They had spent 18 months planning the perfect wedding — a spring affair with 200-plus guests and all the trimmings. Then, three months before their big day, Covid arrived, and everything changed. So why, then, does the bride say it was what they needed?
Bride: Briana Mention, 29, risk analyst, native of Greenwood, South Carolina
Groom: Tim Mention, 30, associate director of financial aid, native of Georgetown, South Carolina
Current Residence: Atlanta, GA
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Wedding Venue: La Meridien Hotel – Charlotte, NC
Wedding Date: May 30, 2020
(Briana) Tim was attending Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and I was attending the University of South Carolina in Columbia. The schools are a quick 45-minute drive away from one another. We are both members of a sorority or fraternity and have a lot of mutual friends. We all liked to hang out together and go to parties and things of that nature.
He saw me on two different occasions, apparently at a party or event, before I ever saw him. He asked my friend, Paige, who I was. She told him my name and said she would let me know who he was, but she never said anything to me. Then it happened again. We were all at an outing when he told Paige, “Don’t forget to tell your friend I’m interested in her.” She promised to let me know, but again, she forgot to tell me.
Tim and I followed each other on social media, and he saw that I was in the Rock Hill/Charlotte area with some of my sorority sisters and reached out to me on social media. We started sending direct messages on Instagram for a while. After a month or two, I finally took him up on his offer of a date. I still tell Paige, “You were blocking my blessings. How did you forget?” She always wants to say, “Well, technically, I’m the one to introduce you.” No, she did not.
(Briana) Tim came to Columbia for a visit. I had worked earlier that day and ended up accidentally leaving my purse at work. While getting ready for the date, it dawned on me that I did not have my wallet, ID or anything. I can’t even drink. I knew he was going to pay for me, but I didn’t want it to seem like I don’t have any money on me, or worse. So, I asked him to take me by my job before going to the restaurant. Unfortunately, security had already closed everything down for the day. I just felt really weird. I didn’t want him to think I did this on purpose. When he asked what was wrong, I decided it was time to explain. He said he was paying for everything, regardless, so everything worked out well.
We went to Miyabi Japanese Restaurant and had a great date. We hung out a little bit afterward, and he decided to spend the night with one of his friends. We talked the next day and he ended up taking me to get my things. It was very embarrassing, but it worked out in our favor.
(Briana) There wasn’t a particular moment that stands out to me. I think it was just me looking at our relationship growing over time, and how we truly started off as friends. I had just gotten out of a relationship and wasn’t really looking for anyone. I was still very vulnerable and not wanting to take that step into something new. So we started out as friends and continued to grow. And he treated me the way that my father and other men in my life had always told me I should be treated by the man who I would marry one day.
I just looked at everything and realized: I think about this man 24/7. I’m more worried about him sometimes than I’m worried about myself. When I get down on my knees and pray, I’m also praying for him at the same time. Even after six years, I still get butterflies. I’m still happy to see him 24/7, and he treats me like a queen.
(Briana) We were both working in Charlotte when Tim got a job offer that required him moved to Atlanta. One day he told me his manager had sent him an email saying that he had gotten an award, and that it would be presented at a recognition event in Charlotte in a few weeks. He was told that he needed to write a speech. I was in the process of planning a birthday trip for my mother when he said he was planning to come to Charlotte and that we could attend the awards event then fly to Las Vegas for my mom’s birthday trip. He showed me the emails and told me that he needed my help writing his speech. I’m like, “okay, great.” So, for two, three weeks before the event, I was helping him day in and day out to write his speech, literally word for word.
On the day of the event, we went to Merchant & Trade, a rooftop bar in Uptown Charlotte. As we were getting ready to go up, I said, “Hold on, I need to go to the restroom.” I didn’t realize I was messing everything up. When we finally got off the elevator at the rooftop, there were people everywhere. We were directed to the area where our event was taking place. When we opened the door, all I could see was lights everywhere in my face. I heard our song, “Matrimony,” by Usher and Wale, playing. I couldn’t see who’s who or what’s what, only lights and phones and cameras. He surprised me with about 50 of our closest friends and family. There was a slideshow of us playing. It was literally the most beautiful thing I could have asked for.
(Briana) We definitely got the Covid bride and groom experience. We had taken a year and a half to plan the wedding exactly how we wanted it. We’re very detail oriented, so we planned everything out to a tee. Our wedding date was set for May 30, 2020. We were having 200-plus guests. We wanted to pay for everything up front and had already budgeted everything. Everything was perfect. Three months before the wedding, Covid happened and brought our plans to a screeching stop.
It just threw us for a loop. I was so stressed out and concerned. We didn’t know whether to cancel the wedding or lower the guest list. There was just so much going on and everything was changing week by week. Thank God for our wedding planner. We call her our guardian angel. She stepped in and kept me under control throughout all the madness. We decided to postpone everything for a while. My planner and her team took us through reaching out to the vendors, changing the contractual agreements, everything that we needed to change; and got it done in no time. We thought we were going to postpone the wedding until October, but the pandemic showed no signs of abating, so we doubted that we could still do it then.
