Planning a wedding during a global pandemic was one of the most unique experiences full of unknowns, changed plans, a couple tear-filled nights, and last-minute pulling things together that created an absolutely wonderful day that will be cherished by my new husband and me forever! I was asked to share our story, as it was unlike many other wedding stories, but also encapsulates the experiences of COVID-19 couples throughout the United States. I hope you enjoy, and/or can relate!

Joseph and Kaleigh Blog

Joseph and I grew up together in Chester, VA – we can’t even remember the first time we actually met. We swam for the Chester Dolphins at Chester Recreation Association, were on the same relay team several times as kids, went to Thomas Dale High School, and finally ended up in Harrisonburg together (I attended James Madison University while Joseph was 10 minutes down the road at Eastern Mennonite University). Through assigned seats in high school biology, we became friends, and that led us to choose to sit at the same table again 2 years later in a physics class. Once he graduated high school a year before me in 2012, we lost touch and it wasn’t until the following summer that we discovered we would be in Harrisonburg together! Joseph and I reconnected when I moved to the mountains and our first date involved me riding my bike 30-40 minutes following my GPS through random backroads of Harrisonburg to finally find EMU, since neither of us had a car. A couple of years and several on-and-off dates later, Joseph finally asked me to be his girlfriend on my 21st birthday. Six months later he took me to a dock beside a lake where we had an ice-cream and Bold Rock picnic while watching the sunset. Joseph graduated from EMU in December of 2016, and I graduated from JMU in the spring of 2017. We made a long-distance relationship work during that time, and just when I thought I would be spending at least a year in Chester with him, I was accepted into Old Dominion’s Physical Therapy program. I was so excited to be pursing my dream, but that meant 3 more years of distance for us since I was moving to Norfolk, Virginia and Joseph had a job as a Registered Nurse at VCU. Maintaining a distance relationship while I was working towards my Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree was difficult but we did it, and 2.5 years later he brought me back to that beautiful spot near the lake at sunset and asked me to be his wife. It still amazes me!

After the engagement, Joseph and I took some time to just be engaged. I had originally planned to get married in 2021 just so I didn’t have to try to plan a wedding during my last year of Physical Therapy school, but I eventually decided I just couldn’t wait to marry the love of my life. The joke was on me, though, because who would have thought 2020 would hold a global pandemic that would throw all of our plans into disarray. We toured several different venues during spring break of my second year of Physical Therapy School to try to figure out where and when we wanted to get married. I had always imagined a spring wedding but May seemed too close to my graduation the next year, so we settled on June. We were planning to have our ceremony at the church where I was baptized as an infant and had been a member since childhood, and we found the perfect reception location at Meadowbrook Country Club. We were in the final stages of planning when COVID-19 hit the country hard in March 2020. My final clinical experience was cancelled, I did not know if I would graduate nor when I would be permitted to take the board exam, and we were not sure we would even be able to have a wedding at that point. We kept planning, however, keeping all of our vendors in the loop and changing the game plan as things developed. Mid May, I took and passed the National Physical Therapy Exam and contacted Teri Butler, the owner of Inspired by the Dress, to alter my dress for me as it looked like we would be able to have a 10 person wedding with a larger wedding and reception in August. We were determined to go through with the original wedding in June as Joseph’s brother had enlisted in the Navy and there was no guarantee he would be able to be present if we postponed the wedding altogether. Two weeks before our June 20th date, we were informed that Virginia was moving into Phase 2 of reopening, which allowed us to have 50 people present at our wedding. Joseph, myself, and our families completely re-planned the wedding to include our immediate family, bridal party, day-of-coordinator, photographer, videographer, and musicians, and moved the wedding from an indoor church ceremony at Chester Presbyterian Church to an outdoor wedding in The Gillette Gardens at Meadowbrook Country Club to allow for proper social distancing. We prayed that it would not rain. As this was now going to be the only wedding, there was more pressure for my dress to fit correctly, and Teri did an incredible job fitting my dress perfectly to me, and even did some last minute tailoring to my dad’s and Joseph’s suits to make them look like they stepped out of a magazine.

