Hi, I'm Ali! Photographer, DIY beginner, dog mom, daily walker, reader and wife to a busy maker. I'm the voice you hear and read at Life Outside the Shop.

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Our COVID Wedding Story: One Month Countdown

September 5, 2020

Our Covid Wedding Story

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We’re getting married in t-minus 30 days!!! Let the countdown to our COVID wedding begin!

Our COVID Wedding Story

Shelburne Farms Engagement Shoot, 2019
Ellen Sargent

Gosh – I wish I had started Life Outside the Shop three years ago when Sam and I bought our house. What a cool way to have documented a renovation and beginning to build this life we live (although, we do have a ton of our renovation projects on Sam’s YouTube Channel!).

If I had started a bit earlier, I also could have brought you along on ALL of the crazy adventures that wedding planning – let alone wedding planning during a pandemic – has brought.

But, we’re gonna have to play a little catch up…

A Little Pre-COVOID Wedding Catch-Up

When Sam and I decided to get married, we had a whole list of places we wanted to check out. The winner was a venue that wasn’t even built yet when we signed the contract.

Friends of ours were planning on building an event barn in Sam’s home town and after seeing and hearing more about their plans, it was a no brainer.

We loved the area and knew they would pour their hearts and souls into making the venue absolutely stunning. One of the coolest parts of our wedding planning experience was watching Maquam Barn and Winery come to life!

Want to Follow Along?

Maquam Barn & Winery – Milton, Vermont
March 2019

From April to October of 2019, things started moving really quickly and the next time we had a chance to visit, the beams were up and they were getting ready for walls.

April, 2019

Before we knew it, the walls were up, the sides were painted and we were just waiting for them to finish up the cupola and plop it on top. We started to get a great feel for what the barn was going to look like on our big day.

We still had NO clue that we would be throwing a COVID wedding and that a pandemic would hit.

And, we are beyond grateful that we are still getting married in the place we originally envisioned. This was a non-negotiable for me (as long as it worked for our friends who own the venue!) as we started to figure out what our big day was going to look like.

September, 2019

October 2019

We spent the end of 2019 enjoying the holidays, finalizing vendors, celebrating our one-year engageversary and making BIG plans for 2020.

ENGAGEMENT DAY!
Christmas, 2018

Our COVID Wedding Became #REAL

The beginning of 2020 hit and we began navigating the ever-changing landscape of a COVID wedding.

With 240 save-the-dates written and ready to go the week before quarantine started, our timing – all things considered – couldn’t have been better. We held onto our invites while monitoring state rules, regulations, and suggestions.

We decided that 2020 would be our wedding year no matter what it looked like. We’ve been engaged for over a year and a half, together for more than seven and we already own a house together. We’re ready to “start our life”. A few people at a courthouse? Back to normal? We didn’t know what to expect but we knew we were ready!

If you know anything about me you know that I am a wishful thinker. I held out hope that we’d be able to pull SOMETHING off at the beautiful barn.

May, 2020

In July 2020, Vermont cleared wedding venues for 75 people inside or 150 outside. We were PUMPED and decided to move forward from here.

But, after planning and monitoring, we ultimately decided that even 75 people – with the number of guests traveling from out of state – felt like too much stress and risk.

After many hard conversations, plenty of tears an a few come-to-Jesus talks with important people in our lives, we decided to cut it back even further.

I’ve always been a big believer in controlling what you can – and this was something we could control.

So, Where are we Now?

A lot has changed in our 1.5+ year engagement. We finished renovating a house, Sam started a business and I continued building my career and found a passion for blogging/website design.

We’ve traveled, adventured, built strong friendships, continued getting to know each other in new ways and so much more.

And, we’ve gone through some not-so-amazing things. We’re always balancing the stress of becoming “real humans” (I sometimes forget that I’m a real live adult), paying a mortgage, buying necessities, and saving money, while still leaving room for having some fun.

We loved and lost our pup, Lincon, navigated a world-wide pandemic, and – because of that pandemic – we planned a 240 person wedding that won’t come to pass quite the way we thought it would.

It may look vastly different than our expectations when we began planning in early 2019. But, we’re doing the best we can to focus on the thing that really matters. We will be husband and wife by the end of the day on October 3rd.

