Interviewed by Leslie Criss | Photographed by Joe Worthem
Like many brides, planning a big wedding had long been a dream of Mary Katherine Nesmith Newton. But the Tupelo native never counted on COVID-19. Still, she and Riley Newton decided to marry in the midst of the pandemic. Newton is a graduate of Tupelo High School and the University of Mississippi, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. Her husband, who grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, and graduated from Auburn, is a student pastor at The Orchard in Tupelo. Mary Katherine is a ministry resident at Soma, a bilingual, multicultural campus of The Orchard. The daughter of Bill and Maurita Nesmith said that even though a wedding during a pandemic was not part of her original plan, she has no regrets.
Q: When and where was your wedding?
A: We got married Aug. 22 at a beautiful outdoor venue called Southwind in Shannon.
Q: Did you ever consider changing the date of the wedding because of COVID-19? What made you decide to go ahead with it as planned?
A: Before COVID hit, we knew we wanted to get married before the end of the year. We had several friends make changes and postpone their weddings, but it seemed to cause even more stress and more planning. We knew we wanted to get married on Aug. 22, no matter what it would look like.
Q: What made your wedding different than it might have been in normal times?
A: I have always imagined having a huge wedding with everyone I love there to celebrate with me, but we ended up having fewer than 50 guests. We had wedding attendants and immediate family with us, but my sister and her husband live in London and were unable to travel to the U.S. I never would have imagined my wedding day without my sister standing beside me, but she sent a video of her matron of honor speech and FaceTimed us throughout the day. Our rehearsal dinner was all outside, and the servers wore face shields. Guests were asked to wear masks to the wedding ceremony and reception, which was also outside under a covered pavilion. We still had a band, but the dance floor crowd was pretty thin. As far as catering, we stuck with our original plan of having a taco bar, mini Key lime pies instead of groom’s cake, wedding cake and drinks.
Q: What was your favorite part of your wedding? What was your husband’s favorite part of the wedding?
A: My favorite part of the wedding was having a portion of the ceremony in both English and Spanish, and my husband’s favorite part was probably the taco bar. It was also very special having my brother play piano and Riley’s dad pronounce us.
Q: What advice might you offer couples who are considering planning their wedding with the pandemic still going on?
A: My advice to other brides planning weddings during COVID is this: Your goal, at the end of the day, is to be married to your husband. Do your best to make the day what you want, no matter the cost or number of guests. Your actual wedding day will always be the day that you remember, so make it count.