Love in the Time of COVID

So many couples rescheduled or scrapped plans for big weddings in 2020. Here’s how the Mission Santa Clara handled changes to its ceremonies during the pandemic.

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“We ended 2020 on a high note,” says Monica Vinluan ’12, M.S. ’13 of her scaled-back December wedding at the Mission. Image by Gina Halferty Photography.

It sounds like the title of the inevitable period piece rom-com filming 50 years from now. But also like the current reality of couples who’ve rescheduled, shuffled, or scrapped wedding plans.

Monica (Camorongan) Vinluan ’12, M.S. ’13 and Marwin Vinluan were still able to marry at the Mission church on their original date in December 2020, with a few—OK, many—alterations.

“I knew right off the bat that I wanted to get married at the Mission. It was such a big part of going to college at Santa Clara,” says Vinluan.

Her new husband says before the pandemic hit, they’d planned to cap their guest list at 300—they’re both from large families. “We didn’t know what was going on up until a month before,” Marwin says, right as the Bay Area was reentering the most restrictive tier of the state’s coronavirus response.

In the end, the pair wed on the front steps of the Mission, on their original date, Dec. 12, 2020, in front of 12 masked and socially distanced guests, while a few hundred others tuned in via livestream.

Mission director Charlie White says the church hosted 11 weddings in 2020, compared with 40 to 50 in a typical year. Penalty-free rescheduling and full reimbursement of the reservation fee were offered. “I’ve marveled at how understanding and ‘realistic’ our couples have seemed,” he says.

After their ceremony, Monica and Marwin held a small reception in their backyard, with the three household “bubbles” present seated under separate canopies. “It ended up working out in the long run … not wanting anyone to take a risk was a no–brainer,” Monica says. “Plus, the final day was a lot more intimate.”

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