The ring bearer at Bruce and Haley Sharp’s wedding was mesmerized by the bright red ring box.
Dressed in a lively bow tie and suspenders, the toddler’s cuteness filled a spot initially intended for two older nephews.
“He was not yet born when we initially planned the wedding,” said Haley Sharp.
The little ring bearer was a baby when the Sharp’s original wedding date came and went in April 2020.
“A year later he was able to do it,” Haley Sharp said of the youngest member at her wedding party.
The little boy’s walks down the aisle with his mother’s help came after a year fraught with pandemic challenges, as many weddings in the Grand Valley and across the country were postponed and rescheduled, guest lists were changed and shortened and the restrictions sailed.
In the Grand Valley, spring 2020 weddings have turned into late summer or early fall weddings for some couples as restrictions relaxed during this time.
R&R Events and Design brought together 23 weddings between July 4 and October 17, owner Tonja Kueper-Rinaldo said.
The dire outlook that accompanied the shutdown and postponements turned into a godsend later in 2020 and at this point, especially with the availability of vaccines, “we really don’t see anything going in a negative direction,” Kueper said. -Rinaldo, who began meeting and coordinating regularly with other Grand Valley wedding planners during the pandemic.
BUSY, BUT CLOSER TO NORMAL
Her wedding planning business has 27 weddings on the books for 2021, which is shaping up to be “a normal to crazy year” with multiple weddings every weekend, she said.
April Arnold, owner of April Marie Events, is even busier with more than 40 weddings scheduled for 2021. Some are postponed weddings from 2020, others were intended for this year.
“I love it,” said Arnold, pointing out that it’s a wedding planner’s job to be able to handle the chaos. “This is where we thrive.”
However, guest lists remain lower, around 80 to 90 people, instead of the previous average of 120 people. Many couples are conservative and some people still don’t feel comfortable traveling, which has helped reduce the number of wedding guests, she said.
That seems to change with larger weddings in late summer, and in the fall, things will pick up with out-of-state clients, Arnold said.
Couples who want weddings with 200 or more guests seem to wait until 2022, she said.
CLARIFY WHAT MATTERS
One of the things Arnold has noticed in all of the wedding changes and re-planning over the past year is that more couples are getting clear on what’s important to them and what’s not. ‘is not.
“They do things that are a little more personal and special to them,” said Arnold. They focus on what they want for their marriage “and don’t care who they’re going to upset”.
Arnold was the wedding planner for the Sharp’s, who had to postpone their wedding twice and send out invitations three times.
Haley and Bruce Sharp initially chose April 25, 2020 as their wedding date as the orchards would be in bloom for photos and Saturday worked with their work schedules. Haley Sharp is a medical assistant and Bruce Sharp was then a second year resident in the family medicine residency program at St. Mary’s Medical Center.
About 150 guests have been invited with family from Texas, where the Sharps are from, with more guests expected to arrive from North Dakota and Minnesota.
Haley Sharp was returning from her weekend bachelorette party in Houston in mid-March 2020 when things started to stop due to COVID-19. The following Monday, she got a call from Arnold.
The Sharps’ choices were to run away with a later reception or to postpone. They postponed, choosing a wedding date in August. It wasn’t what they wanted, but there were so many unknowns with the pandemic that they were okay with the decision, Haley Sharp said.
“When it came to postponing it the second time around, that was the hardest part,” she said. They knew they would ruin clients’ travel plans again.
However, “now was not the right time,” she said. “We had a family in the hospital with COVID. We were nervous about people traveling, especially Bruce’s grandparents, and they were determined to come anyway.
The couple chose to return to a spring wedding and this time the date stuck. The Sharps tied the knot on April 30 with a ceremony at Grand Junction Church of Christ and a reception at Orchard River View in Palisade.
“It was a great day,” said Haley Sharp.
“There were still people who didn’t come,” she says. “We still had about 80 people there. … Almost everyone has been vaccinated.
While his six bridesmaids were able to come, two of Bruce Sharp’s groomsmen were unable to.
His older brother was going to officiate the ceremony, but he and his family were unable to be there due to health issues, so a best man was pushed into the officiating role.
Two nephews who were to be wedding rings and one of the two nieces who were to be flower girls could not come either. “The youngest (Flower Girl) grew over the year, so she just took the older girl’s dress,” Haley Sharp said.
When it comes to her own dress, Haley Sharp has also noticed the difference a year can make. She tried on her wedding dress right after Christmas and “it was pretty comfortable,” she admitted. “I started to be very diligent with my exercise.”
Aside from the fact that she changed her mind about flowers a bit, much of what the Sharps originally wanted for their wedding has happened. Their honeymoon, however, had to be completely re-planned.
They had to go to a Sandals resort in St. Lucia and “I was excited about that,” Haley Sharp said. “We were refunded when we had to cancel. “
For their 2021 honeymoon in the first week of May, the Sharp’s were still able to travel to the Caribbean, but to a resort in the Dominican Republic because COVID-19 travel requirements were more manageable, said she declared.
Despite the date changes and other challenges, “everything went really well,” she said, attributing most of the adjustments to Arnold.
Haley Sharp has friends who are also moving forward with their marriages later this year – “I think they’ll be okay with the vaccinations,” she said – but also knows some who have postponed. “I think they were just nervous,” she said.
Another couple she knows decided to have a small ceremony with a big reception in a year.
“I think what stands out the most is that everyone has a lot of grace with everything,” said Kueper-Rinaldo.
This goes for venues and caterers, photographers, florists, hotels in the area and more, she said.
“A lot of companies have really taken the right precautions,” she said. Customers come to the Grande Vallée, stay in hotels, go out to dinner and play golf.
As for weddings now, “let’s go,” she said.