Dear Melissa and Klemens, where are you from and what do you do?
We live in London now, but I’m from Michigan, USA and Klemens is from Bad Leonfelden in Upper Austria. I work for an international animal welfare and conservation NGO and Klemens works for a Danish renewable energy company.
How did you two meet?
We met in Vienna in 2009 at a Stammtisch for BOKU exchange students. I was doing a research project there as part of my master’s degree and Klemens had already graduated and started working but was a buddy for a few Australian exchange students that I was friends with.
Corona hit the wedding plans hard for many people, but in your case it was even more insecure, because of the international guests, which should have come to Schloss Waldenfels in Reichenthal. How did you handle the whole situation?
We’ve been together for over 11 years and although marriage was always on the cards for us, having a big wedding never felt like something we necessarily needed or wanted. After Klemens proposed in Australia last year we finally decided to go for it. Most of our family and friends still haven’t met and we really wanted to make this happen – this was our main motivation to plan a wedding. Then the Covid-19 situation really came to a head right when the planning started to shift from stressful to fun. With guests set to attend from the US, Canada, Australia and several different countries in Europe, it became increasingly clear with each passing week that bringing people together as planned was simply not going to be an option for us. We were heartbroken when we finally made the call to cancel, but we’ve just been so grateful that our loved ones are healthy and safe and that we still have jobs and a roof over our heads that we haven’t dwelled on the disappointment too much.
The minimony was very personal, you had your vows and we did the first look with the dress. I really love how you managed to bring the feeling of a wedding to this shooting. Whose idea was this?
After the big event was cancelled we hoped my family could take their flights to Austria as planned and we could do a smaller ceremony. Once it became clear that would not be an option we didn’t really know what to do. We could have just re-planned the whole thing for next summer but it was so much work organizing things the first time around, especially with all the added complexities of an international wedding and juggling our busy work travel schedules. On top of that we didn’t want the added stress of not knowing whether we’d have to cancel again next year if things aren’t better by then. We still had our hearts set on making July 4, 2020 our big day and for me the condition of doing that was making it into a minimony and incorporating as many of the originally planned ceremonial aspects as possible, from the first look to our special songs Klemens played from my phone as I walked ‘down the aisle’ to the personalized vows, exchanging of the rings and champagne toast. After our photo shoot we even fed each other Bauernkrapfen as our wedding cake. We missed our family and friends so much, but it ended up being a beautiful and extremely special day nonetheless. In a way it was very representative of how we’ve managed to overcome every obstacle that’s been placed in front of us throughout our relationship. From living on opposite sides of the Atlantic for the first 3 years and the language and cultural misunderstandings that come with any international relationship, to the challenge of finding a city and country where we could both live and build our careers – we’ve never let a challenge stop us. Now that we’ve done the ceremonial and paper signing aspect of the marriage, we’d still love to have a party with our loved ones and celebrate once it’s safe to do so.
And my last question is – what is essential for you to have in your fridge?
Six things you will always find in our fridge: organic butter, Greek yoghurt, welfare friendly eggs, homemade jam, oat milk and Melissa’s sourdough starter (its name is Kletzen 🙂