Wedding plans amid a pandemic

Couples push back plans set months in advance; finding venues proves to be difficult



Doug Antkowiak and his fiancee planned to get married in Hawaii this April, however, their plans drastically changed due to COVID-19.

SYDNEY BROWN, Evergreen reporter

The big day was scheduled for April 25, 2020. The date had been set for nearly a year. Allison Fox penned it into her planners, told all of her friends and family the date and double-checked the availability of wedding vendors. 

Anticipating her ranch-style wedding in Ellensburg, Fox said April 25 had become almost as permanent to her as a birth date. Then nearly everything was canceled. 

Many couples have had their wedding plans scrapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving some with few options. 

“I think the first time I planned it, it honestly wasn’t bad,” Fox said. “Now I’m like … I have to plan it between now and July 2 and redo it all.” 

Fox’s April wedding dreams were dashed. While finding a venue wasn’t easy before, it became even more difficult during the pandemic. 

First, she and her fiance tentatively rescheduled for June 29, but it became clear the pandemic would still be around even then. She and her fiance postponed again to July 2. The ranch she had scheduled for her reception in Ellensburg now had to be changed to a last-minute choice of a Coeur d’Alene resort. 

“I tried to keep my money with the people I committed it to because … I know it’s not really a side gig for a lot of people,” Fox said. 

Supporting those local vendors proved difficult for Fox and her husband-to-be because most of the vendors were based in Ellensburg and could not transport many of the items needed for the new venue.

As a medical social worker at Pullman Regional Hospital, Fox said she learned of the pandemic around the same time she was solidifying her wedding plans. She said that like most people, she assumed it would not really impact Whitman County. 

Doug Antkowiak, a professional services consultant at BrightEdge in Seattle, planned his wedding with his fiancee Brittany to take place in Hawaii. They had booked nearly everything for their April 2020 wedding date by September 2019, but the shutdowns of hotels made him rethink the entire plan. 

“Kind of luckily, the hotel made the choice for us and just said, like, everything is canceled,” Antkowiak said. 

Their primary wedding planner phoned Antkowiak and his fiancee to inform them the event was canceled for now, and the couple picked a day in late August instead.

“Now we’re in a state of flux of saying, like, is that too soon?” Antkowiak said. “If we were to go … would it even feel like a vacation or would it feel super stressful? Would we have to wear face masks everywhere, and do I want to wear that on a vacation the entire time?”

He said he felt nervous for his older family members, including his grandmother who is in her mid-80s and is considered at risk. The pandemic has made these choices a collective problem rather than an individual issue, he said, because of how people have to work together to manage the outbreak.

Now we’re in a state of flux of saying, like, is that too soon?

— Doug Antkowiak

“There’s a guilt, or fear, of the unknown because we don’t want anyone to come and get sick on the trip, because that would defeat the purpose,” Antkowiak said. 

Many of the wedding plans had been made to keep the cost of the wedding reasonable, so nearly everything was booked for a specific financial reason, he said.

“That’s the battle, too, is having the anxiety of worrying about stuff that hasn’t happened yet,” Antkowiak said.