Couple get creative at wedding, in an era of social distancing

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As the world remains under siege on account of the Covid 19 pandemic, a couple who had made all plans before the world came to a stop, had to make modifications to their wedding plans and went ahead in a solemn wedding event.

Valeska Pretelt and Joshua Board had planned a 55-person wedding dinner at the Brooklyn restaurant L’antagoniste for March 20, 2020. “Josh and I were hell-bent on not letting COVID-19 impact our day,” Valeska says. But ultimately, they didn’t have a choice—a week and a half before their wedding date, they realized that most of their family was unable to fly in. “At this point, we were tuned into news updates, which were coming in every hour, and we made the super-emotional and difficult decision to send out an email letting everyone know we’d be postponing,” Valeska says. “It truly did not feel right bringing that many people together under such uncertainty.”

The couple still wanted to exchange their vows on the date they’d initially planned, but they needed to come up with a different approach. “After months of planning, the date 3/20 became something meaningful to us, and we wanted to honor that meaning,” Valeska says. Their ceremony became a six-person gathering, with the couple marrying on the balcony of their Brooklyn apartment, and the bride’s cousin serving as a witness. (Thankfully, all of their vendors were not only understanding but apologetic, and all of their deposits have been returned.) The couple’s friend Jason officiated, and two other friends watched from below alongside Marvin, the neighborhood cat. “Our immediate family was Zoomed in, and my mom surprised us with a cellist she met on Instagram the night prior,” Valeska says. “We had gorgeous 70-degree weather, and neighbors cheered us on as they walked by.”

Valeska purchased a Reformation slip dress from Net-a-Porter two days before the ceremony. “Yay for next-day shipping,” she jokes. “I originally planned to wear a beautiful dress from a brand called Co, but decided to return it after we agreed to postpone our original celebration. It was a gift from my mom, and I felt guilty about having such a pricey item hanging in my closet when the funds could go towards something more productive during these uncertain times.” Meanwhile, Josh wore the Hugo Boss suit that he’d gotten a month prior with the intention of wearing it to their originally scheduled nuptials.

“[Saying our vows on the balcony was] joyous and completely transported us out of the stressful climate we’ve all been dealing with,” Valeska says. “If the world was upside down around us, we didn’t notice. It was also very emotional—there were lots of tears and no waterproof mascara.”

Afterward, they popped Champagne and talked with their friends and family via FaceTime for the rest of the afternoon. “That night Josh made me the meal he cooked on one of our first dates,” Valeska says. “And the next morning we had our official first dance to Frank Ocean’s rendition of ‘Moon River,’ as planned.”

As to whether to have a larger celebration down the line, Valeska says they’ve gone back and forth: “As impromptu as our ceremony turned out, it felt so us and so perfect. The funny thing is, Josh and I joked about eloping even before we got engaged. And after the emotional roller coaster that COVID-19 brought, it became clearer than ever that this day was always about us and our love for one another. To me, less is more—and this reaffirmed that the big wedding was never for us. We were right where we were supposed to be.”

Africh Royale

Africh Royale

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