joshua and alyssa mcneil at wedding engagement photoshoot

The ODMcNeils – Love Never Fails

Over a year ago, Joshua James proposed to me in front of our family and friends and changed my life. Over a year ago I “said yes” to the man I trusted to help raise my kids with love. I “said yes” to the man who consistently makes my stomach hurt with laughter. I said yes to the man who is walking proof that God exists and that He favors me. Since then, we’ve grown together in incredible and unpredicted ways. We’ve managed job loss, death of family members, mental and physical health issues, and so much more that has tested our faith and relationship in more ways than one. However, there was no way we, nor anyone else, could have predicted the reality of what our wedding day would actually look like. In the midst of a disastrous pandemic, economic uncertainty, political unrest, and more – we have made the decision to proceed with a magical home wedding. On July 30th, our 3rd anniversary, Joshua and I will become one as The ODMcNeils.

Originally, we had planned a destination wedding in Paris, France to celebrate our love. Since we are avid travelers, wine enthusiasts, and people who don’t enjoy doing what is expected of them; this ceremony was perfect. We then coordinated with travel professionals, arranged for discounted flights to Europe, and dreamed loudly in permanent ink as we wrote out a fairytale that I have pictured since I was a child.

Whenever I told someone about our wedding plans they looked at me as if I was describing a Disney Princess movie – and I loved every second of it. Getting married in “The City of Love” was a childhood dream of mine that I never let go of. I thought marrying Joshua was a once in a lifetime joy that demanded a once in a lifetime ceremony. So we planned, found cute matching passport holders, and customized our dream wedding. 

Alyssa and Joshua McNeil wedding engagement picture.

Then COVID-19 happened. At first, like most, we weren’t too concerned. This was something that wouldn’t affect us and our wedding would be fine. We even snuck a last-minute trip to Tampa before the shutdowns began to celebrate my birthday. Unfortunately, the moment we got back home we were hit with a high dose of reality from the news. The world was changing. And the possibility that our dream wedding wouldn’t happen soon became something that we could not stop obsessing, or crying, about. The time between the start of COVID shutdowns and us canceling our plans were some of the most stressful and depressing moments of my life. I spent forever planning my dream Disney-eque wedding . Unfortunately, because of circumstances beyond my control, it was all coming crashing down. I felt broken.

As our original wedding date came closer, and I began to put myself back together again, we made the difficult decision to get married on our anniversary. We didn’t, and still don’t, know how this pandemic will be affecting our lives on this date. We don’t know if our families will be able to be there in person. Honestly, we don’t know much about the details of how the day will go. But, we know that a Paris ceremony, or any other party we could have planned, isn’t more important than us committing to each other in front of God and our loved ones. 

This is why, despite all that is going on, we will still be getting married. As Josh likes to put it, “we only need us to spark our fire.” 

And as I like to put it, “Love never fails.” 

Alyssa and Joshua McNeil wedding engagement picture.