When Katherine Hernandez and Jason Perez were each asked to describe their 10-year relationship in a single word, they simultaneously blurted out the same word: amazing.
But four months ago, Ms. Hernandez, 36, and Mr. Perez, 37, were feeling anything but amazing when they realized their wedding had to be scaled back because of the coronavirus. The couple had planned a civil ceremony on May 20 at the Hempstead Village Court in Hempstead, N.Y., followed by a reception for nearly 40 guests at a nearby seafood restaurant.
Though their wedding date remained the same, the number of guests was cut to about 20, and their ceremony and reception was moved to the back yard of their home in Queens Village, Queens.
To make matters worse, Ms. Hernandez, who was born in the Philippines, and Mr. Perez, who is from Puerto Rico, had to cancel their long-awaited, European honeymoon â€” a one-month tour of Amsterdam, Paris and Greece â€” because of the pandemic.
Jay Son, a Universal Life Minister and the brother-in-law of the bride, officiated.
â€œI was a little heartbroken, as were the friends whom we had to eliminate as guests,â€ said Ms. Hernandez, who works as a supervisor at a cardiologistâ€™s office in New Hyde Park, N.Y.
â€œBut despite that sadness, she said, â€œwe all understood that this was a pandemic we were dealing with, and our first priority was the safety and well-being of our family and friends.â€
Mr. Perez, a technical buyer for Jet Blue at Kennedy Airport, where he is responsible for purchasing aircraft parts, met Ms. Hernandez on a blind date in winter 2009.
â€œA mutual friend showed me a picture of Katherine and I just thought she was gorgeous,â€ he said. â€œI was like, â€˜Letâ€™s do this.â€™â€
Ms. Hernandez approached their blind date with some trepidation. â€œIt was frightening, and something that neither of us had ever done before,â€ she said. â€œBut as it turned out, he was a nice guy who was pretty good looking, and he could keep a conversation.â€
â€œHe was also very, very funny,â€ she added, â€œand funny means everything to me.â€
The coupleâ€™s wedding ceremony was attended by the brideâ€™s parents, Maria and Manuel Hernandez, and the groomâ€™s, Jeanette and Adrian Perez, all of whom also reside in Queens Village. It was also livestreamed via Zoom to many of their friends and family members who could not attend.
â€œI will never forget how beautiful Katherine looked walking down the driveway, er, aisle,â€ Mr. Perez said, laughing.
The couple took great care to socially distance those attending the ceremony. They even made sure the Italian food they had catered was individually wrapped for guests. The newlyweds chose the Kings of Leon tune â€œUse Somebody,â€ sung by Boyce Avenue, as the song for their first dance.
â€œDespite all of the craziness happening around us, Jason and I still wanted to get married because we knew that nothing else would have brought us so much joy,â€ Ms. Hernandez said. â€œIn the end, I think we managed to bring so much joy to all of the other people who shared that experience with us.â€
One day in the near future, Mr. Perez said, â€œIâ€™m going to share that experience with our children, and tell them how mommy and daddy were married during a pandemic. Iâ€™m sure theyâ€™ll get a kick out of it.â€