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Save the “first” dance for me …

Justin and Karre Gorman had to change date three times

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Jan 17, 2021

While they could not have a dance or a reception, Justin and Karre Gorman still found a way to sneak in a meaningful first dance. Surrounded by family and friends, they danced to music on a portable speaker out on the patio area of Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church right after their wedding ceremony there last November.

Planning a wedding is usually not very easy and takes a lot of time, effort and coordination.

But, planning one in the year of a COVID-19 pandemic was especially stressful.

Just ask Karre (Skaare) Gorman.

“We changed our wedding date three times,” Karre Gorman says. They also changed the size and scope of the wedding, changed photographers three times and dropped the plans for a wedding reception for 220 guests and instead had to go out of state for a small family and close friends dinner at a restaurant after the wedding.

Karre grew up in Blue Earth and is a 2007 graduate of Blue Earth Area High School. Her parents are Kalin and Lynn Skaare.

After high school she went to the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

“I met my husband, Justin, there, at college in Duluth,” Karre says. “He lived just off campus. He was from St. Paul and we dated for about 10 years.”

Then in February of 2019, they became engaged, and started planning their wedding for 2020.

“So, we decide to get married and then a pandemic hits,” Karre says with a laugh. “We should have done it a little earlier.”

Their wedding date was set for May 9, 2020. They reserved a church – Lake of the Isles Lutheran in the Twin Cities – reserved a reception venue that would seat 250, hired a photographer and a DJ, ordered flowers – everything needed in order to be ready for a big wedding.

“Of course everything got shut down, even churches,” Karre says. “It was the first shut down. So on the first of April we decided to change the date to Dec. 12.”

They rescheduled the date for the church, the reception venue, the DJ company – and, of course, notified all the invited guests.

Then, of course, came another announced shut down, with no receptions being allowed, and only 25 people allowed to gather as of Dec. 11, the day before their wedding.

“So we moved the date a third time, this time back to Nov. 27,” Karre says. “But the governor made a different phase change and more things were again not being allowed.”

She says they decided to “throw in the towel” and not change the date a fourth time.

“We decided to do whatever we could, do what’s allowed and make it work,” the bride relates. “We were determined to get married and make it happen one way or another.”

They worked with the same church they had booked for the first ceremony, Lake of the Isles Lutheran, and found out they could have the service there on the new date.

“The church could operate with 50 percent capacity according to the state rules, but the church leaders wanted it kept at 25 percent,” Karre explains. “And only two people per pew, with two on the far end of one pew, two on the other end of the next pew, and so on.”

And that included family units not all able to sit together, just two at each end of every other pew.

It was a large church which could hold 200 so they could still have around 50 people at the wedding ceremony – just really spread out.

The church did have an elaborate video system in place, so Karre says they were able to live-stream the wedding ceremony on YouTube so all of the guests they had once invited – and then had to tell they could not come – could still see the ceremony.

The couple had cancelled their reservation of the 250 person capacity venue for the reception, and are still in negotiations to get their reservation fee refunded.

Instead, the couple had found a restaurant in Hudson, Wisconsin, that was open (ones in Minnesota were all shut down) and family members and close friends went there for an after-the-wedding dinner.

Socially distanced at separate tables, of course.

“There wasn’t any wedding dance, at the restaurant, of course,” Karre says. “But we did have our first dance as a married couple right after the ceremony.”

The wedding party and guests went outside onto a patio area of the church, and using a smart phone and portable speaker, Justin and Karre had their first dance.

Their original photographer had already backed out due to COVID concerns, and a second one lined up for the Dec. 12 date had felt that would work because restrictions might be lifted by then, but they also backed out when they were not lifted. They wanted to take photos of everyone in masks and six feet apart.

“We hired a third photographer just days before the wedding,” Karre says. “They were comfortable attending and taking the photos for us, and they turned out great.”

All the photos were taken outside, which worked well for social distancing despite it being a bit chilly.

There was another issue, although not quite a major one.

“We had ordered 77 boxes of succulents to use as the center pieces at the reception,” Karre explains. “We hauled them to the church and used some there, and had signs on them that said ‘take me,’ and let everyone take as many as they wanted.”

Karre calls the whole ordeal “The Saga.”

“It was stressful,” she says. “Having no idea all summer if we were going to be able to have the wedding or not. And having the rules go from 50 percent capacity to 25 percent to 0 percent. Having our wedding reception go from 220 down to not having one at all.”

They also had to try and stay healthy and not get the coronavirus.

“We stayed totally quarantined those last two weeks before the wedding,” she says. “Both Justin and I were already working from home since the end of last March, so it was possible with our jobs. We just didn’t dare risk it, what if we get COVID? Oh my gosh, that would have been the last straw.”

The couple lives in St. Paul, where Karre is a district administrative coordinator for Robert Half Companies, a specialist staffing agency based in Minneapolis, and Justin is a software engineer for a startup company called 75F which is based in Bloomington.

As far as a honeymoon trip after the wedding, well that was a bit different, too.

“Our original honeymoon was going to be in May after the first date for our wedding,” Karre explains. “We decided to still take that trip, down the coast in California, in September, and just called it a trip because it was before the wedding. We might still do a “honeymoon” sometime later this year.”

Even after all the stress, anxiety and frustration, Karre says it all turned out just fine.

“It was good, it turned out quite nice,” she says. “It was a small, intimate, wonderful wedding. But, I am glad the saga is over and we can be done with it.”