As a director of films and television, Seattle-based Megan Griffiths has made a career of expecting the unexpected and working with what she had, be it equipment, the light of day or money.
Then she set a wedding date, which landed two weeks into the spread of the novel coronavirus, and just as large gatherings were being limited, air travel was impacted and everyone was being told to stay home and stay safe.
“We were really excited to get married,” said Griffiths, who has been with her partner, Ben Camp, for five years. “And we didn’t want to let this major shift in our daily life throw that off.
“So we just committed to doing it in some way, shape or form and figuring out how to do it without putting anyone at risk, including ourselves.”
Griffiths, the director of indie films such as “Sadie,” “Lucky Them” and television shows such as “Prodigal Son” and “Dare Me,” worried about Seattle being the U.S. epicenter for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, “but still figured it would be best to soldier on.”
Working title: Love in the Time of Corona.
She and Camp stood in line for their marriage license, 6 feet away from the other couples.
“It was all a little strange,” she wrote in a Facebook post, “but they were still going forward, too.”
A few days later, South by Southwest, a film, music and media festival in Austin, Texas, was canceled, “waking us up to the fact that this might be a bigger deal than we’d initially thought.”
Still, she said, their wedding was supposed to be a small affair, just 128 guests. Maybe it would be all right.
When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that elderly and immuno-suppressed people avoid travel, she called her father and asked how he felt about making the trip.
“Worried,” he said.
She, too, started to worry about people losing money on flights and hotel cancellations. She called vendors about their cancellation policies, and asked about availability in six months or so.
The decision came during a phone call last Monday with a friend in Milwaukee who was planning to make the trip. When Griffiths said they were considering postponing, the friend paused and asked: “Can I just tell you how relieved I would be if you did that?”
The next morning — five days before the wedding — Griffiths and Camp sent out a note, postponing their wedding. They would still get married on Saturday, but the big party would need to wait.
The next few days were a blur of pushing everything back five months.
On Friday — the day before the ceremony — the Seattle Department of Parks & Recreation closed their facilities. So their plan to marry at Golden Gardens Park in Ballard was off.
They decided to keep things small and take every measure to keep everyone safe: local family and close friends only, and no plus-ones.
They booked a shelter at a beach park where they love to walk, and that offered them cover in case of rain.
A friend who is certified to officiate a wedding stepped in to perform the service. Other friends brought cleanser, rubber gloves and toothpicks to sanitize the food spread. Camp’s mother put together flowers and his sister made a “Pi Day” wedding pie to mark the important date — March 14, or 3-14, the first three digits of pi.
“We canceled basically everything,” Griffiths said. “The only thing we still had were our outfits, the flowers and the pies. Everything was pulled together at the last minute.”
So on Saturday at 5:30 p.m., Griffiths and Camp were married in front of 20 guests — down from 128.
“It was beautiful,” Griffiths said Monday. “There were some beams of sun hitting the water behind us.”
Afterward, everyone was able to squeeze into a post-ceremony selfie.
“It was missing a great deal of people who we loved — particularly my dad and my sister’s family,” Griffiths wrote, “but our wedding was simple and beautiful … and nothing if not memorable.
“We tried to do it in a responsible way and keep it as small and intimate as possible, so we could still have this day,” she said. “And it did feel like a very joyful day, and a nice reprieve from the daily news.”