It’s been one whole year of COVID weddings. And that term takes on many different meanings depending on what couples chose to do about restrictions, whether it was to postpone, downsize, or cancel altogether. One local venue has made the most of what this last year has had to offer and taken care of their couples no matter what they decided.

Elizabeth Lynch is the Sales and Event Manager for Shining Tides, affiliated with YMCA Southcoast. Located at the Mattapoisett YMCA, this venue provides a coastal backdrop for couples to exchange vows.

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“We are a fabulous seaside location for a wedding and reception of any size. The lawn is perfectly manicured and the covered porch is positioned to allow views and airflow from every angle,” Lynch said. “There isn’t a lovelier place to get married on the water in the Southcoast than Shining Tides!”

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2020 was a tough year to be planning a wedding, but YMCA Southcoast was not afraid of making lemonade out of lemons.

“We offered the option for couples who still wanted to get married in 2020 to use Shining Tides as a ceremony-only venue where they were able to exchange vows in a very intimate ceremony overlooking the water with their immediate families and closest friends,” Lynch said.

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The best part about this option was that all of the money that the couples paid to host their ceremony was donated to support the N.O.W. Program. YMCA Southcoast’s Nutrition On Weekends (N.O.W.) provides food for local families to help them get through the weekend in addition to take-away lunches provided by the school system. What better way to start your life together than supporting families struggling with food insecurity?

Shining Tides held nine ceremony-only weddings in 2020. All the fees from those events directly benefitted the NOW program, proving that Shining Tides stands as a venue with a cause.

“I’m a hopeless romantic,” Lynch said. “I’ve cried at every wedding I’ve ever been to or worked. It’s actually ridiculous. But I love my job even more because of the good that we’ve been able to do for the community.”

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In addition to the nine ceremony-only events, Shining tides held three weddings with receptions when restrictions allowed for them to do so.

“They were beautiful and safe,” Lynch said. “The guests played lawn games, listened to music, and enjoyed a bonfire on the beach since they couldn’t have a dance floor”. The feedback she received was “couples realized that having dancing wasn’t missed as much as they thought. They got to celebrate and be with those who they love the most especially with all that is going on in the world that seemed to be much more important than the dancing.”

Spring and Summer of 2021 will shine a light of hope for couples looking to get married on the SouthCoast soon. Lynch confirmed that the facility has 45 weddings booked for this season. Although all large gatherings have the same restrictions, those that are held outside are allowed to have a larger guest count than those held indoors. This guideline has made Shining Tides an ideal venue for SouthCoast brides and grooms.

“It’s interesting how many inquiries we are getting because of the restrictions,” Lynch said. “Outdoor venues are the more desirable option right now.”

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Shining tides will be following all the protocols issued by the state. As of right now, outdoor venues can have 150 guests and that number does not have to include staff. There can be a dance floor as long as everyone is masked up. Everyone will need to wear masks unless sitting at their tables or actively eating and drinking. Tables need to be six feet apart with a maximum of six people per table. Shining Tides will provide social distance dots for lines at the bar and restrooms and will make sure everything is done safely with the guests and staff’s health as a top priority.

“We’re hoping as we approach the beginning of our season in May that more and more people will be vaccinated and possibly some of the restrictions will loosen,” Lynch said.

Courtesy of YMCA Southcoast

“Most of the couples that I am working with are fine with the restrictions as we have all been living with them for a long time and we are in need of happy celebrations however they may look.”

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Using March 2019 data from the Social Security Administration, Stacker compiled a list of the most popular names in each of the 50 states and Washington D.C., according to their 2018 SSA rankings. The top five boy names and top five girl names are listed for each state, as well as the number of babies born in 2018 with that name. Historically common names like Michael only made the top five in three states, while the less common name Harper ranks in the top five for 22 states.

Curious what names are trending in your home state? Keep reading to see if your name made the top five -- or to find inspiration for naming your baby.