As governments restricted large gatherings, and many churches, venues, caterers, tailors and salons closed their doors, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in the wedding plans of couples all around the world. As a result, couples have held weddings on Zoom, in city streets and parking lots. For University of Georgia alumnus Ryan Helton and recently graduated fifth-year Delaney Helton, the best place for their dream quarantine wedding was on campus.
Ryan Helton, of Carrollton, and Delaney Helton, formerly Delaney Givens, of Suwanee, tied the knot on April 25 in front of UGA Chapel with immediate family. The pair discussed their wedding and the implications COVID-19 had on their big day.
The Red & Black: First, can you guys tell me about your relationship with UGA?
Delaney Helton: Okay, well I went to UGA and so did he, we both actually transferred he went to [University of] West Georgia first, and I went to Georgia College first.
Ryan Helton: Yeah, I graduated in 2017 with a degree in management, I started there my sophomore year and I volunteered at Athens Church, and that’s where I met Delaney. So that’s how our stories connected.
Delaney: Same thing, I started my sophomore year. I am quote-unquote graduating Friday with an interior design degree. I worked at Athens Church, so that's how our paths crossed. He volunteered in the children’s ministry where I work, and he came back for a football game, and then he came back to visit the children’s ministry and that’s how we met.
R&B: Well congrats on your upcoming graduation, sorry it has to be the way that it is.
Delaney: Oh it’s fine, I’m a fifth-year so it doesn’t bother me too much.
R&B: What were your original wedding plans before the coronavirus outbreak?
Delaney: We were planning to get married in July. And we were going back and forth like ‘do we want something big? Do we want something small?’ We weren’t really planning a ton, and when this all hit we didn’t really want to keep planning. And what was kind of holding us back until the summertime was, of course, I was still in school and he was living in Carrollton. So after that, the distance wasn't holding us up anymore, and school wasn't holding us up anymore. And you're ready and you're like, why not just go for it now, and it was an excuse to do something really small and intimate which we kind of wanted to do anyway.
R&B: So when you decided to go ahead and do the wedding, did you know right away you wanted it on campus?
Ryan: I love UGA. I’m the biggest Georgia fan ever. I’ve been going to games since I was a kid, and anything UGA I’m a fan of. It was like we wanted to do it, so what better place than campus? But the thing is, you'll get a kick out of this, we never got a yes that we could do it.
Delaney: We called so many people. We never really got a yes, but we didn’t get a no either.
Ryan: Yeah, nobody said no. And it was like if they stop us they stop us, so let’s try it. It’d be awesome if we pull it off.
R&B: What was that day like? Was the campus mostly empty?
Delaney: Well, it’s funny because my parents said they noticed a lot of people walking around on North Campus and a few people on blankets picnicking, but I didn’t notice a single person.
Ryan: Yeah I wouldn’t say [there was] a crowd but there were people out there for sure. They probably didn’t know what was going on.
R&B: So with the CDC social-distancing guidelines limiting large celebrations, how did you decide which people attended the wedding?
Ryan: We decided on family. I have a huge family, but I couldn’t invite all of mine. So we just did immediate family, and she did the same for hers. We just kept it as small as we could to meet the social-distancing guidelines.
R&B: Do you have any big plans for once things get back to normal?
Ryan: I really don't think we're gonna have a ceremony. We're very, I don’t want to say, quiet people, but kind of introverts. We’re not about crowds and stuff, so it was perfect for us. We’ll let that be our wedding and go on a bomb honeymoon.
R&B: Do you guys have plans for that yet? Or are you still thinking about it as the country tries to open up in the next few months?
Delaney: We’re just playing it by ear, to do what the government says in terms of traveling.
The Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.