COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)– No vaccine, no entrance. A Columbus couple is making no exceptions when it comes celebrating their wedding this summer. Stephanie Davis and Christian Oliver are requiring all of their guests to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I would not feel safe knowing that somebody at my wedding came and made other people very, very ill,” said Davis. “We’ve we have already lost some close family members to this disease, and we don’t want to lose any more, especially not because of our event.”
Davis and Oliver met just a few weeks after he arrived in Columbus. They were out celebrating a Browns victory at the end of 2018. Two and a half years, a pandemic, and an engagement later, their wedding is now just weeks away. And safety is number one to them.
“It comes down to safety,” Oliver emphasized. “I used to work as a as a facility manager, and that’s literally the number one thing. Everything else goes out the window when it when safety protocols are not being met.”
Safety has been our number one priority. And while it is somebody’s right to not get vaccinated, it is also our right to say you know what, maybe we celebrate with you in a different way.Stephanie Davis
It was not an easy decision for the couple.
“You know, you want everyone– all the people that you’ve invited– you want them to go there regardless if they agree or not,” Oliver said.
He had to have a tough conversation when one of his groomsman dropped out.
“He just called me and said, ‘Hey, man, I really want to be there for the wedding, but I just don’t feel comfortable getting it at the moment,” he said recalling their conversation. “I also tried to explain facts as to why it’s safe, and I’m getting it myself, so I’m not going to make you do something that I’m not going to do. But that person still didn’t feel comfortable enough to get it, which is absolutely fine.”
Despite the pushback, the couple researched, saw that vaccines are widely available in all the states from where their guests are coming, and stood firm.
Top on their minds as well, as a black couple and Davis, a healthcare professional, the knowledge of how the pandemic has exposed racial disparities in public health.
“One of the things we know and know about ourselves and our racial demographic, is that a lot of black individuals have been affected by COVID-19, more so than any other racial demographic,” Davis explained. “We also know that we’re also the least vaccinated group right now, statistically, and so that really scared me as a member of the black community, our guests, our family and things like that. What we didn’t want is for people to come and be unsafe or feel unsafe.”
For couples who are on the fence about requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for guests to attend their wedding this is Davis and Oliver’s advice: “Simply: Better safe than sorry. Get ready for maybe a couple of tough conversations. But the majority of individuals will really be happy and thankful that you did this. It’s a once in a lifetime day, and there’s no reason to put anything out there to be unsafe, especially if you think about comfort. You’re the bride, you’re the groom, what is your comfort level?”