Matt and Julia had planned to get married In Hawaii this coming July, with their reception to follow in their hometown in August. But with the current uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, they weren’t sure if their dream wedding would still happen the way they planned. Voicing concerns to Julia’s co-worker, who happens to be a licensed officiant, she offered to marry the couple at the tattoo shop Julia works at before their state went into lockdown. “I think one of my friends summed it up best by saying ‘you got married at a tattoo shop, by a tattoo artist, in the middle of a pandemic; that’s the most punk-rock thing I’ve ever heard!’” said Julia.
The couple met while working on a production of Green Day’s American Idiot, and their song has always been Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by the band. “This whole thing truly gave new meaning to the lyric ‘something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right.”
With four day’s notice, their friends rallied around to help them pull it off. Their photographer, Tiffany, did their engagement photos and is set to shoot their wedding in Hawaii, whenever it ends up being. Julia’s bouquet was made by a friend, and decorative flowers were put together by the officiant’s wife. They also used elements that they were planning to use for their Hawaii wedding; Julia’s outfit was supposed to be for her bridal shower, which got cancelled, and she paired it with her original wedding veil.
They pulled in meaningful props too – an American Idiot heart hand grenade from the stage show that they met at, was also used in their engagement photos, so it felt right to use it in their wedding photos too. Matt wore his Hawaiian print shirt, their officiant wore a Hawaiian shirt, and her wife decorated the whole tattoo shop with Hawaiian inspired decor. “They even cranked the heat up to feel tropical, played Hawaiian music, and burned coconut candles to make it feel like we were in Hawaii!”
The entire ceremony was written from scratch; they had answered a huge, in-depth questionnaire in preparation for their Hawaii ceremony, so they were able to draw a lot of inspiration from that. “It was important to us to have a unique, non-traditional ceremony. We view ourselves very much as partners and as equals, and we wanted our ceremony to reflect that. We wanted to avoid antiquated language that didn’t really resonate with us. We came out with a ceremony that felt very ‘us’ and very appropriate. We didn’t want to dwell on the sadness and uncertainty of the situation – more on the strength of our relationship, and our hopefulness for our future, and future plans.”
They invited their friends and family to the ceremony via Facebook Live, and were touched that, despite them all being stuck at home, people took it upon themselves to get dressed up and post photos of their outfits in the livestream group. “It was so cool that so many people had the exact same idea, and to see how excited everyone was to have something good to look forward to amidst all the fear and panic. We had a great time looking through all the photos of people on their couches in their tuxedos and formal dresses!”
“Under normal circumstances, it’s not the way we would’ve chosen to do things; I was initially heartbroken and devastated at the thought of having to cancel every single detail we’d spent two years planning for our perfect wedding,” said Julia. “But under these circumstances, it was perfect; it wasn’t the wedding we originally wanted, but it was the wedding we needed. The fact that it was kind of this beacon of hope in such a scary, uncertain time for a lot of people was heartwarming. Not only for our friends and family who got to witness it via livestream, but for us as well. The world is scary and uncertain and insane, and nothing makes sense. Getting married, and being married, is the only thing that makes sense to us right now. It was kind of ‘us against the world’ – our love and relationship are so strong, that even a global pandemic can’t stop us from getting married.”
When asked if they had any advice for couples that are having to postpone right now, Julia offered the following. “Feel the feelings, but don’t let them overcome you. Feel the heartbreak, feel the sadness and fear, mourn for your wedding. Yes, there is so much else going on in the world right now. But you are ALLOWED to mourn this. You don’t have to feel guilty for being sad. None of this is fair. None of this makes sense. Feel those feelings together, and then find a way to channel them into a solution, a plan, or an affirmation. You’re getting married because you love each other. Because your relationship is stronger than any adversity. No global pandemic can take your love away. It can make you lose money, it can make you need to reschedule plane tickets or change venues and vendors. It can make you change the date of something you’ve dreamed about and planned for since you got engaged. But it cannot take your love for each other away. Focus on each other and enjoy every second together. Focus on staying safe and healthy and taking care of each other so you can come out on the other side of this and have the wedding you want, or the wedding you need.”