Love in the Time of Covid

Love in the Time of Covid

Love in the Time of Covid
Images by Modern Made Wedding Words by Ellie Norris

The Wedding of Mitch and Melissa

Like the sands of our Gulf Coast, 2020 will undoubtedly be remembered as a year of shifting dreams, with quarantine couples topping the list of those most adaptable. With positivity, love, and the magic of Alys Beach, bride and groom Melissa and Mitch sifted treasures beyond their dreams out of the challenges that arose. 

From the start, the two seemed on parallel paths destined to intersect. Both natives of Omaha, Nebraska, and graduates of The University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Melissa and Mitch shared numerous mutual friends; however, it took years for them to finally connect. Upon returning home from a year-long, out-of-state move, Melissa was welcomed back with an intriguing social media “follow” from Mitch. At the advice of those mutual friends, he’d taken an initial step. But it was Melissa who sent the first direct message. A strong man can appreciate an assertive woman, and the wheels were in motion for their first date.

Mitch immediately knew Melissa was “the one.” Within a few short months, he’d orchestrated a false watch repair at a jewelry store to sneak a casual crash course in designing Melissa’s ideal ring, and began plotting the proposal at his parents’ home in Alys Beach. Knowing he wanted the otherworldly charm of Alys as the backdrop of the enchanting proposal, he lured Melissa to Florida under the guise of a family birthday celebration. Against the idyllic greens and whites of Turtle Bale, he popped the question. And after an enthusiastic “Yes!” Melissa exclaimed, “This is an influencer’s dream!” A private dinner at Caliza Restaurant complete with personalized menus created an intimate setting with a contemporary vibe in which to continue the celebration.

The wedding planning was soon underway, but no one could have anticipated the encroaching shadow of COVID-19. Mere months from the date, they realized the extravagant destination wedding at a resort closer to their Omaha home was no longer an option. Simultaneously struck by the idea, Melissa and Mitch knew a return to Alys Beach was the obvious solution. As they shared the decision with their mothers, both matriarchs enthusiastically suggested an intimate Alys Beach wedding before the newly minted “COVID Couple” could utter the words themselves. It was clear where the detour in their path was meant to lead.

Logistics weighed heavily with the possibility of a hurricane looming and uncertainty of travel for distant guests. But, when the weekend arrived, the weather cleared and beside the Gulf, Melissa and Mitch were with their innermost circle. Following the rehearsal, a casual beach bonfire and heartfelt toasts filled the night sky. On the morning of the wedding, Melissa relaxed with yoga and time with the women closest to her. There were no make-up artists or hair stylists to distract from the day, yet the outcome was picture perfect. On the arm of her father, Melissa descended the boardwalk stairs. Her father’s blessing was even more significant because he had become, for them, an ordained minister; this added a lovely measure of sentimentality to the ceremony.

The occasion was made most memorable by the efforts of others on their behalf. Along the way, they were repeatedly met with the accommodating spirit of the Alys Beach community. With no notice, restaurants like George’s at Alys Beach and Cuvee 30A “pulled out all the stops.” Bands extended play beyond closing time ensuring the couple had those irreplaceable first dances. The intricate planning of a typical modern wedding was lost, but what emerged in its place was something that cannot be fabricated. From the setting, to speeches and the kindness of strangers, the most meaningful details came as naturally as the couple’s bond.

Melissa and Mitch originally thought their small, Alys Beach ceremony would be the precursor for something more elaborate in the future, but it turns out their perspectives changed along with their plans. They are sure there is no way to mimic the magic they tapped into. Their wedding day wasn’t the lavish party they had originally envisioned. It was better.

In the midst of wedding planning in a pandemic, the couple grew in their ability to recognize one another’s needs. They testify to a deeper understanding of the value of positivity and simplicity. And, the day itself became a symbolic and sacred representation of what matters most in marriage. The memories made in Alys have strengthened their belief in the enduring power of love and family. This year, this wedding, solidified what Melissa and Mitch knew to be true from the moment they met: In life’s inevitable storms, they have all they could ever need in each other.