COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the wedding industry. Countless ceremonies have been canceled and postponed. Businesses impacted range from sidewalk flower sellers outside shuttered City Hall in downtown Manhattan to venues, hotels and honeymoon suites around the five boroughs and beyond.
But the coronavirus hasn’t changed the fact New Year’s Eve is a popular day to get married. The built-in promise of renewal around the corner, the festive special sparkle of the season and, of course, the potential financial benefits of filing a joint tax return are some explanations for the appeal.
“It’s already a party. People are ready to celebrate,” said the Rev. Annie Lawrence, 52, a New York City wedding officiant who carried out her 2,000th marriage in mid-December.
Olga Tsoupros, 44, who lives in Queens and teaches fourth grade at P.S. 83 in Manhattan, had her heart set on tying the knot with Philip Kontonicolas, 35, who works for the Long Island Rail Road, on New Year’s Eve. On Thursday afternoon in Astoria Park, they exchanged “I do’s.”
The bride wore a white suit. “I bought it yesterday at Express,” Tsoupros said on Wednesday. The groom wore a gray suit. The couple’s family members looked on during the short, simple ceremony in view of the East River.
In 2021, she’s made arrangements for a more formal New Year’s Eve wedding in the Bahamas.
“You get to start a new life and a new year at the same time,” said Tsoupros, who got engaged on June 21. “I couldn’t be happier about getting married on the last day of the year. I didn’t think it was going to be possible this year.”
To get married, you need a license, a process that currently requires an appointment through Project Cupid — a virtual license appointment system set up in April after the NYC Marriage Bureau closed due to the pandemic.
Since it launched, there’s been a logjam for appointments, even with the help of the NYC CityClerk Clerk twitter account, which posts weekly updates about when they become available.
“I waited for months for an appointment,” said Tsoupros, adding that she booked one a few weeks ago. “It was like winning a prize.”
To capture the moment, Tsoupros searched online and reached out to wedding photographer Kristy May, 41, who became an officiant this year through the Universal Life Church.
Ordination “is new for me this year,” said May, who’s been snapping happy couples for over a decade. “I lost a wedding to a photographer who was also an officiant in July. They had a competitive edge. I thought, ‘I can remedy that.’”
The Tsoupros-Kontonicolas wedding was the 13th that May officiated. “For the last four years, I’ve had a wedding on New Year’s Eve,” the photographer said. “It’s a great way to mark the end of the year with something fun and positive.”
New Year’s Eve 2020 bride and groom Emily Glander, 29, an investigator with a forensic accounting firm, and Adam Butler, 32, a media researcher with Vevo, echo that sentiment.
The couple got engaged on Christmas 2019 and made the decision to wed this year after advice (“Don’t wait!”) from her grandmother. They were married via Zoom
on Thursday from their home in Long Island City, Queens.
Glander wore a white ModCloth dress that “felt casual and appropriate,” she said, and carried flowers her father, who lives in White Plains, dropped off along with bagels, lox and champagne. Butler pulled out a blue suit from the closet.
They secured a license after three weeks of trying and opted for New Year’s Eve nuptials. Rev. Annie, as Lawrence is known, officiated. She carried out five more Zoom marriages the same day.
“This whole year has been unprecedented,” said Lawrence, adding that virtual weddings being allowed is something new to 2020. “I tell people that they’re making history this year.”
“‘We thought, ‘Let’s have a bright spark to end the year,’” Butler said. Those sparks were seen by family and friends in New York, the U.K., France, Switzerland and Spain.
Glander delighted in the fact that loved ones shared their occasion “without having to buy plane tickets or incur the costs.”