On October 3rd, 2019, a crisp and dark fall morning at 5:30am, my dad and I waited outside of a Metro Park office to book my dream wedding venue – the Grove Lodge in Grove City, Ohio. This was my first step of the wedding planning journey, and the parks needed to be booked exactly 365 days in advance, and not a moment sooner! This venue is secluded in miles and miles of nature, has a neutral white and gray palette on the inside, floor to ceiling windows, huge glass doors that open onto a wraparound deck, and the views are just floods of grass, fields, and trees. It was a perfect venue for our wedding, and after the office opened that morning, phones began ringing off the hook – since we were there early, we checked in, signed the papers, and paid the deposit! One thing was checked off my to do list – one of my many, many to do lists.
Jason and I have been together almost 10 years. We moved in together nearly 6 years ago, bought a house 2 and a half years ago, got engaged 2 years ago, got a dog that we parent together – and somehow, in a span of 10 years, we picked 2020 to get married… Avid readers of this blog may remember when I guest blogged the hilarious story of our engagement/housewarming party where my fiancé got so drunk he had to go to bed when the party was barely halfway through! If you’re in need of a laugh, I highly recommend.
I’m sure you can reminisce with me at this point – at the end of 2019, 2020 sounded like a GREAT year, we were beginning a new DECADE!!! It was going to be a great year for a wedding, and a great year for “clarity,” am I right?
And thus, the wedding planning ensued! Throughout the next few months, I arranged meetings and contracts – the band, a separate musician for the ceremony, a photographer, a block of hotel rooms, I began ordering the desserts, booked the catering, bought a dress and accessories, booked my makeup artist – and the list goes on!
But all of this came to a screeching halt in June.
To backtrack a little – it was March when COVID hit the United States, and I halfway expected to return to work after; we just needed to quickly jump a hurdle of a 2-week self-quarantine, and we would return to our normal lives.
But COVID didn’t hit the U.S. and move on as you know… COVID hit us like a train and we soon began altering our lives for the greater good – working from home, wearing face masks, using hand sanitizer until our skin cracked from the dryness, washing our clothes immediately upon arriving home, paper products flying off the shelves, we haven’t been able to visit friends and family, restaurants and bars have closed and reopened, just to close again, checkout lines wrapped around grocery stores to get food and necessities, while other lines wrapped around offices and hospitals to get tested for the virus…
Throughout March, April and May, we still had hope. We were optimistic that the wedding would still go on without a hitch, and we’d all be safe again later in the year – a fall wedding seemed so far out that we honestly said, and I mean we said this countless times, “Oh, we are SO fine, the wedding is still so far away, we will be fiiiiiineeee.”
In June, I began addressing our wedding invitations. I think I finished 12 of them before I realized that we couldn’t move forward with the wedding how we had planned it. The status of the virus was changing every week, every day, and sometimes even by the hour – and I couldn’t move past the fact that there was so much uncertainty. I felt that sending out invitations was essentially asking our friends and family members to prioritize our wedding and reception before their own health and safety, and I just couldn’t continue – our guest list spanned almost 10 different states across the U.S., and we were inviting international guests as well. It just didn’t make sense to move forward like that.
Pro Tip: My fiancé and I invested in a Cricut Explore Air 2 machine and a few Cricut tools to make life easier for wedding projects. For example, I used the machine to cut adhesive vinyl and made our Welcome sign for the venue entrance, but there’s so much you can accomplish with a Cricut!
And thus, the wedding planning stopped and we began rescheduling, cancelling, and game-planning. After a long few nights of talking to my fiancé, calling my brother to brainstorm options, talking to our parents so we could hear them out, but also for them to hear our side – we made the tough decision to cancel the bridal showers, scale everything back, move forward to get married on our original date, with only parents and siblings, in an intimate ceremony at the park near our venue, and postpone the reception to October 2021.
