Dreams of big spring weddings have been dashed by the pandemic, spurring couples and local businesses to frantically revamp plans and schedules.
"It's been heartbreaking. We've been grieving," bride Tara Kelly said of how the virus destroyed the plans she and Stephen Knaup had made to be married in Rome on Good Friday and to go to the Pope's Easter Mass.
Since rushing to get a marriage certificate on March 27, right before Olmsted County temporarily halted issuing them, the couple have been making alternative plans. In two weeks, they will be married on their Rochester porch, with a bagpiper playing in the yard and the ceremony streaming for friends and family on Zoom. They will celebrate with a cake from Hy-Vee afterwards.
"In the end, we're making the best of the situation," said Kelly. "We're just happy to be married."
Becca Orth and Sam Marsh also recast their plans for a wedding with 350 guests at Calvary Evangelic Free Church on May 30. They drove to Rochester last week from their college, Liberty University in Virginia.
The couple quickly came up with a new plan, putting Becca's project management education to good use.
They were married on March 28 in front of a handful of immediate family and a streaming laptop in her parents' Rochester living room.
Marsh ended up borrowing a shirt from a soon-to-be brother-in-law and a bow tie from his future father-in-law, who also conducted the service. Larry Orth is a pastor at Calvary Evangelic Free Church.
There were no bridesmaids, and the flowers were a $20 bouquet from Trader Joe's. Booked at the last minute, wedding photographer Hannah Rosholt from Austin took photos from a safe distance.
"They were just making do, so they wouldn't have to be quarantined separately," said Dianne Orth, Becca's mother.
The ceremony did have one of the traditional trappings: Becca wore a wedding gown she had previously purchased at Finery Bridal Chic boutique in downtown Rochester.
The bridal shop is dark these days. Owner Claire Landgraf now spends most of her time on the phone instead of helping women pick out dresses.
"Mostly I'm try to calm panicking brides ... It's a really hard place to be ... to be in limbo with your wedding plans," she said. "It's definitely nerve wracking."
Meanwhile, she isn't selling dresses. Landgraf had to lay off her only employee.
She and others in her industry are hoping the pandemic will just postpone their busy time into summer and fall as couples revamp their plans. Landgraf said the impact on her industry feels similar to how it was in the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
"Couples will still get married. Brides will still want to wear something pretty," she said. "We're trying to game plan how much of a rush we're going to have when the economy comes back.
All of the changes in plans are keeping Melissa Powers busy with shuffling schedules as the popular Rochester wedding venue - the Mayowood Stonebarn - sits unused.
"This has tremendously impacted us," she said. "Ten weddings and 10 events were lost in this,though almost all of them have been re-scheduled."
When public events were shut down, Powers called all of the couples.
"They weren't easy conversations to have, but people seemed to understand. No one freaked out," she said.
When it comes to weddings, re-scheduling can get tricky. Many couples are moving the wedding to less desirable days, since all of the Fridays and Saturdays are booked up.
One couple had a particularly tricky issue with re-scheduling as the groom is slated to go overseas as a U.S. Marine this summer. For a personal summer family break, Powers had blocked off Fourth of July weekend with nothing scheduled.
"I ended up re-opening the Fourth of July. I thought it was a good fit for them," she said.
The governor's order blocked events until March 10. Right now, the Mayowood Stonebarn has nine wedding scheduled between that date and June 1.
Powers said everybody is monitoring the situation closely to see what to do about those weddings.
"It's a hard decision. You don't want to rush it," she said. "And you don't want to wait too long."
While weddings are usually a big day for people, the pandemic is making them even more memorable as a part of history.
"It has been sad. Tara had spent a lot of time getting all of the plans together, but I think it will work out," said Stephen Knaup of cancelling a romantic wedding in Rome for one on his back porch. "I think it will be fun. I think it certainly will be unique."