IBTD About Header Kaleigh and Bridesmaids

Our wedding day was gorgeous. It started with hair and makeup at my parents’ house (which had not been the original “getting ready” location, but COVID) by 2 amazing artists that I secured through Pilo Arts hair salon and the Richmond Wedding Buy and Sell Facebook Group. Due to the ever-changing plans, I had scheduled my sister and myself appointments at Pilo Arts studio in Colonial Heights with Katherine Randazzo when we were expecting to have a much smaller wedding. Tori and I donned our masks and had the pleasure of getting our hair done there. Afterwards, I rushed back home where my bridesmaids were still getting hair and makeup done, and I had my makeup done by Kaitlyn Kvasnicka with Free Spirit Makeup. It was so fun to have my girls all around me! My photographer Courtney Timms and videographer David Broughton with Dogwood Visuals came over to the house and made me feel truly special – they captured the details of our day so perfectly. Vogue flowers delivered our personal flowers (i.e. the bouquets, boutonnieres, flower girl petals, etc.) to my parents’ and then went on to Meadowbrook to create a beautiful statement on Meadowbrook’s arch that I added in last minute due to the change of plans from a church ceremony to an outdoor wedding. My day-of coordinator and friend for life, Morgan Sherrill, ensured that everything got where it needed to be and the day ran smoothly, which was so incredible. When the girls arrived at Meadowbrook, we were permitted to use their ladies’ changing room to compose ourselves and get myself back in my dress. There, my grandmother was able to help me put on the graduated pearl necklace that she had created one pearl at a time for every special holiday since I was a baby. The necklace was finished for my high school graduation, and it was always my dream to wear it on my wedding day as my something old. My something blue items were my sapphire and pearl earrings and my garter, something new was my wedding gown, and something borrowed ended up being the handkerchief I had given my mother the day of the wedding because somehow the handkerchief I had originally borrowed had been misplaced in the commotion and excitement of the day. My dress had pockets, so it was stored on hand in case I needed it.

For the ceremony, I made an effort to include all of the cousins on Joseph’s and my side of the family, whether it was reading a passage, handing out flowers and bulletins, helping to carry my veil, or acting as the flower girls and ring bearers. We also asked Joseph’s father to speak during the ceremony that was officiated by my pastor, Gordon Mapes. During the ceremony, there was a threat of rain as thunder was heard overhead, and I felt a few sprinkles of rain on my nose, but unlike most of the other important days of my life, the rain held off at Meadowbrook, and we were just able to acknowledge and appreciate God’s presence. We found out later that there had been a downpour at our dinner location at Chester Presbyterian, but the rain was over by the time we got there. After the ceremony, Courtney and David did a fantastic job to get many pictures of Joseph and me to document the day, and Courtney even followed us to Chester Presbyterian to get a picture of the bridal party on the steps of the chapel since I grew up in that church and it was important to me. My mom helped tremendously to make our day so special by recruiting and directing the groomsmen to set up and decorate tables and chairs at our church in the field under a tent so that we could have a catered dinner by Uncle Reggie’s Catering for a mini-celebration. Joseph and I ate, laughed, talked, danced, toasted, and smeared cake on each other’s faces in the presence of our closest family and friends, and it was better than I ever could have imagined.  Joseph’s family gave us a wonderful wedding night stay at the Berkley Hotel and we went on a “mini-moon” the next day to Afton Mountain where we visited the wineries and breweries in Nelly’s Ford, as our El Dorado Casitas honeymoon in Mexico was postponed to September. We planned to have a reception and celebration with the rest of our extended family and friends in August of 2020, but due to social distancing requirements and the continued presence of COVID-19, we have decided to postpone our celebration until around our first anniversary.

Despite COVID-19, our day was made so special by the incredible people in our lives that jumped through hoops for us, and our amazing vendors who were so open to our ever-changing plans. The day was not what we had originally planned, but in many ways it was so much better. Joseph and I feel so thankful and blessed to have so many people who love us so deeply in our lives, and we are excited and ready to face all of the other obstacles that will inevitably arise during our forever together.

Much love to all of the COVID-19 brides and grooms, we wish you a lifetime of happiness and love!

-Kaleigh and Joseph Spriggs

Vendors that made our day so incredibly special:

Photography: Courtney Timms Photography

Videography: Dogwood Visuals – David Broughton

Flowers: Vogue Flowers – Lauren Ross

Alterations: Inspired by the Dress – Teri Butler

Hair: Pilo Arts Studio – Katherine Randazzo, Alyssa Mertins

Makeup: Free Spirit Makeup – Kaitlyn Kvasnicka, Michal Rose Slayton

Venue: The Gillette Gardens at Meadowbrook Country Club

Day-of-Coordinator: Morgan Sherrill

Musicians: Allison Barnes and Elizabeth Marny

Food: Uncle Reggie’s Catering

Cake: Publix