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A Nutcracker ballerina’s long wait for a wedding amid the pandemic

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Erik Messina and Amelia Sturt-Dilley celebrate their marriage in Uptown. Photo: Demi Mabry

Amelia Sturt-Dilley wanted a long engagement, but she never imagined it would last three years.

Sturt-Dilley, a seven-year dancer with Charlotte Ballet, and Erik Messina, a CEC civil engineer, got engaged in August 2018. The best time for them to get married, they knew, was May — dancers typically had that month off before Charlotte Ballet’s summer residency at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY.

  • A May 2019 wedding felt too soon, so they set the date for May 30, 2020.

Of course, then the pandemic hit. She remembered friends calling to tell her how crazy things were in New York City.

  • They suggested pushing her bachelorette party, which was planned for April in Savannah.
  • But they held out for the wedding, hoping things would clear up. They did not.

By the numbers: Sturt-Dilley and Messina were among 15% of couples who postponed the entire wedding, ceremony and reception, according to a study by wedding planning platform The Knot.

When they signed a contract with their wedding planner, Heather Bryson of Carolina Event Design, in October 2019, they didn’t plan on taking the trophy as Bryson’s longest wedding clients.

  • They rescheduled for March 27, 2021, but commitments and pandemic concern pushed them to postpone again.
  • Charlotte Ballet restructured their performance schedule amid the pandemic and Sturt-Dilley was performing on March 27.
  • “People had been texting me that morning, like ‘hope this day is so special for you,’ and I was like, ‘wait, did I not tell you we postponed again?’” she said with a laugh. “It was that crazy we totally forgot.”

Once vaccines became available they set a new date for Oct. 30, hoping to catch a window during a busy time of year. It wasn’t easy, even then:

  • Between Charlotte Ballet’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Oct. 7-9, which she played a significant role in; wedding planning for a third time; having guests stuck in Charlotte the weekend of the wedding because of American Airlines cancelling flights; and jumping into “Nutcracker” rehearsals on Nov. 1, it was a whirlwind.
  • But, they got married.

Wedding details: They used their wedding as an opportunity to show off Uptown to friends and family visiting from elsewhere.

  • The ceremony and reception took place at Foundation for the Carolinas.
  • The rehearsal dinner was at La Belle Helene, with a welcome reception at Queen City Grounds for all guests, and they stayed at Kimpton Tryon.
  • “We knew we wanted everything to be easy and walkable for guests, and I love downtown Charlotte,” said Sturt-Dilley, who would like to know why it’s called Uptown instead of downtown.

Erik Messina and Amelia Sturt-Dilley were married on Oct. 30, 2021. Photo: Demi Mabry

What’s next: Catch Sturt-Dilley dancing as Sugar Plum with Josh Hall, rose and tea in “Nutcracker.”

  • The show runs through Dec. 23.
  • Then, at some point, they plan to visit Milan and other parts of Italy, before relaxing in Santorini.
Amelia Sturt-Dilley and Colby Foss perform Arabian in Charlotte Ballet's "Nutcracker." Photo: Taylor-Jones

Amelia Sturt-Dilley and Colby Foss perform Arabian in Charlotte Ballet’s “Nutcracker.” Photo: Taylor-Jones.

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