CEDAR RAPIDS — Allison Feltes and Pat Fagan had a wedding guest list of more than 400 family, friends and relatives.
Then came COVID-19.
“Yeah, so we’ll have just our immediate, immediate families,” Feltes said Friday about Plan B.
Instead of the big wedding at Veterans Coliseum in downtown Cedar Rapids, the couples’ parents and siblings gathered — at a distance — Saturday evening in the couple’s front yard. Local friends and relatives looked on from their cars parked along the street “so they can be a part of it but try to maintain the guidelines,” Feltes said.
She and Fagan admitted to have some disappointment, but tried to keep it in perspective.
“We’ve been dating for 12 years, so this has been a long time coming and the most important part is still happening,” Feltes said. “The disappointment was very short-lived. We’re incredibly excited.”
“We’ll have a big party sometime later on,” Fagan added, “but we’re happy that we can still be together, that we can still include our family and friends in some small ways and make it happen.”
Paul Esker, a friend of the couple who officiated the wedding from the front steps of their Cedar Rapids home, told those present and more than 100 others watching a Facebook livestream “everything about this is unexpected except the two people standing in front of me.”
Feltes and Fagan have “shown resilience, unconditional love and trust,” he said. “They’ve always been confident in each other ... confident in what they are doing today.
So as the sun was setting Saturday evening, with birds singing, Feltes and Fagan read the vows they wrote, culminating a relationship that started when she was a freshman and he was a sophomore at Xavier High School.
“As a friend, as lover, as a partner and as man, he is of the highest kind, quality and order,” Feltes said about Fagan.
“I’m so glad you choose me, Allison,” Fagan said when it was his turn. “I will challenge you the way you challenge me to make myself better than I was yesterday.”
After the wedding, friends surprised the couple with a parade of cars. Some sang. Some blew bubbles. Others dropped off gift bags.
There was no receiving line, no family picture-taking, no big reception. Just a prime rib dinner for two from Black Sheep Social Club.
They had planned on taking an Alaskan cruise to celebrate. Now the thought of taking a cruise seems like “the worst luck possible,” Fagan said. “Like, nothing, nothing really sounds as bad as an Alaskan cruise. Right?”
After dating while in high school, Fagan and Feltes had several years of a long-distance relationship. They both attended Luther College in Decorah, but she was in the nurse education program in Rochester, Minn. Then Fagan taught for four years in Sioux City. Feltes has been a pediatric nurse at Mercy Medical Center for nearly five years.
“So the stars aligned and we’re both in Cedar Rapids at the same time,” said Fagan, who now directs choirs at Jefferson High School.
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“I’ve said it a couple times over the past couple weeks that it’s a good thing that we don’t believe in bad omens,” Fagan said. “There’s really nothing that could keep us from doing this now. And we know that even though this isn’t how we imagined, it’s going to be perfect.”
“Everybody’s adjusting to everything in life right now,” Feltes said. “We’ve just really been trying to keep in mind that we still get to get married and, ultimately, that’s the most important thing to us.”
“Yeah, it sounds it sounds cliché, it sounds cheesy,” Fagan added before the ceremony, “but really the most important thing is that we’re going to be married. Finally.”
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