An Ohio couple who got married on Halloween were so concerned about the coronavirus pandemic that they slashed their guest list from 200 people to 83, set tables 6 feet apart, and provided hand sanitizer to guests, the bottles labeled "spread love not germs."
But 32 people, including newlyweds Anthony and Mikayla Bishop, still tested positive for COVID-19 after the superspreader wedding, WLWT reported.
Three of the couple's grandparents got sick — two so severely that they had to visit the hospital emergency room.
"I didn't think that almost half of our wedding guests were gonna get sick," Mikayla told WLWT, a TV news station in Cincinnati. "You're in the moment. You're having fun. You don't think about COVID anymore."
The wedding on Oct. 31 took place as the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic surged across the country. Over the last seven days, Ohio has seen an average of 7,280 new cases per day, a 105% increase compared to two weeks ago.
"Every county in Northeast Ohio is now literally on fire from this virus," Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday.
However, until the governor introduced on Monday a revised order on mass gatherings that banned dancing at weddings and insisted guests be seated at all times, no previous restrictions had applied to weddings; the Bishops were not breaking any state or county guidelines.
The Bishops spoke with WLWT about their wedding in the hope of encouraging other couples to dramatically lessen the number of guests or postpone their event.
Mikayla said she realized while walking down the aisle the risk of the coronavirus spreading at her wedding.
"My big moment honestly was right when the ceremony started and the doors opened and both my parents walked me down the aisle," she told WLWT. "The first thing I see is I see everyone's face. And that's when I realized, wow, nobody's wearing a mask."
By then, it was too late. "I'm walking down the aisle. We can't do anything now," she said.
They cut their honeymoon to North Carolina short after Mikayla felt sick and they learned their grandparents were ill.
The couple believe the dance floor was probably the biggest source of the virus's spread.
"That’s the turning point. After dinner, after cake," Anthony said, noting that before then all guests were seated at their table and socially distanced.
"Getting into each other's face, and there are no masks," added Mikayla.
The governor also agreed that dancing seems to be one of the biggest issues at weddings and other events.
"It’s not the ceremonies causing the problem. It’s the party afterward," DeWine said when announcing the new restrictions on mass gatherings on Monday.
“We have seen rampant spread of the virus as a result of banquets, wedding receptions, and social gatherings following funerals,” he added. “We have seen great tragedy associated with such events."
However, even though the Bishops believe the dance floor helped turn their wedding into a superspreader event, their grandparents who got sick didn't dance — because being indoors for an extended period of time with the virus puts even those who are mainly masked and socially distanced at risk.
"What's crazy is that our grandparents were the only ones that wore a mask the whole time," said Mikayla. "They weren’t on the dance floor. They weren’t at the bar. They only took it off for food."
Weddings have frequently popped up in the news as major outbreak events.
At least 17 people have tested positive after attending a wedding in Washington state earlier this month with more than 300 guests, a crowd more than 10 times what is allowed.
One August wedding in Maine resulted in some 147 infections and the deaths of three people, none of whom attended the event but instead caught COVID-19 from a wedding guest.