WDET StoryMakers Fellow Courtney Wise Randolph shares the story of a small, socially distant wedding that took place in her uncle David’s backyard.
Since COVID-19 came to Detroit in March, 2020, we’ve solemnly acknowledged the existence of the pandemic in Detroit. It’s changed our lives. In my family, it’s even taken some lives. And though it’s robbed us of a little more time with some of our loved ones, it has not slowed our determination to demonstrate steadfast love for one another.
My uncle David Parnell began dating Evelyn in January 2019. By August 2019, they were planning their wedding for summer 2020. COVID-19 required some changes to their plans, but that didn’t dampen their excitement to be married.
“I’m absolutely just as excited,” Uncle David says. “What this is, is an opportunity for two families to come together as one. Okay sure, so you’re gonna be—there’s gonna be a few less people—I’ll say it like that. But that’s okay, she’s gonna be there and I’m gonna be there. And I’m gonna marry a beautiful woman and I’m gonna enjoy every single second of it.”
My uncle is a man who believes in love. That’s easy to tell when you’re with him.
Before Evelyn, he was married for 35 years to my Aunt Gloria, who died in 2011. In his words, it was 35 years of bliss with absolutely no arguments. He’s confident Aunt Gloria is happy for the start of this new chapter.
Uncle David’s wedding to Evelyn is the start of something new for them and for us. Their wedding will happen at the new home the two of them will share together.
Three dozen people gathered in David and Evelyn’s backyard for the ceremony. Uncle David wore a navy blue suit, a cream dress shirt, and a pink tie, accented by an ivory and pink rose corsage.
Evelyn’s dress was beautiful —long, formal, and with a sheer midriff, provocative. That midriff caught me by surprise, in a good way!
The dress shop where Evelyn ordered her dress shut down because of the pandemic, so it didn’t arrive in time for the ceremony. So she found an unexpected replacement with the help of her daughter.
“I was just looking through the closet and I said you know what? So I took it and I had it altered. So, this is what I’m wearing—her high school prom dress. Who would’ve thought?”
You ever been somewhere and felt like you could pick the happy up and put it in your pocket for how thick it is in the air? That’s how the ceremony was y’all. Just gorgeous. Joyful. And the weather was perfect.
After the ceremony, the guests cheered for the newlyweds and were served prepackaged lunches. Most guests graciously accepted the lunch boxes and headed home.
At this point, it was an even smaller gathering of the newly combined family – kids, grandkids, and me – hanging around soaking up a precious time together in the midst of quarantine.
Evelyn’s favorite moment of the day came in the form of a poem that David wrote for her:
What Love Is
Knowing you from afar
And wondering who you are
Seeing you from afar
And wishing to know you better
Touching you with my heart
So that I can actually see holding hands and expressing the joy in ecstasy
These are the building blocks, foundations of marriage
These things that make hard times easy and easy times blissful
Behold, love that transfers age and keeps us as young as we believe throughout eternity
Just a note to remind you
In love with you is where you’ll find me
There are two great updates to share about the time that has passed since David and Evelyn exchanged vows:
- All guests followed safety rules and no COVID-19 cases occurred as a result of their wedding.
- Their joy in love is still overflowing.