I KNOW, I KNOW. It sounds cheesy but here is the truth:

Pre-COVID I said, “all that matters is that we’re married by the end of the day”. But to be honest, I only like…96% meant it. The other 4% of me was like… “and it would also be great if everything else went perfectly”.

WELL LET ME TELL YOU – if planning a COVID wedding has taught me anything it is that I am now 110% serious when I say “all that matters is that we’re married by the end of the day”.

Maquam Barn & Winery – Milton, Vermont

But here is the weird thing with that mindset that I didn’t see coming. It is really easy to let this swing too far in the opposite direction. I’d start planning for a sign to make, a gift to get, or small detail to bring to life and catch myself thinking “is it even worth it at this point?”

I am so grateful for the friends and family who constantly remind me, “YES! It is still your wedding and you should still make it as close to what you imagined as you can!” and who have offered to help along the way.

Speaking of wedding projects…

COVID Wedding Projects

So much to do, so little time! Well – actually – Sam’s “to-do” list got shorter as the guest list got shorter.

I had tons of fun lawn game ideas (read: a longgggg lawn game build list!) that we’re now going to pick and choose from. And, I still have some DIY pallet signs and wood projects I want to create like…

  • A welcome sign
  • A sign for our dessert table
  • A bar sign
  • A live edge wood “guest book”

(Videos and tutorials to come!)

Our plan for the next few weekends is to break down more pallets for our projects. With how much Sam has going on in the shop, he’ll put me to work making it happen. Then, we’ll get ’em glued together and ready to go for some lettering. This is something I COULD do but have a friend who could do it MUCH better. So, I’m outsourcing that one to keep things as stress-free as possible here.

Sam and his dad are also finishing up a Wedding Keezer, and he is hard at work creating some pretty awesome gifts for his groomsmen. (Don’t worry, I don’t think I’m ruining any surprises here… I’d be shocked if they read this.)

So, besides our building to-do list and the last second craziness that comes along with organizing vendors and day-of activities, we’re just taking it one day at a time.

We can’t wait to continue keeping you in the loop with our wedding projects. We’re also going to share a huge low-down after we’re hitched!

Thank you for following along <3

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  1. Laura B. says:

    So exciting Ali! I’m sure it is going to be the most magical day. Can’t wait to see your updates after the big day! Congratulations to both you and Sam!

  2. I am so happy for you all. No matter how big or small, during a pandemic or not, this wedding will be YOUR DAY. The creativity and love you share will make YOUR DAY just as your life together already shows, filled with SO MUCH LOVE AND JOY. I can’t wait to see photos. You are all so beautiful and ‘real’. Much love your way, Carol ( Blattspieler)

    • Ali says:

      Thank you so much, Carol! We’re definitely reminding ourselves of what is most important and we are so, so excited! Doing my best to stay as real, and honest as possible. Hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy!!

  3. Amy says:

    After also navigating COVID wedding planning, I love reading your perspective and also share a similar shift in prioritizing. PS love the new blog!

    • Ali says:

      Ah, THANK YOU AMY!! We COVID brides definitely have to stick together. Sending so much love your way. Thank you so much for following along:)

  4. Kathleen Carey says:

    You two have navigated this with so much poise and joy. Love love love you so much. 10/3/20 is going to be spectacular 🎉❤️🥰

  5. Bridget Austin says:

    Amaaaaaazing Ali and Sam !!
    I’ve been following your insta posts. You are Soooo Very inspirational and wise beyond your years my dear !
    We will all be with you two in spirit and hopefully on zoom ??
    And when we can all get together again (hopefully thanksgiving 2021 If not earlier???) Perhaps you and Sam can renew your vows so we can all cheer and throw rice at you in person !!!
    Lots of love and hugs and best warmest wishes ! Oh – and if you recall – Raj and I had three weddings !! So why stop at one !! Hahaha !!! Xoxoxoxo Bridget

    • Ali says:

      Hi Bridget!! Love you so much. After years of watching our big family weddings, coming to terms with the fact that mine will have to look a bit different was/continues to be super tough but we’re also just so grateful for the love, support and understanding we’re getting from everyone. We’re nailing down a plan for streaming the service this weekend/early next week and will DEFINITELY keep you in the loop. We’ve also been talking about the vow renewal idea for next year and a big celebration. Why not keep it goin’, you know? We were actually thinking of you and Raj <3 Love you tons!! Give everyone hugs and kisses for us!

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