Many soon-to-be brides and grooms scrambled to reschedule their weddings amid the coronavirus pandemic as the large gatherings posed health risks. And while COVID-19 vaccines and testing have allowed many to feel more at ease celebrating their love among friends and family, that doesn't mean that COVID hasn't found a way to interrupt celebrations. That was the case for Amanda and Sam Greenberg, of Annapolis, Md., whose wedding video went viral on TikTok when the bride revealed that she celebrated the day without her husband because he had tested positive for COVID-19.
The video, which was posted to TikTok on May 3, shows Amanda dancing into a ballroom to the tune of Jennifer Lopez's "Let's Get Loud." She captioned the video, "When your husband gets COVID 3 days before your 4th postponed celebration…your brothers walk you in with your husband's cardboard cut out."
Commenters have plenty to say about Amanda's post — and not all were onboard with what they saw as a solo celebration of their relationship. One wrote, "I would have canceled all the guests and just had my wedding with me and my husband." Another added, "When you want the wedding but not the groom."
Others were supportive of the couple, with one writing, "Why don't people get 3 days before you probably aren't getting any money back and guests probably can't cancel their trips for refunds. ENJOY what you can."
Amanda, 34, and Sam, 32, who legally tied the knot on January 31, 2021, after having postponed their wedding multiple times, were scheduled to have their wedding on April 30 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay in Cambridge, Md. However, they were put in a tough spot when, after attending a wedding that required negative COVID tests on April 23, Sam tested positive for the virus on April 27, giving him no time to recover or quarantine to attend his own nuptials. Amanda, who, along with Sam, is vaccinated and boosted, was concerned that the couple's seven-month-old baby would also test positive, and left the house to avoid the virus. What to do about the wedding, however, was unclear.
Initially, the couple chose to cancel the event. But soon, they realized that canceling meant that both they and their guests — most of whom were traveling from out of town to attend — would lose money they had already put towards the celebration.
"Even the hotel needed 72 hours in advance to cancel and get all their money back," Amanda tells Yahoo Life. "But we told everyone, we canceled it. And then within 12 to 15 hours, I thought, You know what, like, my dad's gonna eat a lot of money, and I just can't imagine doing that. My dad's a certain age, and I didn't want to not experience my first dance with him."
The couple invited 294 guests to their wedding celebration, to which 159 RSVP'd yes. On the day of the event, 59 people were in attendance. Amanda said her husband's family did not come to the wedding, explaining, "They were disappointed they missed out, but they supported the decision to continue with the smaller celebration."
Amanda did not want to celebrate entirely without her husband — even if that meant having Sam appear throughout the whole night on FaceTime. Sam put on his would-be wedding outfit and spent the four-hour party being passed around the event on an iPad. The couple also overnighted a cardboard cutout of the groom, which arrived the day of the wedding.
Sam says he was completely in support of Amanda moving forward with the wedding.
"It was obviously not what we expected, and not what you're hoping for," he tells Yahoo Life. "But the root of the entire story is just trying to make the best of an awful situation while making sure that our friends and family are safe. Everybody knew I was sick, everyone knew she was exposed. But she followed every guideline, she did not have any symptoms."
Despite not being at the wedding in person, Sam — whose video feed was put on a big screen during the party — was able to hear Amanda's father's speech, and enjoy the many other special moments of the celebration, like the couple's "first looks," which were captured on camera. For Sam, the hardest part was not seeing Amanda in her wedding dress in person.
"In [January 2021], we had our [marriage ceremony] in [Amanda's dad's] backyard, but she got a dress from Rent the Runway, and she had snow boots on — it was a makeshift wedding that we put together in a week. So it has actually been two and a half years that she had it," he says of the dress. "I knew it was the right decision. She would have the opportunity to look like a bride and feel like a bride in front of all of her friends and family and have a dance with her father. Even though I wasn't there physically, I wanted her to feel special that day. And luckily, that was the outcome."
The couple did not require their guests to be vaccinated or take COVID tests before the event but did make everyone aware that Amanda was exposed to the virus.
"Since the celebration, no one in attendance got COVID," Amanda said.
As for people online judging their decision to go through with their wedding, Sam says that this party is just a small piece of their love story.
"The reality for our situation, and the full transparency of what it is, we were already married, we started a family, we were going to lose a lot of money, and we made the best of an awful situation," he says. “We're so incredibly happy together, we are very supportive of each other and make the best of a weird situation. And that's the only takeaway. We were safe about every decision we made. We're very happy that we have a story for the grandkids."
Want lifestyle and wellness news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Life’s newsletter.