We knew that this decision wouldn’t make everyone happy (you can’t please everyone), but it was important for us to get married and have that special day. Our wedding was upended so much throughout 2020, we wanted to remember this journey with one crucial happy memory – that we made it! I am now officially a Mrs and we couldn’t be happier. On October 3rd, 2020, we had the most beautiful, unforgettable, and intimate day full of love, joy, and celebration! It felt so right, it felt so us.
Here are my nuggets of advice on how to make the day yours and how we scaled our big day down:
- The fancy and frills: I bought a beaded maxi dress from BHLDN instead of wearing my wedding gown, and to this I say IT IS YOUR CALL – either you get the joy of wearing your special dress TWICE or you get to have 2 dresses! My husband (I still am not used to saying that) wore a suit from Express, and it was absolutely perfect on him.
- Support local: We got a local photographer for the small ceremony, a local florist made our bouquet and boutonniere, a local bakery made us a small cake, a baker in my hometown made our wedding cookies, and we had an intimate dinner at a swanky local restaurant. See the list at the bottom of this blog for the contacts on how we made our wedding details unique to us!
- Find small things that make your day YOURS: My dad and I are very close, but my stepdad has been a big part of my life as well – I wanted them to have very special roles in our day that would stand out on their own, and didn’t want them to have to “share” their role. My dad walked me down the aisle, and my stepdad was ordained to be our officiant. This was PERFECT and I wouldn’t have changed one thing about it!
- We kept our wedding party simple and I wouldn’t have changed a thing: Jason’s sister was my maid of honor and my brother was his man of honor. They were a big part in helping us keep our sanity through this process and I think I would’ve been a mess with 10 bridesmaids and groomsmen… but no judgement!
- Don’t sweat the small stuff: I got a blowout on the morning of the wedding to feel like a “bride” and have my hair all done – turned out that my curls were a HOT MESS and I was redoing my hair almost from scratch 30 minutes before I needed to leave my house for the ceremony. Was it annoying? Yes. Did I stress a little? Sure. Was it worth being upset about? Not in the slightest. My mom and I had a fun time getting our hair done and feeling pampered and after totally redoing my hair, I was still ahead of schedule! 😊
- Don’t rush, take it all in, and if you need to forget the timeline of the day you had originally planned out, it’s OK: Jason and I actually last-minute decided to go out for breakfast the morning of our wedding day – we have a local diner that we love and visit frequently, and it felt natural to go get our breakfast and hot chocolates like any other weekend. It was also so fun to say, “We’re getting married today!” to a room full of strangers. (Leigh Ann here, this actually made me cry lol)
I could probably go on forever, but I will spare you the time! Maybe I’ll guest-blog for a part two of the 2021 wedding journey… 😉
At the end of the day, don’t be afraid to lean into your support group, and the ONLY thing that really matters, is that you’re marrying your best friend. Jason always had a great POV when I originally thought he wouldn’t want to be super involved in the wedding planning process. I could not have imagined going through this journey with anyone else – Jason was by my side every step of the way and gave me some of the best ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.
To all the brides, grooms, and immediate family during this time, take a deep breath – YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS.
Until next time,
Kaylee King Hensler
@kylelongphotography for the wedding day photography
@sweetblossomfloral for the bouquet and boutonniere
@nurserylanebakingco for our wedding cake
@courtneyscutout for the wedding cookies
@worthingtonjewelers for my engagement ring
@athensjewelers for my wedding band
@manlybands for Jason’s carbon fiber band
@nutcrackerpataskala for our breakfast and hot chocolate date on the wedding day
@express / @expressmen for Jason’s suit and my brother Justin’s suit
@bhldn for my dress
@lindeysrestaurant for our private dinner the night of the wedding
A huge thanks for Kaylee for sharing this rollercoaster story with us! It’s been a tough year, and I know these decisions were incredibly hard to make, but they ultimately unfolded into a super special, intimate, magical, and safe day for Kaylee, Jason, and their immediate families. Wishing these two a lifetime of joy together!