. Read more about their story here.
Then: University City couple Dani Maiale and John Dombroski knew over Easter weekend that they wanted to move their 400-person wedding on October 3rd at Union League of Philadelphia. So they locked in their party for October 9th, 2021. They still planned to commemorate the original Big Day but at the time didn’t know how they would.
Now: On the eve of their would-have-been rehearsal dinner, the couple hosted a small gathering with their wedding party at Level 28 at AKA. And on their original date, they had dinner — just the two of them — at the Union League. (They also scheduled a photo shoot weeks prior with Du Soleil Photographie.) For now, their October celebration is still in the works; they’ll make the call midsummer if they need to move to an outdoor venue. Read more about their story here.
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