After their wedding plans were altered not once, but twice, by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a Surrey couple decided the best solution was to keep it simple, so they decided to get married at home.
Or close to home, at least.
Last weekend, Suzanne Schmidt and Andrew Sturgess tied the knot in South Surrey’s Bakerview Park, with no guests present aside from their two daughters – Zoey, 6 and Tessa, 2 – an officiant, a photographer and, Schmidt noted, “some neighbours we have become close with” watching from their own windows and patios.
“We decided on Bakerview Park because it is actually our backyard,” Schmidt explained.
“Our condo backs right into the park and we live on the ground floor. It meant that although much of our family and friends couldn’t be present, our neighbours who we have become close with over the pandemic could join in our celebration from their balconies.”
Originally, they planned to get married in New Zealand – where Sturgess is from, and where the pair met nine years ago – in front of 90 friends and family members. However, when COVID-19 restrictions limited travel and gatherings they adjusted on the fly and decided on a local wedding, in South Surrey’s Redwood Park, which was to be attended by 14 physically-distanced guests.
But plans changed again when the newest set of public-health measures was announced, as the province – the Fraser Health region in particular – fights through a second wave of the virus that has seen positive test numbers skyrocket in recent weeks.
“Out of respect, we decided to just elope in our backyard,” Schmidt said, noting that the scaled-down event meant that her brother and his fiancee, who is a nurse, stayed home in Nelson.
Schmidt noted that the smaller ceremony meant a lot her because it was something she and her new husband were able to share with their daughters.
“We’ve had a few bumps along the road, and having kids first wasn’t the plan, but we were so thrilled to get married with our girls present, when our family felt complete,” she said.
“It meant that much more to have them there.”
And while a raucous celebratory reception may not have followed the Bakerview Park wedding, a celebration of the nuptials did take place on the other side of the world, as family in Auckland held a reception in their honour, and connected with the couple virtually.
“Their level of lockdown is much more relaxed and they are still able to gather. It wasn’t like being there in person, but it was so wonderful to still see our family in Auckland,” Schmidt said.
Despite the logistical hurdles they had to overcome en route to finally saying “I do,” in the middle of a pandemic, Schmidt said their wedding was “proof that good things still happen during bad times.”