From Berkshire foliage to botanical gardens to sunny California beaches to wine country, several locations came to Jasmine Chee's mind as she was planning her wedding to Alejandro Colon in the midst of a global pandemic. Yet, when asked if she wishes things went differently? She says she wouldn't have changed a thing.
I had a chance to sit down (virtually, of course) with Jasmine to dish all the deets of her October elopement. This is her story. Buckle up.
The Original Plan
Before the effects of COVID-19 swept across the nation in Spring 2020, all was well for Jasmine and her fiance Alejandro residing in Huntington Beach, CA with their pup, Brock. The planning for her upcoming fall wedding with 175 guests in the Berkshires on her mother's property was complete, and she was counting down the days to her Bachelorette Party in New Orleans the first weekend in June.
Then, the world turned upside down as she knew it.
Come June - nearly 3 months out from their September 20th date - Jasmine was still holding out hope for her dream wedding. Invitations were sent and she had just purchased her centerpiece decor when the inevitable happened:
Caterer drops out.
Bartender drops out.
With vendor cancellations and increasing anxiety of the virus, the time had come. "If we do this and someone gets sick, it will be our fault," she recalls telling her fiance. By the end of June, Jasmine and Alejandro officially decided to cancel their wedding and elope. But wait - the story doesn't end there.
If you talk to any #coronabride - myself included - they'll likely tell you that making the final decision to downsize, postpone or cancel their wedding is the hardest, yet liberating decision. Jasmine wishes she could've said the same; the moment an elopement was decided, things only got tougher.
Being the type-A planner everyone wishes they were, Jasmine sought out Sonoma, CA for their elopement, which would easily transition into a beautiful honeymoon in wine country.
Enter the largest wildfire season in California's modern history.
Jasmine and Alejandro were set to pay for a beautiful Sonoma AirBnB when the news broke. "I went from checking covid travel restrictions and case rates to fire containment percentages," she said.
I'm sure most of you reading this right now are probably thinking, "So, why not just go to the courthouse?" Well, because courthouses weren't performing marriage ceremonies as a result of the virus, and that's where ideas like a pop-up ceremony in a botanical garden or Laguna Beach came to Jasmine's mind throughout sleepless nights.
Luckily, most of the fires in Sonoma had been contained by the end of September, and it was looking like an elopement on their dating anniversary of October 20th was going to happen.
After getting up at 2:00 a.m. on October 19 for what Jasmine describes as a very chaotic 7-hour drive with Brock and their new frenchie, Bennie, in tow to obtain their marriage license (arriving just in time for their appointment after missing the exit), she and Alejandro finally arrived in Sonoma.
The next morning, all of the stress and anxiety they both endured since March, disappeared. And at 4:00 p.m. that afternoon, Jasmine Chee and Alejandro Colon were married.
Alongside their puppy of honor, Bennie, and best dog, Brock.
Virtually in front of their family and friends.
Escaping to a nearby vineyard 8 minutes before closing, opening the grounds all to themselves for portraits.
Returning back to the AirBnB for their first meal as husband and wife.
When I asked Jasmine about the benefits of eloping (beyond the fact that it ended up rainy and cold on her original September date) she said she felt less nerves than she probably would have felt for her larger wedding plans.
As for her biggest advice for brides navigating wedding planning during the pandemic? She advises to take a deep breath and remember that your wedding day is about you and your future spouse. "If you're unable to do the big wedding of your dreams, your day will be just as - if not more - authentic in the end," she said.
Because no matter where you are or who you are with, you will be marrying the love of your life on your wedding day, and no virus or wildfire can ruin that. Just ask Jasmine.
Jasmine & Alejandro's amazing team of vendors:
Dress and Veil: Vows Bridal
Dress Designer: Wtoo by Watters
Flowers: Sonoma Flowers by Susan Blue
Photographer: Meg Cooper Photography (megcooperphoto.com)
Caterer: Brass Spatula