By: Ahmad Graves-El, SNJ Today
Planning a wedding while the world is reeling from the effects of the novel coronavirus, for myriad couples and their families and friends, has been tantamount to climbing Mt. Everest without possessing the prerequisite mountain climbing gear. Many have felt left out in the cold.
Some couples have decided to put their weddings off until 2021 or 2022 so they can have the big event they’ve dreamt it to be. Other couples, including some in South Jersey, have decided that their faith and love for each other is stronger than any old pandemic and did not allow the novel coronavirus to put a kibosh on their much-anticipated weddings.
“We have been together for 10 years and we were both anxious to get married,” said Amanda D’Alessandro, who married husband Anthony on September 25. “I wasn’t going to let a pandemic get in the way of me saying ‘I do’ to the man I love.”
“We knew from the beginning of March that we were getting married,” Michelle Troast, who tied the knot with her husband Max on August 1, added. “We didn’t know how or what it would look like, but we knew we were getting married no matter what.”
The unpredictable nature of the virus along with the constant changes in rules handed down by local, state, and federal governments added multiple layers of pressure to an already nerve-wracking situation for the two couples.
“In the beginning of the pandemic, I just kept telling myself, ‘Oh, we’ll be fine by September,’” Amanda said. “Then when it started to get closer, around July, I started to panic a little bit.”
“We closely followed the governor’s updates and guidance moving forward,” Michelle added. “We felt anxious and stressed but remained positive and hopeful all would work out.”
The D’Alessandros and the Troasts, like other couples who forged ahead with their plans, were legally required to comply with New Jersey’s restraints on gatherings and other guidelines for safety. The Troasts say the well-being of those who attended their wedding was just as important as the moment they were pronounced husband and wife.
“Our safety and comfort level of everyone was our priority,” says Michelle, who married Max at Renault Winery in Egg Harbor City. “We let everyone know we had personalized masks, hand sanitizer favors, and hand sanitizer centerpieces on a hand-crafted turntable.”
The D’Alessandros had their guests follow mandated safety measures, as well.
“Everyone did have to wear a mask at the church ceremony,” says Amanda, who married Anthony at St. Isidore’s in Vineland. “At the party in the backyard, we kept all the tables about five to six feet apart with hand sanitizer throughout the backyard. The food caterers served all the food, so no one had to touch anything. We followed all the precautions to make everyone feel comfortable.”
Frank DiMauro and Jenna Polise, of Vineland, are getting hitched on October 24 and talked about some of the pitfalls presented by the pandemic on their path to marriage.
“I would say the biggest barrier was the reception venue,” DiMauro revealed. “We left a very sizable deposit to have our wedding ….” The wedding venue offered two options to DiMauro and Polise—hold an outdoor wedding on the venue’s grounds or postpone it to a future date.
DiMauro was taken aback. “An outdoor wedding would require us to pay extra for a tent as well as tables and chairs and the tent would be set up next to the ballroom,” he continues. “So, we would be outside in the elements staring at the beautiful ballroom where our wedding was supposed to be!”
DiMauro and Polise devised an alternate plan. They decided to have their wedding at Sacred Heart Church in Vineland and will hold the reception on the DiMauro farm “complete with a few chickens and guinea hens that work night and day to rid the property of unwanted insects.”
Although some of their family and friends urged them to postpone their weddings (DiMauro’s best man has declined to attend the event), all three couples are content with their decision.
“I felt like I was making the biggest decision of my life,” Amanda said. “Now that all is said and done, we are so happy with the decision we made.”
The couples also note how their bonds became stronger during the process.
“Planning a wedding during a pandemic was our first challenge as an (almost) married couple and it taught us to work together as a team to overcome adversity,” DiMauro says, while also mentioning that the day he popped the question to Polise, 12/7/19, is “a day that will live in infamy.”
“The time spent together,” he continues, “enabled us to not only invest in our wedding, but in our marriage as well.”
Couples getting married during a pandemic are facing more obstacles than couples who got married pre-pandemic. However, the goal remains the same: Two souls uniting as one, in the name of love, with the hopes of living together forever, happily ever after.
“Marrying the love of my life and best friend,” Michelle says, when asked what the most satisfying part of the entire process was. “Knowing the day after, through all the chaos, sleepless nights, and countless conversations, we made it as husband and wife!”
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This article was contributed by SNJ Today and appears in the newspaper’s October 14 print edition.