MAPLEWOOD — Gov. Mike DeWine may be right when he said there could be a baby boom as a result of people being quarantined together during the COVID-19 pandemic. One young couple chose to move their wedding date up to the afternoon before the midnight deadline of people being ordered to stay in, so they could be together.
Benjamin and Madison Kriz had been living separately in Maplewood and Sidney awaiting for their wedding day Saturday, March 28, to move in together. But as they began to realize it was likely DeWine would soon be ordering Ohioans to stay-at-home, they decided to move their wedding day ahead to Monday, March 23.
“As the governor put more and more restrictions on, and family members were not able to come, we just felt it was a wiser move, because if we were going to be in lock down, we wanted to get married before that,” Madi said.
Ben, an aircraft mechanic in the United States Air Force, had lived in Maplewood with his mother for four years before joining the Air Force and later was stationed in California. There he met Madi, an office assistant/event planner, in her home state. The Christian couple moved to Ohio from California last fall so Ben could be close to his mother Lori Clinehens, who was dying of cancer.
“We definitely were supporting and encouraging each other throughout this whole process, of losing (Ben’s) mom, and the wedding kind of seeming like it was falling apart in some ways,” Madi said, “definitely a lot of prayers, a lot of support, a lot of hugs, a lot of tears and choosing to laugh and have fun anyway.”
Ben said, “It was funny how everything kind of came full circle, because, not only did Madi and I get married in the farmhouse where my mom and stepdad live, but we actually got engaged there as well. So she (his mother) was able to witness that on Christmas day. So it was a really sweet, precious time for her to have that consolation that, ‘yes, this is indeed happening.’ And she was of course there with us in spirit this past Monday, as well as a number of other people who could not be there.”
Cari Beth and Jeff Noah, who are close friends, neighbors and fellow Sidney First United Methodist Church members with Ben’s parents, helped the engaged couple quickly shift gears with the change of venue, day and the arrangements in general.
“It was just a rough situation, and watching them make that decision to not postpone it. — The marriage was more important than the venue and everything — but it was still a rough decision. So we still tried to make it the best we could,” Cari Beth said. “If you knew Lori — she was the most kind person on the face of the Earth. It was just neat to be able to be there for (Ben and Madi). It’s what we do in the body of Christ and as a community.”
Cari Beth reached out to Sidney Flower Shop owners Betsy and Mike Martin to help, who are also Ben’s parents’ friends and members of their church. The Martins loaned some pre-assembled flower arrangements and some roses they had at their shop to decorate the inside of Ben’s stepfather Brent Clinehens’ dining room for the afternoon.
Ben said hygiene and health was taken very seriously by providing plenty of hand sanitation and wipes for attendees to use. They also told the small group of family and friends who planned to come, not to attend, if they did not feel comfortable gathering together.
“We certainly did not want people to feel an obligation to join us if they weren’t comfortable doing so from a health perspective, and that was something that was stressed. And we wanted to make sure they were well taken care of,” Ben said. “We actually had somebody that was going to be there that day call me that morning, and out of an abundance of caution said, ‘well, we might feel more comfortable staying home.’ And we so understood and respected that.”
Despite not being able to have her family at the wedding in person, Madi said it was still all about love, goodness and fun.
“I was crying quite a bit that my family was adamant they were coming, and my dad was walking me down the isle. But with all of the restrictions and quarantine coming into effect, I was definitely feeling frustrated. And (there were) a lot of tears I wouldn’t have any of my family members there, but I did decide and know that marrying Benjamin is the ultimate blessing for me, and I can have all of those other wedding things later, I suppose,” Madi said.
Although most of Madi’s California family and friends couldn’t make it, her older sister, Kelsi Ozorio, flew in alone to surprised her the night before the wedding. Other members of her family watched via video chat, and even dressed up for the ceremony as if they were attending in person.
Prior to the ceremony, a secret, mass text was sent out to the congregation of Sidney First United Methodist Church and other of Ben and Madi’s friends and family, asking people to show support from their car. The text asked for help to surprise the couple with a drive-by procession reception line when the wedding party exited the house. Cari Beth’s husband Jeff, who is the Maplewood fire chief and Assistant Fire Chief Brad Angle brought a freshly washed fire truck to hold off traffic and keep the 24 cars in line together on the way to the farmhouse. The fire truck then ended the reception line.
“I think a lot of the community, they have walked with us through this struggle, this hardship, and I think that was an extra encouragement for them to want to be there for us for the wedding,” Madi said. “We had family members, members of the church and people we didn’t even know driving by in their cars. They were holding signs that said congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Kritz, and they were taking pictures, waving and honking.”
“It was more than we had anticipated and really made the day that much sweeter,” Ben said by phone from their new apartment in Columbus.
The Krizes hope to have a reception later in the year when the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.