A Surreal, if Simple, Wedding (and Just the Day She Needed)

Magdalena Owczarska learned two lessons on her wedding day. One was that wedding vendors are underappreciated. The other was that when life seems to be conspiring against you, a person you never expected to fall for can restore your sense of equanimity.

Ms. Owczarska married Brett Day on May 5 on the grounds of the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Conn. Three weeks earlier, they had postponed a ballroom wedding for 100 guests in Simsbury, Conn., from May to November because of the coronavirus. Around the same time, she was laid off from her job as a web designer at a Connecticut advertising agency, also because of the virus.

“Being let go was a big blow,” said Ms. Owczarska, 30. “I’ve been working since I was 16. I cried a lot.” Mr. Day, 36, a senior account executive at MRI, a distribution firm in Plainville, Conn., also had reasons to succumb to the blues. In addition to the postponed wedding, his pay was reduced to minimum wage, and his hours were cut from 40 a week to fewer than 30 as part of his company’s attempt to stay viable amid the economic downturn.

The couple, who had met at MRI in 2015 when Ms. Owczarska was hired as a marketing manager and Mr. Day was working in sales, found they had time on their hands. From their rented house in Farmington, they started taking long, meandering walks on the grounds of Hill-Stead, a nearby art museum. “We were just trying to be active, and it’s so beautiful there,” Ms. Owczarska said. Mr. Day used the occasions to deliver pep talks to her. Shoring up Ms. Owczarska’s battered spirits lifted his own.

“There were so many negative things going on around me, and I really needed to stay positive,” he said. He soon regained some of the swagger she had initially found a turnoff when they were getting acquainted: “I don’t know if it was the sales rep in him, but I thought he was too cocky to date when I met him,” she said. “To be honest, I didn’t think it would ever turn into anything.”

When it did, there was no looking back. “It’s his sense of humor,” she said, and his sense of fun. “Onetime in 2016 he took me to a monster truck rally. He thought I would hate it, but I loved it.” A year later, when Mr. Day proposed, on Dec. 25, they had committed to spending the rest of their lives together.

That gave Ms. Owczarska more than two years to daydream about her wedding day look before the April postponement, and before she and Mr. Day started their spirit-boosting walks around the museum grounds. By the time they decided to elope, she had let go the idea of achieving the perfect bridal look.

In late April, she bought a $60 wedding dress from Amazon. Then “I dusted off my hand-sewing skills to take it in,” she said. “And I assembled a bouquet of Stop & Shop tulips and weeds from the backyard. I curled my hair, put on some makeup, slapped on some nail polish and charged a three-inch Bluetooth speaker to play my processional song.” Jonathan Arpaia, a friend of Mr. Day’s and a justice of the peace, met them at the Hill-Stead Museum and married them in a quick ceremony.

“There was nothing elaborate about it, but it was surreal,” Ms. Owczarska said. “The big takeaways for me were a renewed respect for wedding vendors. Also that we control our own happiness.”

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