Bride Kelbie Togisala, a junior English education major from Hurricane, poses with her husband, Malosi Togisala, a senior communication studies major from Ogden, after winning his battle against COVID-19. Photo by Alexa Christensen.
Saying “I do” to your special someone does not need to be put on hold because of roadblocks caused by COVID-19 this year.
For students at Dixie State University, wedding bells are still ringing, intricate invitations are still being sent out, and brides are continuing to say “yes to the dress.”
Malosi Togisala, a senior communication studies major from Ogden, proposed to his wife Kelbie Togisala, a junior English education major from Hurricane, on April 23. The couple announced their wedding date on social media and instantly began planning their summer wedding.
Malosi Togisala said: “We had everything planned — everything as in a reception holding 600 to 1,000 people, a huge venue, a whole program and a luau… then July 2 happened.”
The couple said they were tested for COVID-19 on July 2, about a month out from their wedding date. Kelbie Togisala tested negative, but Malosi Togisala tested positive and was experiencing symptoms of the virus.
“While he was sick, we were still sending out invitations,” Kelbie Togisala said. “We ended up having to add inserts telling everyone that basically everything was canceled, and that we were going to just have a small family thing.”
For eight days, Malosi Togisala said he battled COVID-19, fighting to breathe, struggling with an infection in his lungs, and endured a persistent cough. Family members and his soon-to-be-wife were not permitted to see him during this intense time.
Although it was an arduous time with Malosi Togisala facing this near-death experience, the couple felt that many blessings came from his time in the hospital, and they decided to still go forth with their set wedding date, Kelbie Togisala said.
“I don’t think that 10 years from now I’ll look back and remember the big party, dancing and sparkling decorations. I’ll always remember it as the day I married my best friend. There’s always a future date to throw a big party; that can wait, but love shouldn’t.”Nafatali Stevenson, junior biology major
“I’m glad we got married when we did; our little civil thing was awesome,” she said. “I would never go back and change what we had. It was just more intimate and personal since it was just us and our families.”
Malosi Togisala said the couple was married in a local Airbnb two weeks after he was released from the hospital. At the ceremony held in the living room of the house, 30 guests witnessed them say “I do.”
“Having a more small, intimate wedding gave both of us the opportunity to have special moments, especially with certain people,” he said. “Seeing Kelbie walk down the staircase, everything was just silent, all of our closest friends and family were crying, and it felt like just us. It was one of those moments you would never trade.”
The couple found that because they decided to go on with their wedding, they were able to see more unity between both families, especially their parents, and they saved an abundance of money, Malosi Togisala said.
“If I knew what I know now, I’d recommend that everyone have an intimate wedding with the people you love the most, and celebrate later,” Kelbie Togisala said. “That moment is so special; I liked what we did.”
The Togisala’s were not the only couple who didn’t let the pandemic get in the way of their special day.
On top of the red cliffs of St. George, Nafatali Stevenson, a junior biology major from St. George, agreed to marry the man of her dreams. Shortly after their engagement, the couple planned to have a big, beautiful reception on Aug. 8.
After hearing about the COVID-19 regulations, Stevenson said she and her husband decided to cancel their original plan and have a small wedding with immediate family and a few friends. This gave the couple an opportunity to focus on their love for each other instead of stressing over wedding plans.
“Had we waited to have a huge wedding and reception like we originally wanted to, we’d still be waiting,” Stevenson said. “The wedding party isn’t what matters; it’s the act of marriage that is truly important.”
Stevenson said her wedding was kept to under 50 people, and she enjoyed how private and simple it was. Had she planned her original wedding idea, she would have focused more on food, expensive invitations, a grand venue and more.
“I don’t think that 10 years from now I’ll look back and remember the big party, dancing and sparkling decorations,” Stevenson said. “I’ll always remember it as the day I married my best friend. There’s always a future date to throw a big party; that can wait, but love shouldn’t.”
Both couples said they are planning to have a larger celebration as soon as the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 calm down.
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“Coronavirus has taken away a lot from so many people, and I wasn’t going to let it take away my chance of marrying my best friend,” Stevenson said.