Love in the time of COVID: Masonic Home hosts wedding

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Blushing bride Payton Crichton of Ankeny, center, was given in marriage July 17 by her grandfather, Ron Moyer of Perry, right, to the happiest of men, Teren Nees of Ankeny, in a COVID-conditioned ceremony at the Rowley Masonic Community in Perry, where Moyer resides. Photo courtesy Rowley Masonic Community

Still cutting a dashing figure, Ron Moyer of Perry walked his granddaughter to the altar July 17 at the Rowley Masonic Community. Photo courtesy Rowley Masonic Community

The global spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has brought many changes to our customary ways of doing things, including how we are born, how we die and how we are given and received in marriage.

The July 17 marriage of Payton Crichton and Teren Nees, both of Ankeny, that took place at the Rowley Masonic Community in Perry offers a singular example of adaptation to the new normal brought about by COVID-19.

Payton’s grandfather, Ron Moyer of Perry, gave away the blushing bride in a socially distanced ceremony that affirmed health, safety — and love.

“With COVID-19, it would have been such a big risk having my grandpa at our wedding,” Payton said, “so we thought bringing it to him social distancing style would be the best!”

Payton said her grandfather was her main father figure while growing up.

“He has taught me everything I know, and I’m so grateful for that,” she said. “Not only is my grandpa the kindest human ever, but he also has a heart of gold and is always willing to help others. I love my grandpa for many reasons, and he will forever be my best friend.”

Grandpa Moyer seemed moved by his grandchild’s sentiments.

“She is a good girl with a kind heart,” said Moyer, who farmed in Nebraska for many years and also found time to serve on the school board and keep his real-estate license active. He said his favorite hobbies were taking his wife dancing, fishing and camping.

Sara McClintock, mother of the bride and daughter of Ron Moyer, said the idea for a wedding at the Rowley sprang originally from Payton.

“Payton waited her whole life to have her grandpa walk her down the aisle and have the first dance,” Sara said. “So we waited for COVID to go away, but it never did.”

Sara eventually put her head together with Jennifer Rothfus, director of admissions and marketing at the Rowley Masonic Community, and they started to consider the planning options.

“I wanted to make my daughter’s day special and started to work with Jennifer to see what we could do,” Sara said. “We came up with a special ceremony idea, and it was perfect! We ended up creating a video, and then we played it at Payton’s reception, so her grandpa was there 100%, and he got his special moment with his baby girl.”

Payton was born and raised in Grimes but moved to Ankeny to attend the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC).

“I’m currently employed at Something Blue in Ankeny,” she said, “helping other brides’ dreams come true. In the future, I hope to work in the cosmetology field!”

Nees is originally from Carroll but spent the majority of his childhood in Waukee.

“I joined the Iowa Army National Guard during my junior year of high school,” he said, “and am currently working at VB Seals in Ames as a warehouse associate.”

The newlyweds met in high school and have been together ever since. They both love traveling, working out and spending time with their beloved dogs, Jax and Bentley.

Unfortunately, their work schedules did not allow time for an extravagant honeymoon in July, Nees said, “so instead, we took a shorter trip to the Black Hills to celebrate our marriage, and we’re planning a big trip for next year.”

Sara said the wedding was lovely and really made her father’s day.

“My dad was so happy, and it was what he needed, too,” she said.

Jennifer said she was glad the Rowley Masonic Community could meet the needs all three generations with a joyful if slightly unorthodox ceremony.

“It was very rewarding to help Ron enjoy a special day with his granddaughter,” Jennifer said. “Our team and other residents enjoyed witnessing the wedding. I am proud of the dedication our staff members showed by working hard to make sure we were able to host Payton and Teren’s wedding in a safe, fun environment. This was an amazing opportunity for the Rowley Masonic Community to do something fun and memorable for one of our residents during such a challenging time for many people in our community and our country. The Rowley Masonic Community is committed to ensuring our residents live their best lives, and we saw this as an opportunity to go above and beyond to serve Ron and his family.”

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