HAVRE DE GRACE — Planning for a wedding can be a long and somewhat stressful undertaking, especially when all the plans go out the window due to the efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Kim Barth, the owner of the Havre de Grace wedding venue, La Banque de Fleuve, knows all too well just how much planning can go into a wedding and said she felt awful for those who canceled their weddings due to the state mandate that limits gatherings to 10 people.
However, she said she knew she could help couples still have their weddings even if they could only have a few people attend. She decided to post on her Facebook page that she would offer free weddings to any couple who had their wedding canceled, even if they weren’t previously her customers.
“My post exploded. I’m already hosting five or six 'on the spot' weddings and I’ve reached about 80 couples. It’s beautiful that I’m able to help these couples. Everyone is different and everyone has their own needs and to be able to address their needs is really a privilege, ” Barth said.
“It’s horrible but it’s kind of diamond in the rough kind of moment. It’s like Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities. 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.' It really applies to what’s going on right now.”
Barth hosted a wedding ceremony this past weekend, which will now be the last one for a while due to the state’s latest regulation that mandates all non-essential businesses close in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“I’m going to listen to the laws and I’m not just going to stay open and think I’m above this,” Barth said.
Despite wedding venues and churches being closed, couples can still get married if they so choose. Abigail Tritt and Mark Weller weren’t going to have any COVID-19 restrictions ruin their special day and decided to have their wedding at their mother’s home.
“We were forced to redefine what a wedding really is. The one thing we didn’t want to lose was our date because that was the one thing we could control and it was our expectation to get married on that date,’ Weller said.
“My mom set up an area where Abby could get ready and there was enough space to make an [isle] we could walk down. It was a lot closer in resemblance to a wedding than what I was expecting.”
Tritt and Weller were supposed to have the their ceremony and reception at La Banque de Fleuve with close to 100 people in attendance. Now, they hope to have their reception at La Banque de Fleuve in July.
“In the beginning it was traumatizing and I felt like I was on a roller coaster of emotions," Tritt said.
"I kind of knew what was going to happen and I knew it was going to keep escalating. People started to cancel because other areas had harder restrictions before Maryland did."
Gradually, the state limit on the number of people allowed to gather went from 250 to 50 and then down to 10. Tritt said they started making calls to their vendors and thankfully got everyone on board to move the reception to July.
“All business owners are being affected by this so we weren’t asking for any refunds. I couldn’t be more appreciative of the people in Rising Sun and Havre de Grace we used as vendors,” Weller said.
“I was thinking, going into it, that it would cost $5,000 to $7,000 to reschedule everything with our vendors but it’s adding up now to be probably less than $500 to reschedule everything. Everyone was so positive and responded so quickly.”
Tritt said she still wore her wedding dress, despite it not fitting exactly right due to her inability to go into the bridal shop to try it on, and Weller wore his suit. A few relatives of Weller’s side of the family were the only ones able to attend the ceremony but Tritt said the entire day turned out wonderful.
“I look back at it now and I feel like that was the way it was supposed to be. It was a wonderful day and his family is wonderful,” Tritt said.
“So I can look back at and say, I didn’t have to do this in front of 100 people, I was able to do it in front of just a few people it was a really fun day, we had a great time.”
Tritt and Weller are currently enjoying a "stay-at-home honeymoon" and hope to eventually enjoy a trip to Virginia Beach and visit Ireland some time next year.