Brides is committed to guiding ALL couples through not only their wedding planning journey, but through relationship milestones and ups and downs. Every love story is beautiful, has its own distinct history, and its own trials—there’s no relationship that looks the same. To celebrate that uniqueness, we’re asking couples to open up about their love story, for our latest column, “Love Looks Like This.” Below, wedding planner Sydney Kuhne tells her story.
March 2020 changed my life. Instead of moving across the country as I had planned, the world fell into a global pandemic and I met my husband. We were both living in Washington D.C. at the time. Caleb was working as a data analyst for the government and I had just started my own wedding planning company, WILDLY IN LOVE. Our first date was a six-mile run around the National Mall since it was one of the few things we could do together as things were shutting down more each day. The morning run quickly turned into a 14-hour day together, ending with the realization that after years of praying and when I least expected it, I had finally met my husband.
From that day on, we wanted to be together every waking minute. Just like everyone else in the world, we spent the next few months in quarantine lockdown. We spent time in the kitchen baking new recipes, volunteering at a local food bank, having movie marathons, dreaming of the first places we’d go post quarantine, and going on lots of runs just to get outside. Our relationship completely skipped the “honeymoon“ phase. Caleb fell in love with me in quarantine—baggy sweatpants, rarely washed hair, no makeup, and all. It wasn’t until a month into our relationship that we saw each other in “real clothes.” We had decided to dress up for Easter to watch church online in our living room. Eventually as the world started to open back up, Caleb went back to work and I was helping brides navigate canceling their weddings, covid elopements, and celebration reschedules.
Fast forward 10 months, the second wave of Covid hit. Last minute National Park shutdowns forced Caleb to change his proposal plan. This was the first time we would learn that sometimes “Plan B” was always meant to be. I said “yes” to forever with him in Shenandoah National Park on a sunset picnic and I couldn’t have been more happy. It was time for this wedding planner to finally be the bride!
As time went on and restrictions lifted, we returned to our traveling lifestyle. But this time, we were together as adventure buddies, hiking America’s National Parks to snorkeling in the Caribbean. In true “Sydney and Caleb” fashion, the two weeks leading up to our wedding in Grand Teton National Park, we did a cross-country road trip, hitting as many National Parks as we could along the way. Each day our excitement grew in anticipation for the wedding week celebrations and activities with our closest family and friends. But four days before our wedding, everything changed. Caleb and I both unexpectedly tested positive for Covid. We are both vaccinated and I had already had Covid once before, so this wasn’t even something on our radar. To say we were heartbroken is an understatement.
I cannot begin to explain the overwhelming pain I felt, not only as a bride who dreamt of her wedding since she was a little girl, but also as a wedding planner who has worked tirelessly over the last two-plus years to make every other bride’s wedding dreams come true. All the hard work and anticipation of planning my dream wedding from the details on the table scape to being with our closest people to celebrate one of the happiest days of our life, taken away in an instant. Moments that we will never in our life get back.
Within hours, we canceled our entire week of wedding celebrations and honeymoon. We hadn’t even fully processed what had happened before it was all gone. There were so many unanswered questions, overwhelming emotions, and confusing hours of replanning for “Plan B.” But despite the heartbreak, one thing always remained—our unwavering love for each other and that no matter what it looked like, we were getting married.
In the days following, we figured out a way to have a safe elopement that also felt special, even amongst the loss. My parents had been staying with us in the days leading up to us testing positive, so they had already been exposed. Thankfully, they never tested positive or had any symptoms. Caleb’s parents had already flown into town, but we were extremely socially distanced from them. The few times we saw them they were over 10 feet apart, only saw us outside, stayed at a different Airbnb, and wore masks most of the time. The rest of our siblings, family, and friends were no longer coming due to our concern over their wellbeing.
I was, ironically, probably the most well-equipped person to cancel their entire wedding and re-plan something in less than three days. Plan B—our family became our vendor team. My mom was the photographer, my dad was the videographer, Caleb’s dad was the officiant (this was something always planned), Caleb’s mom was our biggest supporter, carrying the love from everyone not there, and Caleb’s little sister was our “DJ” (she played the processional music and our first dance song from her phone). The rest of our family and friends, as well as our original vendor team, were beyond sweet in how they supported us from afar.
To back up a moment, my parents are not professional photographers or videographers. My mom can hardly see the texts on her iPhone, let alone look through a camera viewfinder and figure out the proper lighting, focus, or cropping. That week, we bought a new camera, tripod, SD cards, ceremony mic, and back-up batteries so that my parents could be as equipped as possible.
Caleb and I trained my parents how to take photos and film our wedding on equipment we also hadn’t used ourselves. In the backyard of our Airbnb, we gave them photography lessons—how to take a photo, make sure it’s in focus, make sure they got what we wanted in the shot, etc. We practiced the “ceremony” and “sunset photos” until they both felt comfortable (enough) with what they needed to do. I don’t think I will ever be able to properly express in words the gratitude I have for them, capturing one of the most important days of our life, while they were also experiencing their daughter’s wedding day. Our future kids will get to see these special moments because of them.
If it wasn’t already obvious, our wedding day couldn’t have been more different than what we had originally planned, but it was ever so sweet. That morning, I did my mom’s hair and makeup before doing my own. I cut Caleb’s hair, which I had never done before. My dad took videos of all the getting ready moments. Caleb set up the tripod and tested the cameras before the first look, ceremony, and sunset photos. I could go on and on listing all the unique moments of our wedding, but to sum it up—our wedding was truly a labor of love by everyone involved.
It’s undeniable that Covid has been a huge part of our love story. We met at the start of the pandemic, fell in love in quarantine, more plans than I can count changed due to it, and then the unthinkable, testing positive the week of our wedding and canceling everything. Life doesn’t always seem fair but we know that God is still good and we can find joy even on the darkest of days. We feel unbelievably blessed to have found each other during such a crazy time and to get to adventure together in life forever.