Gerald and Terry Arsenault spent the past two years planning to tie the knot but COVID-19 got in the way — again and again and again.
On Dec. 31, the Wellington, P.E.I. couple finally got married … in a hotel hallway.
Their wedding marked exactly two years from the day they were engaged. Their expectations on New Year's Eve in 2019, however, were considerably different from what the future had in store.
The original plan was to get married in 2020. COVID-19 scratched that idea.
The Arsenaults eventually picked the date of New Year's Eve in 2021, on the expectation that friends and family would be able to travel for a cosy wedding with the worst of the pandemic behind them.
Not on the invitation list: Omicron.
With new COVID-19 restrictions made a week and a half before the wedding date, the couple learned they could not hold a reception.
Travel restrictions also cancelled plans for some invitees, arrangements for a limo were scrubbed and even their cake could not be made, Terry Arsenault said.
Whether there were five people there or hundred people there, it didn't really matter as long as her and I were there. - Gerald Arsenault
"The cake couldn't be done because the lady went away, so coming back [meant] isolating, so she couldn't do it," she said.
In a pandemic pivot of their own, the couple scratched plans for a church wedding, and came up with a scaled-down strategy. They decided to marry in the hallway of the Quality Inn Hotel in Summerside, where they had stayed to prepare for their original wedding plans.
"The pastor showed up, we just directed him where to go, and we did it," Terry said.
"It turned out beautiful. I mean, people [who] were in the other rooms came out and [stood] beside their doors. The hotel was phenomenal — they were being very accommodating to us."
It was not the wedding scene they had envisioned. The couple had spent most of the last year planning various details, and had invited family members from other provinces, Gerald said.
However, most of them were ruled out of attendance because of new isolation rules announced in December.
"[The government] announced that they would do the four-day isolation for anybody that came to the Island, even though everyone that was coming was double vaxxed," he said.
"Unfortunately, we only had one person that could meet that isolation criteria."
Newer restrictions, diminishing hopes
The couple seemed to lose hope, as COVID-19 cases on P.E.I. surged and restrictions became tighter, Gerald said.
The couple chose the hotel hallway because they didn't what else might happen in the future, Gerald said.
"We had postponed it multiple times before, and it was just to the point like, what is the future going to be with the Omicron [variant]," he said.
"Whether there were five people there or hundred people there, it didn't really matter as long as her and I were there."
As for honeymoon plans, the couple will be spending it on the Island.
"We're hoping that we can go away from the cities, enjoy each other, shut everything down and spend a couple days together," Terry said.