This Swampscott Micro Wedding Was So Chic You Wouldn’t Know It Was the Couple’s Plan B
After COVID-19 postponed their celebration, the bride and groom were married by their planner at his parents' home.
After nearly two years of wedding planning, Lauren Cohen and Sam Andler couldn’t have been more excited for their big day—May 24, 2020. “We were so close to the dream wedding. We had the best wedding planning experience ever and we just worked so well together with our planner and our parents. It was really just going to be so perfect,” the bride recalls. Then COVID-19 happened, and their plans for a 275 person Memorial Day weekend wedding at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem suddenly went out the door. Despite the disappointment from postponing their wedding to September 2021, the two decided they’d seal the deal on their original date anyway, in a petite celebration in front of their parents at Sam’s parents’ home in Swampscott. Here, the bride and groom share their story in their own words.
Lauren: It all kind of started to change with the honeymoon. In February or early March, we decided we definitely had to cancel it. We were going to go to Italy on a cruise which seemed like about the worst thing you could do. Sam booked a honeymoon to St. Thomas instead, and that seemed like it was going to be fine. We’d still get the bridal shower and the wedding and this and that.
Then, my bridal shower was supposed to be on March 22 at Davio’s in the Seaport, and in the two weeks leading up to it, some of our older relatives started to question whether they could come or not. More and more people started texting asking if the shower was still on. I tried to stay as positive as I could, and then about five days before, I just started getting too nervous and I told the restaurant that I didn’t feel comfortable. My bachelorette party was also supposed to be the next weekend in Austin, and when we canceled the shower, we canceled that trip. Sam’s bachelor party was the weekend after that in Arizona, and he canceled too. But we still were hopeful about the wedding because it was only March, and we kind of thought this thing was going to come and go. And then that didn’t happen. We tried to wait it out as long as we could, and I was such a mess, crying all the time. But we eventually knew the wedding wasn’t going to happen.
Our first postponement date was New Year’s Eve and we thought that was far out enough. We would have time to do the shower again, and the bachelor and bachelorette parties, and we got in touch with all of our vendors and everyone was a go. We were really excited, and then the virus just seemed to get worse and worse. We went from being really relieved to just waking up stressed every day again.
Sam: It finally came to a head and we felt like we needed to make another decision. We decided that we ultimately had to postpone the wedding again to Labor Day weekend of 2021, and then we were so distraught and upset that I looked at Lauren and said, “Why don’t we just also get married on our original date in front of our parents?”
We asked our wedding planner [Renée] to get ordained for the day so she could marry us at [my parents’ house]. When somebody plans your big wedding three times and helps you plan your small wedding, they become more than just your wedding planner. So [asking her to officiate] was a really nice way to honor the way our relationship with Renée has changed over the past couple of years. We were going on 20 months of working with her at that point and she changed from being our wedding planner-friend to our wedding planner-friend-therapist.
Lauren: Everything just kind of came together from there. Our videographer [Jonny Havens], who’s doing the big wedding, was able to come and spend a few hours with us and get a great video. Our photographer is from Texas, so he couldn’t fly in, but we had a local photographer, [Lynne Reznick], who our wedding planner suggested, come and take pictures. We ordered some decorations from Amazon and we got our florist [Flowers by Darlene] involved to make some beautiful centerpieces and garlands for the porch.
I probably ordered 20 dresses online. I found my original wedding dress in one afternoon, but for this dress, I couldn’t go shopping in person and I didn’t know what I was looking for. So every day I was getting packages. It was the last one that I got, from Revolve, about a week before the wedding that I wore. It came and it was perfect. It was bridal, but it was nothing like my real wedding dress and it made me just feel really pretty. At first I wasn’t going to wear a veil because I have a beautiful veil for the big wedding, and then I was like, “I want some cool veil pictures,” so I went on Amazon and I ordered a $20 veil. I also had [a custom clutch] from an Etsy shop called Classic Prep Monograms that was originally shipped in time for the shower, so I definitely wanted to still use it on our date because it had my new initials on the front and the wedding date on the other side.
On the day of, my bridesmaids surprised me with videos they put together, sharing well wishes and saying they wish they could be there. I didn’t really expect them to do anything because they’d already done so much, but seeing that video solidified that they were there for me, they were thinking of me, and they missed me as much as I missed them.
I didn’t want to have a Zoom wedding because I felt like I didn’t need people sitting in their living rooms on their computers watching us get married. But the only person who I really wished could be there was my grandma. She’s the only grandparent either of us have left, and she was in Florida, and we weren’t going to have her travel. So we had her on Zoom propped up on a laptop so she got to be at our wedding. She was the only one who got special privileges.
Sam: The ceremony was really special. We had very personalized vows. I write poems about Lauren a lot while she’s sleeping and so she wrote me one that she read. She just touched upon every single one of our inside jokes throughout our entire relationship, which was amazing. And I wrote vows about how she cries a lot. You could never do those things in front of a big group of people, but we got to read these vows that were so personal and so meaningful.
Lauren: We did our first dance to “Tuesdays” by Jake Scott, the same song that we will be dancing to at the big wedding just because we love it so much. We’d had that song picked out for like two years.
After, we drove in a convertible with “Just Married” written on it and another Amazon veil and some cans dangling from the back. We drove to Marblehead Lighthouse to take some more pictures. Then we came home and had a great dinner, with our parents, our wedding planner, and our videographer.
My middle brother who works at Disney World is engaged to a wonderful girl who works for the costume department at Disney, and she surprised us with custom masks that were on each of our plates. That was a really sweet surprise and was really thoughtful of her to make those for us.
We wanted to do something special with the place cards that you can’t do when you have a 300-person wedding. We printed out each individual person’s picture and wrote a list of their nicknames, and where you might find them. It just was a lot of inside jokes that we thought would make each person feel welcome and special. We also made everyone individual cocktails of their favorite drink, which is something else you can’t do for 300 people.
Later, we went down to the beach across from Sam’s parents’ house to take sparkler pictures. When I walked down, I could see there was a bunch of people there with masks on, but I couldn’t really see who they were. As I got closer, I started recognizing people and it was my brother and his wife, Sam’s sisters and their significant others, my best friend from college who was supposed to be in North Carolina, and two of my friends from dental school who were supposed to be in New York. It was this sea of people who were not supposed to be at our wedding just waiting for us on the freezing cold on the beach. I was so surprised that Sam coordinated that and it was really special. Then we went up to Sam’s parents’ backyard where there was a fire pit and we made s’mores and had cake because it was also my dad’s birthday.
This small wedding was really just for us. We were so focused on each other. We didn’t have to go say hi to 200 guests and make sure people are in their places for group pictures. Now, we can’t wait to celebrate with 250 other people later on. I get to wear the dress that I picked out two years ago with the veil that I got custom made for my dress and Sam gets to wear his custom tux. We get to get married under a chuppah and there are just so many other things, like the bridal shower, bachelor and bachelorette parties, that are still saved for the big wedding to make it special. In the end, you get two weddings, and what’s better than that?
Sam: We have at least ten friends who are dealing with [weddings affected by COVID-19], and we tell anybody who it’s feasible for to honor their original wedding date in some way. I really do think, had we done nothing, it would have been a terrible, sad day for us. We feel pretty confident about Labor Day 2021, but it’s so great that we did something that couldn’t be taken away from us.
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