Planning a wedding during a pandemic

Posted by on Sep 23, 2020 in Marriage and Epidemics, Venues | 2 comments

Planning a wedding during a pandemic

Dear Engaged Couple, I am collecting stories about your trials, for surely planning a wedding during a pandemic is not a piece of (wedding) cake. See One of my take aways so far from listening to your stories, and being a player in some of them?  Stay flexible.  

I’ll tell you what I mean.  Several months ago, I signed on to officiate at the elopement of a handsome couple.  Health concerns being what they are, they had ditched any thoughts of a big, swank wedding.  Instead, they opted to exchange their vows in a hot-air balloon, just the two of them, with me (their officiant) and the pilot (a must) as witnesses. They would, in effect, be spitting in the eye of the pandemic. 

A hot-air balloon–what a creative place
to exchange vows!

This writer was excited, I admit.  I have never been on a balloon ride, although I have seen plenty of bright-colored balloons hanging in the air not far from my home. The balloons launch and land near the Boars’ Head Inn, not far from where I live.  

But alas!  The day before take-take off, all plans were scrapped.  Clouds and rain were forecast for the day of our flight.  What to do? 

The bride phoned.  She and her fiancé had decided to instead marry at Raven’s Roost Overlook—It’s beautiful, it would provide a lovely natural backdrop for photos, and there would be no need for advance reservations. 

The view of the Blue Ridge, Raven’s Roost

Here’s what I know about the Blue Ridge Parkway.  While breathtakingly gorgeous,  in foul weather, the Parkway is often cloaked in fog.  The Parkway boasts one of the densest fog covers of parkways in the NATION!  I myself, have tried to drive the Parkway in fog.  A truly terrifying experience.   

“Not to worry,” the bride assured me.  “Our wedding is scheduled for 11 a.m.  Plenty of time for the fog to lift.”  Ok, I hesitantly agreed. 

The next morning?  Fog and drizzle.  Fog and drizzle at my house and in patches on my drive to the Blue Ridge.  I turned off Route 250 to the Parkway and was met by a wall of fog.  I could not see even two feet in front of my car.  I crept snail-like to a turn off and was met by other drivers like myself.  All the parking spaces on that turnoff will filled, and folks had even double parked. Were they waiting for the fog to lift?  Were they trying to come up with a plan two? 

 Determined not to continue my treacherous climb up the mountain, I turned around and crept again, snail-like, back to Route 250 and then to Route 151.  I called the bride. “I’m not coming,” I said.  “I just can’t see to get there.”  I heard defeat in her understanding reply. Would the pandemic, then, win after all?

This is not the end of the saga, however.  I am an officiant, remember.  Not super-woman, maybe, but in this one case, I came close.  I have officiated at more than a few weddings up and down Route 151.  It’s a corridor replete with breweries and wineries.  “Give me a few minutes.  Let me contact some venues in the area, and see if any of them would be willing to host your wedding.” 

Good karma descended upon us, or, if you choose, God sent his angels to minister to us.   My first stop proved to be my only stop.  Valley Road is a relatively new winery. I have never officiated at a wedding there, but I have heard good things about it.  My sister-in-law is friends with one of the owners, too.  That fact might be the calling card I needed, I thought.  

I explained the situation to the warm and friendly hostess.  No need to mention familial connections.  She nodded her understanding when I mentioned THE FOG.  “Bring them on.”

That was that. 

The couple was overjoyed.  The wedding  went off without a hitch.  The winery’s guests served dual duty as wedding guests, watching the exchange of vows from the winery’s patio. They cheered and clapped when the groom kissed the bride.

As it turned out, the friendly hostess was one of the venue’s owners.  She was ready with two  “on the house” glasses of wine for the happy couple as soon as the service ended.  I found out later that after some picture taking, she joined the couple in a bottle of wine, under an  outdoor table umbrella. 

Warm, friendly, generous, come immediately to mind in describing Valley Road’s hospitality.    

The bride says that her wedding could not have been more perfect.  I say she and her husband deserve a lot of credit.  They knew or maybe they learned in the process,  that the key to planning a wedding during a pandemic is to stay flexible.  They did. 

Valley Road Vineyard, Afton, Virginia


  1. Your article is wonderful. We would recommend you to anyone looking for someone to officiate their wedding.
    Sincerely,, Parents of the groom

    • Thanks Debbie and Davis. By all means spread the word! Gay Lee

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