click to enlarge Hannah and Austin Mudd were wed under an arbor that Austin made. Hannah’s brother, Mitch Koehler, served as the officiant - .  PHOTO BY JILL GUM PHOTOGRAPHY
Hannah and Austin Mudd were wed under an arbor that Austin made. Hannah’s brother, Mitch Koehler, served as the officiant
For some couples, the second you get engaged, it seems as though people immediately begin asking about your plans for the Big Day. Personally, I remember feeling as though I had zero clue as to how to plan such a special and important party, and there isn't necessarily a guidebook on creating the experience that will be most meaningful to you as a couple. Nowadays, with pandemic concerns, wedding planning has the potential to feel even more uncertain and confusing. 

That said, may I present a more optimistic perspective? I spoke with a few Springfield-area couples about what planning and throwing a wedding in the midst of a pandemic was really like. These encouraging couples were able to focus on what really mattered to them in order to shape memorable and festive celebrations. Read on to find out more about these couples' hiccups and triumphs in designing their special days.

Dr. Katie Booth (formerly Buskirk) of Springfield and her husband, Jesse Booth of Dawson, were wed in June of 2021. The couple married on the Booth family farm with just 25 guests in attendance. Planning for a small ceremony on a private property allowed the Booths to avoid any changes due to COVID, and they encourage other couples considering a smaller wedding to follow their instincts.

Says Jesse Booth, "Don't be afraid to have a small, intimate wedding or reception. In these uncertain times, smaller events minimize the stress leading up to the big day. It is OK to pass on luxuries to preserve your bank account and sanity."

One priceless addition that the Booths included in their wedding was a homemade wedding arch. Several of their friends and family have since used the arch, and the couple plans on installing a swing inside the arch for their family to enjoy at their forever home.

Matthew and Kylie Gaitros married with just their minister and parents in attendance in November 2020. The ceremony was quick, and the couple didn't have the traditional tuxedo and gown. While glad to be married, they were left craving a celebration with friends and family, so they planned a larger event for February 2021. When their February reception needed to be rescheduled, they looked to April, and then finally to September.

Kelly Gaitros says that the experience was "stressful," and that it was hard not to take all of the postponements and changes to heart, but at the end of the day, "Having one another made up for it all." Ultimately, the Gaitroses had their perfect day with 75 guests in attendance at the Decatur Conference Center and Hotel on Sept. 18, 2021. Kelly was finally able to wear her wedding gown, and recalls Matthew seeing her at the end of the aisle as a moment that they'll both remember forever.

Hannah Koehler married Austin Mudd in October of 2020 in her parents' backyard in Springfield. Once they decided on a backyard wedding, the other details came together quickly. The couple rented a tent, borrowed a pop-up bar from a friend, asked another friend to DJ and had food catered from The Grainery in Pleasant Plains, a Koehler family favorite.

Austin built the couple an arbor to stand under during the ceremony, and Hannah's brother, Mitch Koehler, got ordained online so that he could act as their officiant. Hannah and her mother put together all of the table decor, and Hannah made her own bouquet to carry down the aisle. All of these sentimental and unique details added up to a one-of-a-kind wedding for the Mudds.

Says Hannah, "Remember, you are planning for a marriage that lasts forever, not a wedding that lasts 12 hours. It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of wedding planning, but the true meaning of the day is marrying your best friend."

Her other piece of advice for planning a wedding during these uncertain times is to be flexible. "Venues and vendors are booking months in advance. If you aren't wanting to wait to marry your person, like we weren't, keep looking for options. There are plenty of local vendors and venues in our area."

With those encouraging words and beautiful ceremonies in mind, we wish area couples every luck in planning their own unique, meaningful weddings.

Pamela Savage is a freelance writer in Springfield. She last planned a wedding over 12 years ago and greatly enjoyed accompanying these lovely couples along memory lane.

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