A quarantine wedding
Laura Beth and Jared Kirkpatrick’s wedding plans face COVID-19 roadblocks
When Laura Beth and Jared Kirkpatrick married this past summer, their wedding plans had been foiled more than once because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainties many faced in 2020. Originally planned for June 7 at The Witt House in Priceville, the Kirkpatrick wedding ended up happening in two phases: one very private vow ceremony at a friend’s farm in Hartselle and then at Trinity Baptist Church, where the couple met in 2012.
“In May, actually one month to the day before our June 7 wedding, Jared and I sat down and decided to cancel the venue and plan something we knew for a fact could happen like we planned,” Laura Beth said. “I’m a go–with–the-flow type of person, but this was my wedding day – the day I had been thinking about my whole life.”
After they canceled their dream venue, Laura Beth said she cried some initial tears, but soon after, she felt at peace and in control for the first time in weeks. “Honestly, I think it was just the peace of God that allowed me to cancel,” she said. “We wanted to know for sure that the people we wanted to invite would be able to come and the cake we wanted to order would be for the right number of people and not 200. I felt a lot of peace.”
That peace lasted about a month, Laura Beth said, and then the next roadblock hit.
“I had come to terms that I wasn’t going to have my dream wedding at The Witt House, but at least everyone we wanted to be there would be able to be there,” she said. “We planned it, it was perfect, I was in love with it – and then the Monday before we were supposed to get married, my dad got sick.”
It took nearly a week to get the test results back, but with the booked honeymoon on the horizon, decisions had to be made – and they had to be made quickly. “It was after my mom asked me about who I would want to walk me down the aisle if my dad wasn’t able to that Jared started thinking about a backup plan.” Laura Beth said she was set on her dad walking her down the aisle. “No one else was good enough,” she said. “I just broke down.”
“Jared went to my mom while I was on the phone with a bridesmaid and said, ‘I have this idea, and it’s different and the absolute opposite total of what we’ve been saying we wanted to do this whole time, but I think it’s the only solution,’” she said. “His idea was to do the vow ceremony – not wear the suit, not wear the dress, not do anything of the wedding that we had paid for and just do the vow ceremony – so that we could get married and go on our honeymoon, and when my dad was well and when we had a grasp on things, we could have the big wedding.”
Laura Beth said a light bulb went off when she heard the plan, and it all made sense. “I knew then that we had to get married that way. There was really no other option,” she said.
“My grandmother, who is probably the godliest woman in my life, later told me that since my dad got sick, she had been praying that God would use someone to show us wisdom,” she said. “I love that God used Jared in that moment to be that voice of wisdom when we needed it most.”
Because the weeks leading up to the wedding had been such an emotional rollercoaster, Laura Beth and Jared opted to marry on the evening before their original wedding date, with just the preacher, Laura Beth’s grandfather A.G. Stepp, their photographer and their parents in attendance.
“It was such an emotional thing; we didn’t want to wait until the day we had originally planned,” Laura Beth said.
As for Laura Beth’s father, who shortly recovered from double pneumonia, he was able to walk his daughter down the aisle to marry Jared. “He was able to come. He wore his mask.”
“Thinking about the whole thing, I don’t think we were ever supposed to get married June 7 at The Witt House,” Laura Beth said. “God knew all along what was going to happen and that we needed those roadblocks. If we had gotten all the way to June 5 and had the original plan with a cake and a caterer, it would have been a disaster.”
Laura Beth said she wouldn’t have it any other way now. “I recommend getting married twice because the second one is so chill – no nerves at all,” she said with a laugh.
The two married for the second time a month later at Trinity Baptist Church, and Laura Beth said it was as COVID-free as they could make it. “We kept the second wedding as untouched by Covid as possible because our first was so driven by it,” she said.
Laura Beth said she thinks her dad was hit the hardest with emotion at her first wedding because of the guilt he felt, and now she’s thankful for how everything turned out despite the chaos of it all. “It was never his fault, and it was totally out of his control,” she said. “In the end, it was so much more beautiful than I thought it could be. The whole thing really just made us focus on what was really important to us. I’ve always been one who believed that the marriage is more important than the wedding, but our situation turned our attention to that even more.”