Eugene Weekly spoke via Zoom with newlyweds Matt and Molly Newhard, and Ben Weibe and Ruth Ames. Both couples say they found themselves getting closer during the pandemic, despite or perhaps because of the closeness it induced.
The Newhards were married on Aug. 4, 2019, about six months before the shutdown. Molly Newhard bartends at First National Taphouse downtown, and Matt Newhard was front-of-house manager of the now-closed La Perla. They are originally from Colorado.
They didn’t go on their honeymoon directly following the wedding, planning instead to do that on a later date. “We went on an annual Valentine’s day trip to Leavenworth, Washington, and they were already being shut down up there,” Matt Newhard says of their honeymoon.
“And we were like, wow, this is weird. When we got back to Eugene, everything got shut down. We had no idea. It was crazy,” he said.
The shutdowns haven’t negatively affected the Newhards’ marriage, they say. “At first it was weird because pre-COVID-19, we only got two to three days a week to be around each other,” Matt Newhard says.
“I think it brought us closer together,” Molly Newhard adds. “He started learning new hobbies. Matt has done so much woodworking. And I started writing, like doing horror writing. You can find me on InherentFear.com.”
The Newhards plan on going to shows as soon as they can and can’t wait to continue the Valentine’s Day tradition of going on vacation. “We’d want to go back to Astoria. That was really fun. We’d like to go there in the summer, or Leavenworth again.”
Ruth Ames and Ben Wiebe who recently moved to Salem are both teachers and were married July 28, 2020, four months into the lockdown, at a private event on Oregon Country Fairgrounds. “We had my brother as our officiant, his partner, my parents, and then four other close, close friends,” Ames said.
“We kind of just showed up at the Fair property, out in Veneta, and found a spot where there weren’t any other people and had a little wedding. Five minutes tops,” Ames says. The party also walked the “Eight,” the main path through OCF’s Fairgrounds, before leaving and having dinner at Cafe Soriah’s outdoor patio.
“The pandemic is the reason we got married,” Ames says. Weibe and Ames had been together for roughly seven years. They had thrown around the idea of getting married but never had taken it seriously. Ames had been married before and was not initially open to the idea of getting remarried.
“Then COVID-19 happened, and we had been quarantined for several months,” Weibe says. Then when Ames brought it up again, he said, yes. “A couple months later, we were married.”
“My experience was like, I liked him more than I did at the beginning,” Ames said. “Spending that much time together being basically cooped up in a two-bedroom apartment was bringing us closer together, not farther apart.”
Weibe and Ames say they feel incredibly fortunate to have survived COVID-19 unharmed. “We look at our situation where we feel we’re extremely fortunate. We don’t have a lot of outside pressures,” Weibe said.
As teachers, Ames and Weibe often hear the struggles of their students via Zoom, and Weibe himself finished school that way.”
“I was finishing up grad school, even during the pandemic. Things were adjusted, but I was still able to graduate,” he says.
One of the things Ames says she misses the most is being able to host people and have a party. “You know, we have this big, beautiful living room that we never really been able to utilize the way we want to,” Ames said. “So hosting get-togethers is really high on my list of things to do post COVID-19.”
The writer of this article, Chandlor Henderson, was also married close to the shutdowns on Sep. 27, 2019. His lovely wife, Alison Helzer, and he have been close since they first met, and while COVID-19 has brought its fair share of struggles, they remain a united bond. They share a similarity to the couples in this article and have grown closer because of the shutdown.