For Rebecca and Mandy Levings, downsizing a wedding didn’t necessarily mean missing out on anything.
The two had to postpone their reception because of the pandemic, but the couple still ended up having a ceremony that was both meaningful and relaxing.
The Levings had a strong connection even when they first started getting to know one another.
Although Rebecca, a service professional in environmental services, and Mandy, a nurse, matched on Tinder in April 2016, they didn’t connect for a long time. Eventually, though, they started talking, met, and felt an instant connection. It wasn’t long before they started hanging out together every day.
“For me, it just felt like home, I guess you could say, pretty early on. I could be myself, and I was comfortable with Mandy. I couldn’t see my life without her,” Rebecca said.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY
Mandy said that she felt the same.
Still, it took a while for the Lewis Center couple to take the next step.
“We had lived together for three, going on four years,” Rebecca recalled. “We had talked about [marriage] several times; we knew it was going to happen.”
They had even picked out Mandy’s engagement ring together. But Rebecca waited another nine months to officially pop the question.
Whenever the couple travels, they make a point to visit any botanical gardens nearby, but they had never visited the one closest to home. So the location for the surprise proposal in October 2019 was a seemingly obvious choice: Their first visit to Franklin Park Conservatory.
“I think Mandy was still pretty clueless [about the proposal] at that point,” Rebecca said.
Rebecca contracted a photographer, made up an elaborate excuse to take Mandy to the conservatory, and proposed overlooking the gardens.
They started planning the November 2020 wedding immediately. The venue, caterer, and almost everything else were booked when COVID-19 hit.
“We were planning to have around 120 people at the wedding, and then everything happened,” Mandy said.
They decided to downsize to immediate family, a wedding party of two each, an officiant, and a photographer. The group of 120 suddenly was only 20.
“Mandy is an ICU nurse at Ohio State, so everyone was very understanding,” Rebecca said. “Everyone sent their support and said they couldn’t wait to celebrate with us next year, whenever that could be.
“Even the vendors were really understanding. We were really lucky there.”
Both of their families are from Ohio. Mandy’s great-grandmother declined the invitation, but overall, the families were happy to make the trip, take precautions, and show their support.
The ceremony was at the Gahanna Sanctuary, with dinner afterward at a restaurant. Because it was such a small group, each household could have its own table at dinner, helping the guests feel safe and distanced.
The couple also was able to reschedule everything that didn’t move forward in 2020 with no penalties.
“We’re supposed to have a reception in April, but we’ll see how that goes,” Mandy laughed.
Both Mandy and Rebecca found the silver lining in the curveball that 2020 threw them.
“I’m kind of relieved, I guess,” Mandy said. “The day itself was really nice; the flow was great. The fact that it was so small and intimate, there wasn’t any pressure for things to go a certain way. Like, if something messed up, we could just start over. It was super relaxing and chill.
“Hopefully soon we’ll be able to celebrate with everybody at our reception and share that day through pictures and our stories!”
“It was really nice to know that the day didn’t have to go perfectly,” Rebecca agreed. “We kind of had a sigh of relief and were able to enjoy ourselves.”
They both predict that the upcoming reception will also hold more enjoyment than stress.
“Now, we’re not as worried about decorations,” Mandy noted with a laugh.
“Yeah, we don’t feel like we have to put as much effort into centerpieces and have everything so perfect,” Rebecca added. “We want to just show everyone our pictures and have a good time.”