A wedding in the living room: Minnesota couple marry amid coronavirus pandemic
The wedding of Jamie White and Ross Buchanan wasn’t supposed to be like this.
It was going to be held on April 4, underneath a park shelter in Roseville. Fifty, maybe 70 people would attend the ceremony, mainly friends and family.
Then the coronavirus pandemic arrived in the United States, and with it a set of new restrictions to prevent the virus from spreading to the most vulnerable. In Minnesota, many public spaces were closed, large gatherings were canceled and distance from others was strongly encouraged.
White and Buchanan, who have five young children from previous marriages, had long been looking forward to their big day.
White, an account manager for a software company, and Buchanan, a software engineer, started dating the summer of 2018. Buchanan proposed about a year later and they began making plans for their wedding last fall.
“When we planned [the wedding], it wasn’t even on our radar, just like everyone else,” White said of the coronavirus.
But the pandemic threw a wrench into their plans. They decided they’d been waiting long enough. So they ditched the guest list and moved the ceremony to the living room of the Roseville house they had recently bought and were still in the process of moving in to.
“Once we figured out that there was no way they were going to let us have all of those people there, it just didn’t seem worth waiting,” White, 35, said. “It just seemed better to reschedule it, put it together in a few days and celebrate now.”
On March 15, they scrambled into motion.
They exchanged a volley of phone calls and text messages with the pastor, florist, photographer and hairstylist, all of whom were available. They also tried to wrap up a couple of construction projects around their new house, making sure the kitchen and living room were ready for the occasion.
“It took a little bit to get everyone coordinated, but everything has come together,” White said.
Last Wednesday evening, their children and parents gathered in their living room, where they set up a laptop using Zoom, a video conferencing service, to livestream the ceremony to other family and friends.
Minutes before the ceremony, White (soon-to-be Buchanan) seemed unfazed about the hastily made arrangements.
“Everyone is trying to recalibrate. Everything we all knew to be normal is not the same right now,” she said. “I’m just really excited that I get to get married very soon.”
Their parents, dressed for the occasion, sat on chairs arranged in the living room as the bride and groom’s children made their entrance through the makeshift aisle, the girls wearing purple dresses and carrying bouquets of flowers.
With White in her white wedding dress and Buchanan in his suit, the pastor officiated the ceremony. About 30 virtual “attendees,” some of them also dressed in wedding attire, watched as the couple exchanged rings and said “I do.”
For Buchanan, the wedding was “everything it needed to be.”
“It was nice to simplify and recognize what is really important about a wedding and a marriage,” Buchanan, 40, said. “It’s not about a place or all the things. It’s really about the commitment we’re making to each other and important people being able to be involved, even if remotely.”
The newly wedded couple had planned to honeymoon at a resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. That’s been postponed, of course. But they’re hopeful they’ll be able to make the trip sometime soon.
In the meantime, they’ll be unpacking boxes and settling into their new home.
“If you’re going to be quarantined,” said White, “you might as well be quarantined with the one you love.”