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Big day, small plans: Detroit couple gets creative for wedding downsized by COVID-19

married couple smiling with sign
Bryce Huffman
Naomi and Eric Huffman celebrated their wedding five years after the day they first met.

Big weddings are out during the coronavirus pandemic shutdown in Michigan. So, one bride and groom scaled down their plans when they got married earlier this month in Detroit.

Michigan Radio reporter Bryce Huffman was there to see it because his brother was the groom. Bryce said his brother and new sister-in-law, Eric and Naomi Huffman, had big plans when they first got engaged.

“Originally they were going to do it up. They were going to have a big church wedding in Detroit. Then they were going to follow it with a gigantic reception at Marygrove College because that's where Naomi went to school," Bryce said. "They were planning to do all the traditional wedding things, having 10 bridesmaids and groomsmen. So, it was going to be a pretty big wedding.”

With all of those plans on hold, the couple planned a smaller – much smaller – wedding at the house where Bryce and Eric’s parents live in Detroit. But they still wanted to find a way to include all of their guests.

“My brother and sister-in-law decided that for people who can't be there physically, they should just do a livestream,” Bryce said. “They had about 300 or so people at one point watching the ceremony, which is pretty cool because they originally only planned for 200 people. It seems like people were eager to just watch something happy and festive in the middle of this pandemic.”

"It seems like people were eager to just watch something happy and festive in the middle of this pandemic." - Bryce Huffman

(It’s probably a lot better to have 100 people show up unexpectedly for your livestream than it is to have 100 extra people show up at the church.)

Bryce, being the dedicated radio reporter that he is, brought his recording equipment to his brother’s big day. And he secured an exclusive interview with the bride and groom right after the ceremony.

He asked why they stuck to their original wedding date despite all that's happening in Michigan and around the world.

"This date was important to me because it’s the day we actually met down to the day and the date. So we kind of wanted to encapsulate our relationship in the moment when it started," Naomi said.

Eric agreed.

"It had sentimental value. It happened to be on a Saturday. We thought, 'Okay. Perfect,'" he said.

The couple told Bryce they're not sure if they'll ever hold the big ceremony they had in mind. They are planning to have the reception eventually, but with a different purpose.

Happily Married sign on car
Credit Bryce Huffman
Eric and Naomi Huffman originally planned to host a large wedding ceremony with about 200 guests. Instead, they had a significantly scaled-down service because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I have now switched my mind [from having a wedding reception] to, 'We're about to have the biggest we-survived-the-pandemic party.' Every crazy idea that got thrown out because of class is now going to be reconsidered," Naomi said, laughing. 

So, there’s more to come, at a date still to be determined, but Eric and Naomi’s bridal party wasn’t going to let the couple off with just a live stream.

They surprised the newlyweds with a rolling parade of cars outside the house after the ceremony, honking, cheering, and celebrating the couple ... at a distance.

Michigan Radio listeners, readers, and reporters are rising to the challenge every day. If you can, please support essential journalism during this crisis.

Doug Tribou joined the Michigan Public staff as the host of Morning Edition in 2016. Doug first moved to Michigan in 2015 when he was awarded a Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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