The average American wedding venue costs $10,500. That’s more than the nation’s average cost of wedding rings, photographer and flowers combined.
With the shutdown of non-essential businesses — wedding venues included — BYU-Idaho’s student weddings are unlike anything before 2020’s COVID-19.
Facemasks are the new “must-have” accessory, chapels remain limited-use only, social gatherings are restricted to groups of 10 and most importantly, temples, until recently, have been closed.
Engaged BYU-I students now face the difficult decision of postponing their marriage until after the pandemic or starting the rest of their lives without the wedding of their dreams. Several couples are moving forward with the latter, leading to an increased number of courthouse marriages in the city of Rexburg.
Last month, the number of civil marriages in the county increased over 400% from last year — 43 in March 2019 compared to 189 March 2020, according to the Madison County Clerk’s Office.
Riley Murdock, a freshman studying apparel entrepreneurship had to be flexible with her wedding due to the pandemic.
When more traditional venues became unavailable, Riley and her fiancé decided to hold their wedding in her parents’ garage. Even that, however, took an unexpected turn.
“It was super windy and the wind was going straight into the garage so we decided not to do it there,” Murdock said. “We didn’t want to do it in the grass or anything because my parents just moved in and they don’t have grass. It’s an unfinished backyard.”
They decided to have the wedding on their parent’s back patio. Murdock wanted her family in attendance and the patio was an easy meeting point for everyone. The ceremony ended as a cozy, intimate event.
Even with temples beginning to reopen, dozens of students’ “happily ever afters” have adapted to COVID-19’s extenuating circumstances.
Most of these students, however, consider this a temporary diversion, something to tell their kids once they’re older.
Eric Uptain, a senior majoring in communication, got married just a few weeks ago. It was a civil marriage, which he considered a not ideal scenario. But Uptain and his wife plan on having their traditional temple wedding and reception once the quarantine is over.
“We plan on getting sealed as soon as possible, when the temple in our district is reopened for live ordinances and when all our family can be in attendance.”
The Uptains, Murdocks and other couples were married to their loved ones during this unique year.
Gone are the days of wedding venues, paid entertainment, rehearsal dinners, catering, dance playlists and classic wedding minutia, at least for now.
Who knew that garages and patios would be the next big trend in wedding venues? While these may not be ideal wedding locations, they temporarily take priority over wedding rings, photographer and flowers.