WIth the coronavirus pandemic postponing all kinds of celebrations and gatherings, one couple from New York still made it happen. Against all odds, Filipina Mandi Garcia and German Joschua Hoffmann pushed through with their wedding. They tied the knot just before Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a lockdown in New York—the hardest hit state in the United States, with over 188,694 confirmed cases as of April 13, 2020.
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Mandi works in a creative agency, while Joschua works in Lufthansa—they met through dating app Bumble in New York, end of Spring 2018. At that time, Mandi recounts, Joschua was just the Big Apple for a couple of months. "(He) decided to transfer to the US subsidiary to stay longer on a working visa. He even ended up living four blocks away from my old apartment and then when our leases ended, we moved in together."
By the end of last year, the two got engaged in a secluded cove in Palawan, Philippines, with Mandi's family present.
Mandi recalls the event to be a total surprise—"I was in shock and not prepared at all, but it was a beautiful and very teary-eyed moment because I was able to celebrate with my family right after on that island. He really made it a point to include my family, because most of the year we are so far away from them and he knows how special this moment would be for the two of us."
The two followed the rather emotional engagement with a simple and straightforward wedding planning. They ultimately decided to do two ceremonies: A civil wedding in New York on October 9, and the other one in either of their home countries.
Mandi explains, "We knew we wanted to have our civil wedding in New York, because this was the starting point of our relationship, where we met and fell in love. We really loved the idea of it being very intimate yet a very New York moment."
But due to the pandemic, the couple had to think their initial plans through, thinking of the worst across all aspects.
Mandi narrates, "We considered waiting until October, but with the situation worsening, we started to get worried, especially since we were alone in the city together with no immediate family... Joschua is currently in New York on a working visa in the airline industry, which is severely impacted by the pandemic and the US unemployment rates were increasing everyday. So, we spoke to our families about wanting to get married as soon as possible, minimizing the risk of any potential issues."
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While they got their parents' blessing, the two didn't have it easy for them in New York. On March 20, 2020, a Friday, Mandi and Joschua found themselves along with many other couples at City Hall with the hopes of getting wed. They will all get turned down for the office was closed until further notice due to the lockdown.
Disheartened, Mandi and Joschua were about to leave the City Hall until the imaginable thing happend. That same day, a woman came rushing toward them asking if they still wanted to get married that day.
"Although confused, we said yes," Mandi relates, saying the woman who approached them had just found an officiant that would wed her and her fiancé that same day.
And so that afternoon, Mandi and Joschua got married at the Brooklyn Bridge Park—with an officiant and their friend-turned-witness and photographer Matt.
"The ceremony was less than five minutes," Mandi narrates. "No wedding rings yet and just a borrowed bouquet from that generous couple, Valentina and Trevor."
"From there, we walked the empty streets of Brooklyn to take a few more photos and ate lobster rolls from the only place still open in that area—which coincidentally is one of my favorite places in the city. At home, we continued our celebration with a grocery-bought cake, white wine to toast our vows and a first dance to our song in our tiny studio apartment."
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While the ceremony didn't go as originally planned, Mandi and Joschua learned that having each other just trumped the need for grandeur.
"In this time of uncertainty, hold on to the things you are certain of," Mandi declares. "There will always be another time to celebrate, but when it comes to serious matters where you have no control over, you need to step back and think about what’s really important—it’s you and your partner, it’s the love that you have. It’s about putting aside your original plans and making the most of what you have right now, which can turn out even better than what you had dreamt of."
For Mandi, it wasn't just love that filled the air that day with the coronavirus haunting all public places in sight—there was also that sense of community. "We were very grateful and fortunate that everything just worked out and we were able to pull of this spur-of-the-moment wedding!" she ends.
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Photos from Mandi Garcia