Atlanta newlyweds share their story, revealing how they overcome the setbacks of COVID
After dating for five years, Cornell and Maurice Robinson-Cook finally got married in 2020.
Though the two had initially planned to wed in an elaborate destination wedding on the island of Mykonos in Greece, their two years of planning were derailed when a global pandemic struck.
In a bold declaration of their love, the couple decided to forgo their lavish plans and opted for a smaller, more intimate local ceremony with close friends and family.
And, now, after tying the knot, the love birds are trying to create their nest, going through the challenges of building their Atlanta home in this new COVID-19 world.
Well, are you happy?
When Cornell, who is a funeral home director and an embalmer, originally met Maurice, a creative director, the two were working on a project together for the church they both attended. At the time, Maurice was single. Cornell, however, was married.
After a series of playful back and forths over the arch of the project, Maurice confronted Cornell with a question that would change the course of their lives.
“Well, are you happy?” Maurice boldly asked Cornell about the state of his marriage.
It stopped Cornell dead in his tracks.
“All you can do is ask,” Maurice recalled with an assured smile. “The person is either going to respond yay or nay. I believe we cheat ourselves when we don’t allow ourselves to be happy. So we found happiness. And I’m glad I asked the question.”
Cornell shared a similar recollection of the moment.
“I’m glad I entertained the question and was honest with myself about what was really going on,” he said. “Because I was in a marriage and stuck on, ‘I’m gonna be in this marriage and we’ll work it out, whatever that is.’ (Maurice) saw something different.”
Said Maurice, “I think in life, we all deserve to be happy. You don’t have to buy happiness. You don’t have to give up yourself to be happy. It’s free. It’s the one thing that God gave us.”
May in Mykonos
Maurice and Cornell’s original wedding plans included a week-long excursion to Greece. The two were going to wed and honeymoon in Athens and Mykonos from May 20-27, (2020).
“We had a travel agent. We hired a wedding planner who planned the event for us,” Maurice explained. “We actually had a website that we’d designed for us. We create a logo and our, our theme was, ‘Fall For You,’ which was also the name of our wedding song by Leela James.
“Everything was really fully functioning and then COVID-19 hits,” he continued. “Ooh, It hurt. But it also brought us closer together.”
“That’s true. We spent a lot of time together being locked up.”
Apparently, the forced shelter in place proved worthwhile for the couple.
“I think that COVID and the isolation helped us out a lot because every day, we were trapped in a small one-bedroom apartment with each other and we made the best of it,” Maurice said. “We already knew each other, but now we know each other a lot more because that was our world. Our world (during the pandemic) has been he and I, and that’s it. And so for me, um, it was great.”
And with aging parents and guests who would be attempting to fly in from all parts of the globe, the two made the difficult decision to cancel their two years of planning for the wedding of their dreams and embrace instead the wedding of their reality.
“We realized we would have to change everything at the beginning of 2020 — maybe January or February,” Cornell said. “We had been planning for a couple of years prior to that. As (concerns around COVID-19) started developing, we started getting more from CDC and getting more from state requirements. Then Delta was canceling flights. We realized that maybe we had to do something different.”
And then friends and family started chiming in with their concerns.
“Our friends starting asking us, ‘Well, what are you going to do?’” Maurice explained. “Because most folks can’t travel. They were alarmed about if they were to travel outside of the country, would they get stuck or stranded in Greece? It became a big concern.”
It’s all about the love
And so, by mid-February, the two decided to change their plans. Instead of the picturesque ceremony that they thought they would have, the Robinson-Cooks instead hosted a much smaller, Greece-themed party of 10 guests, mostly family to commemorate their nuptials.
As the pair began to release photos of the ceremony to social media, they received countless direct messages and text messages from friends and colleagues expressing their disappointment at not being able to attend the ceremony.
“Due to COVID, we had to monitor the comfort of the person’s home we were in,” Cornell said. “We ended up having to limit the guest list to 10 people, which ended up being the 10 people that we are around every day.”
As for a honeymoon, the pair aren’t ruling out that weeklong trip to Athens and Mykonos. But the reality of the pandemic did help shift their perspectives about what was truly important to the two of them.
“Further, we had to reevaluate everything. Was this trip to Greece about us? Was it about everybody else?” Cornell said. “Whenever we are able to travel again — safely — then that becomes our honeymoon destination.”
As for having to pivot their wedding plans in the middle of a pandemic, the pair seem to have no regrets. In fact, Maurice summed it up best: “Ultimately, it’s about the love that you two share with each other. With our plans, COVID made us realize just that — it really was about us.”