Anneke and Toni prove that sometimes all you need is the love between you. They had wedding plans set, a beachside wedding in May with 130 guests. However, their plans were interrupted by the global pandemic. Instead, they married in an intimate beachside picnic wedding with a handful of socially distant loved ones.
Anneke proposed to me in a simple and sweet moment at home. She turned the record player on to Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway album and asked me to dance. This was not an abnormal thing to do in our house, but we were supposed to be heading out the door, so I agreed but was a bit antsy to get going. After a spin, I turned to find Anneke holding out my grandmother’s original engagement ring. I was so surprised. I simply kept repeating, “What? How? When?” eventually followed by a “Yes!!”
We were engaged for a year and a half before we got married.
Your wedding plans were abruptly interrupted because of COVID-19. Talk through that experience.
Once we started to plan the wedding a couple of months after getting engaged, it all came together fairly easily. We only toured one venue, we picked a fantastic cake after one tasting, and designed and printed our own invitation postcards. We also grabbed a great day – May 9, perfect time of year for a beach-side wedding in the Pacific Northwest!
Maybe it was all too simple?
We officially canceled our 130-person May wedding during the last week of March due to the COVID-19 outbreak spreading quickly throughout our community. With bans on gatherings beginning and so many family members planning to travel from out of town, we knew the wedding we had planned just would not be possible. We were incredibly sad, but confident in our decision to cancel.
We did not postpone because we already knew then that rescheduling was going to have a lot of unknowns. So, we would elope or have some sort of mini—ceremony.
Ironically, May 9 happened to be the warmest day we had had since September!
Several weeks later, as our state moved out of our Stay Home order, we decided we did not want to wait any longer. We planned our mini-ceremony in one evening except for the exact date and location. We let the weather guide our date for the week we planned for our ceremony. Luckily, we have incredible friends that were ready to show up whenever we asked!
And, was the wedding day everything that you would have hoped it would be, despite it looking different?
On the day we both did our own hair and makeup at home. We then went to the beach with the cake, our dresses, and the other things we had to set up. The parking lot was closed, so Toni bravely carried the cake about half a mile.
After we set up blankets for our guests in a socially-distant semicircle and got the cake situated, we went to put on our dresses. We found some privacy between a couple of trees nearby and got into our dresses and out of the clothes we were wearing. We didn’t realize until that
night that we never saw ourselves in our dresses because we didn’t have a mirror.
We took pictures together for about 45 minutes while our 12 guests were arriving. Once everyone was there, we walked up, together, to the top of the semicircle in the sand. Toni’s Dad led the ceremony.
He started with a moment of silence for loss in the pandemic and acknowledged our roles in fighting for racial justice. He read messages from our brothers (who were originally going to co-officiate our wedding) and married us. There were tears, giggles, claps, and a first kiss as wife and wife! We then drank champagne, ate cake, and laughed while our friends and family shared their favorite stories of the newly married!
The sunset that night was maybe the most beautiful sunset we had seen in Seattle.
We are glad that we took advantage of our mini-ceremony and waited for a day with good weather. And, glad we were able to do something with some people that was meaningful but were still able to keep everyone socially distant and healthy.
We just wish we didn’t have to be socially distant; we missed hugging all of our friends.
Now that you’re married, what does marriage mean to you?
On the morning of the wedding, Anneke’s friend, and one of our few wedding attendees, was sending her texts, getting her excited for the day. She laid it out plain and simple: “Time to get married- Time to get the government involved in your relationship!!”
When it comes down to it, that’s really all that marriage is! Making legal the commitment we had already promised to each other! We are so glad we got the government involved in our relationship.
Photography by Melody Changizi