When Erik Measel proposed to Emily Gordon in May 2018, she asked for two years to prepare.
by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds
From the June, 2020 issue
They chose May 2, 2020. "I like to plan things, and I'm a perfectionist," Gordon says. "My goal was to have the perfect wedding."
She planned everything: invitations for 180 guests; hotel reservations; gowns and suits; hair, nails, and makeup appointments; the church, pastor, service, music, and vows; photographer; flowers; reception hall; caterer; table decorations; dance music.
The only thing she didn't plan for was a global pandemic. But while many 2020 brides decided to wait another year she was determined to go ahead.
On the last hour of the last day before David's Bridal shut its doors, Gordon received a call that her dress was ready. "Come now. Otherwise, we're closing," she was told. Her mother jumped into the car and retrieved the gown.
In mid-April, they pared the guest list from 180 to fifty--the largest gathering allowed at the time. But then the limit shrank to ten. They called their attendants and guests again.
"Everyone understood," Emily said. "Safety had to come first. My ninety-five-year-old grandfather lives in Florida, and some of my family members and attendants live out of state. We told them we'd reschedule our reception and perhaps even repeat the ceremony.
"I actually think everyone was relieved that they didn't have to make the choice of whether or not to come out during a pandemic," she adds. "We bought a mini-cake from the Dexter Bakery and two $15 flower arrangements from Meijer, which we tore apart to make bouquets for the flower girls and for me."
On May 2, Gordon curled her own hair, painted her nails, and applied her own makeup before heading to the church in her father's car. The only guests were two daughters, her parents, sister, a cousin who took photographs, and the minister. The ceremony "was lovely," she says. "It turns out I didn't miss all the details and trappings."
"We saved $15,000 in the process," her mother, Teena Gordon, adds.
When the couple left the church, they were greeted by a
procession of cars, honking horns, and colorful "Emily & Erik" signs waving from a safe social distance. One by one, the drivers processed past them, offering best wishes. Then everyone congregated in the parking lot, played music, and visited from safe distances.
The family returned to Gordon's childhood home, ordered takeout from Metzger's, and talked over the day's events.
Shortly before the ceremony, the bride had been furloughed from her engineering job in the automotive industry and the groom, also an engineer, was working from home. A week after their wedding, they were remarkably philosophical about all the changes in plans.
"Actually, everything turned out to be a blessing in disguise," Gordon says. "Instead of worrying about all the thousands of details that day, I could focus on what was most important: I was marrying my best friend and I had the most important people in my life--my parents, my sister, Erik's girls, and God--there with us.
"I have absolutely no regrets. My wedding was nothing like what I'd worked so hard for or envisioned, but it was a one-of-a-kind wedding. Now that May 2 has passed, I don't feel as if I need a redo at the reception. I'm completely satisfied."
Claire Tewksbury was also undeterred. She met her fiance, John Grover, at a "Youth Encounter" weekend their freshman year of high school. By the time John proposed, they'd graduated from the U-M together and started their careers. "I gave him a ten-year deadline for a proposal, and he beat it by a month," Tewksbury says, laughing. Two years ago, they scheduled their wedding for mid-June, which may--or may not be--after Michigan's stay-at-home orders are lifted.
They mailed invitations in January. When the governor first ordered social and business restrictions in March, the couple decided to "take it one governor's order at a time." As the stay-at-home orders were extended into April and then May, they discussed all the options and agreed neither to postpone the ceremony nor narrow their guest list.
"We want everyone to know they're wanted, so we decided to leave the decision up to them, whether or not they'll be comfortable attending," she says. "I've had two coworkers who came down with Covid-19 and recovered, so we understand what's involved in people's decisions ... we've told everyone that we will 100 percent understand whatever decision they make. The wedding will proceed, recorded and posted online for friends and family members who can't attend."
She adds, "It was important to us to support local businesses when we made our plans and even more important now--we know how businesses are hurting. We made commitments, and we'll keep them." As soon as the shutdown was announced, Luella Acres in Dexter sent the couple an email promising, "We'll do anything to support you, including curbside pick-up." Their caterer, Frita Batidos, offered to serve plated meals rather than a buffet, and its servers will wear masks and gloves.
The couple does have a Plan B if state restrictions aren't lifted: a ceremony in the Tewksbury family's backyard. "My parents are pretty laid back, but I think they paled at the thought," she says.
"They immediately began working on their landscaping."
[Originally published in June, 2020.]
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