The Art of Pivoting: To Wed? Or Not to Wed? With Samantha Rolen

Our last feature in The Art of Pivoting series detailed the inner-workings of three brides navigating the emotionally-draining process of planning their postponed weddings during COVID. This week, we’re zeroing in on a bride who, despite postponing, made the difficult yet empowering decision to take the pandemic by the horns and create a beautifully monumental memory amidst the Colorado mountains with her life partner, Paxton. Samantha’s eloquently transparent recount of the highs and lows during this time is impactful and relatable; whether you’re in the midst of planning a wedding or not.

Photograph Courtesy of Mary Meck

Within a year of dating my now-husband, I was certain I wanted to spend my life with him.

I was already on Pinterest planning my dream wedding! For someone who spent their whole life imagining that they would just have a life partner and never get married, this was a big deal. Our relationship had changed my opinion on marriage, and my desire to have a wedding. So when he proposed after almost eight and half years together, I was thrilled and ready to get to planning. Within two months, we had our date and venue picked out and chosen. Within three months, I had my wedding dress and an ideal style for my bridesmaids’ dresses. Everything came together so easily because of how long I had been developing my idea of my perfect wedding. October 4th, 2020 would be our ideal day.

The weekend after taking our engagement photos, I received the heartbreaking news that one of my best friends had passed away.

Erica was one of the people most excited about my wedding, and the idea of planning it without her was devastating. The idea of getting married without her by my side, when I had the honor of being in her wedding party, was something I could just not fathom. With the help of my closest friends and my very supportive husband-to-be, we adjusted our bridal party and moved forward with planning. While I was still so excited to marry my fiancé in front of our friends and family, the wedding planning process had lost a lot of its luster for me.

We had our engagement party in January of 2020, and the excitement of our party guests, as well as some really great surprises, brought back the joy I had experienced at the beginning of the planning process. Flying back from Connecticut, I was ready to start planning all of the final touches for our big day.

In March, when everything shut down I was still feeling optimistic that everything would be okay.

We held off on sending out our invitations; with every passing day wondering if things were going to improve in time, and in May we finally decided to mail them. Once our invitations went out, we started getting questions from guests about whether or not the wedding was going to happen. Depending on who was asking, and how they asked, I would feel either sad or frustrated. I am a planner, and not knowing the answers to our guests’ questions became increasingly difficult for me. Then, we started receiving RSVPs. Those closest to us remained dedicated to making it to our wedding, but many guests responded with no’s.  For every no, a new guest was added to the list (I imagine we will come to regret this!) and my stress levels got higher.

Come June 2020, any mention of the wedding would cause me to burst into tears.

We realized for the sake of my sanity that it was time to decide whether or not we would postpone.
We had been keeping in touch with our venue, who had been open about the ability to change our date from the get-go, and they made things extremely easy for us. My best friend, who had designed our wedding invitations, created flat versions to be used as save the date cards for our new wedding date of 10/24/2021. Most of our guests understood our choice to postpone, but not all did. 

For a long time, we were both sad about postponing our wedding, but as a couple, we realized the most important part of the wedding to us was celebrating our love with our family and friends in a safe manner.

This did not stop October 4th, 2020 from being a very sad day.

We had planned to go somewhere beautiful and read our vows to each other, but due to the wildfires in Colorado, we kept having to change location. Plan after plan fell through, and by the time the third rolled around, I was too sad to want to go through with our plans. I missed my family, far away friends, and felt like we may never get a chance to have the wedding we wanted. We spent the day that should have been our wedding at home, trying to pretend that it was just a normal day and avoiding our phones. I couldn’t bring myself to admit how devastated I was, and we did not talk much throughout the day. 

The next day, my fiancé and I decided we should do something special. We drove into the mountains for lunch and discussed the possibility of eloping. Our ten year anniversary was quickly approaching, and we were both ready to take the next step in our relationship. In Colorado, a couple is able to officiate their own wedding, which opens up a lot of avenues for couples trying to get married.

We were worried our friends and family might not understand, but we made the decision to elope on 10/24/2020, exactly one year before our new wedding date.

We loved the idea of having our “second” wedding be our one year anniversary. This was when my opinion on weddings truly changed. We decided on Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs for its beauty, and the hope that it may not be too crowded. We picked out a hotel, grabbed some bagels, a friend provided the champagne, Paxton dipped some strawberries in chocolate, and we were on our way! 

When we arrived, we ended up falling in love with our hotel. We stayed at Glen Eyrie Castle in Colorado Springs. There was the gorgeous castle, beautiful lodges, wildlife, and fantastic scenery. When we got to our room to drop off our belongings and get dressed, we looked at each other and agreed that we should just get married there. Our plan was just to wander around until we found the place that felt right. One of the first few things we noticed when we arrived was a beautiful bridge. My parents have a framed wedding photo in their living room on a bridge, and I had made my fiance promise that we would have one as well. The bridge felt like it was the perfect place for us to say our vows.

Photograph Courtesy of Mary Meck

Turns out, it was perfect.

After we said our vows and pronounced ourselves husband and wife, we ran around with our camera on self-timer taking photos everywhere we could think of. And I will be honest, this was my favorite part of the day. Just the two of us, together, being silly.

I have always firmly believed that a wedding should be solely about the couple, and how they want to celebrate their union. I know some of our loved ones were not happy they couldn’t be with us the day that we eloped, and do not understand why we wanted to do so. I am so thankful to have that moment to forever be just ours.  

I am happy that we are still going to have our wedding in October, so we can finally celebrate our marriage with everyone that we love. I look forward to fulfilling my original vision but have not worked on planning since we made the decision to postpone. With all of the ease and joy our elopement brought, the idea of a big party is harder for my introverted personality to accept. Don’t be surprised if I downsize the guest list before the fall!

Photograph Courtesy of Mary Meck

Published by tarallew

Actress, Writer, & latte-loving Manhattanite ✨

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