I aimed to include another story when I wrote about COVID-era weddings last month, but there wasn’t enough time and space. With Feb. 14 almost here, it’s a good time to tell you about another pair of Valentines who adjusted their plans so they could tie the knot during the pandemic.
“All I can say is that 2020 will sure be one for the record books,” Tara Nelson told me. “I found wedding planning in the middle of all this was even more stressful than I ever imagined it to be. The constant changes in requirements from venues and vendors kept my family and I on our toes constantly.”
Tara Krause and Matthew Nelson got engaged during Matthew’s annual family camping-and-horseback-riding trip in Custer State Park in July 2019. They were married in Clear Lake, S.D., in early August 2020.
“I am your typical South Dakota small town farm girl who happens to be related to half of the county,” Tara said. “With the reduced building capacity size due to COVID regulations, it made the stress of trying to invite all our family and friends, while not offending someone, even more difficult.”
Tara and Matthew sent invitations in batches, starting with immediate family, and adding guests as they had a better idea of the numbers. Both the ceremony and the reception were held at the capacious Clear Lake Community Center, which can hold about 500 people, Tara said.
“Our smaller (number) of guests were able to space out appropriately,” she added.
They also were diligent about food safety. Catering staff wore masks and gloves, and they dished up plates for guests. At the dessert tables, guests selected from among cookies and bars individually wrapped in clear plastic.
Tara and Matthew found a way to include friends and family who didn’t attend in person.
“One of the blessings during this was that we had a very tech-savvy DJ for our wedding, and he was able to Zoom the entire ceremony for many of our guests that did not feel comfortable attending,” Tara said. “My husband and I were relieved to know that these people -- who are so special to us -- could still watch it live. I know it made them feel better about their decision because it felt like they were right there with us.
“The biggest blessing of all is that all our guests remained healthy and no one got COVID from our wedding.”
"Last month I was talking with Ellyse about her COVID-era wedding. It struck me that one woman (fresh out of college) and another (whose degree is packed in a dusty box somewhere) were approaching weddings from differing ends of the age spectrum. Both of us, however, planned our nuptials in unfamiliar pandemic terrain."
Tara grew up on a beef and grain farm near Clear Lake, and Matthew grew up on a sheep farm at Salem, S.D. Tara is a dispatcher for Harms Oil Co. in Brookings and Matthew is a dispatcher for Agwrx in Watertown. They have settled into married life at Aurora, S.D.
Indeed, a COVID-era wedding is not something one easily forgets.
“At the end of that day, the most important thing was that I was able to marry my best friend and we were able to start the next chapter of our lives together,” Tara said. “We all learn to conform and roll with the punches.
“What interesting stories we will have to share with our future family someday! I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Sheri Poore grew up on a Day County dairy farm and is a former Tri-State Neighbor editor now living in Sioux Falls.