Anthony (Tony) Eicher ’12 and Annie Dupslaff ’10 planned to share one of the happiest days of their lives with 160 friends and family on Saturday. The day would be filled with joy and cheer as they were wed at the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas on campus.
The couple, who were engaged last fall, had spent hours making sure all the details were just right. They even decided to schedule the ceremony and reception in March to beat the spring wedding rush.
Then social distancing was advised amidst the rise of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). They realized for the safety and health of their loved ones, they might have to call off their big day.
“We spent last weekend talking about what we were going to do, what we should do and what we were going to be allowed to do,” Tony said.
On Monday, March 16, the couple decided to cancel their original plans, but not the wedding. Instead, with some fast-acting help from St. Thomas’ sacramental coordinator Christina Crow from Campus Ministry, they moved their nuptials up to Tuesday, March 17, at the chapel with only Annie’s parents present as witnesses (Tony’s parents were unable to travel for the event).
“I always dreamed of marrying a very good man, not the party necessarily,” Annie said. “Being able to be that bride for a really special man – I was able to do that.
“The actual marriage part made me nervous,” she explained. “The party and the celebration can be postponed, that's not terrible. I wanted to start my life with Tony, and I didn't want to wait.”
Jill and Ralph walked their daughter down the aisle. Father Steven McMichael officiated the marriage.
“It was surreal,” Annie said. “As soon as I saw Tony, I knew everything was going to be OK. I was like, ‘This is my forever person.’”
Ralph said watching his daughter and now son-in-law making their vows was a moment he and his wife will never forget.
“Annie and Tony, when they kissed, when Father [McMichael] consecrated the marriage and they cheered ‘woo’ – it came together at that moment,” Ralph said. “Jill and I were holding hands with tears in our eyes. That was the most special part – those two celebrating.”
McMichael, who also teaches in the College of Arts and Sciences Theology Program, said the experience was unusual since most of the prayers of the wedding are focused on a group being present for the ceremony. But, he said, the only real difference with the Eicher-Dupslaff wedding was the lack of people.
"I really felt compassion for them, as this was not what we were talking about three weeks ago when we got together to discuss the wedding liturgy,” he said. “But they seemed very happy to be married, and that is what the entire event was about.”
While Annie and Tony are sad about missing out on all the excitement their original wedding plans held, they’ve rescheduled a party for July. Getting married on Tuesday was the right decision for them at this time, Tony said.
“It's crazy because we've been affected to our own degree by this virus, but everybody has been affected in some way,” he said. “We're just trying to make the most out of the situation.”
After the ceremony, instead of going on a honeymoon to Hawaii, the newlyweds went back to their home in Chaska, picking up takeout on the way from Wildfire, the same Eden Prairie restaurant where Tony first asked Annie to be his girlfriend.