ALTERED PLANS: East Texas brides navigate wedding planning in pandemic

Special Reports

Tyler, Texas (KETK) – It’s been almost a year since East Texas couples started postponing their weddings because of the pandemic, and some have yet to say “I do.” Wedding planning is already stressful enough, so imagine trying to do it under the cloud of COVID-19. KETK’s Cynthia McLaughlin shows us how altered plans forced many local women to get creative.

When a bride and groom vow to love one another, in sickness and in health, usually a global pandemic doesn’t come to mind. That’s the reality now for couples across the country, making difficult decisions to keep everyone safe.

“So I sat at the computer and tried to cut down the guest list as much as I could. People were contacting my mom and my mother-in-law being like, ‘we don’t have to come like tell Ally that we just won’t come, and she can take us off the list.’ It was just heartbreaking to have to do that.”

Aly Chadwick, Bride-to-be

Aly Chadwick is now a pro at the planning process. This bride from Longview has pushed off the perfect day twice.

“The health of our family was most important to us throughout the entire process,” said Chadwick.

This time she hired Erin Jones with Cactus Rose Design and Events to help. Jones started her business in 2020, and she’s planned eight weddings.

“It’s typically the date that’s the hardest for them; they don’t want to give up their original date. In Aly’s case they still got married they’re going to celebrate with friends and family later and have their big celebration,” said Jones.

Aly and her husband, Chris, decided to tie the knot on their original date, March 21, 2020.

“We dated for seven years and got married on our seventh anniversary.”

Aly Chadwick, Bride-to-be

It was a small ceremony, thrown together last minute by Aly’s father. It wasn’t the large wedding she imagined but the date was very important to the happy couple.

“I’m just ready to see us have our day and celebrate with everybody.”

Aly Chadwick, Bride-to-be

Now, a year later they are planning for a bigger celebration with extended family and friends. Chadwick said the only date her vendors are all available is June 26, 2021, so that’s the date they chose.

RELATED LINKS: Calling all brides: the 2021 East Texas Wedding Extravaganza is this weekend

Jones said social media is a great tool to utilize when faced with cutting down the guest list. She suggests going live on Facebook during the ceremony so people at home can also enjoy the special moment.

“I just want people to remember it’s not the end of the world. You can still have your dream wedding. We just have to put a few tweaks on things.”

Erin Jones, Wedding Planner

Another staple of the planning process is saying yes to the dress. Finding the perfect dress now involves wearing a mask. As a safety precaution, Dress Me Bridal Boutique in Bullard is allowing only four guests per bride.

“It’s actually been really nice for us and the brides. It’s more of an intimate feel with you and your mom or someone really close to you,” said Ashley Kreiner, owner of Dress Me Bridal Boutique.

Kreiner said business at her shop has been steady over the past year.

“This process has pretty much stayed the same, and we tried to put COVID aside. We obviously have our masks on, but we try to just not bring it up.”

Ashley Kreiner, Bridal Boutique Owner

Brides like Megan Carswell appreciate Dress Me’s attempt at a sense of normalcy. Megan’s fiance, Grant, popped the question in December, the day she graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University.

Grant proposing to Megan at her graduation party

“When he proposed with this ring I was like oh my gosh it’s the ring I picked out!”

Megan Carswell, Bride-to-be

When picking the perfect date, Megan did not want to gamble with what 2021 has in store. She said if the COVID pandemic is still ongoing next year, she will keep pushing the date back to ensure everyone can attend her wedding.

Dress shopping in Bullard

For now, Megan and Grant will get married July 9, 2022. She is already on the hunt for a venue that will comfortably hold everyone invited.

Megan and Aly, like many other COVID brides, are now waiting for the day they can say “I do” less than six feet apart.


The Chadwick Wedding

  • DATE: June 26, 2021
  • COLOR PALETTE: Light and fresh, blush tones

  • WEDDING CAKE: White chocolate raspberry
  • GROOMS’ CAKE: Chocolate with a chocolate ganache filling

The Payne Wedding

  • DATE: July 9, 2022
  • VENUE: Just started the search and already toured a few
Shirley Acres in Houston, TX
  • NUMBER OF GUESTS: 175-200
  • COLOR PALETTE: Dusty blue and gold
  • DRESS STYLE: Fit and flare

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