They could not believe months of meticulous planning had come to this.
Neither could their families and friends.
Then again, neither could the many other couples like them, they were sure. Couples who grappled with the same difficult realization when the novel coronavirus pandemic took hold in the United States: Their wedding plans would have to change.
Shelby County native Carlie Moore and her fiancé, Hunter, are reluctant members of this group, not as much by choice as sheer necessity in light of the rapid spread and growing threat of COVID-19. In the parade of large and small decisions preceding a wedding, they never imagined they would need to decide whether to postpone their celebration. But as the virus picked up steam here in early March, that’s exactly what happened.
As they shifted their focus to new plans, Carlie opened up about her experiences with wedding planning round two in the days of COVID-19—and, more importantly, the love story that gave greater purpose to the moments of disappointment she and Hunter faced.
AT THE START
Carlie first saw Hunter from across the room in one of their nursing school classes at Southern Union State Community College. “I thought he was cute,” she says. But that was as far as it went until, in their final semester of nursing school, several of Carlie’s and Hunter’s friends took it upon themselves to orchestrate an outing so they could officially meet each other. They started dating shortly before nursing school graduation, after which Carlie moved back to the Birmingham area. Hunter moved here in January 2016, but despite geography being on their side again, the couple broke up and stayed apart for more than a year. “It probably was good for both of us to do our own thing,” Carlie says. “After that I randomly reached out to him and asked him to go to lunch.” That lunch led to another lunch, and then another, until Carlie and Hunter were asking themselves—and each other—why they weren’t together. They fixed that in August 2017 and became a couple again. Two years later, on a hot September morning, Hunter pulled an engagement ring out of a backpack and proposed to Carlie during a rock climbing outing at Cherokee Rock Village. “It was the best day,” she says.
Carlie jumped into wedding planning immediately, firming up the big details like venue and photographer first, and then gradually checking off the smaller ones. She and Hunter set their wedding date for April 11, 2020. A spring wedding sounded lovely.
AT A CROSSROADS
As February faded into March and Carlie worked on her final wedding checklist, she started hearing more about the novel coronavirus at work. As a nurse in Grandview Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit, Carlie and her coworkers were receiving updates about COVID-19 daily. When she learned that travel restrictions were being put in place, her mind went straight to hers and Hunter’s honeymoon plans in Hawaii. “My first thought was our honeymoon might get canceled,” she says, “but it had never crossed my mind that the wedding might have to be postponed.”
When Carlie heard about another couple’s wedding being postponed, panic overcame her. “It was like a whirlwind,” she recalls. “All of a sudden, Hunter and I were having to make that decision. It just all happened so suddenly.”
After talking to their parents and weighing their options, Carlie and Hunter came up with alternate plans in a roughly 48-hour timeframe. They opted to reschedule the full ceremony and reception with guests for October 3, but to still have a small ceremony with only immediate family members at a friend’s lake house on April 11. Carlie’s grandfather was set to officiate the intimate lakeside ceremony.
Several of the vendors the couple had originally booked were unavailable for October 3, and they were worried about guests having the same issue. But Carlie says most people have eagerly accepted the new date.
Her wedding dress presented another dilemma for her. “That was also something I was having a hard time dealing with. Was I going to have that walking-down-the-aisle moment? Other than marrying Hunter, I was most excited about wearing the dress.”
She decided to wear a different dress for the April 11 ceremony and save her real dress for October 3, when she can have her grand moment, complete with a first look before the ceremony. “Hopefully, it will feel like the wedding day I still always wanted, but we’ll already be married,” Carlie says. “And we won’t have such high expectations because we didn’t worry about all the details. I’m trying to stay positive.”
Carlie and Hunter are in the process of renovating a house they bought in Chelsea about six months ago. Outside of wedding plans and work, the house has absorbed much of their spare time, and Hunter has done the majority of the labor himself.
The house sits on three-and-a-half-acres of land, which they want to fill with goats, chickens and other animals they might acquire. “That’s our goal,” Carlie says. “I feel like we’re in the home stretch. We’re finishing painting and about to lay down new floors.”
Although they had to cancel their honeymoon trip to Hawaii, they plan to reschedule it for later this year or sometime next year, maybe as a one-year anniversary trip. Regardless, Carlie says she and Hunter are looking forward to taking a breather from what’s been a stressful few months and enjoy being married to each other. “At the end of this, it’s all going to come out better,” she says. “God has a bigger plan. We’re just trying to make the best of it.”