Home Our Diocese Coronavirus restrictions wreak havoc with weddings, baptisms at Diocese of Wilmington parishes

Coronavirus restrictions wreak havoc with weddings, baptisms at Diocese of Wilmington parishes

(Getty Images)

The ramifications of the spread of the coronavirus, along with the measures imposed by governments and local organizations to control it, have affected not only public Masses and gatherings, but also various family events. Several parishes have had to cancel or curtail events, including weddings that have been in the planning stages for several months of more.

A few couples snuck their weddings in just before Bishop Malooly announced restrictions on public gatherings. One couple tied the knot at St. Mary Magdalen Church in Brandywine Hundred on March 14, and Father Brian Lewis presided at a wedding the same weekend at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington. But other couples haven’t been as fortunate.

Msgr. John Hopkins, pastor of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish in Glasgow, said last week that the parish is attempting to reschedule three weddings. In addition, two baptisms have been postponed.

“Even as people are attempting to reschedule, they’re scheduling back in July and August, hoping they can reschedule. These are churchgoing people looking at having their wedding celebrated at Mass,” Msgr. Hopkins said.

St. Margaret is a popular church for weddings. The pastor said there were 23 weddings on the schedule for the church. Most of the couples he has spoken with are remaining positive that they can still wed at St. Margaret.

“The positive is that people still want to get married in the church,” Msgr. Hopkins said.

Another popular church for couples is St. Anthony of Padua in Wilmington. Christine Hostler, who schedules weddings and baptisms at the church, said they have made some changes in the past week. A wedding scheduled for March 28 is now set for May. One due to happen in April is up in the air. It is possible, under the guidelines issued by the Diocese of Wilmington, to keep with original dates, but on a much smaller scale.

“You could have a wedding with just the immediate family,” Hostler said.

Of course, the church is just one aspect of most weddings. Rescheduling the ceremony might also mean coordinating with a reception venue that may or may not be available on a new date. Steven English, the banquet manager and wedding specialist at White Clay Creek Country Club, said he and his staff have been meeting with each other and in contact with couples, “trying to ease their concerns.”

“There are dates that we still have availability. We are communicating with all of our clients to save their wedding day as much as we can,” English said. “Everyone is being impacted by the same pandemic. As much as we can … we are being as flexible as we can.”

He said any rescheduling can be complicated because a wedding day is interconnected. A church and reception venue both have to be available. That doesn’t take into account other factors, such as florists, photographers and videographers, bakeries, for example.

“We have been communicating with all of our vendors to make the transition as smooth as possible,” he said.

The restrictions that apply to weddings also apply to baptisms. If families don’t want to postpone them, they can have them at St. Anthony’s with parents, grandparents and godparents, she added. She said one will take place on Palm Sunday since one of the grandparents is coming from Mexico for the occasion.

Father Brian Lewis, administrator at St. Benedict Parish in Ridgely, Md., said there is a baptism scheduled there at the end of March that will go on as scheduled if the family is comfortable with it. He has a wedding scheduled for May.

“I’m hoping everything is back to order by then,” Father Lewis said.

Msgr. Hopkins said his heart goes out to the couples who have been planning their weddings and now are deciding whether to hold it as scheduled on a much smaller scale or to select a new date. He is thinking about “the stress level for them as they attempt to reschedule with churches and venues and even their bridal party.”

Hostler said St. Anthony’s still has some open dates for people in May and several days in July and August. The calendar is full beginning in the fall.