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Cover Story | Best day of our lives

Cover Story | Best day of our lives

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Weddings are one of the most joyous occasions in our society and planning the fete is usually equal measures of stressful and exciting.

Brides and grooms alike, along with their families, anxiously await their respective wedding dates and an unexpected bump in the road, that delays such an event, can be devastating. 

Rescheduling with venues, bakeries, photographers and florists, especially when each detail is already decided and planned, can be emotionally and financially draining. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many couples to rethink the manner in which they will tie the knot.

Some choose to elope, some have a civil ceremony at the courthouse with a large reception at a later date while others scale down the original size of the wedding and choose an outdoor location.

Other couples find solace in simply delaying the date and keeping the original wedding on as they always dreamed, just at a later date. 

‘I’m glad we waited’

Cody and Madison Mileur, of Chester, originally scheduled their nuptials for April 25, 2020, but as the pandemic picked up momentum that March, the couple were stunned and somewhat dismayed when they realized they would need to reschedule.

Just a few weeks away from their planned nuptials, the pair was ready with every detail planned and in place.   

Garden Grove Event Center in Carbondale was their chosen venue and they at first reset their wedding date for September 5, 2020.

But as weeks went by, the Mileurs began entertaining the idea of moving the date once again.

Cody’s grandmother was nervous to travel and Madison did not want her to leave after the outdoor ceremony with just a to-go plate from the reception.

After receiving advice from concerned friends and family members, the pair change the style and location but decided to keep the original wedding planned as they had always envisioned it.

They wanted the wedding they had always dreamed of and gave themselves a one-year limit for rescheduling the event before planning something different. 

“In the moment it was stressful thinking, ‘Is this ever going to happen?’  But it was the best day of our lives. It turned out so great.  I’m glad we waited for it.  I wouldn’t take back any of the waiting or compromising for that date,” said Madison. 

Madison found much solace in Facebook groups geared towards couples dealing with re-planning weddings during the pandemic and she says that put her mind at ease, exchanging advice and hearing other couples’ stories about how they were coping. 

The third date turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Cody’s grandmother was able to attend the wedding and reception as well as his brother and best man, who is an active member of the military and would have been unable to attend the wedding in both April 2020 and September 2020. 

Following the outdoor ceremony, the Mileurs held their reception in the largest venue space at Garden Grove, allowing less guests at each table and more spacing between the tables.  While the pair had to change florists for the April 2021 event, they were able to keep the same baker, caterer, photographer and DJ. 

“Everything for us worked out great overall. We didn’t lose any money. And I’ve heard a lot of horror stories,” shared Madison.

Photos from the Mileur wedding show smiles all around, between family members and friends, overjoyed that the couple were able to celebrate their union at last. Bright, pastel flower arrangements, the quintessential white dress and a wedding party in light blues and silvery grays show the beautiful wedding that the Mileurs planned and for which they waited so patiently. 

‘I want the white dress’ 

Jason and Alysha Silver made some creative plans for their recent wedding. 

After getting engaged in October of 2020, Alysha knew she didn’t want to wait long to tie the knot so the pair planned an outdoor ceremony for December 26, 2020. It was a small, short event with just a few friends and close family members that took place in Alysha’s parents’ front yard with her brother-in-law officiating. 

The Silvers wore matching red flannel pajama pants and shirts that read Mr. and Mrs., and celebrated the ceremony with a champagne toast. Alysha’s mother made a bouquet and boutonniere and family members not present were able to witness the event through Zoom. 

“I surprised her in October so we weren’t engaged very long before we got married.  While family was in town for Christmas we thought it would be easier to go ahead and have a ceremony,” said Jason. 

The Silvers originally planned to have a second, larger ceremony followed by a reception in May 2021 but with the uncertainty of the pandemic, they decided to change it to September.  The pair thought it would be a safer bet to allow more time to plan for the guidelines that will be in place.  But this larger event, following the December 2020 ceremony, will be a more elaborate day for the Silvers and their guests. 

“We’re going to do the full ceremony. I want the white dress and the vows and all the fun stuff. We’re going to write our own vows. We tried to save all the special stuff for the ceremony with more friends and family there,” said Alysha.

With plans to hold the entire event at Alysha’s parents’ church just outside of Carbondale, the Silvers will host an outdoor celebration complete with a scrumptious taco bar, a guest bartender that is a close friend of the family as well as some details that pay homage to Alysha’s Norwegian heritage. A traditional kransekake wedding cake, with layered concentric rings as well as a handfasting ceremony are planned.  The handfasting ceremony allows guests, who are not directly involved in the wedding party, to offer a cord to represent a sentiment they would like to add to the marriage. The cords are used to join the couple’s hands together briefly as a symbol of their union. 

Alysha learned throughout this process that having a small, private ceremony before the larger event with more guests, alleviates much pressure for the bride and she recommends it to any couple heading to the altar. 

“I honestly think that women should have a very quick, short legal marriage before they plan a ceremony because it takes all of the stress off almost.  I think everyone should do it, COVID or not.  I wouldn’t have changed anything about the way that we did it,” shared Alysha. 

10 days to plan a wedding

Tyce and Kristi Saylor of Goreville planned their backyard wedding in just a little over ten days, after changing both the venue and date of their nuptials. The original wedding was scheduled for October 3, 2020 with a large ceremony and reception planned at a local venue. 

In March of 2020, the Saylors decided to cancel the large event at the public venue and opt for a backyard ceremony with a sizable group of friends and their extended family. 

As the pandemic worsened, Tyce and Kristi spoke to family members about travel and decided against the wedding completely. Kristi’s father and stepmother would have to travel from Florida while Tyce’s father and grandmother were flying from California. The risks became too high for all involved.   

“Everyone was really worried because COVID was picking up so we decided it was too stressful and not knowing what was going on, we canceled again,” said Kristi.

While the pair entertained the idea of having a ceremony at the courthouse and planning for a later reception, they knew this was not what they had envisioned as the beginning of the next phase of their relationship. Tyce and Kristi have a young daughter, Lucille, and also live as a blended family with Kristi’s three children, with frequent visits from her adult son. All of the children were devastated to hear the wedding was cancelled and in late October, the couple decided to forge ahead and get married one way or another. 

 “I called our friends and said, ‘How do you feel about planning a wedding in ten days?” It had been such a rough year we all needed something to focus on and be happy about and have a good time,” said Kristi. 

Kristi ordered a dress, called in the help of close friends to iron out the details and the event came together on October 30, 2020, the day before the Saylors’ favorite holiday, Halloween.  With a small group in their backyard, the Saylors’ friends brought tablecloths, decor and a close friend performed the ceremony. 

A chili buffet was prepared and served by another close friend, while two others stepped up to do Kristi’s hair and makeup.  Tyce and Kristi were gifted libations for the reception by their friends who own Meddlesome Brewery in Memphis and they streamed music through their Alexa app.   

“Our friends really, really pulled together and made it happen,” said Kristi. 


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