When Kyle and Amy Ruch strolled together along the DuSable Bridge on Saturday, her free hand clutching her wedding bouquet, there wasn’t another pedestrian in sight.
It looked as though a movie crew or perhaps a looming tornado had cleared one of the city’s most famous landmarks. It was much the same at Holy Name Cathedral, where the bride’s father walked her down the aisle, passing row upon row of empty pews.
While countless couples have postponed or even canceled upcoming weddings because of a fear of spreading the coronavirus, the Ruches decided to slash their guest list from 275 to a handful and tie the knot anyway – holding out hope for a bigger celebration at a later date.
“Kyle and I were both just very ready to get married, and I didn’t want to wait,” said Amy Ruch, 30, who works for a nonprofit pediatric cancer foundation. She and the groom, 35, both getting married for the first time, had been engaged for a little more than a year.
As the sickness has spread in the United States and Illinois and rules about gatherings have become ever more restrictive, the couple kept changing their expectations about what their wedding would look like.
“It seemed to change hour by hour,” said Kyle Ruch, general manager of a private country club in the northern suburbs. “It really just came down to us focusing on what was most important to us.”
And so on Saturday, the bride and groom – together with the priest, the couple’s parents, best man and maid of honor – gathered inside the cavernous Holy Name Cathedral and exchanged wedding vows.
“I promise to be true to you in good times and bad, in sickness and in health,” the bride said, the words echoing with added poignancy.
But neither the bride nor the groom said they felt alone, staring out at the emptiness.
“I truly remember looking out, but my heart was so full of love and just being with Kyle and having him be by my side that it didn’t feel like the church was empty at all,” the bride said.
Afterward, as the couple posed for photographs and a videographer along Michigan Avenue and outside the Wrigley Building, a police cruiser and a city garbage truck stopped to see what was going on.
When the couple posed in the center of the bridge, the videographer/photographer team — a married couple — said that was the first time in their 10 years of being in business that they’d been able to get that shot, because it’s usually too crowded.
“It was eerie, but it was also kind of moving in a way because everybody – the few people who were out there, including the police officers – honked at us, gave us thumbs up and said, ‘Congratulations,’” the groom said.
Or, the way the bride put it: “The message we continued to hear over and over is that we were giving people hope for a tomorrow, which was a really nice thing to hear.”
On Monday, the Ruches were not enjoying the Thailand honeymoon they had planned. Like couples across the city – some of whom have been together for decades – they’re holed up together in a condo on the North Side.
“We’re getting to know each other very well,” Kyle Ruch said.