GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - The COVID-19 pandemic's impact can be felt far and wide, especially for those looking to tie the knot.
But a wedding venue in Grand Prairie is looking to ease some of that stress, by doing what they can for couples who have had their weddings plans crashed.
Maddy Robb and Samuel Gurnsey did not have a typical wedding Saturday.
They were the first couple to receive a free wedding, social-distancing style, at the Ruthe Jackson Center in Grand Prairie.
“Yeah, we just kind of figured it’s going to be what it’s going to be, and one way or another, we’re going to be married, and so it’s going to be okay,” Robb said.
Robb, 21, and Gurnsey, 23, are both still in school.
“We did a ton of homework yesterday so we wouldn’t have to do it today,” Robb said.
Planning a wedding was quite a bit of work.
“We were doing school full-time. We both had two jobs,” Robb said.
And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and they had no venue for their April date.
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“Then the temple closed and so we were like, ‘What do we do at this point?’” she recalled.
“There was one week where I think every single day we would call or visit one another and say, ‘Well, we just figured out. This has changed, so what now?’” Gurnsey said. “Every single day, and eventually, we got to the point where we know we want to get married, we don’t know where or when or how, but it’ll happen eventually.”
But Robb’s mother, Karen Robb, saw a flyer online.
“So yeah, it’s been really confusing and frustrating,” Karen said. “Maddy was sitting next to me and I said, ‘Hey, look at that.’”
“We do a lot of weddings and social events here, and when COVID-19 came down, it was just devastating to our couples that we were working with,” said Cheryl Allgood, with the Ruthe Jackson Center.
The Ruthe Jackson Center is allowing couples affected by the pandemic to use their venue for free.
“Better than getting married in a parent’s backyard, better than the courthouse,” Allgood said.
Robb and Gurnsey were the first marriage, but those working at the venue said more are coming.
“I think we’re at 22 now, and still counting,” Rebecca Wabbersen, with the Ruthe Jackson Center, said.
Nine people, including the bride and groom, made it out to Saturday’s wedding.
“This morning, I was all excited because I was like, ‘I’m getting dressed.’ I was like, ‘I’m so pretty,’” Robb said.
Gurnsey’s family couldn’t travel, so they watched a livestream.
The couple, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, said they’ll have another service at their temple once the pandemic passes.
“It definitely felt a bit more like eloping, if that makes any sense,” Gurnsey said.
But for now, from the dress to the flowers, it was a, somewhat unexpected, perfect day.
“And then this came from a mixture of Costco and our backyard last night,” Robb said. “But, when he said, ‘I now pronounce you husband and wife,’ I was like, ‘Oh.' Legally, and to society, and to us, we’re husband and wife.”
The wedding venue says it’ll host parties of up to a few dozen people.