MUSCATINE, Iowa—Six years ago, Alex and Grace Heckman met in Muscatine while interning for Kent Corporation. The two became friends and started dating two years later in 2016. After getting engaged, the two planned a large wedding, which they looked forward to holding in March.
Five days before their wedding, Alex and Grace Heckman learned that under Iowa’s public health disaster declaration, no one could host a gathering of more than 10 people. This left the couple in a bind, as they had invited around 300 guests to their wedding. Despite the difficulties the COVID-19 restrictions placed on the Heckmans, they still found a way to have a beautiful ceremony celebrating their love. In turn, their large circle of friends and family found a way to honor the happy couple while still maintaining their social distance.
When the Heckmans learned they would have to alter their wedding plans, they knew they still wanted to go through with the ceremony March 21 rather than rescheduling it. “Our family could fit in the church, so we decided it was worth it when we got to be together at the time we had chosen,” explained Grace Heckman.
In a tiny ceremony, the Heckmans, along with their immediate family, pastor, and wedding photographer, celebrated their marriage at Zion Lutheran Church in Atalissa. Following the wedding, the couple got the surprise of their life.
Unbeknownst to them, their parents had found a way to have a large celebration after all. In the church parking lot, many of the guests originally invited had parked their cars at least six feet apart from each other. The guests honked their horns and held up congratulatory signs as the Heckmans’ family led the newlyweds in a champagne toast. “It was overwhelming,” shared Grace Heckman: “A lot of the people in attendance were crying and we were very emotional. I think it was just shocking how much people come together, even in times like this.”
Though a pandemic changed their plans, the Heckmans still shared their special day with those they care about. Once the outbreak passes, the couple hopes to bring their loved ones together again for a fuller celebration. “I love our friends and can’t wait to celebrate once COVID has passed,” added Grace.