Shanna Allen & Paul Gallucci
Postponing their destination wedding was definitely a tough pill to swallow. But their photographer stepped up, planning the most gorgeous elopement. Shanna, the bride, shares her thoughts on her impromptu wedding.
What was the original plan? Our original wedding plan was to get married in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico at The Fives Azul’s Beach Resort the week of April 26th 2020. We had the week booked with our close friends and family at this beautiful resort. We found out just 40 days before the wedding that all flights and travel was cancelled by the government and the wedding was going to have to be cancelled or postponed. Bridal shower, bachelorette, all events cancelled lesss than 40 days before.
Describe your thought process of realizing you had to change up your plans. Originally, we were super bummed about everything. We spent a few days not talking to anyone. I am sure many “COVID brides” can relate, we first felt in shock then upset and even feelings of anger. I have had to overcome a lot of adversity during my childhood and although I am always grateful and positive, I almost felt cursed when everything was cancelled/ postponed. The wedding for us was also a time to bring our friends and families together in Mexico which made it even more difficult. I have not seen my brother in 8 years who lives in Istanbul, Turkey and my sister who had lived in the states for a year. We knew this was happening to the entire world and things could have been a lot worse but initially it was really disappointing. Luckily with the help of our photographer, we were able to turn a crumby situation into a very special and intimate marriage celebration.
Was your family aware of your elopement? We wanted to keep everything a secret at first. We had some mixed feelings because everyone had paid for Mexico, as I said we were less than 40 days from departure and we were worried about our guests. We quickly reminded ourselves that no one could have predicted a pandemic, we have been together for over 8 years, engaged for over a year and we did not want to wait to sign our papers and become husband and wife any longer. A week before we decided the elopement, we did not want to keep this special day a secret so we told Paul’s parents, our siblings, the wedding party and some close friends.
Describe the day. To start, I have to say that we had no expectations about this day and it turned out so magical. Maria, our photographer called us back in March when our travel to Mexico was cancelled and asked if we had our marriage license, which we had gotten it in February. She said, have you considered signing your paper and making a day of it? She planned the entire day, she told me a cost for some florals and we literally just showed up. I am forever grateful for her. I have to mentioned that at this time, only gatherings of 5 people were allowed. So present, we had our photographers Maria and Alex who planned the whole day, the officiant, Paul, myself and our dog Cooper.
The entire day from start to finish was astonishing and full of surprises. We woke up and our neighbour/friends dropped off a delicious fully prepared brunch on our front step! We ate breakfast together then I went to a friend’s house and got my hair and makeup done. She made me feel incredibly beautiful and we had some mimosas to start the day. I put on my dress that I was going to wear to my bridal shower and I went home to hit the road with Paul. We headed to Glencoe, Ont. where Maria had set up a family friend’s property. The whole drive my palms were sweaty and I had butterflies; I could not believe that I was finally going to marry my best friend. We also had no idea of anything that Maria had planned or set up.
When we arrived, she took us to the road to “calm our nerves,” we had some champagne and lots of laughs until the officiant showed up. Our dog Cooper was loving the property and chasing the chickens around. When the officiant came, we entered the barn area and we were blown away by the set up of a gorgeous area with florals, the boho bus, candles, personalized signs, a cake table, vintage bikes, highland cows and more. Paul and I looked at each other and started balling. We were shocked and felt so blessed and grateful. Paul stood up with the officiant and I walked over to him and we said “I do”. We signed our papers, our photographers signed as our witnesses as well. We were pronounced husband and wife & headed over to the cake table to eat some cake, we drank some more champagne, lit some sparklers and danced in the dark. We ended the night with a bonfire and some good chats with Maria and Alex. The day was super emotional and overwhelming in a really good way day. My cheeks hurt on the drive home from smiling so hard. The whole drive home we just talked about how blown away we were by the whole day and how lucky we felt.
What was your favourite part of the day? My favourite part was that despite everything that was happening in the world, I was able to marry the love of my life. We stood together, holding hands listening to the officiant and all our troubles disappeared. We did not do personalized vows as Paul wanted to save those for Mexico in front of our family and friends. The officiant had asked us a week before to send 7 things we love about each other. We stood hand in hand, staring into each other’s eyes, laughing and crying while the officiant was reading. As this was happening, I felt like the sky had opened up and my mother and our lost loved ones were looking over us. It really felt like we were meant to things this way and the day was perfect just the way it was.
How did you feel after the day was over? I honestly felt so excited to be Paul’s wifey! Of course, it was difficult not having our family and friends present with us but it also made our marriage so intimate and special. We were so excited to tell everyone that we were husband and wife.
Are you planning a future event for next year? Yes, since our wedding in Mexico was fully planned, partially paid and our guests have a future travel credit, we will hopefully have our wedding celebration on our one year marriage anniversary on May 3, 2021. We look forward to celebrating our wedding with our families and friends next year when travel is safe.
Advice for future brides? Any bride questioning what they should do because of all the changes and uncertainty – Embrace the change, go with the flow and deeply believe that everything will work out in the end. Coming from someone who overcome many life challenges, remain positive and optimistic. Forget about traditional or doing things in a certain order and do not be afraid to change the original plan. Marry your person, do not let anything stop you. Your family and friends love you and they will understand whatever you choose to do. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it has taught us to not take love or life for granted. Love conquers all.