It was a wedding far different than the one Jason Skidmore and Shayna Montri had been planning. But it turned out better than anyone could have imagined.

On April 17, Jason Skidmore and Shayna Montri exchanged vows. Standing just inside the doors of the barn on the Montri family farm in Ida, the couple tied the knot while an April snow blanketed the lawn and 30 or so family and friends looked on.

The family and friends just happened to be sitting inside of their cars, adhering to social distancing guidelines handed down by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in an attempt to combat the deadly coronavirus pandemic. The officiant stood six feet away from the bride and groom. For obvious reasons, there was no reception.

It was a wedding far different than the one Jason and Shayna had been planning for over a year and a half, a happy milestone in their life that was almost completely derailed by the ongoing pandemic.

But in the end, it turned out better than anyone could have imagined.

“Honestly when we were done, there was just a lot of relief,” Shayna said. “Obviously in the weeks leading up to the wedding, every time we’d finally come up with a new plan of how to do things we’d get a new call saying ‘ ou can’t do it this way, you can’t do it that way’ or we’d have (Governor) Whitmer making up a new rule restricting things even further...”

Things took a chaotic turn just two weeks before the wedding, when the barn near Clark Lake that Jason and Shayna had reserved for their nuptials cancelled all spring events due to the coronavirus. Up until that point, and despite a growing list of executive orders from the governor’s office restricting social gatherings, the couple had been holding out hope that the wedding could still happen with some minor adjustments.

After scrambling to adapt to the ever-changing situation, losing the venue felt like the final nail in the coffin.

“It was pretty tough,” Shayna said. “I was kind of sitting there at that point, and so many things had changed. I was just kind of like mentally drained and kind of done.”

Shayna’s mother Dawn Montri came to the rescue, offering the family farm that is currently owned and operated by her and her husband Jim as an alternative location.

“My mom is like ‘No listen, people will be sitting in their cars so everybody can stay safe, and we’ll just have it on the farm,’” Shayna said. “Generations of my family have grown up on this farm anyways, so it’s kind of historical for my family.”

The woodsy setting of the farm is in keeping with the couple’s spirit. Originally from Louisiana, Jason moved to Michigan years ago to be near his stepfather’s family. He became friends with Shayna’s brother, who set the two up for Shayna’s homecoming dance in high school.

Jason proposed to Shayna at a cabin in Indiana that he had rented for them for his birthday.

“I ended up proposing a day early,” he said. “I just couldn’t wait any longer.”

While they had decided on a new venue for their wedding, the sprint to the finish line still required multiple minor miracles. The wedding bands had been sent away to be sized, and they were in a vault at a Kay Jewelers in Northern Michigan that was closed because of COVID-19.

“My mom’s friend used to work for Osterman Jewelers, and she knew one of the managers at Kay,” Shayna explained. “She was able to get a hold of her, and she was able to drive halfway up north to go pick them up from another manager.”

The guest list had to be cut down drastically, in part due to the available space on the family farm and also because of the current state and national travel restrictions.

“We probably had 30- to-40 people,” Jason said.

The couple was able to get a small cake to feed to each other. Their DJ agreed to drive from Maumee so that bride and groom could have their first dance, and the bride could dance with her father.

The plan was for Jason to be waiting with Pastor Tim Curry - one of Shayna’s professors at Monroe County Community College, whom she had bonded with over their shared faith - just outside the barn doors. Shayna and her father would walk from the front porch of the house to the barn, with the cars on either side of them forming a makeshift procession.

But on the day of the wedding, a surprise April snowfall forced yet another adjustment.

“We ended up having it just inside the barn a little ways,” Shayna said. “A lot of the driveway was actually mud, so I had to drag my dress through the mud. Earlier in the day my dad and my husband parked some trucks in front of the barn so we’d at least have some green grass and an aisle way, which was kind of cool because now on either side there’s snow and there’s a green aisle way to the barn.”

Vows and rings were exchanged. Horns were honked. Not a traditional wedding by any means, but one nobody involved will forget anytime soon.

“At the end of the day, it’s kind of funny because God knew what we actually wanted from the beginning,” Shayna said. “At the start my husband and I had planned to have a smaller wedding, but then me coming from a large family it’s kind of hard to have a small wedding anyways...

“(But) it’s almost like God made sure we got what we wanted, a small crowd and getting married at a place we knew and love.”

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