Coronavirus Chicago: Couple forced to cancel wedding due to COVID-19

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Many local brides and grooms and now having to cancel their weddings because of COVID-19.

One Chicago woman's wedding was supposed to be Saturday. She says it is the day she's been dreaming about since she was a little girl. But because of COVID-19, her special day has been put on pause.

"We actually met in high school," said DaJuana Sampler. "We went to Simeon Career Academy together."

Sampler could not wait to marry her high school sweetheart and best friend, Marques.

The Chicago couple got engaged in 2018 and from that moment on, they've been planning every detail of their wedding.

"13 months of planning and anticipation. So I was very excited," Sampler said.

Amid COVID-19 concerns, Governor JB Pritzker announced that he was limiting social gatherings to less than 250 people.

"I was like OK, well I just made the deadline," Sampler said. "I was at 200 guests. Then the CDC came back with updated guidelines of 50, and that's when my heart really started racing."

She said the venue eventually called them, saying all events, including weddings would have to be postponed to a later date.

"It was to the point that when somebody brought up the wedding, I would just break down into tears," Sampler said.

"It's a lot like a grieving process. There's anger, there's frustration, there's sadness," said Lori Stephenson, owner of Lola Event Productions on the North Side.

Stephenson has been working around the clock to find plan Bs for her wedding clients. She's encouraging all brides and grooms to postpone instead of canceling, which she believes will be best for couples and wedding vendors.

"The wedding industry is an industry of small businesses," Stephenson said. "A lot of us are really hard hit by this. We want to do what's best for our clients. We also need to think about our employees and our teams. Most people in the industry are willing to waive change fees, waive things that normally would be part of the contract and making it as easy as possible for people to postpone."

It's an option Sampler and her fiancé are seriously considering. They don't want to cancel, but can't help but feel saddened by the unknown of their special day.

"It was something that we were both just looking forward to just to way to finally show that expression of love," Sampler said. "Just to be told that's not happening this weekend was very disheartening."

The bride-to-be said they've decided to have a small ceremony of about 10 people in their home Saturday so that they can get married.

They said perhaps they'll celebrate their one-year anniversary next year in the venue but for now, they aren't setting a date.
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