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Online preparation allows couples to marry amidst restrictions

05/15/2020 | Comments

COLORADO SPRINGS. The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will ripple through society for years to come, but one of the groups most immediately and directly affected by the pandemic are engaged couples who were planning weddings this year. These couples have been faced with a difficult choice — move forward with a wedding where only their parents and possibly siblings can attend, or postpone it for an indeterminate period of time.

Richard Tegatz, a student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and his fiancé Katie Walker had planned to get married in January 2021 in Indianapolis. But the more they weighed experts’ predictions that another coronavirus flare-up could take place in late fall of this year, the more they questioned whether their plans were viable.

“People would be making plans to fly in from four of the biggest airports in the country and would be concerned,” said Tegatz. “It wasn’t worth all the stress.”

So the couple decided to get married at a parish in Tegatz’s home state of Vermont next month, with only immediate family members present.

“The biggest disappointment is not being able to invite all our friends to the wedding,” he said. “We had a fairly ornate reception planned in Indianapolis.”

Fortunately, however, the disruption caused by the pandemic won’t prevent the couple from getting married in the Catholic Church, because they have been doing online marriage preparation through The program was developed by Christian and Christine Meert, who direct the Diocese of Colorado Springs’ Office of Marriage and Family Life.

“In the Diocese of Colorado Springs, it was almost as if we have been preparing for this kind of situation,” said Christian Meert. “After the initial meeting with their pastors, the engaged couples have to fulfill three main steps — a Catholic Marriage Preparation program, a premarital inventory and formation in Natural Family Planning. These three steps have been available online for a long time now. It has been a great help during these times when couples are confined to their homes and in-person classes have been canceled throughout the country.”

Colorado resident Ashley Black and her fiancé decided to stick to their original wedding date in June rather than postpone their marriage, even though it means that some immediate family members won’t be able to attend. The roughly 220 people who would have been invited to their wedding instead will be able to view the event via livestream. The couple was also forced to cancel their honeymoon trip to Italy.

“It’s been extremely stressful,” Black told the Herald in March. But the date holds deep significance for her because it is also her grandparents’ wedding anniversary, she said.

Black said that having to revamp their wedding plans, while very difficult, has helped her and her fiancé focus on the true meaning of the sacrament of matrimony. The Catholic Marriage Prep program has also helped to keep the situation in perspective.

“It has changed our mindset,” she said.

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