John and Danielle Garren have proven that true love is much stronger than even a pandemic and global shut down.
Covid-19 struck a week before their scheduled wedding, but that did not stop them from exchanging their wedding vows on March 27, 2020, in a socially distanced ceremony in the bride’s parents’ East Rockaway backyard.
Now, more than three years into their marriage, the couple agreed that beginning newlywed life during lockdown only made them stronger.
“We had to learn very quickly how to rely on each other for that strength,” Danielle Garren, whose maiden name is Keane, said. “We used that time we had together to really connect, to just have each other’s backs and lean on each other. I feel like we learned a lot from that.”
The strength the couple found in each other was invaluable during the early stages of the pandemic. The last minute planning to hold a modified wedding was stressful enough — but the couple had closed on a home in Commack on March 16, one day after the country officially entered lockdown. On top of all that, soon after moving into their new home, they learned that the small business where John Garren was employed was forced to shut down.
“So here we are, a newlywed couple, we literally just moved into our house, and we find out that he lost his job, and we’re without an income,” Danielle Garren said.
She said she remembers sitting in their house with no furniture, crying at the stress of the situation. She added that during those stressful times, her husband would bring humor and remind her to look toward the future.
“I just kept thinking about how crazy the story is going to be three years from now, five years from now,” John Garren said. “Ten years from now it’s going to be hilarious — we had to get married six feet apart. It’s going to sound stranger and stranger as time goes on.
“I knew everything was going to work out,” he added. “And it did.”
Ten guests attended the original socially distanced ceremony in the East Rockaway backyard that March. But a do-over ceremony and reception was in the works — it was especially important to Danielle Garren to get married in a church. They had originally planned on a ceremony at St. Raymond’s Church in East Rockaway that Sept. 20, which is John Garren’s birthday. However, as Covid guidelines continued to change, so did the couple’s wedding plans.
“We actually had to change our wedding date like, four times,” Danielle Garren said. “Every time our new date approached, we kept having to push it back.”
But her husband, with his comforting sense of humor, would remind her of the story they’d one day tell to their kids and grandkids — who else can say they had four different wedding dates?
And just as he thought, it did all work out. Danielle Garren said that the lockdown, though stressful, was also an extended honeymoon of sorts — they were able to spend their time together with no outside interferences, and a lot of Netflix.
The do-over wedding finally took place in October 2021, with a ceremony at Christ the King Church in Commack and a 200-person reception at Watermill Caterers in Smithtown. And this wedding date was better than all the others, because it came with some extra exciting news: The day before the do-over ceremony, the Garrens learned they were expecting their first child.
“I thought it was amazing,” John Garren said. “At the wedding, I wasn’t supposed to open my mouth about it, but I definitely told a bunch of people. I was so excited.”
Jack Garren was born on June 7, 2022, and will turn one year old this week. His parents described him as fun, rambunctious, and of course, adorable.
“We love being parents,” Danielle Garren said. “It’s amazing.”
The new family continues to live in their Commack home — now with furniture — and enjoying daily life together. And although they have a few options to choose from, the Garrens still celebrate their anniversary on the original March 27 wedding date.
“Even though it was smaller, in my parents’ backyard,” Danielle Garren said, “it still meant a lot to us that we could officially get married in front of our close family.”