Miamians celebrate pandemic-adjusted weddings
By Jesús F. Jiménez, assistant director of digital content
Love has no schedule.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the entire world, and for many people, that meant canceling or postponing some of their lives’ biggest milestones. For these couples, there was no holding back their love.
Despite having to make slight adjustments to their wedding plans, these six couples are among the newest Miami Mergers. Nearly 13% of Miami alumni are Mergers.
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The two met during Amber’s recruiting trip in 2013 and instantly became friends. It wasn’t until two years as softball teammates that they realized they had feelings for each other.
Following a long-distance relationship, the two made plans to marry in March – right before the pandemic hit. Their wedding was postponed a few months, but when they noticed something unique on the calendar, they realized that it was their destiny to marry on Aug. 22, 2020. The eighth month of the year represented Amber’s No. 8 jersey, and the 22nd represented Kylie’s 22.
Though their dream wedding in Hawaii and honeymoon in Australia are postponed for now, they celebrated their marriage with 15 of their closest friends completely outdoors at an Airbnb at Crystal Mountain.
“That day was closely approaching, and we were like, ‘As tough as this year has been, we need something good to come of this year,’ so we wanted to be careful, and it was such a terrible year that this was the one highlight of the year,’” Kylie said.
Jackson Gray ’18 and Kamaran Price Gray ’17
Before enrolling at Miami, Jackson Gray ’18 and Kamaran Price Gray ’17 met at a high school diving camp at Miami in the summer of 2012, realizing they only lived 12 minutes apart.
They married on Oct. 17, 2020, and made adjustments by marrying outdoors, having assigned seating, requiring masks and keeping family groups together to promote social distancing.
“Our wedding went off without a hitch,” Kamaran said. “Despite COVID and all the regulations, we were able to have 180 people at the wedding and reception, and with specialized seating and mask wearing, we were able to keep families together to minimize the spread. With 180 guests, there was not a single report of anyone getting COVID. Thus we can honestly say that the wedding could not have gone better.”
Freeland Oliverio ’15 and Caitlyn Threadgill Oliverio ’15
Freeland Oliverio ’15 and Caitlyn Threadgill Oliverio ’15 first met at a first-year student gathering behind Shriver Center. Freeland asked Caitlyn out on a park bench behind Peabody Hall. Nearly seven years later, he proposed on that same bench.
The two wed on June 13, 2020, at Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Cincinnati, with just 20 of their closest friends and family. Still, the other guests were able to join the ceremony via Facebook Live. Staying creative with the circumstances, their reception was held at Caitlyn’s condo.
“We had a more special wedding than we ever could have imagined and will remember it the rest of our lives,” Freeland said.
Lauren Olson ’15 and Elijah Aubihl ’15
Lauren Olson ’15 and Elijah Aubihl ’15 met through their love of sports. Lauren played club volleyball and Eli played club baseball.
About 30 days before their scheduled wedding date – April 18, 2020 – the pandemic shut down much of the United States. Their 200-guest wedding, scheduled at The Transept in Over-The-Rhine, was canceled. While they had to postpone the reception, they didn’t want to put their lives on hold, so they married surrounded by their closest family and friends on a rooftop in downtown Cincinnati.
Because most restaurants were closed, Skyline Chili delivered their meals to the rooftop, where they celebrated with their guests around a firepit. They hope to celebrate with all of their guests by renewing their vows on their one-year anniversary.
“When we got the news that our original wedding plans were going to have to change, I was sad because I knew how much time and effort Lauren put in to planning our wedding day,” Eli said. “The ceremony we had with only our parents and several close friends was better than I could’ve imagined, and it was the best day of my life, all thanks to Lauren.”
Austin Snyder ’19 and Emily Marks Snyder ’20
Both education majors, Austin Snyder ’19 and Emily Marks Snyder ’20 met during a study abroad trip in Belize.
Among their adjustments was Emily’s friend getting ordained online to marry the two. However, she was quarantined leading up to the wedding so they asked Emily’s father to become ordained – just in case. After Emily’s friend completed quarantine, she married the two on the front porch of an Airbnb in Louisville surrounded by their immediate families.
“I think it was around February maybe where we decided that it just wasn’t a good idea to keep that same plan, but we figured the end goal is to get married,” Austin said.
Added Emily: “It was small and intimate, better than anything we could have hoped for.”
Savannah Walker ’17 and Hayden McDougald ’17
Savannah Walker ’17 and Hayden McDougald ’17 met on a spring break trip to the Eastern Shore of Virginia with Miami’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity during their first year.
When they returned to Miami, Hayden wrote Savannah the first of many letters that led to a scavenger hunt that led the two to a bridge on Western Campus. It was there that he asked her to be his girlfriend.
The two enjoyed all of their semesters at Miami together and both studied at Luxembourg, though one year apart.
Though the event was smaller, they married last September while following social distancing protocols.
“We were fortunate to have many of the people we loved there, and no one who attended the event contracted COVID thanks to the precautions we took,” Savannah said.