How a local family turned a delayed wedding into a Celebration to Remember
Story by Liesel Schmidt + Photography by Lauren Catts
When Matthew Catts and Lauren Shrewsbury met through a friend in the summer of 2016, they had no idea what the future would hold—or that their engagement almost three years later would be extended because of a worldwide pandemic.
“Matt surprised me at our home with a beautiful rose gold diamond engagement ring that he’d had custom-designed with Mary Ehlers from Nugget. She’s absolutely amazing at her craft!” Lauren says of the special day in June of 2019, proudly holding up her left hand to flash the ring that has taken pride of place for almost two years now.
That surprise proposal was only the first surprise for the happy couple. As planning commenced, they settled on May 2, 2020—and then COVID destroyed their plans. Rather than sacrifice the wedding of their dreams, however, they postponed it all for a year, keeping all their plans in place and hoping that 2021 would look upon them with favor.
Even so, as May 2, 2020 approached, so did the feelings of loss over what should have been—even in light of the new date they’d set. As the day drew nearer, Matt’s family knew they had to do something to mark the time and make it special. With a “wedding party” that included Matt’s parents, his grandmother, his brother, his sister-in-law, the day became a day of celebration rather than lament.
“I felt so bad for Lauren—she was so upset,” explains Matt’s mother, who, like his future wife, is also named Lauren. “It just so happened that it was the day of the fly-overs, so we asked them if they wanted to go for a boat ride to see that. When we got back to the docks, we surprised them with the wedding décor and Greek food. We felt it was fitting, as Greece was the destination for the honeymoon.”
“They completely surprised us and went above and beyond to make the day so special!”
“They completely surprised us and went above and beyond to make the day so special!” says Lauren, who works as a marketing coordinator for a local mortgage company while Matt works as an insurance repair specialist. “My future father-in-law, Bruce, captained a boat, and we went on a boat ride up to DC to watch the Blue Angels fly over in a salute to the front-line workers battling COVID. Once we arrived back at the docks of Old Dominion Boat Club, we had an amazing Greek lunch followed by drinks, singing, and dancing! My future mother-in-law gifted me a beautiful bouquet of hydrangeas, and we took photos on the back of their beautiful boat, Seas the Day. My future sister-in-law, Lauren—we’re all Laurens, so Matt’s mom is L1, my future sister-in-law is L2, and I’m L3—gifted us with a Cameo from Russell Dickerson, whose song, Yours, will be the one I walk down the aisle to!”
The day—a “faux wedding,” as they call it—was redeeming. It was the perfect way to memorialize the time and make it happy. “We were shocked at how much thought and care was put into the day and I am truly grateful to be joining such a supportive and loving family,” says Lauren, who fittingly wore a white dress—albeit a casual one, paired with raffia heeled sandals. Matt, meanwhile, wore a white polo shirt with shorts and Reef sandals. “It is now a day that we can look back on with smiles and laughter rather than with the sad memory of what was supposed to be our wedding day. We’ll always remember it.”
As with any good wedding, real or otherwise, the food was unforgettable. “L1 had Greek food catered by SouvlakiBar to support other local restaurants during the pandemic—they own the Fosters Grille on Eisenhower, so they know first-hand how much it has affected the restaurant industry—in honor of our postponed honeymoon that was going to be a cruise around Greece.”
Following a delicious carrot cake from Wegman’s, the “wedding party” went to the Fish Market, where they had a celebratory beer and shots. “Our bartender, Todd, went above and beyond to make sure that our day was celebrated properly, given the circumstances,” says Lauren. With that, the soon-to-be-newlyweds were sent off with love and well wishes for their future, knowing that the best is yet to come.