Brittany Yates popped the question to Jenna Lack on May 25, 2019 at The Sunken Gardens in St Petersburg, Florida. Without batting an eye, she said, “YES!”
Immediately, the two planned their dream wedding. They opted for a destination wedding to Colorado Springs where they would exchange vows at The Garden of the Gods surrounded by family and friends. Wedding attire was purchased (a suit for Jenna and a dress for Brittany), rings were ordered, and hotel rooms were booked.
Then COVID-19 happened and their dream wedding became exactly that – a dream. The couple was devastated.
To add insult to injury, both were furloughed from their jobs. Brittany is the lead bartender and mixologist at The Hotel Zamora on Saint Pete Beach and Jenna the Member Services Manager at Lifetime Athletic in Tampa.
Although the two considered postponing their wedding, the global isolation extensions forced them to reconsider. In an attempt to salvage what was meant to be, Brittany took to Facebook for support…and an officiant.
“I’m looking for an officiant for Saturday! Must be LGBT friendly as it’s a same sex wedding,” Brittany posted on the I Love St Pete group page. “Our April 18 wedding was unfortunately canceled due to COVID and due to the MASSIVE amount of weddings being rescheduled, we’re looking at another year to have ours and we just don’t want to do that. We’d still like to go ahead and get married on our actual date!”
The response was overwhelming. Nearly 400 people commented offering to assist or tagging others who could. Courtney Rose volunteered her officiant services. As the Publisher of OutCoast.com, I also offered to provide photography services at no cost to the brides. As did Jessica Salmond Belknap. Local singer and LGBTQ+ Division Manager at Metro Inclusive Health, Cole Foust, offered to sing a few acoustic songs, including a favorite of theirs, Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”.
The brides-to-be were overwhelmed by the support. The wedding was on and planned in under six days.
The Wedding Day
When the day arrived, Brittany and Jenna couldn’t contain their joy. They refused to wallow in their disappointment and instead made the best of a difficult situation.
On the morning of April 18, 2020, the ladies woke to pouring rain and thunderstorms – yet another bump in this ever-winding road. Even with storms in the forecast, Brittany and Jenna were confident that rainbows were on the horizon and insisted that the show would go on. They were right! Although rainbows were nowhere to be seen, the sun beamed bright an hour before the ceremony.
A very small, socially-distanced crowd (10 people to be exact) gathered at the Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum near the Vinoy Park. Attendees included two photographers, an officiant, Jenna’s parents, an acoustic guitar player and a couple of close friends – each spaced out 6 feet by 6 feet. Not a handshake nor hug was exchanged. What may have once felt awkward by societal norms, felt strangely familiar by today’s norms.
Dressed in a form-fitting blue suit, lavender shirt, teal tie and brown shoes, Jenna arrived early to set up a Zoom camera for friends to take witness to the celebration.
Then Brittany arrived and the ceremony began. Wide-smiling Jenna waited patiently, with her dog Parker standing by, as Brittany made her way down the brick path with the other dog, Jackson. Brittany wore a white lacy gown with spaghetti straps that hugged her figure and a train that circled her bare feet. She held a bright bouquet of tropical flowers, like those found at Sunken Gardens.
As Brittany rounded the corner and appeared in the open garden, Jenna’s smile turned to a look of surprise and adoration. The two remained locked into one another’s gaze throughout the ceremony.
After rings were exchanged, vows read, and “I Do’s” repeated, a tearful Brittany and a joyful Jenna embraced for a first kiss that continued through the couple’s first dance as wife and wife.
Shortly thereafter, bystanders parted ways and the couple remained for photos.
Their Love Story
The newlyweds took a few minutes to chat with me, for this story in OutCoast.com, about their relationship and COVID-19 experience. We also wanted to get the skinny on future honeymoon plans!
How did you two meet?
“We actually met online! Both newer to Florida, we didn’t know many people. We spoke online for about a week and had our first date at a local brewery! Turns out we had moved to Florida the exact same day!”
When did you each know you were in love and wanted to spend the rest of your lives together?
Jenna: “Our first Valentine’s Day together- about 5 months after dating. She woke up and made me breakfast and gave me a personalized card from her AND her dog Jackson. I’ve never had anyone be so sweet to me and want to celebrate the small things. I knew that’s what I wanted for my life right then.”
Brittany: “I think I knew I wanted to spend forever with Jenna when she came to my hometown of Keller, Texas and got to meet my family and see where I grew up. I love my home and seeing her around my family really just solidified my feelings. I proposed shortly after that visit.”
What do you love the most about each other?
Brittany: “Wow, I love so many things. I think I love Jenna’s heart the most. She is always willing to help others, and she is definitely the ‘give her shirt off her back’ person. She is so kind, and loving and her personality just radiates! Everyone who meets her loves her.”
Jenna: “I agree with Brit. There are so many things about her that I fell in love with. If I had to pick something though it would be her way to always find the good in people. She constantly is making people, including myself of course, feel like they are the only person in the room. She has this way of connecting with people that is something like I’ve never seen. I am truly lucky to have such a compassionate person by my side.
Do you regret not having your wedding in Colorado?
“Colorado was our dream and we were really upset for a bit- but at the end of the day we know Colorado will still be there and our love and safety is what mattered most.”
Who’s idea was it to stick with April 18th as the wedding date?
“We originally were going to reschedule our Colorado ceremony but it was proving difficult with the uncertainty of COVID19 and how long it was going to last. Once we realized that we just wanted to be married to each other, the fancy formalities weren’t important. We decided that about a week before our wedding day, and threw a small thing together in 6 days! It was really both of our ideas!”
Was your ceremony everything that you wanted it to be?
“Yes, it was absolutely perfect given the circumstances!”
Will you still have a honeymoon? If so, what are the plans?
“Yes we will be making honeymoon plans, once COVID is over! We will be sticking with our original honeymoon plans, having a cabin in the woods of Colorado!”
Will you host a big wedding party when things open up again?
Brittany: “Yes, we plan on it! We’d love to celebrate with our friends and family!”
Jenna: “Brittany’s family was unable to make it and it’s important to her. Our plan is to have a reception party here and then one on Texas for Brittany’s family.”
Do you plan to have kids? And will you stay in St Pete?
“YES! We are both huge children lovers and want three kids of our own. Having a family is extremely important to us and we’re hoping to start soon! Our other plans include moving to Texas, and starting a garden-homestead. It’s always been a dream of Brittany’s since she grew up on a farm. We both grew up in small towns and appreciate the small town lifestyle.”
OutCoast.com wishes these two lovebirds the best of love and health! For more Florida wedding stories, visit our CELEBRATE section.
Bridal Outfits: Purchased at Cindy Lew’s Frontroom Couture.
Hair and Make-up Application: Provided by Amber Wilson (friend of the brides), Owner of Bella Balanced
Officiant: Services Provided by Courtney Rose
Flowers: Purchased from Stunning Flowers by Shelbie
Photographers: Services provided by Rachel Covello, OutCoast Photography, and Jessica Salmond Belknap, Salmond Photography.
Music: Cole Foust
Jenna’s Ring: Rodrigo Cornejo Jewelry
Brittany’s Rings: Jadorelli