When Candida Doerksen said yes to her fiance's proposal, she had no idea their wedding would be taking place during a global pandemic.

Now, the Winnipeg couple is just excited to be able to go ahead with wedding plans this weekend, keeping physical distancing requirements due to COVID-19 in mind.

Doerksen and her fiance, Darryl Penner, met online and started dating in April of 2019. Seven months later, they were engaged and excited to say "I do" in April 2020.

"We always said since the beginning that we fit together like puzzle pieces," Doerksen says.

Their wedding date seems to have followed the same fitting pattern.

"We started dating April 4, so 04/04, and got engaged November 11, 11/11, and then without really realizing it we picked April 11 as a date," Doerksen explained.

"All along we've just felt like every step along the way of our dating we've just seen how God has brought us together and it just felt like one more affirmation."

A COVID-19 change of plans

But with provincial and federal governments telling all members of the public to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the couple has had to be flexible and a little creative with their wedding plans.

Doerksen, who is an elementary school teacher at Linden Christian School, says she only realized COVID-19 would impact their wedding date exactly one month before their wedding, on the day the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic.

"Earlier that evening we'd done a little bit of wedding shopping and so things were kind of still as planned and then that evening when all the sporting events started to be canceled, we realized, okay, this might have an impact on how things look like moving forward."

After school closures started to be announced, Doerksen and Penner began working on a new plan to tie the knot.

"Our initial guest list was 300 people ... and so it became pretty clear pretty quickly that that would not be happening," Doerksen says.

With each piece of news and every newly-announced restriction, the couple's plans have changed a little more over the past month.

"[The wedding] is tomorrow, so I think this is now the final plan," Doerksen says with a chuckle. "We're pretty hopeful now that it will stay as planned."

Due to provincial restrictions limiting gatherings to 10 people in Manitoba, Doerksen says just witnesses and a pastor will be present during their Saturday wedding. A friend of the couple will set up a speaker to project the service into the parking lot of the church they are to be wed in for friends and family members to listen to from their cars outside.

After the service, Doerksen and Penner say they will join their guests in the parking lot for a small celebratory reception.

"Everyone will stay in their cars but they'll at least be able to see us and be part of our celebration and part of our day," says Doerkson.

"We have guests that are coming that have said they're still going to be dressed up and wash their vans for us and still try to make it a special day."

The couple has even marked spots on the floor in the church for photos after the ceremony to ensure everyone is properly distanced at all times. 

"It's not only about the day"

Even with a plan to accommodate the limitations on their upcoming nuptials, Doerksen says the last month has been one of processing their new reality.

"I think at the beginning we did have to work through some pretty deep disappointment, especially not being able to have our families there," says Doerksen. "That was really hard.

"Every week when the plan changed a little bit more it was another phase of accepting that it was going to look even more different. I think we have had to remind each other that the goal, at the end of this day, is to be married."

Doerksen says faith has been the key for her and Penner in navigating the past month of uncertainty.

"I don't think we could have done it with as much acceptance if it weren't for our faith," Doerksen shared. "Especially just knowing that God brought us together and that he wants this for us."

While a wedding is an exciting celebratory event, Doerksen says she and Penner are even more focused on all the days afterward.

"It's a little bigger than just the wedding and just the day," Doerksen says.

The couple hopes to be able to celebrate their wedding still with family and friends at a later date, once COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.

"In the end, no matter how it looks like, we'll still be married and still be able to start our life together, even if it's in quarantine. We're so thankful for that."