Drive Through “I Do”: COVID-19 Wedding

Max and Cara wanted to get married at the end of May. And they did it, surrounded by friends and family and a global pandemic. Here’s how they had a wedding during COVID-19 with style, humor, and adhering to safety guidelines.

Maxwell Groene and Cara Evans were planning a beautiful wedding on an estate outside Boston when COVID-19 changed everything. As stay-at-home orders began in March in response to the coronavirus, Max, an Army Chaplain, and Cara, a social worker, faced difficult decisions about wedding planning and their big day.

The couple immediately agreed. “We knew we wanted to still get married the last weekend in May, ” said Cara. “We knew we did not want to postpone it.”

Cara and Max

Moving Forward With a COVID-19 Wedding

While many couples in this position have chosen to reschedule their wedding plans, Cara and Max felt a postponement held no guarantees. With social distancing guidelines in place for the near future, they did not want to put their lives on hold any longer.

Since they knew they wanted to move ahead and get married, they had to decide how to do it, and cancel with their vendors.

Naming Grief With a COVID-19 Wedding

“We are so grateful we were able to get our deposits back from our wedding vendors, ” said Cara. “But we’ve had to be honest about the grief along the way. This is not how we envisioned our wedding. We were excited about our original wedding venue. So many of our mutual friends and members of our bridal party will not be attending now. That’s sad. But this is not the only hard thing we will face in our marriage. It’s just the first. And we’ve grown together.”

The couple decided to move the original wedding date back one day, to Saturday, May 30th. They had chosen Friday, May 29th, based on their venue, and with their new plan, Saturday was just as open.

Doing a Drive-Thru “I Do”

Max’s mother first had the idea for a Drive-Thru Wedding Reception. “This was back in March, ” Max explained. “Drive-through birthday parties and graduations hadn’t been a thing yet.

He told WY Daily, “But really when my mom said it, it was like this bizarre idea where she was like, ‘What if we have people drive through a reception in their car?’ I was like, ‘You’re crazy!'”

But if it was crazy, it was also super smart. A Drive-Thru Reception allowed for a small wedding ceremony with social distancing. But afterward, a large group of people could greet the bride and groom, celebrate with music and noisemakers, and even drive off with a cupcake and mini-bottle of champagne.

Guests Ready to Celebrate During COVID-19

The wedding invitation displayed a car and named the event the “Drive-Thru I Do”. Guests were asked to decorate their cars and dress in “party clothes.” And the guests were thrilled.

Max grew up in Williamsburg and currently works as the College Associate at the Williamsburg Community Chapel while stationed at Fort Story as an Army Chaplain. After 12 weeks of canceled events and disconnection, people were delighted to see Max and his bride face-to-face (and go somewhere and celebrate.)

COVID-19 Drive Through Wedding Day

Max and Cara’s wedding ceremony took place in the backyard of a friend’s house overlooking the James River in the early evening. Their parents, siblings, and the officiant attended. The rain poured down as Cara walked towards her groom. But the newlyweds remained joyful.

After the ceremony, they raced over to Kingsmill Plantation, a historic site in the Kingsmill on the James neighborhood. Guests lined up in cars from 7-8 pm to circle through and greet the new married couple.

Car Guests at Drive-Thru “I Do”

At the first stop of the “Drive-Thru,” attendants handed wedding guests a wand with streamers to wave. Then guests drove up and greeted the parents of the bride and groom. Next stop guests met the newlyweds, under a trellis, with Max’s sisters nearby playing music and dancing.

At the final stop of the “Drive-Thru” guests received cupcakes from a local bakery, Extraordinary Cupcakes, and mini bottles of champagne.

Guests rode in the beds of trucks with balloons. Or some decorated cars with streamers or twinkle lights. Max’s aunt and uncle even draped their car in a poignant message: “I Corona 13: Love never fails.”

COVID-19 Challenges and Celebrations

Max and Cara begin their adventure as husband and wife in the midst of a pandemic, after weathering a storm of disappointment and re-thought wedding plans. But they still smiled, laughed a lot, and knew that their love and commitment were the important things.

And to all who “drove thru,” we were struck by the sweetness of it all.

After weeks of virtual events, we got out and got together! Yes, we were together differently than before the coronavirus, but we still had the joy of the shared experience.  We shouted and danced and ate cake and took pictures!

With Cara and Max, we remembered that celebrating is woven into us as humans and communities. These beautiful people taught us that when life disappoints, sometimes the answer is not to reschedule but to re-imagine. And get the party, and life together, started.

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