By Louisa Moller

ASHBURNHAM (CBS) – Tyler and Kristen Stillings laugh when they talk about their college love story. “He always says he was friend zone for four years. We didn’t start dating until the last two months of senior year,” Kristen said.

The Ashburnham couple got engaged in 2019 with dreams of a large rustic wedding. Then, the pandemic hit.

“And I was like that girl that always wanted to get married. Like dreamed of the wedding dress, the wedding, like all of the above,” says Kristen.

The two settled on humble vows in a backyard on August 9, 2020, but they still held out hope for a larger celebration.

Tyler and Kristen Stillings (WBZ-TV)

They tried to plan one in May of 2021 but pushed it to August to allow more family members to get vaccinated.

Just days before their wedding date, Tyler felt fatigued and achy. Kristen started experiencing a headache and fever. Both were fully vaccinated with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine back in March.

“I had a slight fever and I called him crying and I was like we need to go get tested,” Kristen said.

Tyler got an at home rapid test that came back positive for COVID-19. They both got a PCR nasal swab that tested positive as well.

Next came the painful process of informing family and friends and cancelling vendors, all while the couple battled fatigue. Kristen says most of the vendors have been very understanding.

Their symptoms have been mild though humbling, says Tyler. They both say they have learned valuable lessons about the importance of vaccination and testing.

“The worst that happened is that we’re tired, we slept it off, we stayed in bed. So, the vaccine definitely helps your symptoms,” Kristen said.

“Second, I think if you’re sick get tested,” added Tyler.

The couple will share a takeout meal on the day they were supposed to spend with 110 family and friends. Both say the greatest lesson of love is not lost on them.

“Part of the reason you have a wedding is to feel loved and you know, to all our friends and family that were going to come we feel loved via texts, and phone calls, and facetimes of that nature,” said Tyler.

Louisa Moller