Austin couple gets married after making adjustments to follow coronavirus guidelines

Ben and Ashley Pedretti weren't going to let coronavirus COVID-19 restrictions keep them from walking down the aisle. It wasn't exactly the wedding they'd planned but Ashley's mom Karen May says the couple, and the family, wouldn't have changed a thing.

Karen says that initially, the wedding was to take place on March 28 in Austin, Texas. The ceremony was going to be held at the family's home parish, St. John Neumann Catholic Church, and the reception was going to be at the Pecan Pavilion at the Salt Lick.

They were planning on taking outdoor photos in the bluebonnets and around town and Karen says Ashley even had a clear raincoat prepared so that she could eat barbecue on her big day.

"We have so many tools at our disposal to help make this quarantine/shelter/shutdown time more positive."

As the wedding date got closer, it became increasingly clear that the coronavirus was going to have some kind of effect on the festivities. 

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Karen says they had to let go of things a little at a time. She says they considered that maybe older family members and out of town guests wouldn't attend. That was going to be sad, Karen says, but they'd gotten permission to livestream the ceremony so they were okay.

"Each day was filled with anxiety and tears as we watched our plans dwindle and wondered if we should even be having this wedding," Karen says. "Were we being responsible? Were we overreacting? It was agonizing."

Photo courtesy Karen May.

Karen says they finally realized, with the city shutting businesses down and limiting the number of people that could gather in a group, that it was time to let things go and she says they "were finally free to do what we could."

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So what did the couple want? Karen says they asked. What were their priorities? She says obviously they wanted to get married and didn't want to wait if they didn't have to so the date was moved up 11 days to March 17.

Ashley wanted to wear her dress, wanted a grand entrance song and wanted people to participate in some way.

Karen says the livestream helped and they asked people to dress as if they were coming to the wedding and share a toast or a piece of cake in a photo shared to the group.

Photo courtesy Karen May.

"We asked local people to come to the parking lot of the church during the ceremony. They couldn’t come in, but they could be there, and when the happy couple came out, they could honk, cheer, and flash their lights and still maintain social distancing," Karen says.

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"This wasn't the wedding day we imagined but how could we imagine anything better than this?""

— Ashley Pedretti

In her Facebook post about the wedding, Ashley says, "We had thought we’d have 200 guests at our wedding; instead, because of restrictions on large gatherings, we had 7 attendees. We had planned on all-you-can-eat barbecue, an open bar, professional flowers, a four-tier cake, and a DJ; instead, we assembled a bouquet from grocery store flowers, ate takeout Mexican food for dinner, and did our first dance in my parents’ living room."

Karen says Ashley's grand entrance was at Karen's home and that's where they danced and had cocktails for the reception. They served their Mexican takeout dinner on china and did toasts with Ben's family via Facetime since they were unable to travel from New Jersey.

They got in all the dances and sent off the newlyweds in a "flurry of ribbons" as they went on their mini-moon to the Driskill Hotel.

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Karen says they're planning on having a big event on Ben and Ashley's first anniversary but she says, "I can tell you that there is no way it will measure up to what we had."

Photo courtesy Karen May.

Experiencing happiness and joy in what is a scary and troubling time for many is exactly why Karen says they all decided to move forward with the wedding.

'We have so many tools at our disposal to make this quarantine/shelter/shutdown time more positive," Karen says. "Brainstorm, be creative, make a plan, do it."

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Karen says, "It is a blessing to know what is really important and focus on that. Then, anything in addition is a gift that we can have deep gratitude for."

Photo courtesy Karen May.

"We need community," Karen says. "This wedding was so perfect because everyone stepped up and was a part of it. The distance and technology didn't get in the way, it made it better."

"(Ashley) said that we would have known that the people coming to the wedding loved us and supported us," Karen says, "But we never would have seen it as clearly as we did on that day. It was really the most wonderful experience."

Photo courtesy Karen May.

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