A COVID WEDDING STORY
Hello! I’m Rachael Freedman, and I teach Hatha Align at Yoga Garden SF! I’ve been teaching at Yoga Garden since May 2019, and I’m still getting to know many of you. I hope through this story you can learn a bit more about me and my life, and perhaps feel a sense of human connection that can be difficult to find these days.
MARCH 30, 2020
Three weeks into quarantine, my boyfriend Mathis (pronounced ‘ma-tis’) and I felt this sense of ease. We had only moved in together on December 1st 2019, and somehow being in quarantine gave us this new found love, respect and flow with each other. We were really feeling in love. Feeling proud of being in this state, we excitedly talked about how things were going. Mathis then said, “Rachael, we are getting along so well we should just get married when this is over!” I said, “Why wait?!” Him being German and somewhat realistic said, “We can’t get married in the middle of the pandemic!” Me being a bit of a magical thinker said, “Why not?” He just looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know.” So, I let go of the idea and the conversation. Also knowing in the back of my mind that it takes him longer to come around to ideas.
A week later, out of nowhere, Mathis walks up to me and says, “Rachael, I’ve been thinking…we should get married now.” I said excitedly, “Really?!” He said, “Yes! Let’s look into this.”
APRIL 6, 2020
We went through MANY iterations of our plan. Sifting through the bureaucracy of marriage licenses, court openings, getting ordained, witnesses, etc. is not for the faint of heart! Everything felt like a whirlwind – exciting, a bit nerve racking and overwhelming. We couldn’t believe that we were possibly going to pull this off!
We finally landed on a plan: On Friday, April 10th we would drive up to Oregon, get our marriage license, have our friends Faa & Sam drive up in their van to be our witnesses and our friend Devi would get ordained and drive to Oregon to marry us. Simple!
APRIL 7, 2020
After I got done teaching my yoga class, Mathis came to me and said, “What are you doing tonight?” I looked at him like he was crazy, “What am I doing tonight? Well given we are in the middle of a pandemic and can’t go anywhere, I’m pretty busy.” He said, “Ok, so you’re free?” I asked, “Why?” He said, “Because I would like to propose to you tonight.” I started laughing because it felt like such a funny thing to say, but nothing we were doing was “by the books”. As I giggled, I said, “Sounds good!”
During the day we worked out the details with Faa and Sam to drive up and be our witnesses, and with Devi to get ordained to marry us. Then we picked out our outfits from clothes we already had at home. Fortunately, I had an all white outfit from my Burning Man bin that felt like a great wedding choice. When I bought this white top (see photo) two years prior my friend told me, “You should buy a second one and save it for your wedding.” While I never did that, there was a little foreshadowing of what was to come. At that time I didn’t even know Mathis existed!
APRIL 7, 2020 (LATER THAT NIGHT)
That evening, after a sunset walk and dinner, we walked back down to the beach. In the sand dunes of Ocean beach under the Super Full Pink Moon, Mathis proposed to me. He had a candle to represent the element of fire, a feather to represent the element of air, an iridescent shell to represent water and my love for shiny sparkly rainbowy things, and a stone to represent the earth.
To be honest, I don’t remember everything he said, the moment felt magical. When he asked me to marry him he pulled a big green, heart-shaped, plastic toy ring out of his pocket, and I started to laugh and cry at the same time.
APRIL 10, 2020
On Friday, April 10th, Mathis and I woke up at 6 am, did our morning yoga and meditation practice, packed the car and headed for Medford, Oregon. Little did we know the surprises ahead of us!
A lot of the drive was spent in disbelief of what we had pulled off in 4 days and what we were about to do. We also both knew it was 100% the right thing to do at that moment. Just before we reached Mount Shasta, we got a call from our chosen officiant who informed us she would not be able to marry us after all. Then we lost cell service for an hour.
Mathis and I quickly learned that even small weddings are stressful as we started to brainstorm yet another plan. Then I learned that Mathis forgot to pack my skirt for my outfit! Things got a bit tense, but I remembered that I packed a white shawl that could turn into a skirt. Being over-prepared always wins!
APRIL 10, 2020
Suddenly we were back in service and got a flood of messages from our Plan A officiant. It turns out that someone we both know happens to live in Ashland AND happens to be ordained AND was willing to marry us in her backyard in spite of her being high risk. Talk about serendipity?!
After getting our marriage license at the Jackson County Clerk’s office in Oregon, we laid in the grass in the sun and called Kani, who would be marrying us. After hearing our story and wishes for the ceremony, she said, “Even though I’m high risk, I like your story, so I will marry you. We can do the ceremony in my backyard underneath my Japanese Maple Tree.”
APRIL 11, 2020
Saturday was spent in nature with our friends and witnesses Faa and Sam. I also happened to have a big yellow circle-shaped plastic toy ring in the same style as the one Mathis proposed to me with, and I decided to propose to Mathis that day. Mathis wrote his vows as I crafted purple feathers and redwood branch crowns for us to wear during our ceremony. Every time I tried to write my vows I got stuck, so I let go of it, surrendering that the words will come when they need to.
APRIL 12, 2020
Sunday we woke up at 7:00 am and looked at each other smiling. The day was here. We went for a run, did our morning yoga and meditation practice, and I tried to write my vows – still no words.
On the drive to Kani’s, my vows poured out of me and onto paper.
Mathis and I set up an altar under the Japanese Maple Tree where Kani suggested we get married. We started with a cacao ceremony honoring the land, the spirits and calling in all of the people we wanted present, including our ancestors. We sent intentions for the ceremony and our marriage.
Kani led us through a beautiful and loving ceremony. My dad wrote a letter to us on behalf of my family. Mathis’ mom and grandma also wrote something in German that Faa was able to read and Mathis translated. Mathis and I put our hands on each other’s hearts and said, “I see you, and I love you.” (Which I later had engraved on the inside of his wedding ring). Then we read each other our vows with laughter and tears. Last, we exchanged rings, which were shells that Mathis had found in New Zealand shaped like rings. We hugged, cried, kissed and danced to a song.
TODAY – MOVING THROUGH LIFE TOGETHER
I can’t imagine a better life partner. Mathis is an incredible man who is loving, thoughtful, present and so enthusiastic. Plus, he loves glitter and purple like me (bonus!). One of the greatest gifts of our relationship is that we share our morning practices of yoga and meditation. To have a partner that fully stepped in and joined me in this practice feels like we have an even deeper connection. It brings me joy every morning to see him do his own yoga practice based on my routine, moving in ways I taught him.
If you made it this far, thank you for letting me share my story with you! I began teaching at Yoga Garden in May 2019, and I’m still getting to know many of you. I hope through this story you learned a bit more about me and my life, and perhaps felt a sense of human connection that can be difficult to find these days.
As a yoga teacher, my mission is to help you realize your full potential, to be your authentic self, to BE YOU. I look forward to sharing the practice of yoga with you and supporting you on your journey to fulfill your life’s purpose. Please feel free to reach out to me for support: www.rachaelfreedman.com
Thank you for reading – I hope to see you in class sometime soon!
Disclaimer: Yoga Garden SF encourages individuals to fully comply with local COVID-19 health directives.