Their wedding with 200 guests was set for June 13 in the hometown of bride-to-be Marian Eckermann.
She and Eli Parker-Burgard, both Class of 2016, got engaged a couple of years after Hamilton. They settled in Brooklyn where Eckermann began her dental residency and Parker-Burgard found a job he loved raising funds for a nonprofit that fights poverty and homelessness.
For weeks after the pandemic effectively shuttered New York state, they held out a modicum of hope that the wedding could go on as planned in Rochester. All the same they hunted down their guests’ email addresses to alert them that the event was in flux. Some three weeks before June 13, they knew what they had to do, emailing everyone to say they’d canceled the big event.
But they didn’t let the pandemic forestall the biggest part of their big day. They’d been engaged for a year and a half. The time had come. “We just couldn't wait to be each other’s spouse,” Eli says. They married June 13 in a civil ceremony at her parents’ home, surrounded by their immediate families. The wedding was intimate and relaxed in a way a big ceremony could never be. In their eyes, it was perfect.
They didn’t give a thought to who would arrive when or any other logistics. “It was really the best day for us and our immediate families, just having some time to focus on each other the whole day,” Marian recalls. “We weren’t hosting. We weren't trying to smile and say, ‘Oh, thank you for coming, thank you for coming.’ We could just be with each other, and it was also an amazing way for our families to connect.”
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They’ll throw the big wedding party when it’s safe to host that celebration. The knot securely tied, the couple is in the process of changing their last names to Burgard. In certain quarters now, they’re viewed as experts on a pandemic wedding. Eli says on occasion, he’s been a wedding coach of sorts.
“And the thing that I tell every single person is that leading up to the day, both of us were feeling a little bit like, what if we spend all of June 13th sad about what could have been?” he says. No worries there. Neither of them felt a twinge of regret.
“It was amazing,” says Eli. “The whole day. We just had an absolute blast.”