Wedding dreams dashed but love conquers under COVID-19

By Cathy Janek For Chronicle Media

What weddings look like in the age of COVID-19. Nicole Salaza and Idolino Lopez married May 4 at the Pine Manor in Mount Prospect.  The owner says she opened her garden early and has been busy marrying couples. (Photo courtesy of Pine Manor)

With an August wedding still on the calendar, Aurora’s Marisa Perillo took to Facebook to ask other couples about the status of their summer or fall wedding plans.

Without knowing the number of people that will be allowed to gather later this summer as we live with the COVID-19 pandemic, she wondered if others were postponing their dates or just outright canceling their weddings.

Some respondents suggested Perillo look to the outlying counties that may reopen to larger events sooner, others suggested she look out of state to neighboring Indiana or Wisconsin, who have already opened up to large events.

Local wedding venues are sharing Perillo’s uncertainty.

George Bozonelos, general manager of two venues, Aurora’s Gaslite Manor Banquets and Lincoln Inn Banquets in Batavia, said, “We currently are fielding calls for all of our current events and rescheduling until later this year or next year. We are letting our brides reschedule next year if there’s availability without any penalties. All we want is to be open and celebrating life’s memorable occasions.”

“We were never set up for a carry out restaurant type service,” he added, “So we haven’t been open daily. The phones haven’t been ringing with any new events, just concerned brides for the current events.”

Naperville Country Club’s general manager Brad McMillan shared that the popular Naperville wedding venue is “working with each client individually to customize a solution that works best for their needs, with most weddings rescheduled to the end of this year or 2021.”

The facility hopes to allow events of 50 or more in July.

“We will continue to follow CDC and local guidelines regarding event size and social distancing,” he added.

Other local wedding venues declined to comment for this story with one rep saying, “articles related to COVID-19 will just compound an already sensitive time for our venues, vendor partners and most of all the couples managing through this with us.   Rescheduling for some is an option, the availability is two years away.”

Newlyweds Alexandra Moreno and Dimitri Siotas got married in May with loved ones watching online.

Two local wedding specialists have stepped up during this difficult time to offer unique spins on the traditional large weddings.

Owner of Paris Events, Downers Grove-based wedding coordinator Niki Gubernat said the word she keeps hearing is “pivot.”

Something that Gubernat herself has done.

During the first few weeks of the stay-at-home orders in Illinois, Gubernat admits she spent a great deal of time on the phone with couples with wedding dates looming.

“It was incredibly emotionally draining.  We didn’t know what was happening. People were so upset,” she said.

Along with her husband who owns Fox and Ivory, a photography business, Gubernat recently began offering micro wedding packages for couples for up to 30 guests — ideal for someone who wants their wedding in a backyard or small venue.

One package includes live streaming the ceremony.

Another includes a full house rental including nine guest rooms.

Currently, Gubernat said, “We have only seen a small number of cancellations.”

Instead, she is encouraging clients who want to stick with the large wedding to choose a date in 2021.

Some are having a small ceremony on their original date and picking a date next year for a larger gathering.

“We do have some couples who are holding on to have Phase 4 open this year,” she said.   “A few of our smaller weddings have under 50 guests, so that is ideal for holding onto Phase 4.”

Gubernat has suggested to some of her clients that are having about 100 guests to stagger the guests’ arrivals and departures.

: Alexandra Moreno and Dimitri Siotas married May 9 with friends and family watching on Skype. One suburban wedding planner said the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic while certainly not ideal “is a time for all of us to get really creative.” (Photo courtesy of Pine Manor)

“Fifty guests come from 12 to 4 p.m. and another group of guests come in from 6 to 10 p.m.  It is an all-day celebration,” she added.

Still Gubernat said, this is “not ideal, but this is a time for all of us to get really creative.”

Mount Prospect’s Pam Magnuson has specialized in small, intimate weddings for the last nine years.

A wedding officiant, Magnuson performs about 150 ceremonies in outdoor settings or in her home’s garden — the Pine Manor, each year.

With options to Skype in family and friends, or in-person ceremonies for up to six individuals, the COVID crisis has led to an uptick of business for Magnuson.

“Typically in early spring, I don’t have a lot of weddings,” she said.

However, this year, Magnuson opened her garden early and has been busy marrying couples.

“Rain or shine or snow, we have been doing it in the garden,” she added.  “It works really well. We can be socially distant.”

Magnuson also can perform ceremonies over Skype if the couple has a Cook County marriage license, which currently can be obtained online.

Magnuson is marrying couples who are foregoing traditionally large ceremonies, some for the time being with hopes of a large gathering sometime later in the future.

Others want to marry now because their marriage license may be expiring, or one spouse lost their job and is in need of health insurance, or want a special family member to be present — even if it is from six feet away.

“I feel comfortable that I can keep six guests apart,” Magnuson said.

Still, Magnuson says “I am trying to keep the ceremony romantic, intimate, and special.”

Socially Distance or Micro Wedding Options

Chicago Area

Paris Events Wedding Coordination

Big Delicious Planet