Any wedding requires extensive planning, to-do lists, and, yes, even occasional stress.
But for Ashley and Ryan, a global pandemic caused by the broad emergence of the novel coronavirus in the United States in late February upended just about everything they had planned for their big wedding day.
As the cities, state, countries and the whole world locked down, airlines canceled flights and venues shuttered, would they even get to be married?
It turns out, yes. Just with far fewer people.
Anya freelances as a writer regularly for Denver Catholic, the Catholic newspaper for the Archdiocese of Denver. In March, her editor asked her to write about Ashley and Ryan’s ordeal ahead of their April 17 wedding. She spoke to the couple over several calls about how much their plans had changed.
“It’s been day-by-day,” Ashley said. “Two weeks ago everything was in order. Then one day, one thing fell through, then the next day, another thing fell through. Even the last 24 hours have changed a lot. Every single piece is now different.”
Then, a few days before the event — one more request. Would we be able to photograph their Catholic wedding in Denver at Our Lady of Lourdes Church?
Of course, we said.
Ryan and Ashley were both gracious, easy-going and filled with plenty of laughter and joy as they committed themselves before God, the Church and a handful of family members to be with one another for the rest of their lives.
“You just remind yourself what the important thing is,” Ryan said. “We need a priest, a witness and the two of us to show up at the same time. It’s just detachment from the worldly things.”
Even with shutdowns, Ryan’s parents — who don’t live in Colorado — were able to fly in.
Donning masks, we photographed them as Fr. Scott Bailey, a priest and personal friend, celebrated the nuptial Mass and married them. Because of the social distancing and shuttered parks, we mostly stayed inside, but grabbed a few shots outside in the Grotto and courtyard afterward. Denver Post photographer AAron Ontiveroz joined us to photograph the wedding and produced a photo essay for the paper.
Afterward, there was one final surprise.
Ashley and Ryan’s friends, who had planned to be there in-person, instead drove their to the church and lined along a side alley to surprise them after we finished some post-wedding bride-and-groom photos.
As they emerged from around the corner, cheers and cowbells rang out.
The sun shone brightly overhead, and they slowly walked the line of cars, smiling broadly and waving to their friends. Then, they entered their waiting car, which had “Just Married” scrawled on the back in marker, and drove off.
They’re planning a reception for a later date.