It seems unimaginable that just a few weeks ago, details like the color of the napkins or flavor of the cake seemed important for a wedding.
Now, with the world on lockdown, couples are struggling to get married at all.
“When we got our license before all this craziness started, we had no idea it was going to get as bad as it has,” Stacie Ketchum of Hermiston said.
She and her fiance Michael Borgaard had planned an intimate wedding with family and a few close friends for April. They got their marriage license, good for 60 days, on March 2, more than a week before Gov. Kate Brown banned gatherings of more than 250 people.
Now, with even a small gathering out of the question, the couple is trying to decide whether to invite everyone to watch them get married over video chat, or to postpone the wedding, let their license expire and apply for a new one at some unknown future date when people feel comfortable traveling and gathering again.
“I haven’t been able to get ahold of anyone at the courthouse to ask about extending our license,” Ketchum said.
Some counties aren’t even issuing marriage licenses right now, with their courthouses on lockdown. The Umatilla County records department has posted a notice online that marriage licenses are available if a couple pre-applies online and then calls to make an appointment to sign it.
Ketchum said the plan had been for her dad to marry them, so now she is researching if it would be possible for him to marry the pair over video chat, with friends bearing digital witness, and then mail the certificate for the needed signatures.
April Torres-Wittmeyer, who graduated from Hermiston High School in 2002 and now lives in Gresham, also ran into marriage license problems. She and her fiance have canceled their big destination wedding on the beaches of Maui, but plan to still get married on May 11 “no matter what happens.”
When they found that the Multnomah and Marion county courthouses are not processing marriage licenses now, and Washington County’s current mail-in process would likely take too long, they turned their attention to Torres-Whittmeyer’s hometown.
“I did what any girl originally from Hermiston would do,” she wrote in an email. “I called the Umatilla County Courthouse and asked them if they could help. We drove down to Pendleton this past Tuesday and got our marriage license.”
They plan to hold a ceremony via Facebook Live.
Rosario Vargas, who grew up in Stanfield and currently lives in Richland, Washington, had a big wedding planned for June 2020, but recently decided to postpone it for a year on the assumption that large social gatherings still won’t be allowed by then.
“It’s so hard to know what it will be like in June,” she said.
She and her fiance, Joshua Suber, got engaged in May 2019, so the wedding “has been in the works for almost a year,” she said. Now they’ve had to cancel everything from the taco truck to the DJ. They also had to notify family who had already bought plane tickets that they’ll need to seek a refund.
“They’ve all been super understanding,” she said.
In one way, she said, the situation might be a blessing in disguise — the pair hadn’t saved as much money as they were hoping for the wedding, and Vargas said a year from now she may add some features to the ceremony and reception that they had trimmed for cost.
“It’s upsetting,” she said. “I want to marry my best friend as soon as possible. But it is what it is.”
Addy Folsom of Pendleton said she and her fiance, Ken Sipp, had to postpone their wedding three weeks prior to its April 4 date. They now plan to get married Aug. 29.
“We got engaged in October and initially wanted to do a summer wedding, but due to Ken’s brother-in-law deploying in April, we wanted to do it before he left so he could be a part of it, and he won’t be able to, which is a bummer,” she wrote in an email.
She said a lot of people have asked why they can’t just get married now and then have a big reception later, but she said they both have a lot of close friends and family that they really want to be able to attend.
She said they already have some keepsakes engraved with the April 4 date, but they’ll just add the new date as well, and something that may allow them to “find some humor during all this.”
The progression of events has been “devastating,” she said, but the venue she had booked has worked with them and family members have been supportive.
“Knowing that there are worse things going on than us just having to postpone, I have come to terms with it and I’m ready to work with what I’ve got,” she said.