Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Haines couple postpones wedding due to Coronavirus


March 19, 2020 | View PDF

Sidney Campbell

Katie Dickerson and Benjamin Bard canceled their wedding in an effort to reduce risk to their friends and family.

Until Sunday night, the plan for Haines residents Katie Dickerson and Benjamin Bard had been to get married on April 25 in a rustic barn in Michigan with roughly 125 of their closest friends and family. Then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidelines recommending individuals and organizations postpone events with 50 or more people for the next eight weeks.

Dickerson said she remembers joking last Friday about the possibility of having to reschedule the wedding because of COVID-19 concerns. As the weekend wore on, that became a reality.

"I think we both came to the understanding that we needed to postpone around the same time. (Ben) probably accepted it before I did," Dickerson said. "We respect what the CDC and healthcare professionals are trying to do... We have older family, and I'm sure some of our friends are more susceptible (to the virus) than myself and my partner. It's just not worth putting them at risk right now."

Dickerson said she spent Monday morning cancelling reservations for locations, rentals like silverware and plates, the photographer, the flowers, Mediterranean food and the karaoke machine. Because the couple got engaged last April, some of their reservations had been in place for nearly a year.

"All the vendors have been super accommodating. A lot of them were happy to hold until I rebook or a lot of them refunded us," Dickerson said. She said the only money they've lost so far was through cancellation fees for flights with Alaska Airlines partners. Dickerson said she also spent a good part of Monday reaching out to guests, giving them a heads up so they could cancel flights and hotel bookings.

The cancellation came as a relief for her fiancé's grandmother who's in her 90s, Dickerson said. "She was becoming very nervous about the idea of traveling. She's one of the important people we want at the wedding and is in one of the highest risk groups."

Dickerson said she and Bard have received positive feedback from friends in the health-care field about their decision to postpone. "They reached out to say they're glad we're taking things seriously."

"Someone like me who's in my mid-twenties, I'm going to be fine," Dickerson said of contracting COVID-19. "But I can spread it to a lot of people and a lot of people might not have the same ability for their body to defend against this disease. I think it's just shortsighted and selfish to not think beyond that."

"We'd prefer to get married sooner than later," Dickerson said. But the most important part of the wedding is the opportunity to bring friends and family together who they don't get to see very often, she said. While Dickerson and Bard have lived in Haines for the past three years, most of their family lives in the Midwest. "We were very much looking forward to celebrating with everybody," Dickerson said.

"Our plan right now, as much as we have a plan, is to basically go with what we had planned at a different time," Dickerson said. Unfortunately, it's proving difficult to find another time to hold the same wedding as venues are booked and people's schedules don't necessarily align.

"Ben and I are not in a serious rush to get married. We still love each other. We're still going to get married. We'll just do it at a better time when there's not as much stress."

Dickerson said she hopes they'll be able to reschedule sometime in the next six months. She said she and Bard had a second reception planned in Haines during the summer, but she doesn't know if that will be possible if social distancing guidelines remain in place.


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