Bride shares lesson after coronavirus cancels wedding

By Rachel Paula Abrahamson

Across the U.S., couples are canceling and delaying weddings due to the spread of coronavirus.

Katie Russell and Brand Alexander Newland decided they would rather just downsize.

After spending more than a year planning an exotic designation wedding on Mexico's Baja Peninsula, the pair were married by a judge a few blocks away from home in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday.

"In the end, it was just him and I, which is the most important thing," Russell, 43, told TODAY Style.

Russell and Newland, 39, called their friends and family last week to let them know about the change of plans. At the time, there were no known COVID-19 cases in the area, but they felt it was the "socially responsible thing to do."

"Of course, I'm disappointed. I think a sudden loss of something you've been envisioning for a long time is always challenging," Russell explained. But the writer has weathered bigger storms.

In a powerful Instagram post, Russell revealed that her family "lost everything" when Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast in 2005. A few years later, in 2009, Russell's mother died of cancer. Shortly after, Russell was diagnosed with blood cancer.

Coronavirus wedding cancel"I waited 43 years to get married ... I didn't want to wait a second more."Courtesy of Katie Russell

"One of the biggest lessons I've learned from these unfortunate events is that when things are out of my control, I still have a choice in how I respond," Russell, whose cancer is in remission, wrote. "I choose Love."

Russell's love extends to people including "our elderly in nursing homes who were told they don't get to have any visitors" and "children who just lost the school meals that they count on as their only guaranteed meals each day."

"When we look outside of ourselves, it gives us perspective, and that aids healing," she told TODAY Style.

Katie Russell and Brand Alexander Newland vacationing at the Hotel San Cristóbal in Todos Santos, Mexico, where they were planning to get married.Katie Russell and Brand Alexander Newland vacationing at the Hotel San Cristóbal in Todos Santos, Mexico, where they were planning to get married. Courtesy of Katie Russell

Russell, who authored the upcoming memoir "A Season With Mom: Love, Loss, and the Ultimate Baseball Adventure," has been inundated with messages from other brides on Instagram.

"Some women have been saying, 'My family didn't understand why I wasn't more devastated, and you gave me the words to explain it,'" Russell said. "It's nice to feel you're not alone when everything we're having to do in self-quarantine makes you feel that way."

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