Press "Enter" to skip to content

Weddings in the time of coronavirus: Local couple awarded free venue due to pandemic

Share this story

When Sydney Mouton and Hayden Arnold met at their company Christmas party, neither of them could have ever imagined the predicament that they would be in while planning their wedding.

Ten months into their relationship, Arnold popped the question and Mouton said “YES!” at Disney World!

“He planned a surprise trip to Disney World! He contacted my best friend from my Disney College Program and they came up with a plan,” Mouton said. “We went to dinner at the Polynesian Resort and he got down on one knee on the pier during the fireworks show. It was beautiful and so special!”

Mouton had no idea she would leave “The Most Magical Place On Earth” with a fiancé!

“I actually didn’t want to get dressed up for dinner that evening because we had just gotten off the plane,” Mouton said. “And I was more hungry than worried about my appearance. He practically begged me to put the nice outfit I had packed on, which looking back, should’ve been a give away.”

Then, the wedding planning began!

“We had everything set up for May 15th before having to reschedule the date – caterer, photographer, DJ, everything,” Mouton said.

The couple was set to tie the knot on May 15 at The Springs in Rockwall with 300 family and friends, including nine bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Then the coronavirus pandemic changed those plans.

“Things changed in early April. Dallas county extended the shelter in place until our wedding date,” Mouton said. “So we called the venue to see what that meant for us, since prior to then, Rockwall had followed Dallas county’s decisions regarding the stay at home orders. They let us know that they are going to be rescheduling weddings that are affected by this, so we grabbed the first available date in September.”

But that wasn’t the end of it. A friend from high school invited her to be part of her Engaged Women Connect Group at her church, Shoreline City in Dallas.

“I joined the group and one of the girls put it in our [group message] that the Ruthe Jackson Center was helping couples that had been affected by COVID. I sent them an email and they set up or ceremony for our original date,” Mouton said.

There was no application process. The venue responded to her email let the couple know that they would be opening their doors for them to use free of charge on their original wedding date of May 15!

“We actually got our marriage license the first week that everything started closing because we were worried we wouldn’t be able to get it if the virus got worse, so we had planned on getting married on our original date, despite the pandemic,” Mouton said.

The couple was planning to still get hitched on their original May 15 date, but it was looking like it would have to be in a public park or a courthouse, until the Grand Prairie venue offered their offered their garden to them.

The ceremony will be a bit different than the large wedding they originally planned.

“Since all of our grandparents are high risk, we made the decision that it will be only immediate family so that they will be able to safely attend. We have to comply with whatever Dallas County says the number in attendance can be. As of today, the number we are allowed is 25,” Mouton said.

Their ceremony will not be livestreamed as many weddings in the age of coronavirus have been.

“Since we aren’t receiving a refund from the original venue, just the reschedule, we want to respect the money and time that were put into it, and decided that keeping the smaller ceremony more private would be the best way to do that,” Mouton said.

The September date that was reserved at The Springs in Rockwall is still being reserved for a reception for their friends and family when they hope restrictions are loosened to allow the gathering.

“Luckily, we’re both big believers in supporting friends small businesses so nearly all of our vendors were people that we were able to communicate with frequently, and who understood the situation,” Mouton said. “Rescheduling vendors is a lot easier when they’re your friends!”

The vendors they originally booked will all be at the reception in September.

“We are going to do our best to make it everything that we thought it would initially be, just with a whole lot less pressure. We took his suit in for alterations prior to the shutdown, and it ended up getting stuck at the shop when it closed. I had my dress altered already, thankfully, but we decided it wouldn’t be fair that I get to wear my perfect outfit and he couldn’t,” Mouton said. “He ordered a new suit online and I ordered a new dress online that were both more casual for the small ceremony. We’ll be looking forward to wearing our extra fancy attire for the September ceremony.”

It was revealed during Governor Abbott’s announcement on May 5 that wedding venues and services required to conduct weddings could immediately open. Weddings held indoors other than at a church, congregation, or house of worship must limit occupancy to 25%. Wedding reception services were also allowed to resume, but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25% of the total listed occupancy. These occupancy limits do not apply to the outdoor areas of a wedding reception or to outdoor wedding receptions.

Earlier this week, the couple was on Fox News telling their story.

Congrats Hayden and Sydney!

Share this story