When Dani Mario and Dustin Wawryk started planning their June 27 wedding, they envisioned a small ceremony followed by a reception centred around the Saskatchewan JazzFest in Saskatoon.
“Our original plan was to have our immediate family and then my partner Dustin still has his grandparents, so we were going to have them as well — and that was it,” Mario said.
Planning the big day around the annual JazzFest was strategic — the couple thought it would be easier to see all their friends.
Then the coronavirus pandemic changed everything.
Travel restrictions were put in place by the Canadian and Saskatchewan governments due to COVID-19, and many events were cancelled, including the JazzFest.
Mario and Wawryk needed to switch gears.
“We were able to come up with a plan that allowed us to have nearly everyone we wanted to have there, except for a few exceptions that just ripped at my heart,” Mario said.
“The first was my sister and her husband and my nephew, who are in Utah.”
They were unable to travel to Canada due to travel restrictions and having to self-isolate for 14 days upon arriving in Saskatchewan, Mario explained.
They also decided to “opt-out” of having Dustin’s grandparents at the wedding.
Mario explained that they are elderly and would have to travel from Kelowna.
“Let me tell you, there’s no decorum. There’s nothing online telling you how to handle something like this as a bride. It’s totally surreal,” Mario said.
Saskatoon couple changes wedding plans
Couples deciding to delay or change their wedding plans is something Crystal MacLeod is experiencing as a certified wedding planner.
“It essentially, at first, came to a standstill where most of our clients were rescheduling or outright cancelling,” said MacLeod, who has planned hundreds of weddings in nearly 22 years as owner of RSVP Event Design.
“The majority of our clients have postponed until 2021.”
Others are forging ahead.
“I do have a few clients that are still moving forward with a small ceremony and then they have a date chosen for the reception in 2021,” MacLeod said.
Mario said their revised wedding plans included livestreaming the ceremony so those unable to attend could watch.
“I was able to look over Dustin’s shoulder while we were saying our vows and see my uncle in Germany and my cousin in Sweden and Dustin’s family from all over Canada and around the world and see those people that were closest to us looking us right in the eye,” Mario said.
“This was a really cool experience.”
There was even a surprise for Mario.
“My sister and brother-in-law had created this video of them telling us congratulations,” she said.
“It was this really well-produced video with them popping champagne and my nephew running around and my sister and her husband giving us well wishes.”
Unusual keepsakes also have become part of a coronavirus-era wedding.
“One of our wedding favours was hand sanitizers… this is a serious world we’re dealing with and you gotta have a little bit of fun,” Mario said.
“So, Lovers in a Dangerous Time was our ‘joking’ wedding theme song.”
Then there are the masks.
“My mother-in-law made a mask for me out of her old wedding dress,” Mario said.
“Then she made one for my partner, it even has a little flower on it.”
“Those are kind of the weird things that I don’t think anyone else is going to have for their keepsakes for their wedding.”
MacLeod said one of her clients went a step further.
“They have beautiful decor at the wedding and they wanted the masks to match the decor for those ceremony photos, which I thought was really neat,” she said.
“So they’re going to hand them out to everybody at the ceremony.”
When it came time for their honeymoon, Mario said they had a tough decision to make.
The newlyweds had planned a “dream trip” to Greece.
“We’d researched a lot and learned that (people from) EU plus countries, plus a few other select countries, were actually able to go to Greece without any issues,” Mario said. Canada is one of those select countries, according to the European Union.
“We really thought we were going to Greece.”
The couple decided to stay home because Wawryk lives with rheumatoid arthritis and they didn’t want to take the risk of him getting sick. Instead, they rediscovered Canada on their honeymoon.
“We actually went to Golden, B.C., and we went to Lake Louise and we went to Jasper,” Mario said.
Barb Crowe, president of Ixtapa Travel, said honeymooners are looking at options closer to home.
“They’re staying a little close to home, doing a little mini trip, maybe to Banff or Jasper with no real big plans to hit the Caribbean, which is a popular honeymoon destination, or Mexico,” Crowe said.
“And (Vancouver) Island is actually a little popular right now too.
Crowe said couples who booked their honeymoon before the pandemic hit have received travel vouchers.
“And most of the vouchers are valid for at least a minimum of two years.”
Mario said they still have plans to travel to Greece when the time is right.
“Greece will be there later,” she said.
She also has a message for everyone planning a wedding this fall — don’t let the pandemic derail your plans.
“If you are a couple that has felt pressured into having a big wedding by some force in your life, this is the single finest excuse not to have to do that.”
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