'This virus wasn't stopping us': Florida couples don't let pandemic disrupt marriage plans
For two Florida couples, a pandemic may have thrown a hitch into getting hitched, but it didn't let it stop them.
Kristen and Mark Macchiarolo each swiped right on Tinder and almost two years later they had a beach wedding planned for April 10 followed by a honeymoon in Mexico.
Then the beaches closed and travel became a risk as the coronavirus began to spread.
They postponed the beach wedding and honeymoon, but decided to still get legally married.
Because of COVID-19, even getting a marriage license became a little tricky. Strict social distancing and changes in procedures in March at the Lee County Clerk of Courts required couples to write in and state why their marriage was essential and, if approved, they had to schedule an appointment to get the license.
This time of year is traditionally a busy time for weddings and this year seems to be keeping steady with the trends of years prior.
Statistics from the Lee County Clerk of Courts show that from Oct. 19 through Feb. 20, 2020, there were 131 more marriage applications submitted than that same time frame in 2019. Numbers since the new rules were put in place weren't available.
The couple who lives in Punta Gorda, works in Fort Myers. Mark Macchiarolo, 43, works at Fort Myers Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, and Kristen Macchiarolo, 45, works at Heritage Park Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Fort Myers, so they applied for their license at the Lee County Clerk of Courts.
The Macchiarolos wrote into the clerk of courts asking for approval, as they planned their wedding date on Mark Macchiarolo's grandmother's 90th birthday.
The office approved their application and they were legally married on April 10.
Instead of the beach, they got married on their lanai by Mark Macchiarolo's friend, Chad Mehl, who was ordained online, and with their three children as witnesses. They even showed the ceremony on Facebook Live so their family and friends could still be part of their big day.
Kristen Macchiarolo wore a little white sundress her friend gave her. She'll save the wedding dress she planned on wearing for their future reception.
Mehl also got them a cake to mark the celebration.
"Other than not having family celebrate it with us, it wasn’t that disappointing. We understood that it wasn’t the end of the world and we will have a reception later," Kristen Macchiarolo said.
Shannon and Logan Torbit, of Tampa, first met in an elevator when they were at Florida State University living in the same building in September 2018.
By December 2019, they were engaged and wanted to get married on April 15 in the new decade.
They chose it as their wedding date because it was Shannon Torbit's parent's anniversary. Shannon's father passed away and they thought this would be a great way to honor her father's memory.
When they first sent in their note stating why their marriage was essential to the clerk of courts, they were directed to go through Okaloosa County if they wanted it done as soon as possible since Lee County didn't yet have the ability to do appointments via video.
"The virus wasn't stopping us," Logan Torbit said.
The couple also has a baby on the way, another reason they pointed out in seeking approval.
Once they got it, the couple decided to celebrate their marriage at Shannon's mother's house in Naples, just the two of them.
But the Torbits didn't do it on the day they had hoped.
They were officially married on April 17, when they had the license notarized at a UPS store in Naples.
Coincidentally, they ended up applying for their marriage license on the same day Shannon's parents had applied for theirs over 30 years ago.
The two made the day special by ordering from their favorite restaurant, Caffé Milano in Naples and watching a movie.
They haven't been able to take their honeymoon yet, but Shannon Torbit said it's almost like having an extended honeymoon since they were quarantined together.
On April 17, 2021, their one-year anniversary, they plan to have a traditional wedding.
"We are thinking a nice church wedding and want it to be just close family and friends who have supported us so we can celebrate our love with people we love," Shannon Torbit said.
This story originally published to news-press.com and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the new Gannett Media network.