Greg Prieur and Katie Young have been planning their wedding since shortly after their engagement on November 16, 2018.
“We got engaged right before the holidays so things were kind of put on hold until the craziness of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, end of graduate school semester, and report cards – for me – were done,” Katie, a fifth grade teacher at Ethel Schoeffner Elementary school, said. “As soon as January came around we hit the ground running and got all of our big vendors booked within a month … it was stressful to find a time that worked with my school schedule and all of our vendors, but April 4th ended up being the ideal time.”
The ceremony site was set for Metairie Ridge Presbyterian and the reception at The Cannery. La Louisiane would bake the cake.
“It gave us time to save up to buy a house, save money to have the best honeymoon in the world, book all of the vendors that we wanted and worked perfectly with my school schedule allowing us to take the honeymoon of our dreams right afterwards,” Katie said.
What Greg and Katie could have never properly planned for was the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was horrible,” Katie said. “The day that the governor made the announcement that gatherings over 250 people were banned, I was at work … the students were gone but all faculty were together, and everyone immediately turned to me.”
The couple immediately began planning how to keep the total number of attendees under 250, which meant no out-of-town guests, limited staff working the event and possibly having to call invited guests to un-invite them.
“Then the announcement came out for 50 people or less … then it changed to 10,” Katie said. “Everything was so uncertain and every time we thought we had a plan, it would change … it finally hit us that this couldn’t happen.”
The ceremony and reception were postponed until July, and the couple sent out official change the date cards.
“But even doing that we were crushed, and didn’t feel peace about the decision,” Katie said. “There is so much uncertainty around us right now and the idea that we don’t know what’s going to happen with all of this and there’s a possibility that we may get to July and have to postpone again … we just wanted to be married.”
The couple had chosen a New Orleans theme, complete with streetcars, on their favors and original invites.
“So we’ve changed it to ‘roll with it’ with the streetcar as a play on words,” Katie said laughing.
And roll with it they did. Ready to start their lives together, Greg and Katie chose to still get married on April 4. There was a slight change in venue, naturally, as well as other tweaks. The event took place on the lawn of Katie’s mother’s house.
“It was magical,” Katie said. “Everything worked together beautifully and the whole thing felt so incredibly special.”
Katie’s brother performed the ceremony after getting ordained online since their pastor couldn’t attend. The violinist still attended and played from afar, and La Louisiane was able to make a tiny version of both the wedding and groom’s cake with the flavors the couple had chosen for the big wedding.
Katie found a dress online that shipped quickly, and one of her coworkers lent the couple a microphone and speaker. Some neighbors lent extra lights to hang and lanterns for the yard, and one of Katie’s best friends lent a phone tripod so the whole thing could be recorded. The couple’s pastor recorded a message for them that was played over a speaker. One friend agreed to be the photographer so that memories were captured, and another lent the chairs for the yard.
“My mom worked endlessly with me to get the details together and make this event something memorable,” Katie said. “She was extremely supportive and went above and beyond to make this event happen for us … it was amazing to see how many people were wanting to help us make this happen.”
Immediate family was spaced out in chairs on lawn, and the bridal party parked and watched from the street. Close family and friends drove by and watched from afar, while neighbors stood in their yards to show their support.
“We had the ceremony, did our first dance and were able to do a toast,” Greg said. “We’re so happy with how it turned out.”
Over 500 people were able to virtually attend the wedding, with even more viewing the video after.
“There are so many people that we would have loved to invite to our wedding originally, but realistically there is always a limit,” Greg said.” We’ve struggled from the beginning with having to leave people out that we would love to have there.”
The unique opportunity allowed the couple to have everyone be a part of their special day.
“It was pretty amazing to have such a small, intimate ceremony but still be able to share it with all of the people we care about,” Katie said.
Katie’s students from last school year – when she got engaged – and from this year – when she was planning her wedding – begged to be invited to the wedding.
“Of course, that wasn’t realistic as much as I love my students,” Katie said. “With this unique situation, many of my past and present students were able to login and watch the ceremony remotely and it was such a special thing to have them involved.”
There was one particular student from last school year, Katie said, that was beyond excited when she got engaged.
“She pronounced herself my wedding planner and got to work on drawing out a sketch for a cake and dress as well as choosing a theme and color scheme,” Katie said. “It was funny but heartwarming that she cared so much.”
When the student found out that she would be able to attend the wedding online, she got dressed up and watched the entire ceremony from home.
“It brought me to tears knowing that her as well as many other students cared enough and were able to be a part of this,” Katie said.
The couple said they are looking forward to celebrating at their large ceremony and reception in July.
“That’s when I’ll wear my wedding gown and our bridal party will participate,” Katie said. “It will be more of a vow renewal with all of our friends and family present since we will technically be married already … of course there is a sense of anxiousness that this virus will still be around and we’ll have to move it again… but if it ends up being pushed back again, it’ll just be the best one year anniversary party we could imagine.”
Being forced to change plans was not ideal, but the couple said they are happy with their decision.
“There were a lot of tears shed, it took a lot of prayer and conversations to get us to a place of being okay with it … but in the end, we both feel it turned out even better than we could have originally planned,” Katie said. “This has pushed us to focus on each other, our relationship, our faith and ultimately our marriage rather than the stress, details, and dream of a perfect ‘event.’”
Throughout the whole process, Greg and Katie said their families have been extremely supportive. Early into their dating relationship, the couple found out how closely their families were connected.
“My dad passed away very unexpectedly a couple of years ago and we were extremely close,” Katie said. “After hanging out several times Greg and I realized that our dads were good friends … they had worked in the food business together, coached at the same playgrounds, and even had lunch together the week before my dad passed away.”
The couple also discovered their moms went to school together, and that Katie’s brother played playground and college baseball with Greg’s cousin.
“The connections were so strong and numerous and go back 50 years,” Katie said. “It was incredible … I felt like this whole thing was meant to be.”
The couple’s first song is ‘From the Ground Up’ by Dan and Shay.
“Part of the chorus says, ‘I’ll be the man your dad hoped that I’d be’… and I know without a doubt that (Greg) is that man,” Katie said.
The couple said they have tried to stay positive throughout the whole process, and that there is one huge bonus to their large ceremony being postponed until the summer.
“I am actually adopted,” Katie said. “Once I reached high school, I began to have a relationship with my birth mom which has grown over the years … her and her family have been a really big part of my life.”
One year ago, her birth mom was hospitalized, put into an induced coma and diagnosed with cancer. Against all odds, she survived.
“She’s had a bone marrow transplant and has continued the chemo and recovery process,” Katie said. “Her immune system wasn’t quite strong enough for them to feel comfortable traveling for the wedding … now, with it being pushed to July, she should be at a point where she is able to attend … they watched it online, but having them physically present for the big event will be extremely special.”