We stepped out of our car and grabbed our camera bags. Throwing them over our shoulders, we approached the house. Elizabeth grew up here. This had become her home, once again, for the last few weeks. Today it would serve as the getting-ready quarters for Elizabeth and Erick’s wedding Mass. Their original plans didn’t look like this. They had been planning for a wedding in early June, and expected to be surrounded by all of their family and friends. With the outbreak of COVID-19, we’ve all been impacted, and Elizabeth and Erick knew their wedding plans would need to change.
Erick’s family resides in his home country of the Dominican Republic. With all of the travel bans in place, a June visit to the United States was not going to happen. Elizabeth and Erick talked and prayed, with one another and their families, about what to do. They could postpone their wedding, but for how long? That was never an option with which they were satisfied. After a conversation with Fr. Ted, they learned that he would be willing to celebrate their wedding Mass now. It would have to be very small, of course, with no more than 20 people in the church. This news was met with great relief, because to be sacramentally married was what they wanted the most.
We got the call less than two weeks out. “We are thinking May 2nd. Can you make it?” Plans were made to livestream the Mass on Facebook, allowing Erick’s family and many others to witness the sacrament. A Zoom call was planned for the morning so that Erick could be with his family while getting ready. The reception will eventually take place at a later date, which Elizabeth and Erick were willing to accept since they’d still be able to get married. Throughout every decision, Elizabeth and Erick showcased a desire for the MOST important thing—the sacrament of marriage. It was an honor to witness.
As we approached the house on the morning of their wedding day, Elizabeth’s father, Martin, waited by the door. He welcomed us inside and we navigated the awkwardness that comes from living in a pandemic: no handshakes, no hugs. The house was filled with memories—photos from throughout the years hung on every wall. The comfort of “home” graced every room. Elizabeth’s dress hung from her childhood closet. The family’s living room was transformed into Erick’s getting-ready space.
As we imagined this morning in the days leading up to it, we expected it to be sad. Erick’s family wouldn’t be present in person, and neither would many more family and friends. So when Martin opened the door for us and we walked inside, we were so delighted and surprised when we were greeted by copious laughter. We popped into the living room to say hello to Erick, who was streaming his family on the living room TV. There was a smile on everyone’s faces. They were talking and laughing as they waited for Erick to open up a book filled with congratulatory words for him that they had sent. In the kitchen we met Elizabeth’s joyful Uncle Mike, who we later learned is quite the storyteller, as he charmed Erick’s family with his retelling of their early dating life. Upstairs, Elizabeth’s Aunt Amy was hard at work fixing hair and makeup, and helping in so many other ways.
Joy buzzed through every room of the house. This was not a group of people in mourning because this virus had taken away their dream wedding. No, far from it! This was a group of people who were overjoyed to be assisting Elizabeth and Erick to the altar—both near and far.
Elizabeth and Erick, we, too, were filled with so much joy while witnessing your wedding day. During the Mass, we couldn’t help but think about the universality of our Catholic faith. We are all present to one another in the Eucharist. Even though Erick’s family, along with many more loved ones, watched from afar, their joy was still complete. The sacrament is real and the reality of your marriage can be celebrated wherever people are. We love you guys, and are praying for you during this newlywed phase and beyond. We’ll be counting down the days until we’re able to celebrate with you again at your reception!
Amy & Kyle
A special thanks to all family and friends, both near and far, who helped make Elizabeth and Erick’s wedding day one to remember!
Presider: Fr. Ted Keating
Lectors: Amanda and Martin Ciccocioppo
Livestream: Jillian & Jessica Cizauskas
Flowers: Gifted by Jessica Bahr, purchased from Terra Farms
Flowers for Mary: Adalene Noll
Hair & Makeup: Amy Seiler
Dress: David’s Bridal
Groom’s Attire: Jos. A Bank