Love will always find a way. Even after travel bans, shelter in place orders, quarantines, closings and no marriage license, we still made it down the aisle.

When my wife, Michelle, and I first started dating, I knew she was the one. Our first date was three hours of conversation and coffee, at Starbucks on West Lane Road in Machesney Park. The level of happiness I feel being her man and sharing four children is a level I never knew was possible.

The day we decided to get married on a beach in Florida, with just our four kids, was one of the most exciting days of my life. A few days of sun, swimming and goofing off in Orlando and a couple days in Cocoa Beach for a wedding ceremony on March 26th in the sand. I know it sounds crazy, but one the parts I was looking forward to the most was the drive in a rented Suburban.

Everything was a 'go' until Friday, March 20th, when Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a Stay At Home order. We didn't feel it was a good idea to keep our plans. So, now what? We didn't want to just wait the pandemic out and then get married. We needed a new wedding plan. Here are the things we learned getting married during a pandemic.

  1. You may or may not believe in God, we do, and what took place over the next eight weeks was most definitely him reminding us of who really is in control.
  2. Since Florida was out, we thought maybe we could ask our Pastor, Jeremy DeWeerdt, to marry us at City First Church. We texted him on March 20th, the day before the Stay At Home order began and asked if he could and he said yes. As long as it was no more than 10 people. Six of us, him and a photographer. Done. Get a Winnebago Country marriage license the following week and all is good. That's what we thought.
  3. Who knew that during the first month of the Stay At Home order, Winnebago County wasn't issuing marriage licenses. Thanks anyway, Pastor Jeremy.
  4. Since we didn't know when our wedding would actually happen, we decided that it's ok to start wearing our rings.
  5. Over the next 40 days a large garment bag concealing a wedding dress in our shared walk-in closet was the biggest test of my patience (I'd come to find out 23 days later that it was very worth the wait).
  6. Just before the second Stay At Home order was issued we got a call from Winnebago County Clerk Lori Gummow,  telling us the county is issuing marriage licenses again. We didn't have any kind of plan but we knew we should probably get it.
  7. You can still get a marriage license even if your driver's license is expired. Something else the pandemic is keeping me from doing. But I'm not mad at it, visiting the DMV is never high on my list of things I want to do.
  8. The beach can wait. With a license to get married back here in Rockford, we decided to get married in our backyard.
  9. We picked a day, confirmed it with Pastor Jeremy and started working on getting our yard ready. Every detail was covered. We were about to learn one important detail was overlooked.
  10. We've been in our new home for less than a year and one fact about its location was forgotten by both of us until 4 days before the wedding. Our house has a Rockford address but it's actually in Boone County. We're in possession of licenses to get married in Brevard County, Florida and Winnebago County, Illinois. Not one for our backyard wedding.
  11. That thing about God's plan that I mentioned earlier, was apparently for an hour of panic to result in encountering the extremely kind Boone County Clerk, Julie Stapler. She got us a Boone County marriage license in less than 24 hours.
  12. HE had one more thing to toss at us and that was rain all day on the wedding day WE chose. God liked Sunday better (duh).

We finally got married on Sunday, May 24. Love found a way, and to be honest, I wouldn't have changed a thing. We learned a lot about each other in these two months. We also learned that our kids will never let us forget that we still owe them a trip to Florida.

Here are a few pics of our incredible day.