It was nearly the day Katie Delph-Miller and Garland Miller had been planning for for months — their wedding day.
But as the coronavirus pandemic encroached into Kansas, the couple couldn’t help but worriedly watch the rapidly-changing situation.
On Friday, March 20, the Riley County Health Department announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Manhattan area and banned public gatherings of more than 10 people. It was then that Katie and Garland made a split-second decision to move their wedding a day up, from Saturday to that very Friday evening.
“Everything came together within three hours,” Garland said. “I didn’t really wake up that day thinking, ‘Oh, today’s the day I get married,’ but it worked out.”
Katie, 34, a veterinarian at K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and Garland, 32, owner of Garland Excavating with Double J Construction, have been together for about six years. They became engaged in July and planned to marry March 21.
But as they monitored the coronavirus situation around them and Riley County’s response in the days leading up to the wedding, they began notifying their guests to avoid traveling and not come.
As recommendations from health officials to practice social distancing became stronger, the Manhattan couple condensed the approximately 120 people guest list and settled on a handful of close relatives, which included both sets of parents and one of Katie’s brothers.
“I think for both of us, our biggest dream was getting married, so that’s really what we wanted to do,” Katie said. “(It was) definitely disappointing we couldn’t have the wedding that we planned, but we just really wanted to get married and my parents (from Indiana) were pretty committed to coming since we hadn’t postponed. It was like, ‘Well as long as our parents are here.’ That’s what we felt like we wanted to do.”
The couple said they were able to retain most of their original vendors, and they were all able to pull together a last-minute wedding.
“It happened so quick ... and we ended up having it at the Prairiewood StoneHouse and did it outside in the 30-degree weather that day,” Katie said. “Really it was perfect for what it was. We really just tried to make the best of it, considering the situation going on.”
Their wedding planner, Abby Wempe, helped rearrange the wedding plans, as well as found a new officiant since the couple’s original officiant couldn’t make it out in time.
After the ceremony, the couple still had their first dance outside and the family was able to have a mini reception and dinner, which was provided by Friendship House. Katie said Friendship House ended up donating the rest of the unused food.
“We got a little bit of the extra food as well, but that was nice at least that in this time when people do have a lot of needs, it was nice to be able to spread some of our joy,” Katie said.
The couple said they hope to host a separate reception with family and friends later in the year, but it will still depend on how the coronavirus situation develops.
Nonetheless, Katie said they appreciated the day for what it was and their vendors being accommodating.
“(My favorite part was) seeing how everyone did come together for us and really made it seem like it was no issue for them,” Katie said. “We were so appreciative of them and everybody kind of dropping what they were originally planning on doing and coming together for us. They basically made it as perfect as could be in this situation; it was just beautiful for both of us.”
- Wedding planner: Abby Wempe of Along Came Abby
- Catering: Friendship House catering
- DJ: Dave Lewis Entertainment
- Flowers: Kistner’s Flowers
- Photography: Rose Wheat Photography
- Beauty: Cynthia Naugton of Studiorollers
- Officiant: Cameron Ward (original: Jake Reeves)
- Cake: Cakes by Rene
- Venue: Prairiewood Retreat and Preserve StoneHouse
- Dress: Celebrations of the Heart