Coronavirus concerns cancel Regina woman's wedding plans twice

Sarah Swark and her partner had planned to celebrate with a wedding ceremony in the Dominican Republic later this month but things have changed amid a growing novel coronavirus pandemic across the globe.

'People say rain is good luck on your wedding, but what happens when a virus shuts down the whole world twice'

Sarah Swark (right) legally married her partner Jared in October, but they had also planned a bigger wedding ceremony in the Dominican Republic this month. (Submitted by Sarah Swark)

Sarah Swark's wedding is not going ahead as planned for the second time within a week — and understandably, it has been an emotionally difficult time.

"I've done nothing but cry since this all started," she said. 

Her six-year-old son, Emmett, was set to accompany her down the aisle to marry her partner, Jared, on March 28 in the Dominican Republic. 

But with the growing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Regina family learned they and their guests would have to cancel the trip. 

"I had a dress custom-made and it holds a lot of value in it with Métis beading and it all came crashing down," Swark said. "And I thought, 'thank God we're all safe and we're here and we're not stuck down there.'"

Her son has cerebral palsy and asthma, which means he has the added risk of a compromised immune system. 

Swark and her partner were legally married last October, in anticipation of their international wedding this month.

She said they were in their "Thanksgiving best" for the legal wedding at home but they saved rings and other factors for their ceremony date later this month. 

'It's not worth the risk'

Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer said on Tuesday now is not the time to have large gatherings.

"If I were you I would cancel. It's not worth the risk and many people are cancelling [events]," Shahab said at a news conference.

Saskatchewan announced its 8th case of COVID-19 the same day, a presumptive case in Regina. It was a person in their 50s who had recently travelled to Vancouver.

Social mixing needs to be minimized, he said — two or three friends who are asymptomatic, is manageable, the doctor said.

People going out into the world is fine, whether it's to the playground or for a jog, Shahab just emphasizes that people should keep washing their hands.

"This is not the time to celebrate in the way we like to celebrate," Shahab said. "It will come but not now." 

Plan D, E, F and G...

When the Dominican Republic trip was cancelled, she thought their "living-room nuptials" would just have to be her marriage story.

So, she set about looking for a local photographer to be able to capture her dress instead. 

"We were trying to plan just to have our wedding attire on at home and just get pictures done — just to have something," Swark said.

She recalled at points how her mother and her sister-in-law had advised her against making any further plans because of the growing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Swark’s backup wedding plan in Regina was supposed to include a Métis sash-tying ceremony, and she was looking forward to wearing her custom-made dress with Métis beading. (Submitted by Sarah Swark)

They had cooked up a plan to allow Swark to have her dress on and her wedding ceremony after all, just on a smaller scale in Regina. 

"I know that it'll be at the Local Market, in their dock room, somebody will be there for a ring ceremony for us, and there will be a Métis sash-tying ceremony," she said on Monday. "Now we just hang on, because there's a risk of that falling away a second time."

And by Tuesday morning, she had to make the call to cancel it again. This time because of federal authorities asking people to stay in, and reduce group functions.

While it's tough to see her backup wedding plans fall through, Swark says she's glad her family members and wedding guests are home, healthy and safe.

Swark is taking it in stride. 

"People say rain is good luck on your wedding, but what happens when a virus shuts down the whole world, twice?" she said, with a chuckle.

"It's all unfortunate, but we understand this will all come to an end, and we will focus on our health for now."


Tory Gillis


Tory Gillis began work as a journalist with CBC Saskatchewan in 2012. You can hear her deliver the afternoon news on weekdays on CBC Radio One in Saskatchewan. She has also worked as a reporter, and as an associate producer on CBC Saskatchewan's radio shows, The Morning Edition, Bluesky and The Afternoon Edition.