Love in the time of corona: With their planned weddings on hold, three local couples are making lemonade from lemons

Audrey Nguyen and Ben Rosenblum were married on the courthouse steps on May 4. Photo: Meredith Sledge Photography Audrey Nguyen and Ben Rosenblum were married on the courthouse steps on May 4. Photo: Meredith Sledge Photography

It’s to be expected that one’s wedding day will include a few stressors—the guest shuttle didn’t arrive on time, there’s a stain on the bride’s veil, the band left a crucial instrument behind. What’s less predictable: A global pandemic shuts down the wedding altogether. Here are three local couples embracing the change.

May the 4th be with you

Audrey Nguyen and Ben Rosenblum

Original wedding date: May 2, 2020
New ceremony date: May 4, 2020
New wedding date: April 24, 2021

There’s something to be said for looking for a silver lining. For Audrey Nguyen and Ben Rosenblum, who had planned a May 2 wedding at Mount Ida Farm & Vineyard, it was the ability to make their new wedding anniversary—the one they’d wanted initially—a reality.

“We’re both really big Star Wars fans,” says Nguyen. “When we decided to get married, we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, we should try to get married on May the 4th.’” The date, a Monday, wouldn’t work with their schedules, so they settled on May 2. But when things started shutting down due to coronavirus restrictions, they realized they could make it work with a simple courthouse wedding.

“As far as bad scenarios go, we were still actually able to get married on what would have been our ideal wedding day anyway.”

Photo: Meredith Sledge Photography

After saying “I do,” the couple headed to Mount Ida to pick up some beer and wine, then swung by The Catering Outfit, where their catering team had prepared a wedding-night meal kit. Their planner, Karen McGrath of Anne Arden Events, brought flowers to the ceremony, and their photographer, Meredith Sledge, caught the whole thing on film.

“It was really nice to still have all of our vendors involved,” Nguyen says.

That’s not to say the couple, who met six years ago while attending UVA, didn’t hit some snags when it came to re-planning their wedding. While they’d settled on a May 4 ceremony, they decided to move the real wedding celebration—with friends and family—to next April. One problem: Next spring, Ben’s groomsman’s wedding is the first week of April, Audrey’s maid of honor’s is April 17, and one of the bridesmen is getting married two weeks after April 24.

It was a complicated shuffle, but it all worked out in the end—with another silver lining: Because her wedding ring got caught in New York City, Nguyen now has two: the last-minute replacement she wore May 4, and one she’ll save for next year’s much-awaited big day.

Patt Eagan and Anika Kempe. Photo: John Robinson

See you next year

Anika Kempe and Patt Eagan

Original wedding date: May 23, 2020

New wedding date: May 29, 2021

Sixteen hours after Anika Kempe and Patt Eagan made the call to postpone their wedding, all the details were in place. With a few immediate family members in the high-risk category for COVID, and others having to travel internationally and from the West Coast, says Kempe, they felt confident in making the tough call.

“Neither of us could imagine getting married without any of these people present,” Kempe says. “We let our guests know on March 23, so relatively early into the current pandemic reality.”

Once they decided on postponement, with the help of their wedding planner, Bryce Carson of Richmond-based Roberts & Co., the couple began checking with vendors about availability. Their venue, The Clifton, offered Memorial Day in 2021 at no additional charge, which was a bit of foreshadowing for how well the process would go with the other companies they were working with. One by one, each of them—Amy Smith Photography, Ana Cavalheiro Fine Jewelry, Bryce Carson, Gregory Britt Design, MS Events, Nicole Laughlin MUA & Co., and Sam Hill Entertainment—was able to postpone to May 29, 2021, with little trouble.

“We’ll never appropriately be able to express our gratitude to them for their support, generosity, and understanding,” Kempe says.

As the bride notes, she and her husband-to-be may have had to postpone the wedding, but “everything besides the date remains the same—venue, vendors, and anticipation.”

Lena Turkheimer and Mark Owen shared their backyard wedding with guests through Zoom. Photo courtesy subject.

Screen time

Lena Turkheimer and Mark Owen

Original/new wedding date: April 11, 2020

Much like the virus’ early news coverage, Lena Turkheimer and Mark Owen felt like their wedding plans were changing day-to-day. After Early Mountain Vineyards—the venue where they’d planned to have their spring celebration—announced it wouldn’t hold any weddings while Virginia’s stay-at-home order was in effect, the couple started dreaming up Plan Bs.

“We pretty immediately knew that we wanted to have it in my parents’ backyard, weather permitting,” Turkheimer says. They hoped to include their immediate family and wedding party, then pared down to only their parents and siblings, but even that was an unrealistic expectation, given that their siblings were spread out across the country.

Finally, they decided to include just their parents and broadcast the “I dos” via Zoom for everyone else. Once the decision was made, everything came together—the morning of the ceremony.

Turkheimer’s parents assembled the arbor frame the couple initially planned to use at EMV, and the bride and her mom decorated it with flowers while Owen and Turkheimer’s dad set about figuring out the video feed, Macgyvering a rubber band to an iPad on a standing desk.

“It was not the prettiest,” Turkheimer says, “but it was great because none of the guests could see behind the scenes.”

As for the wedding “guests,” those near and far really got into it, with the bridal party donning their suits and dresses for the occasion.

“The tuxes were often paired with shorts, though, and we had a few people in bathrobes,” Turkheimer says. “One of my friends is staying at her parents’ house, so she decided to attend in the only formal dress she had there—her high school prom dress.”

When it came down to it, having the smaller-scale day allowed the couple to focus on what matters most, Turkheimer says: “Getting to marry each other… [and] the support of our closest friends and family.”

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This is absolutely not the experience we have had with one of the venues you have cited. Quite the contrary.


They are requiring full payment to cancel and a (very large) fee to reschedule.