Now that it’s crystal clear that hosting a big wedding at this time is just not possible due to the spread of COVID-19, we’re sharing the experiences of real couples navigating the re-scheduling, cancellation, and civil and commemorative wedding processes in an attempt to help others make informed decisions and to spread our support to all during this time.
Natalie Scott, who postponed her April wedding in Anguilla, is sharing how she and her husband, Vijay Mehra, made the final call and decided to head to an Austin courthouse for a civil ceremony.
While at her bridal shower on March 15th, Natalie quickly realized that this event was the final hurrah of wedding season for her. The next week, the couple contacted Malliouhana Resort, and the staff made it clear that they needed to protect their country. “Anguilla only has three isolated beds in their hospital, so if COVID came there, it would be devastating,” Natalie explains. “We realized that this was not about us or our guests but for their people. We knew at this point that postponing was the right call.”
Their new date is November 21st of this year, but on their original date, the two exchanged rings and vows in their favorite park to commemorate the day. Vijay had asked what Natalie wanted to do for her birthday on May 16th, and that’s when the idea to get legally married popped into her head.
The first call went to photographer Kristen Kilpatrick. “Before we were even engaged, I told Kristen that if I ever got married, I wanted her to photograph it,” Natalie says. “It was just perfect that she was in Austin and her schedule was totally free!”
The two wanted to keep the wedding a secret in order to make things as simple as possible. “I can honestly say that I got very caught up in wedding planning and in some ways lost sight of WHY we were doing what we were doing,” Natalie shares. “Once our wedding was cancelled, it made us both come back to what is really important: our marriage and starting our lives together. This time, it was not about the perfect plans, and vendors, and making our guests happy.”
The second phone call went to Natalie’s stylist, Cynthia Smith, who sent her a link to Emilia Wickstead’s Birch off-the-shoulder, gingham cloqué midi dress and a Gigi Burris veil. “She knows me better than I know myself,” the bride says. “It was perfect!”
Vijay wore his custom wedding suit, which had “My Party Suit” embroidered on the inside pocket of the jacket. He completed his look with velvet Stubbs & Wootton champagne glass slippers.
The logistics and legalities of getting married during a pandemic were more challenging than Natalie imagined. Once their marriage application was accepted, they had to reschedule their appointment at the county clerk’s office, which was closed the first time they tried going, and make an appeal to expedite their wedding. “The clerk asked if we were related, had us pay $81, and we were out in five minutes,” she says and notes that “you must get married within 90 days of obtaining this license but not before 72 hours.” Natalie then finally had to request a wedding ceremony at the only open courthouse in their district.
On the morning of the service, the bride did her own makeup, since Cynthia had previously suggested she go to Violet Grey to learn how to do her makeup. Allison Elliott taught her a natural look, which Natalie had already practiced a few times, so it only took 10 minutes to complete. Before heading out the door, Natalie’s peony bouquet fell apart, so she grabbed her 10-day-old Trader Joes flowers from her coffee table, which in the end, worked perfectly.
The inside of the courthouse resembled “a high school cafeteria with round tables and lockers with a plexiglass teller booth,” Natalie says. “We were the only ones there and the judge said they opened just for us that day. This was the least sexy experience you can imagine and was absolutely hysterical!”
The judge needed $150 for the ceremony, but only took cash, and Kristin was the only one with enough money. She was also their witness, so the whole thing really relied on her. After being announced as husband and wife, the two drove off to people honking and cheering for them on the road.
Since it was Natalie’s birthday, they booked a room at their favorite Austin hideaway, Hotel Saint Cecilia, and popped champagne and sliced their naked lemon cake with buttermilk cream from Word of Mouth Bakery.
The next day, they went back to their home to celebrate her birthday with friends and to break the happy news. “This experience really made us come back to what is really important,” Natalie says. “For us, that is love, health, and the people we spend time with.”