After Coronavirus Postponed Their Wedding, This Couple Eloped on the Beach Where They Got Engaged
We dare you not to smile while reading about the Quincy couple's beyond-adorable celebration.
When CJ Himberg and Jared Clapp began planning a May 2020 wedding with 175 guests at the Essex Resort and Spa in Vermont, they couldn’t have known that a global pandemic would render their celebration impossible. Fast-forward to this past March, though, and the pair was forced to postpone their event. Yet after seven years together, the Quincy residents were determined to make their union official on their planned wedding date, despite the circumstances. They decided to make the best of the situation by pivoting to an intimate elopement on Humarock Beach in Scituate, where Jared proposed in 2018. Here, the bride shares their story in her own words.
We knew pretty early on that we’d have to cancel because we were supposed to get married on May 9, which was within the timeframe of the stay-at-home ordinances in Massachusetts and Vermont. It was a pretty huge blow emotionally because we had chosen the date in honor of my grandparents’ anniversary; my grandpa passed away shortly after we got engaged, so it was a way of having him be a part of the day. Obviously, we were disappointed to postpone after spending so much time planning and being excited for that day, but it also felt like an extra emotional blow because we really wanted to get married on May 9.
The Essex was so accommodating in helping us move everything. Our venue would have been the site of the ceremony and reception, the catering would be done by them, and the accommodations were all going to be on site, so they were able to help us look at future dates and see what was available to fit all of our guests. At first, we actually considered rescheduling to an August date because, at that point in early March, and I don’t think any of us really knew what was going to happen. But we ended up choosing an October date. I called my photographer Katie [Karlberg], who I love, and she was available then, which was amazing because she’s so booked up, and our DJ was [available] as well.
For a while, we weren’t sure if we [could] still get married privately on May 9 because we didn’t have a marriage license for Massachusetts, and at that point, our city clerk’s office was closed. But I stayed in touch with the Quincy City Clerk and about two weeks before May 9, they told us that they could arrange a safe, socially distant marriage license application for us. We were so lucky and so excited, but we had two weeks to plan [an elopement] while we were still in the middle of a pandemic.
We had to be creative about where and how we were going to go about getting married. We decided to go back to Humarock Beach in Scituate where we got engaged. For both the engagement and our wedding, Jared’s aunt and uncle very graciously let us use their house on the beach which has a back porch that faces the ocean.
Next we thought, “Well, who’s going to marry us?” We didn’t want to invite just one of our family members to come because it felt unfair, and we had already decided that our family’s safety was the number one thing we cared about. We live in a two-family house in Quincy, and we’re friends with our neighbors who live downstairs, so we ended up asking our neighbor Erin to get a One-Day Designation to marry us, and she was game for it. So she came down [to Scituate], and our photographer Katie—who was so kind—came down, too, to capture the day with some socially distant photography.
I ordered a large bouquet from Farmgirl Flowers, which is based in San Francisco. I had also gotten some flowers from my mom, Jared’s mom, and my friends, so I incorporated flowers from each of those bouquets, too, so that I had a little bit of everyone with me on the day. My mom also gave me a pin that belonged to her mom, who passed away before I was born, that has her name on it, so I pinned that to the bottom of my bouquet. I ordered my dress from BHLDN and luckily it worked out. I hope I can wear it for my rehearsal eventually, too. Other than that, I picked up a cake from Fratelli’s Pastry Shop in Quincy, and we used a cake topper that we had purchased on Etsy.
On the day-of, we had a really relaxing morning. Just like any other day, we had breakfast together and took our dogs for a walk. We were keeping an eye on the weather forecast and decided to get married a little bit earlier than we had planned because we thought that some rain might come in. So we had to hustle down to Scituate just to make sure that we were avoiding any additional barriers that 2020 wanted to throw at us. We went down to the house, I did my own hair and makeup, and video-called my sister and talked to my mom. Then Erin and Katie got there and we scoped out a spot out back that seemed the best considering the strong winds.
Then we just did it. The ceremony was short and sweet: six minutes long. I walked out onto the porch to the song “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart—the song our dog Maggie is named for. We also exchanged vows that we had written ourselves and Erin did a reading from Morgan Harper Nichols, who I love. She’s an artist and a poet and she has this poem about love and about how it’s as vast as the oceans, so it felt very appropriate.
We got married around four and then Katie stayed and took pictures for two hours or so and then Jared picked up some pizza. We Facetimed with my grandma afterwards, and she’s the only one that almost made me cry. We also had a Zoom call with both of our immediate families, and we did our cake cutting with them and toasted and drank some champagne. Then we just enjoyed spending the night down there. Jared built a fire because it was a chilly night and we just got to relax.
We keep joking about how Jared had his dream wedding—very quiet and not a lot of attention on us—and then someday I’ll get my dream wedding with the fun and the dancing. I think overall, we were both so sad not to have our families and friends there. But at the same time, we were so glad we did it because it just felt very personal. Our love is the most important part of our marriage and being able to get married on that day and have a happy day in the middle of all of this was just such a gift. Now we get to relive it all through the pictures and just have something that is a little bit hopeful. I think it’s the same way we feel when there’s a sunny day—like we’re all going be okay.
We’re going wait and see what happens with October because the safety of our friends and family is a huge priority. We’ll just have to adjust however we need to to ensure that, but our hope is that we can go to Vermont and have the wedding we planned. It’ll be like a very fancy vow renewal. I have a wedding dress and we have bridesmaids and groomsmen who have dresses and suits to walk down the aisle in. And my dad and brother were supposed to walk me down the aisle, so I’m still looking forward to that.
For any engaged couples affected by coronavirus who are thinking of doing what we did, I would say “Do it.” We live in such an uncertain world, especially right now. It was such a special day and now I actually feel much less stressed about October and the uncertainty around it, because we get to face the rest of this as husband and wife. I just hope that couples who are going through this remember that it’s about the two of them and about their love for each other. That’s the most important part. Of course, we all hope to celebrate with all of our family and friends in the future when we’re face-to-face, and I actually think that the party and the wedding are going to be even more fun when that day eventually comes.
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