COVID Weddings: The Carrolls

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by Kristina Domitrovich // Photos by Every Good Thing Photography 

Sally Kate and Will Carroll met when the two were camp counselors at Camp Lake Stephens in the summer of 2018.

“We just kind of became friends over the course of the summer,” she said. “After camp was over, Will asked me on a date, and then we’ve just been together ever since.”

They were both starting their senior years at college; Will at Mississippi State University, and Sally Kate at the University of Mississippi. The rivalry stretched into their families, as many of their family members had attended their respective schools. Their first date was in Starkville, where they went to Stromboli’s to eat, followed by a walk in the Veterans Memorial Rose Garden. The two moved into tackling a long-distance relationship during their senior year, which they said was easier thanks to the fact neither one had Friday classes.

After graduation, Sally Kate was working and Will was attending graduate school at MSU, when the two started planning their engagement, though Sally Kate didn’t realize she was in on it.

“Sally Kate was trying to plan me a surprise party for my birthday, and her roommates were helping her,” Will said. “I got them in on it, so that she was trying to surprise me with a birthday party, but it was actually a surprise engagement party.”

After church on Feb. 9, 2020, Sally Kate was trying to kill time for her friends to set up what she thought was the surprise party for Will; so, going along with it, Will took her for a drive, and they ended up at the Rose Garden. There, he asked her to marry him and she said yes.

“Then we went back to her apartment where the surprise party was supposed to be,” Will said. “And then it was our families and the friends that were going to be there for the surprise party, plus for the engagement party.”

The two decided to wait a month to start planning, until Will’s spring break. Sally Kate took off work the weekend before spring break, and they started seeing venues.

“We booked the venue and picked the date that Friday,” she said, “and then the next week was spring break, and that’s when everything shut down.”

While they had an idea of what they wanted the day to look like, they held off on the remaining planning until things had calmed down, and they didn’t pick it back up until July.

“We changed a lot of things,” she said. “We thought we were going to have this big wedding with our family and all of our friends, and everyone kept saying, ‘Oh, this will be gone by November,’ ‘This will be gone by November.’ So we kept trying to hold out hope, I guess that’s why I waited so long to start planning.”

But they had their date: Nov. 28, 2020.

“It was obviously not planned, but when they moved the Egg Bowl, we ended up getting married on the Egg Bowl,” Sally Kate said as they both laughed.

Come rain or shine, no matter the regulations at the time, the two were determined to stick to their date, no matter what their wedding looked like.

“We still wanted to get married,” she said. “So we were just going to go to the courthouse if we had to, and it just be us and our parents.”

As the date approached, more things started firming up. They’d get married in Big Springs Church, “this little white church out in the middle of nowhere,” and use Fountain Square Professional Suites as the reception venue. The vendors were supportive.

“Vendors were just confused, just like me,” she said. “But we picked great people to work with, and if I had a question, they’d figure it out for me, even if they didn’t know the answer.”

But there were still some challenges. They had to change their honeymoon three different times: First it was a cruise around New Zealand, then a four-day trip to Snowmass, Colorado, followed by a sunny four-day visit to San Diego, California. As Nov. 28 approached, California was starting to shut back down; so they had to move that portion of their honeymoon to Colorado Springs, Colorado, which ended up being sunny and 60 degrees during that portion of their trip.

To top it off, their wedding planner had to back out a month before their wedding due to personal reasons related to COVID. Luckily, the best friend of Sally Kate’s mom stepped in for the day-of coordination; and both of their moms took over the decorating.

The biggest issue was the guest list. Originally, their list was “pretty large,” but as the invites were sent out, they had a lot of “older people and more vulnerable populations ended up saying they weren’t going to come anyway,” she remembers. But as the date approached, the two had to pare down the list even more.

“The church that we had booked was relatively small,” she said. “To allow people to social distance and to keep people safe, we did family-only at the ceremony.”

While it was family-only at the ceremony, which totaled about 45, they opened the reception up to about 100 friends.

At the reception, their guests were able to spread out into multiple rooms throughout the venue, so they could reserve spaces for the elderly and more vulnerable.

“It was kind of sad, just because people come to a wedding to see the wedding, and to see you make your vows and make your promises,” she said. “It was sweet and very intimate that it was just our family, and I wouldn’t go back and change anything, but I do hate that a lot of our friends and a lot of our extended family couldn’t be a part of that.”

While they both agreed that their wedding day would have looked different if it weren’t for COVID, they said wouldn’t have changed a single thing about the wedding they did have.

Where are they now?

While Will is finishing his masters in electrical and computer engineering, Sally Kate is completing a year-long pastoral residency at the Orchard in Starkville. While they’re unsure what’s next, they’re excited to see where they’re led in their newly-married life together.

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