Elaine Welteroth is an American journalist, New York Times best-selling author, Project Runway judge, and former editor in chief of Teen Vogue. She continues to push the trajectory with everything she does. She is a true visionary and a force that absolutely shines !
Elaine and her husband Jonathan Singletary got married on Mother’s day May 10, 2020 in the middle of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic that halted all normal plans and preparations that had been earlier made. According to Vogue, “When it became clear that their dream wedding wasn’t going to happen due to COVID-19, Elaine and Jonathan both felt overwhelming waves of denial.”
The COVID-19 had put a damper on celebrations of graduations, wedding ceremonies, birthdays and other events of life significance. During a pandemic like this, it is easy to pay attention to only what we now categorize as the ‘essentials of life’, but could ‘love’ be ascribed as an essential need in the era of COVID-19 pandemic? Maybe love can wait till we come out of this or may be all forms of life celebrations and milestones can wait till we come out of this? Truth is what makes us human is our knack for resilience and tenacity in figuring things out quickly– despite the discomfort which gradually cracks into recreating new normal.
There was so much meaning wrapped up into the date we picked. Plus, we had a long engagement—3.5 years!—so the idea of waiting any longer felt painful. More painful than losing out on celebrating our wedding the way we had initially envisioned. I kept seeing messages online that read, ‘Love Cannot Be Canceled,’ and it really resonated,” Elaine says.
Indeed Love cannot be canceled and it shouldn’t be canceled. As we all navigate and figure our way out of being badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the main thing it presents is an opportunity to just simply envision a new approach to doing things that keeps us and others safe and sound. The iconic images from this wedding day will stay true for history purposes to serve as a reminder that even in a pandemic, love and human resilience wins.
When the Vogue piece came out over the weekend, the news basically broke the internet. There was an outpouring of love and words like ‘ You inspire or thank-you for bringing the sunshine in such a time as this’, from social media friends and followers to the couple. It felt as though, this public declaration of ‘love cannot be canceled’ by the resilient act of the couple’s ability to re-envision a new wedding model that worked seems like an answer to the question of if one should stop or re-imagine anew.
How did the Couple organize an intimate glamorous wedding during a lockdown? From the vogue coverage of their wedding, we decided to deduct five (5) lessons we think will be helpful to hold on to during this pandemic; using this wedding as a lesson teacher.
- Set priority: When it became clear that their dream wedding wasn’t going to happen due to COVID-19, Elaine and Jonathan both felt overwhelming waves of denial at first but as the reality set in, according to Vogue, both of them realized that they actually felt more ‘married’ to their date and to each other than they did to their big, exciting plans,”
Figuring out the “how” became an exciting challenge. I think what we learned in our process of pivoting is that the key is to get clear on your ‘why’ and what exactly is most important for your wedding. For us, the priority became saving our date. From there, we could move forward to sort out the how.
It is clear that by setting priority of what is exactly important and most meaningful, they were able to then move forward into actual planning. For the couple, the DATE was the priority not the extra of the ‘initial exciting plans’. With that concrete decision, their focus was set solid.
- Be open to a new vision:
I woke up one morning with this whole vision of how we could do it—and the excitement of planning began,” Elaine says. “In my mind, I saw the faces of people we love from afar surrounding us on iPhone screens and a small group of our local friends in white lining the sidewalk with gloves and masks on. I envisioned transforming our stoop into an altar glowing with pretty lighting and gorgeous florals. I had no idea if any of this was even possible in the middle of a pandemic, but I was excited about having a new wedding vision to work towards.
This is a big lesson in life generally. Sometimes we get stuck and set in how things must play out even when everything points to the fact that there is need for a change. Like Eliane, perhaps the excitement of planning came when she started re-envisioning a new way wedding atmosphere.
- Set a joyful intention: According to Vogue, anytime Elaine and Jonathan started feeling a little cabin fever, they would bring a mini speaker out and play Frankie, Beverly and Maze’s classic “Happy Feelings,” and dance their worries away.
The neighbors next door and the little kids across the street started coming outside to dance with us from their stoops, Elaine says. It brought us all so much joy to smile, and wave, and dance—together, apart—with neighbors who had been merely strangers to us before the quarantine.
At their wedding, Elaine says, they wanted to re-create that feeling, and spread some joy in the community in a bigger way.
All while maintaining the necessary socially responsible distance, we wanted to give our whole block a reason to dance despite all the devastation in the world around us…
A joyful intention will always pave the way.
- Do the best with what you have: A quote from the vogue piece explains this best:
They cheered as the bride walked down her “Soul Train” sidewalk aisle in a label-less white dress from her own closet. “I hadn’t worn it in over three years,” she says. “But it was the first idea that came to mind when I envisioned us getting married on my stoop. And since the mantra we set for our stoop wedding was, ‘Do the best you can with what you have,’ I decided to not overthink it. My mom mailed me her wedding dress from California to try on, and I loved it, but didn’t quite feel like me in it. I still wanted a piece of my mom with me that day, though, so I decided to wear her veil. It ended up matching the dress perfectly.
- The Details in Simplicity: The most inspirational thing about this wedding story is the simplicity and magnificent details embodied in the planning and execution of the wedding–marking iconic significance. Eliane has successfully shown us that simplicity is elegance, meaningful, memorable, significance, inspirational, deep, iconic, crisp, loving and must have solid roots in human connection, relationships and community. 200 family and friends joined virtually via zoom. Additionally, a small group of local loved ones came in person for the ceremony, which observed all of Governor Cuomo’s social distancing guidelines. The setting a dress code ( which was all white for —both virtual and IRL guests) to the details that made the stoop into the centerpiece of the special occasion. Lewis Miller Design installed a whimsical floral arch that framed the front door of the couple’s brownstone.
It was a bountiful explosion of bright, colorful florals that trailed the stair rails, Elaine says.
They provided gloves and masks on-site in addition to white parasols, bubbles, seeds to plant flowers, and homemade brownies from Elaine’s mom’s family recipe in a gift bag.
Close friend Aurora James of Brother Vellies made Elaine a custom pair of shoes to wear on the day. The couple’s friend Adeline Bolden, a Brooklyn-based singer and musician, DJ’ed the wedding as IRL guests danced in the street and on the sidewalk while keeping a distance from one another. Elaine says. “Everyone let loose and had a blast.”
You should read the full piece published in Vogue.