Love conquers all: Toni & Sam's wedding story
'Not everything in this life will go as planned, and nothing is really promised to anyone'
Last updated 5/26/2020 at 9:18am
A decade is a long time to be in love.
I've been fortunate enough to love, and have been loved very deeply, for the past 10 years. It's easy to dream of what your wedding day will look like when you've been together for so long.
Simple enough to think of the song you'll dance to, or if you want cake squished on your face. I don't think we ever imagined we'd be faced with a life-changing situation like this, though.
A countdown to May 16, 2020, had been on our chalkboard in our kitchen since December 2018. Five hundred and six times we erased the chalk numbers and rewrote them, counting down the days until we were Mr. and Mrs.
We secured a venue – Rosehill Community Center in Mukilteo – hired a DJ, established a caterer, and filed the right liquor permits, all within six months of being engaged. To say I was a little eager to get it all going is an understatement.
We invited over 200 people to bear witness to our love and help celebrate the occasion with us. It was going to be the happiest, loudest, most Italian wedding anyone had ever attended.
We bought plane tickets to Greece for our honeymoon and planned a beautiful tour around the Greek Islands. We picked our wedding party – since Sam has two sisters and I have two brothers, it worked out perfect to have them as our groomsmen and bridesmaids.
Our hearts were full, our wedding was almost entirely planned out, and we were coasting towards our future together as husband and wife.
Queue mid-March, when all of western Washington school districts closed their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, and I lost my job as a substitute teacher. We were a little worried, but with gatherings of 200 people still allowed at that point, we didn't panic and tried to operate like it was business as usual.
Maybe a few fewer people would make the trip, but everything was going to be OK. We contacted our vendors and were assured they were still committed to our day.
As the weeks passed, with more people losing loved ones with no chance to say goodbye, we realized this unbelievable thing happening around the world was beyond anyone's control.
Waiting it out was not an option.
It was at that point, on April 7, that we decided the health and safety of our loved ones was far more important than throwing a party. We deactivated the RSVP section of our wedding website, we called our families and explained to them why we were making the decision to cancel, and we cried ... a lot.
It was one of the hardest grieving processes we've been through as a couple. We lost something so special to us that we weren't going to get back.
It took a while for the bitterness towards our situation to fade. It came down to realizing the only thing we can control in a situation is our reactions to it. So we grieved for our loss and wiped each other's tears.
We reminded one another why we wanted to get married in the first place, and planned a small intimate backyard wedding for the same day. Rain or shine, we were going to be married on May 16, 2020, in the backyard of Sam's parents' home in Edmonds.
The ceremony was short, sweet, and very emotional.
We were able to use Facebook Live for all our friends and family to bear witness to our marriage and to hear our vows to one another from a distance. It felt special that people from the safety of their homes were able to be a part of our wedding. We danced and laughed, but we also hugged and cried.
We told ourselves that we wouldn't waste time worrying about what it should have been like or what we didn't get to do. Because we didn't get our lavish dance hall, massive spaghetti buffet, or grand re-entrance as Mr. and Mrs.
What we did get was an experience that not many brides and grooms will have. We got time with our parents and siblings. We took all the pictures we wanted without having to rush for the reception. We got to soak in every second of the day.
If this has taught us anything, it's to realize that not everything in this life will go as planned, and nothing is really promised to anyone.
Our most important takeaway was that all a wedding really needs is a groom and a bride.
Toni Cuzzetto and her husband, Sam Storino, both graduated from Edmonds-Woodway High School in 2010. Toni, 28, is a substitute teacher for the Edmonds and Northshore school districts. Sam, 27, works for Allergan Pharmaceuticals, specializing in glaucoma medications.