Medical Masks And A Nearly Empty Church. This Couple Didn’t Let A Pandemic Stop Them From Getting Married.

The couple stands in a church with medical masks over their faces. The reverend stands between them, smiling.
Sussan Navabi (left) and Anna Carvlin (right) pose for a wedding photo. The couple was married the day before Illinois' “stay at home” order took effect. Courtesy of Anna Carvlin
The couple stands in a church with medical masks over their faces. The reverend stands between them, smiling.
Sussan Navabi (left) and Anna Carvlin (right) pose for a wedding photo. The couple was married the day before Illinois' “stay at home” order took effect. Courtesy of Anna Carvlin

Medical Masks And A Nearly Empty Church. This Couple Didn’t Let A Pandemic Stop Them From Getting Married.

As Chicago slowed to a crawl, newlyweds Anna Carvlin and Sussan Navabi were celebrating new beginnings.

A week before what was supposed to be their big day, the venue canceled their wedding because of the coronavirus pandemic. Carvlin and Navabi said they had considered canceling it themselves, but instead found a reverend at the First Unitarian Church of Chicago in Hyde Park who would officiate their wedding — one day before the statewide “stay at home order” went into effect.

“We wanted to stand up and say to each other: ‘Yes we’re doing this,’” Navabi said.

There’s another big reason Carvlin and Navabi needed to save their March wedding date: They’re expecting a baby daughter in June. If they married later, Navabi would have to go through a complicated process to be legally seen as the child’s parent.

The couple said they’ve been video journaling about the world’s current situation for their daughter. What started out as a pregnancy journal for Carvlin became a way for the two to document isolating at home through weekly check-ins. They include details about coronavirus case counts, along with stories of baking bread for the first time and practicing their music.

“I think this will give [the child] a sense of having a sense of humor, fighting through the tears and always appreciating what we have,” Navabi said.

Sussan Navabi and Anna Carvlin look through a window wearing medical masks. They hold up a sign that says Just Quarantined
On the day they were supposed to get married, Navabi and Carvlin instead took these newlywed photos. Courtesy of Anna Carvlin

Carvlin said a few days after the wedding was canceled, she told her daughter about it on video.

They originally planned to throw a Persian New Year-themed party with about 100 guests. On March 20, the guest list was much shorter: the couple, the reverend and Navabi’s mother.

For the photographs, the wedding party donned medical masks and held a bouquet of flowers in a toilet paper roll.

“We were thinking we could still do our ceremony and have fun with it,” Carvlin said. “We both had a little hand sanitizer and did ‘cheers.’”

And for their honeymoon? A “stay at home”-cation in their Morgan Park home.

Navabi, who works as a librarian, is working from home. Carvlin was recently laid off and has been job searching.

“It’s probably more a honeymoon now than we would’ve had,” Navabi said. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, even though we’re scared and people are getting sick — we’ve spent the most time we’ve ever spent together.”

The couple tips small bottles of hand sanitizer to each other, in a mock toast.
A wedding toast — sanitized. Courtesy of Anna Carvlin

They’re tentatively thinking of rescheduling their wedding party — the one with the long guest list — to next March.

Minju Park is a news intern at WBEZ.