New Hampshire natives Ali Donnermeyer and Adam Whitman had an adventurous wedding-planning experience for their August 2020 nuptials — and that was before Ali’s mother was hospitalized with COVID-19.
Living in Colorado, they wanted their community of international friends and family to understand that New Hampshire wasn’t all woods and moose; they wanted their guests to experience the beauty of the Seacoast where they had grown up boating and beaching along New Hampshire’s 18-mile coastline. After a rigorous search, the perfect wedding venue finally turned up — a picturesque location overlooking a sailboat-dotted marina on the Atlantic Ocean.
In September of 2019, five months after they secured the booking, the venue called to cancel; mistaken double bookings. The venue offered an alternative date, but the other already contracted and hard-to-land vendors were booked for the remainder of the 2020 summer. So, pivoting (possibly the most overused word of 2020), the mother of the bride hurriedly found a solution — a friend’s private property, also overlooking the sea. Wedding planning continued happily.
Then, 2020 happened. By late March, a 220-person wedding was questionable. Hunkering down in quarantine in Denver, they decided not to make any rash decisions but to wait and see how things panned out.
On April 3rd, Ali’s mom tested positive for Covid 19 and after attempting to tough it out at home, she was finally admitted to the hospital and the ICU soon thereafter. Wedding plans now seemed insignificant. Ali and Adam made the tough and daunting decision to fly from Colorado back to New Hampshire with their new pandemic puppy “Covey,” to be with the bride’s father, should the worst occur.
They awaited word nervously at home, waiting for Ali’s mom to show signs of improvement. Some 18 days later, on oxygen, having lost 23 pounds off her normally fit frame, the bride’s mom was discharged from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
At this point, a wedding event was the last thing they cared about. What mattered was having their immediately families present to witness their marriage.
Pivoting again, Ali searched Airbnb and found a charming seaside home on the Maine coast, right over the NH/ME state line, and booked it for their original wedding date.
A week before the event, it was decided it was too risky for the officiant, Adam’s beloved Aunt, to travel, considering her high-risk nature as a cancer survivor. Another pivot and Adam became a techno genius, figuring out the logistics of a video-ceremony where she was still able to marry them under a chuppah. Though, they soon learned it would not be legal without an on-premises officiant. Pivot, and Ali’s Jewish brother registered online to be ordained as a minister just a few days before the wedding. On August 22, after 13 “negative” rapid COVID-19 tests, 11 people including immediately family and 4 close friends, attended a beautiful ceremony complete with a 50 ft ethernet cable, a large monitor, loving and heart-felt vows, and a radiant couple.