Cathy Haight and Michael Eakle of Port Angeles chose Scottish attire for their March wedding. (Submitted photo)

Cathy Haight and Michael Eakle of Port Angeles chose Scottish attire for their March wedding. (Submitted photo)

Pandemic changes ceremonies, but not vows

Couples wed despite restrictions

When Ann Carlson laid eyes on Lou Quevedo, “it was an ‘oh boy’ moment,” she recalled.

This was a decade ago, when the two worked together at Sequoia National Park in California. Carlson knew — right away — this man complemented her, like mountains beside a lake.

The pair, then in their 20s, moved together to Port Angeles to work at Olympic National Park. This place felt right for them too, but they weren’t so into the legalities of marriage.

“I’ve never been a girl who dreamed of my wedding day,” Carlson said recently. Quevedo had mentioned, early on, that even if they weren’t the marriage types, if she ever decided otherwise, he “was totally down,” as in delighted to be her husband.

Years passed; the couple traveled widely in wintertime when Carlson’s workplace, the Lake Crescent Lodge, was closed.

Two winters ago she realized: This man is my family; I want to make it official. So Carlson, over breakfast in Florence, Italy, asked Quevedo to marry her.

Lou Quevedo and Ann Carlson chose the Olympic Mountains as the backdrop for their October wedding. (Submitted photo)

Lou Quevedo and Ann Carlson chose the Olympic Mountains as the backdrop for their October wedding. (Submitted photo)

“He was surprised,” she said — and answered an ardent yes.

Like the other couples in this story, Carlson and Quevedo couldn’t know then how unusual their weddings would be. Instead of fancy venues and sit-down dinners for hundreds, they chose the essential: “sweet, easy and in our beautiful backyard,” said Carlson, referring to Olympic National Park.

With eight guests and a floral crown he made for her the night before, bride and groom said their vows, clouds floating behind them on the ridge at Deer Park, on Oct. 20.

Quevedo and Carlson were among 350 couples who went to the Clallam County Courthouse for marriage licenses in 2020; that was down from 413 in 2019. Jefferson County, meanwhile, saw a slight increase, with 196 licenses issued in 2019 and 202 in 2020.

Jefferson County Commissioner Kate Dean of Port Townsend and architect Rico Quirindongo of Bainbridge Island ducked inside for a moment during their wedding day at the Sorrento Hotel in Seattle. (Submitted photo)

Jefferson County Commissioner Kate Dean of Port Townsend and architect Rico Quirindongo of Bainbridge Island ducked inside for a moment during their wedding day at the Sorrento Hotel in Seattle. (Submitted photo)

Carlson, for her part, said the pandemic released her from having to plan an elaborate event; it “gave me complete permission to do it our way, with no pressure or expectation.”

Seven months earlier, Cathy Haight and Michael Eakle did have some expectations: invitations had gone out the previous December for a big wedding March 21.

“That was the week everything shut down,” Haight said. No gatherings, travel strongly discouraged, no telling what’s around the corner.

So this couple turned to their own patio in Port Angeles — and to Santa Ana, Calif., where Haight’s daughter Laura, a schoolteacher, set up a Zoom call for dozens of friends and family members to watch the wedding online. Officiant Vickie Dodd blessed the couple, who wept a little as they gazed at each other; Dodd’s husband Eric Neurath took photographs while the couple’s friends Linda and Doug Parent served as witnesses.

Jason Treffry and Shanta Corra wed in Corra’s parents’ backyard in Port Townsend, with Kathy Stevenson officiating. (Submitted photo)

Jason Treffry and Shanta Corra wed in Corra’s parents’ backyard in Port Townsend, with Kathy Stevenson officiating. (Submitted photo)

They could have rescheduled everything, but Haight said she and her groom share a belief: You never know how long you have with your beloved.

“We don’t have time to wait and say, ‘Someday we’re going to do something,’ ” said Haight. Both she and Eakle are widowed.

There wasn’t a defined honeymoon for them, but after Eakle retired this summer, they went traveling in a 27-foot motor home.

“We’re finding out we really are compatible,” Haight said, adding, “When we do get feisty, we’re able to apologize,” instead of wasting a day staying mad.

Kate Dean of Port Townsend and her fiance Rico Quirindongo also had planned a spring wedding — a 200-guest celebration in April at Pike Place Market in Seattle, no less. Statewide restrictions wiped that off the calendar — “heartbreaking,” Dean said.

By September, COVID case numbers were starting to abate, and Gov. Jay Inslee adjusted the guidelines to allow gatherings of up to 30 people.

Dean, a Jefferson County commissioner, began meeting with county health officer Dr. Tom Locke: Could there be a safe wedding, with only close family present? Outdoors? With masks?

Locke provided detailed advice, and Dean and Quirindongo took it. The Oct. 18 ceremony took place on Seattle’s Sorrento Hotel rooftop with “30 guests, on the nose,” she said.

“We had eight days to plan the whole thing,” Dean added — before her man corrected her.

“I knew a year ahead of proposing that I wanted to propose,” he said. He chose an engagement ring made by an artisan at Pike Place, and tucked it under her pillow at the New York City hotel where they spent New Year’s Eve 2019.

Quirindongo wasn’t sure Dean would say yes, “due to her unconventional nature” — but he didn’t have to wonder for long.

Marriage to him felt exactly right, she said.

For Shanta Corra of Port Townsend, no formal proposal was needed. She and her sweetheart of three years, Jason Treffry, talked about being married, but put off planning a wedding, knowing with their respective families and friends, it could grow into quite a production.

Then came the pandemic which, Corra said, “rearranged a lot of people’s priorities in life. For us, it sharpened that focus” on what matters.

On the first Saturday in June, Corra and Treffry were wed in a tropical setting: the garden Corra’s late father, Steve, planted long ago. The palm tree and surrounding flowers were at their peak of lushness.

Just five members of Corra’s immediate family, including her mother Bonnie, attended in person while Treffry’s folks joined via Zoom.

For these brides and grooms, there have been losses: no honeymoons, no big receptions with live music and dancing, no grandparents in attendance.

Yet the point of the union, they agree, was not lost.

“Love wins,” Dean said.

“That was inscribed on our guests’ masks,” added her husband.

________

Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

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