We were wrapping up marriage counseling at that time, and one day Tim said, “Hey, you know how the pastor says we try to please everyone all the time, trying to make everyone else happy? I want to make us happy. This isn’t about everyone else; it’s about us, and we have got to remember that. Let’s just go ahead and still get married on our original wedding day.” We prayed and prayed and prayed. And when I woke up the next morning, I said, “Let’s do it.”
(Briana) At that time, CDC guidelines recommended only ten people at an event. Our immediate families — our siblings and parents — would have been more than that. So we just decided it would be me, him, our pastor and our photographers. We decided to keep our plans a secret since nobody else could be present. We ended up going to Spartanburg, South Carolina, because that is where our photographer lived. We found a venue there that was perfect for us. We decided, let’s do it here. I put on my alternate wedding dress and press-on nails from Target, and on May 30, 2020, Tim and I eloped.
I was so confident, and there was no question this was what I wanted. But I can tell you, I was also nervous. The people who were there, even my husband will tell you, I was shaking. I think it was because I was so excited, but I was also thinking, “Oh, my God, my mom is not here.” Yet I knew that she would be happy. There were just so many different emotions, but nothing to stop me. We had thought about it, we had talked about it, and we prayed about it. We knew that God is the center of our relationship, and that was all that mattered.
We have videos of our wedding day from around 8 a.m. until midnight. After the ceremony, we enjoyed our wedding day dinner at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, a family friendly chain restaurant. The craziest part is that his little brother knew we were in town and wanted to join us for dinner. We had told him we had a photo shoot in the area. So, just married and everything, we took off our wedding rings and had dinner with his brother but kept our secret. We rode around all night and ended up driving back to Atlanta. I remember us singing wedding songs the whole way. The worst part was talking to our parents and friends who were calling to check in on us, sure that it was such a hard day for us. They were thinking we were struggling and sad, and we’re literally over here on cloud nine.
We didn’t tell anybody about our wedding for two and a half weeks, when we told our family. Tim and I had closed on a home two weeks after our wedding. We decorated one area of the house with lots of family photos, including photos from our wedding and invited both sets of parents for a visit. They were very surprised but happy. We didn’t tell all of our friends or wedding party for about a month. I’m a very open person and tell my friends and family everything. So, this was very different. Some people were like, “You did what? Are you serious?” I said, “Yeah, I know.” Some of our friends faked being upset, saying, “We were so worried about you.”
I think everyone finally understood this was something that we did for ourselves. Was it what we thought we wanted? No, but it was absolutely perfect! We were starting our own new family. Covid brought about so many negative things, but it brought out so many great things as well. It brought about truly understanding the reason for things and remembering why we were doing it, the reason for our union. Besides, that allowed us to take another year to plan even more of the wedding that we knew we still wanted.
(Briana) We ended up having our “wedding,” which was basically a repeat of our wedding, reception and anniversary celebration on May 30, 2021, exactly a year later. We were able to make a lot of additions and even increased the budget. Would you believe me if I told you, I was nervous, like we had not been married for a whole year?
Tim and I wrote notes to each other throughout the day. We both had notes for each other when we woke up. We still followed tradition and didn’t see each other before the wedding, just like it was our first wedding day. We had the ceremony, the reception, the wedding party, and our 200-plus guests. So, we treated everything like it was a normal wedding day.
We shared a second note, and he sent a gift for me around noon. Then he sent me a note that he wanted me to read right before I walked down the aisle. The note was folded like middle school kids used to do back in the day. When I read it, my makeup was just running everywhere. Then the doors opened, and I walked in. Despite all the thought, decorations, flowers and worry about what everybody looked like, I did not see anything in that room except him. It was the best moment ever.
Nobody wants to be a Covid bride or Covid groom, but everything that we went through brought us so much closer together. While we were already super close, it strengthened our bond. People say that everything happens for a reason. I truly feel that being a Covid bride and groom was something that we needed. It showed us the true meaning of sticking together and learning, how to push through. When we finally got our day, it was absolutely perfect. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
(Briana) We went to Jamaica three days after our second wedding/anniversary. Our original honeymoon was scheduled for Greece. We are still planning to take that trip. We’ve already paid for it. They’re waiting on us to give them a date. We’re just trying to find the right time, when everything has calmed down a little more so we can enjoy the full experience.
Briana offers this advice to other couples who are planning their wedding. “Live in the moment. Use that time for you and your fiancé to bond. Help and support one another. It’s a great experience. It’s an amazing experience. And it can bring you so much closer, if you do it together. Also, I would just say be organized. We had Excel spreadsheets. Even so, I don’t think we could have gotten through this all without a really good wedding planner. She was amazing. That was the best money spent on our wedding. Finally, you can’t let anyone on the outside dictate how to have your day. Everyone is going to have their opinions. Some may be good for you; some may not be good for you. Enjoy the experience and don’t let anyone take you away from what you know your dream is.”
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Wedding Planner: SDS Events LLC
Photographer: Smithalee Photography
Venue : Le Meridien Hotel
Florist/Decor: CLux Inc.
DJ/ Uplighting/Dance On a Cloud: OMTBH Weddings
Hair Stylist: Star Studio CLT
Wedding Dress: Anjolique Bridal and Formal
Wedding Attire Nyoni Couture
Cake: Cake Couture
Special Effects/Sparklers: Essential Lighting LLC
360 Photo Booth: QC Booths