WINCHESTER — In June of 2020, there were still a lot of unknowns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
At that time, Shelley Lewis of Winchester was planning her daughter's wedding for Sept. 19, 2020.
"We just started to get very uncomfortable and nervous about everything that was happening," Lewis said. "Our biggest fear was that someone would get sick," especially older relatives.
Other relatives were worried about attending the wedding before COVID-19 vaccines were available.
So Lewis gave her daughter, Ellen Perez, and fiancé Chris Perez the option to either postpone their wedding or to hold a small ceremony among family members. They chose to postpone until May 1 of this year.
"It was still a very stressful process," Lewis said, as COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions for events continued changed in Virginia.
When the couple's wedding finally took place, everyone was required to wear masks throughout the ceremony held at Fox Meadow Barn at Cloverdale Farm in Frederick County. About 100 guests attended, and Lewis said the event was a major success.
"It all worked out, it all came together," she said.
Because the mask mandate hadn't been lifted, it was easier to enforce the mask rule universally and worry less about a person's vaccination status, Lewis added.
She estimated that she knew that at least 60% of the wedding guests were vaccinated by May 1. While the fear of illness was still present as Lewis planned the wedding, vaccines availability definitely alleviated some of those concerns, she said.
There were fewer guests seated at each table (about four or six), and guests remained masked on the dance floor.
A common party gift at weddings in the past year has been hand sanitizer, and at Chris and Ellen Perez's wedding guests received bottles of sanitizer that said "spread love not germs."
The bridesmaids also wore matching pink floral face masks, and the wedding's color theme was navy and blush pink.
"One thing we did was make people feel comfortable," Lewis said.
For her, it felt like she and her family had been planning the wedding forever, and there were some tears shed during the planning process, she admitted.
"It's been just like a huge weight off of everyone," Lewis said.
Once the wedding occurred, Lewis said she could feel the pent up stress from planning for so long just melt away.
"Now we just have these joyful memories," she said.