Wedding Woes: The uncertainty of planning your big day during a pandemic

Story by Stacie Gaetz


Photos by Courtesy of Joannie Bouchard

When Joannie Bouchard and Alex Baranov got engaged 14 months ago, a very small wedding in their backyard was not what they had in mind.

The 23 and 21-year-old planned to say their “I do’s” in a big white wedding while nestled in the mountains of Canmore on Dec. 30 of this year.

2020 had other plans.

“It is kind of funny to look back on what our wedding vision was a year ago as compared to how it looks today,” says Bouchard, adding they are going to keep their original date.

“This forced us to sit down and seriously re-evaluate what this wedding means to us and what we wanted to be able to look back on in five, 15, or 30 years from now.”

Bouchard and Baranov are just one of the many Alberta couples that have had to move their wedding date or location, as well as drastically cut their guest list to accommodate Alberta Health Services (AHS) COVID-19 restrictions.

Early in the pandemic, the couple planned to move the wedding from Canmore to Goldenrod Hall, just west of Airdrie, and to have a guest list of about 50 people (down from 150 in their original plan).

Bouchard adds that her wedding party alone has 15 people and the couple’s immediate families make up another 11 people.

“To go any lower than 50 originally felt close to impossible,” she says.

“Despite our obvious disappointment, we do still plan to go ahead with this wedding. At this point, it is highly probable that we will be having a more intimate ceremony than we would have ever anticipated. We are unsure if we will even be able the host our immediate families in our backyard on our special day. But we know now that the most important part of our wedding day is that we are together, and we get married.”

She adds that the couple will be enlisting a little help from technology to share their day with loved ones.

“We plan to livestream our wedding on the internet for family and friends that we unfortunately cannot host in person, and to host a Zoom call for some simple virtual festivities after the ceremony,” says Bouchard.

She adds that the couple also plans to hold a reception a later date when it is safe to celebrate with their friends and family in person.

“I am sure we are not the only people who had hoped this would have begun to blow over by now,” she says.

“We are also likely not the only couple who had chosen to go ahead with our winter wedding scheduled almost one year after the onset of this life-altering pandemic, just like I am sure we are not the only couple who have risen in the face of adversity, adapted, and made something beautiful out of a truly trying situation.”

For information on current AHS gathering restrictions, click here.