COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, but impromptu ceremony 'put things into perspective' for Sudbury bride

When Tessa Gooden of Sudbury married Petr Balaz in Toronto on Monday, they had about three hours to pull it off, but they managed with a little help from their neighbourhood.

"Honestly, it was kind of perfect," says the new Mrs. Tessa Balaz 

The newly-minted Tessa and Petr Balaz at their wedding on Monday. "We're really thrilled," said the bride. (Martha Cydzik)

When Tessa Gooden of Sudbury married Petr Balaz in Toronto on Monday, they had about three hours to pull it off.

The couple wasn't supposed to get hitched until April 11, 2020 — but then the COVID-19 pandemic upended their plans. 

"Our plans were to have a small ceremony", she said. "It was going to be about 40 people [at an art gallery]: our immediate family and a small ceremony and cocktail party ... but obviously with recent events, everything started to fall apart."

Tessa Gooden — now Tessa Balaz — said there were concerns that their venue would close, and then their officiant had to cancel. 

"We were just kind of rolling with the punches," she said. 

The couple is also expecting a child this summer, and didn't want to plan a wedding too close to a birth. 

"So at that point, we were like, 'Why are we waiting? We might as well just see if someone will be able to marry us now'."

'A lot of hand sanitizer and joy'

Thanks to a community chat board in their neighbourhood, and the generosity of a woman they'd never met, they had an officiant lined up Monday by 12:30 p.m. with a newly sanitized, empty church to be the backdrop. 

"We went [to the church] with the full intention of paying the officiant for his time, but [a woman named Nicole] took care of everything as a gift to us. She's a complete stranger, just from our community group. So that was really, really, a mind-blowing, lovely first wedding gift," she said. 

They asked a couple of very close friends to stand as witnesses — at an appropriate social distance, of course — and by about 3 p.m., the pair was exchanging their vows. 

"We did it with a lot of hand sanitizer and joy, really," said Balaz of her wedding to Petr. 

"I honestly think it brought on a lot of perspective as to what's important," she said of the impromptu wedding in the middle of a pandemic. 

"Really, honestly, it was kind of perfect."